New Species in the Canyon

Yesterday was the day for my weekly visit to Eleven Mile Canyon. Unfortunately with gas prices the way they are I’ve had to limit my visits to the canyon to once a week. They day began with an apocalyptic looking cloud of dust enshrouding the entire landscape,  the result of tremendous winds we’ve been experiencing this spring. The wind from the night before had never subsided and was still buffeting my truck as I traveled down Teller County Road 1 to the canyon.

Bald Eagle Nest

I was unable to see eaglets in the nest at the entrance, probably due to the wind. I could see the mother eagle was fighting to stay on her perch on the edge of the nest as powerful gusts threatened to unseat her. I imagine the young ones instinctively know to keep their heads down in such conditions.

I watch carefully for osprey in the lower mile or two, as that is they formerly chose for their nest. However there were none to be seen on this day. There was also nothing at the bend, no eagles and not even the often seen blue heron that seems to have made that part of the canyon home for the summer season. However not too far past the bend we spotted a blue heron, then another… and another. All together there appear to be at least four of the great birds nesting somewhere near that relatively calm section of the South Platte River, good information for future visits!

Double-Crested Cormorant

Just beyond there another bird flew in and took up a position high on the giant rocks lining the river. A quick look through the binoculars identified the visitor as a double-crested cormorant, a first for the canyon! We snapped a few pictures of the handsome shore bird and continued on. Our experience with that particular bird at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal led us to believe that he might be comfortable standing on the rocks for a considerable amount of time… more than we had the patience for to be sure.

White-Faced Ibis

Another mile upstream another large bird revealed himself, a species I had never seen before… a large heron looking shore bird with the beak of an oversized sandpiper and unusual red and greenish markings. This one would have to wait for identification until I could get home and feed the image into Merlin, my bird ID application. Eventually I would learn that this was a white-faced ibis… another canyon first! Further investigation indicates that this species as well as the cormorant are expanding their range as climate change warms the higher elevations of the Rocky Mountains.

Eventually the osprey flew over, but my equipment let me down on this encounter and I was not able to acquire focus lock as the great hawk circled overhead. Hopefully it won’t be long before the much anticipated Canon R7 mirrorless upgrade to the 90D is available and focus issues will be a thing of the past! I understand the new animal eye focus is quite incredible!

High winds often made audio impossible for the video I was shooting, but I still managed to get a few seconds of footage of the new visitors to the canyon, I hope you enjoy the short video on my channel!

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Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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First Eaglet of the Season and Video

Decided to drop in yesterday and check on the eagle’s nest at Eleven Mile Canyon hoping to capture some video of the recently hatched little ones. I saw Mama eagle in the nest as I passed on my way into the canyon, and satisfied that there were still thriving offspring I continued on in hoping to get pictures of osprey and great blue heron.

Beaver in Eleven Mile Canyon

Unfortunately there were no osprey in their favorite stretch of river but as I cruised upstream I spotted an unusual object in the water. It looked like a big rock but I had never seen a rock like that in that location so I pulled the truck to a stop and readied the camera. I was surprised when I zoomed in to discover a giant beaver just sitting in the river, apparently hoping for food to float down the river into his waiting mouth.

Beaver in Eleven Mile Canyon

I snapped off a couple pictures while honing in on the best exposure settings, so I was prepared when he began to swim slowly downstream. I was able to capture a few nice images of his sleek form in the water before he was too far away.

I continued upstream and was soon at the big bend where I spotted a great blue heron fishing in the shallow calm water. I was only able to capture one image of him standing still before he took flight as I was fiddling with my camera settings.

Great Blue Heron

Those were my only opportunities for wildlife images along the river so on my way back downstream the second time I decided to stop and capture some motion blur images of the rushing water on a section of river that I had been considering for that purpose. The weather was beautiful in Cripple Creek when I left home but as usual the canyon was brutally cold. By the time I was done fiddling with the tripod I was near hypothermia and decided to cut the project short. I managed to capture a couple of technically correct images but none that satisfied my artistic desire. Perhaps next time.

Whitewater in Eleven Mile Canyon

Next stop was the nest on my way out of the canyon. I attached the camera to the tripod to try to get some steady video footage while looking through the binoculars for the eaglets poking their heads above the nest. While I was commenting that I couldn’t see the little ones, a tiny head appeared over the rim of the nest and I was fortunate to capture a cameo of one eaglet. There may be more to follow but one is all I could verify on this day.

Anyway, I hope you all enjoy the pictures and video of the first eaglet of the season to appear above the nest!

Eagle and Eaglet

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Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

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The Eagles Were Home

It was a good day in the canyon, got some great pics of a bald eagle upstream, both eagles were at the nest and at least one great blue heron has arrived!

 

 

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

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They’re Back, the Osprey Have Returned

Bald Eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon in early spring

Last year I first spotted my first osprey of the season on the 31st of March and the second the next day to reunite our nesting pair. It just so happened that I could make the trip to the canyon today so I made sure to look closely for osprey. Didn’t see any on my way up the canyon but was rewarded with two bald eagle sightings for my effort. Well actually I think it was one bald eagle spotted twice. I was messing around when he took flight the first time so I completely blew some perfectly good in flight shots but was lucky to see him again for a redo.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

I was hoping to get a lot of good footage for a video so I made sure to switch for a few seconds each time. I didn’t notice right away but I had left my picture style on monochrome so I ended up with monochrome video 😦 Oh well, there wasn’t much color early in the morning so I guess it didn’t hurt anything. Saw some deer on the way back down the canyon but no more eagles. Then just as I was passing the tree where we think the osprey might build their new nest this summer I spotted a white head in the top of a pine tree, a very unusual place for an osprey. So I snapped some pictures and took a few seconds of video before he flew. He landed on a cliff which was perfect for pictures and then flew again to the next cliff face.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

I never did see the mate, the lone osprey did seem to be looking around for her so maybe like last year she will only be one day late. I would sure like to see a few more of the amazing white hawks move into our valley, there was one extra for a while last season but it appears he moved on without finding a mate to nest with in the canyon. We have another pair over at Manitou Lake but the pictures are so much more attractive in the canyon.

Well anyway, it’s off to the city tomorrow to pick up my CD and black and white film at Mike’s Camera, so I don’t think I’ll have time to stop in but perhaps I’ll check on them again Sunday.

I’m getting better at Premier Pro all the time so I hope you enjoy the video! If you enjoy the content and would like to help out with the cause, please feel free to click the donate button!

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

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Love Birds

Pair of Bald Eagles

It was an eventful morning in the canyon, I went expecting to find osprey but apparently the last few miles are a struggle for them this year. I’ve heard several pair of osprey have already occupied the nesting platforms down at Pueblo Reservoir so ours should be arriving shortly. But it was still good day getting pictures and video with the eagles. Way before I even got to the bend I spotted a pair of them in a tree overlooking the river and it turned out to be a perfect place to stop and shoot out the window. They remained there for quite a while before launching and finding a new perch upstream.

They both landed at the new location but not together, so I was only able to shoot them individually before yet another flight. This time I was able to get a good capture in flight but I had left my shutter speed on just a 640th of a second so it isn’t quite as clear as it could be.

Pair of Bald Eagles

From there I journeyed all the way to the dam before turning around, without seeing them again. I figured my day with them was over and figured I was on my way home. I was a little worried by then, I didn’t see any eagles at the nest on my way in and when I saw them together I wondered if something had happened to the eaglets. You don’t normally see the pair together once they begin taking care of the hatchlings.

On my way back down I saw Jamie again, this time waving frantically… so I pulled up close to see what all the excitement was… turns out the two were sitting side by side on a tree branch right over the road. I stopped and used my truck as a brace and stayed until they flew again. Unfortunately this time they flew the wrong direction so I didn’t get a great shot, but all in all I can’t complain… I got bunch of nice pictures… I’m going to have to look them over better but I wanted to get a video out quick so I didn’t spend much time processing them.

Anyway… I’m still getting the hang of Premier Pro so I still have a bit of a learning curve before I am good at it. I hope you enjoy the video though!

If you enjoy the content and want to help with my work watching over the wildlife, please feel free to click the donation button below!

Pair of Bald Eagles

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

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Bald Eagles and the Spring Thaw

The ice continues to clear on the South Platte River in Eleven Mile Canyon. Just a few weeks ago we were commenting on how much of the river was frozen solid and now most of the river is open and running fast. Mama eagle is still sitting on eggs at the canyon entrance and hopefully we’ll have eaglets to watch in a couple weeks!

Herd of Mule Deer

Unfortunately I didn’t see any eagles in the usual locations despite cruising up and down the canyon three times. I was fortunate however to spot a nice herd of mule deer does and a few American dippers. Eventually I gave up and was on my way out of the canyon for the final time when I spotted one of our nesting pair watching over the river about a half mile in, at the wide point in the clearing just before the whitewater just south of the old dam structure.

American Dippers in the South Platte

I sat and watched him or over an hour while I took pictures of his antics and waited for him to fly. I also shot some video but somehow managed to delete it 😦 I thought I had learned not to format the memory chip until after I was sure I had what I needed from it and had backed it up, but apparently that is not the case 😦

Eventually, when my arms and hands were exhausted from holding up the camera and long lens, the eagle finally decided to fly. And of course by then my hands were so cramped that I failed to hold down the back AF button and failed to keep a focus lock on the great raptor as he flew right at me in a perfect photo op. Shots I did get as the bird launched from the tree were good, but the background of tangled branches was quite hideous and there is nothing I can do to make it look better.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

I did get one with the sky as the background but unfortunately there are no catch lights in the eyes, ruining the image as far as I’m concerned. Without seeing the fierce life in the eyes of the winged predator the image is a failure.

Today snow is falling furiously and I won’t be getting out on the roads for another attempt. Anyway, we have discovered that eagles don’t like bad weather and will most likely be riding out the storm in the shelter of their nests.

The good news is that our beloved osprey could be arriving any day now! The literature says that they can be expected anywhere from the middle to the end of the month. Last spring the first of our pair arrived on March 31st with his partner arriving the next day. Of course it’s possible that they arrived together and I just didn’t see them both. I’ve never gotten a firm answer on whether or not they travel together or just meet at their chosen breeding location.

Sorry about the video, but I hope you enjoy the few pictures I was able to capture!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

New Rare Video of a Bald Eagle Eating a Fish

Take a couple minutes to watch a short video of the bald eagle we call Speckles high in a pine tree chowing down on a trout he caught from the South Platte!

Bald Eagle Looking For Fish

Bald Eagle Looking For Fish

Signs of Spring

My day started out with the unpleasant task of having to drive down to the city to renew my drivers license for the umpteenth time. I can’t believe how fast the last five years have gone by. I had just gotten a new license prior to moving to Cripple Creek so I had only had my license for a few months before the address was incorrect. All these years I have meant to get back down there to get the address change completed and now suddenly five years is gone and I never got it done. Fortunately the process went smoothly and my new license with the correct address will soon be in the mail.

Storm on the Peak

I used to go to Colorado Springs all the time with my wife shopping and looking for antiques so I sat in my truck and wondered what nostalgic thing I might be able to do while I was there. But as I sat and wondered I realized that all those years I was going there just for her. None of the places we used to go had any interest at all for me. There was a pet store nearby so I grabbed some pet food and just headed back up the mountain.

On my way up the pass I could see weather moving in on the great peak so I hoped I might have an opportunity to shoot my millionth picture of the mountain enshrouded in fog and snow. As I passed through Woodland Park I realized there was one thing that I might like to do, I used to love to go to the Donut Mill first thing in the morning and sit at the end table where I could drink coffee and stare out at the peak while trying to get my brain going. It was at that very table a decade ago that my idea for a wildlife and nature themed blog and website was hatched. That’s something, ten years of blogging, launched from that very chair. So once again I sat and pondered life with a cup of coffee and a massive maple frosted doughnut.

Springtime in Eleven Mile Canyon

After that I needed to go pick up some puppy meds near the Eleven Mile Canyon and decided upon at least one trip to the southern dam and back. Afternoon isn’t the best time for photographing wildlife in the canyon but anytime I get within a few miles it seems a shame to pass up the chance to get some pictures. So as it turns out I didn’t see any eagles or hawks but I did see welcome signs of spring. As I passed the lake and the calm section of the river I noticed the tell tale sign of ice melt by the darker blue ice in the middle of the channel. The lake is still frozen solid but in a month that ice too will be getting thin and the ice fishermen will be pulling their fishing huts off the ice and  back to their summer homes.

Pair of American Dippers

The lower rapids that were totally frozen over a couple of weeks ago now have an open channel through the middle and most of the rest of the river is now mostly open water. A few very happy American dippers were singing and playing along the river bank. I hoped to see them fishing but they were just singing and playing while making their way downstream. They were successfully evading all my attempts to photograph them until this moment when I was fortunate to catch them together in an image before they vanished.

The osprey should already be well along in their perilous 4,000 mile journey back to the canyon from their winter home in South America and I’m very much looking forward to that. I have to say, photographing osprey might just be my favorite photographic activity. They seem to have a lot of personality and are fairly tolerant of photographers… and other people too. In my home town they built an osprey platform right in the middle of the baseball fields and a pair of osprey were willing to put up with all the activity and build a nest in the midst of the humans. Last year our osprey arrived on the last day of March.

 

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Springtime in Eleven Mile Canyon

Eagle Eggs

Eagles Nest

It appears that mama eagle has laid eggs and is on the nest. In a couple of months we should be able to count the small heads looking around above the nest and discover how many eaglets we might see grow to flight. Last year there were three eaglets and they all matured to flight and left the nest to make lives for themselves somewhere.

My day started out well with an early morning sighting of the

Winter Elk

Fossil Beds elk herd. They were crossing the highway just below a hill when I arrived on scene and I was afraid a car or truck would come flying over the hill and hit some of them, but fortunately they all crossed safely. Once across they quickly left the clearing and disappeared into the dense forest.

As I cruised up the canyon I was fortunate to have several eagle sightings, the first of which was probably the most interesting. The one called Speckles was busy eating a fish when I came upon him high in a tree with his catch. I got a few stills and some video before he finished it and flew on upstream. My last sighting was probably the best, the sun was shining right on him and he was facing directly at me. When he finally flew it was directly at me, a rare privilege!

 

Bald Eagle Looking For Fish

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings! And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Bald Eagle Looking For Fish

Bald Eagle Glory

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

The bald eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon seemed extra majestic today. Speckles was on his favorite perch when we arrived, but proved too wily for us at that first sighting. Before we could get a shot off he was soaring upstream, wings glowing in the early morning sunshine. We soon found him on our favorite tree just on the other side of the river. This time we were more stealthy, parking behind cover and approaching quietly on foot.

The one called Speckles allowed us to draw near and get in a few good portraits before taking flight, this time in a tree high on the ridge and out of range of our cameras where he remained the rest of the day. Fortunately  I was able to capture a few good images in our brief encounter, hope you enjoy them!

 

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

As always, the best of these images and hundreds more are available for purchase on my website as wall art on glossy metal or acrylic sheets, stretched canvas and traditional matting and framing. Tons of cool household and gift items are also available with any image you like including coffee mugs, t-shirts, blankets and pillows, battery chargers, phone cases, stationary and much much more! Just click on any image you like and all the choices, sizes and prices will appear! For my viewers interested in images for commercial use, please visit my image licensing portal! Also, if you would like to see a more complete record of today’s images please follow my Instagram account!

Many of my adventures have also been captured on beautiful HD video on my Youtube Channel! If you enjoy my content please subscribe to my channel, subscribers have a big impact on channel rankings!