Mid Summer Beauty

Good wildlife images seem to be hard to come by this summer. I have been unsuccessful in locating osprey at the two most likely locations, Eleven Mile Canyon and Manitou Lake. Weeks have passed without an osprey sighting. The bald eagles have also disappeared. The eaglet is still in the nest at the canyon entrance and I have seen the adults back in the trees, but as far as getting good pictures, the white headed raptors have evaded me. The herons still fly in and out of the canyon before the hordes of fisherman from the city arrive and they can also be seen right at sunrise at Manitou Lake. However once the first dog walker circles the lake, heron photography is over with. Pelicans can always be counted on to put on a good show though.

Today’s trip to Manitou Lake yielded a couple of nice images right at sunrise and I’m happy to have even a few to upload and perhaps print for the Gold Camp Art Gallery in Victor!

 

Also don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon including my latest, “Wildlife Photography in the Colorado Rockies”!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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!

 
 

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Finally Eagle Catches Fish

Red-winged Blackbirds

I’ve been trying for years to capture an image of a bald eagle actually catching a fish and yesterday it finally happened 🙂 A morning at Manitou Lake worked out and an early arrival time was scheduled. Unfortunately the gate wasn’t open yet so entering the park required a bit of a hike from a nearby unofficial parking lot but the morning was still young when we arrived at a likely vantage point for some good photography. Picture taking was off to a good start with some awesome captures of a female red-winged black bird, busily gathering cattail fuzz for her nest followed by the arrival of a few great blue herons.

Bald Eagle at Manitou Lake

Soon it was time for the arrival of the osprey that have been coming to the lake at the same time every day on their morning fishing trip. Unfortunately the osprey seem to have changed their schedule and have decided not to oblige us. It was beginning to look like another photo bust at the lake when suddenly a bald eagle flew in and circled the lake. Soon our National Bird was making a dive at the water, a bit far for a good capture but I readied my camera anyway. A 1600th of a second shutter time, f/8 and auto ISO seemed like good settings for an eagle gliding in for a catch.

Suddenly there was a splash and the mighty raptor was on it’s way with a good sized trout. I kept my lens trained on the approaching predator with my thumb on the back button focus, and kept shooting away. The bird was so small in the frame that it wasn’t really possible at the time to discern whether I was successful, but I was elated that I had actually witnessed the event!

Garden of the Gods

Then it was on to Woodland Park and Colorado Springs for supplies and to shoot the remaining frames of black and white film with my Canon A-1 film camera. I turned off at Manitou Springs to take the back way through Garden of the Gods in hopes of a worthy subject for my six frames of Ilford B&W film. Plus they are building a round about at the west entrance and I wanted to see if it was possible yet to get past the mess on 30th Street. Well, it is not, you can go across to the visitor center but it still isn’t possible to go north. Fontenaro Street to the south is the best route to Colorado Springs proper from the Garden. Before leaving however, I stopped for a few captures of the new leaves of springtime at the visitor center with my A-1 film camera and also a few with my 24-105 wide angle on the 90D using a polarizer.

Here are a few more images from the lake which can be counted on to provide a variety of bird species and color, hope you enjoy them!

 

And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

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!

If you enjoy the content and would like to contribute to the cause, please click the donation button and choose an amount!

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!

If you enjoy the content and would like to contribute to the cause, please feel free to click the donate button below!

Elk Herd on a Beautiful Rocky Mountain Evening

And don’t forget to check out my books and calendars on Lulu Press and Amazon!

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!

Spring in the Canyon

The canyon was full of life this morning! There were bald eagles, juvenile eagles, osprey, blue heron and a ton of little song birds. So amazing to see it this way after so many months of bitter cold. I tried a little experiment today, I left off the clear filter that has been attached to my 100-400mm lens since I got it a couple of years ago. I’ve been aware of a slight ghosting on distant objects for some time now but have been unable to determine the source of the problem. I thought it might be a known problem of moisture building up in the lens hood when the lens is warm and the air is cold but that didn’t seem to be it.

So this morning I focused on Mama eagle and took off the filter. Not positive but I think maybe it was a little more clear. So I tried today’s shoot without it. Unfortunately I was really tired this morning and wasn’t really able to concentrate on what I was doing so I don’t think I did that great of a job focusing, but the pictures are still nice. Hope you enjoy them !

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!

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!

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!

The Joy of Shooting Film

The goal today was to finish my roll of film that I have been shooting through my new / vintage film camera that I found at a  thrift store, a Canon AE-1. I was going to run into town with the camera and shoot a couple of  random pictures to round out my 36 exposures, but I decided upon a trip out to the canyon instead. The bulk of the tourists leave after the holiday weekend so I was kind of hoping the wildlife had settled down and reappeared along the banks of the beautiful South Platte River.

Great Blue Heron

Things have definitely settled down in the canyon, only a hand full of campers remain and it looked like they were packing up. There are always fishermen, even in the dead of winter but there weren’t the giant trucks roaring up and down the dirt road stirring up huge clouds of dust.

Didn’t see much on the drive up the canyon, but I wanted to stop somewhere and make a video so I kept an eye out for a good place to do that. Having spotted a nice private spot along the banks of the river I gathered up my gear and walked down to the river. Much to my surprise as I was getting ready I spotted a great blue heron fishing only about 30 yards from me! I quick snapped a few images, but I managed to scare him away trying to adjust my pants and missed the coveted flight image 😦

Eventually I completed my little talk about the Canon AE-1 film camera that I found at the thrift shop a few weeks ago and took a few shots with it. At first the experience seemed a bit hollow, I’m used to shooting digital and looking at the screen after each series. But I soon fell into the groove and began to enjoy the experience. In film photography you have to slow down and really think about what you are doing. Careful consideration of your shutter speed and aperture are required, you have to make every shot count. With my Canon 90D digital I can burn up 36 exposures in three seconds followed by a quick check of the results and another three second burst. Frequently I find myself shooting six or seven hundred captures in a day along the river, while today I had to make my last six film frames count.

Red-tailed Hawk

So I whiled away my time looking at the river imagining the picture I wanted to capture, how much motion in the water do I want to see, how much depth of field am I going to need… Which lens is going to give me the coverage that I want, what to leave in, what to leave out. Finally I am ready and click, there it is. Did it  turn out, I don’t know… I’ll find out in two weeks! But there is something about the click, the sound of the antique shutter, the slap of the mirror, the sound of the film advance lever. Somehow I feel like a real photographer, not just the operator of a highly advance machine.

However I know I won’t be going back to shooting film exclusively… One day I calculated what my expenses would be if I were to be conducting my stock photo business with film, the film and developing cost alone would be running me about $1500 per month and that doesn’t even include the cost of high res scans that would be required for the uploads.

However I did enjoy the experience enough to pick up another roll of 35mm film at the store where I dropped off the film. Although I may have jumped the gun on that purchase, the camera seems to work fine, but it is 40 years old and I’m not even sure it is going to work, and I won’t know for two weeks!

On pins and needles 🙂

 

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!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Coyote Ridge

Coyote Ridge is a trailhead at Eleven Mile Reservoir that I’ve been meaning to hike for a couple of years now. I’ve started the hike and turned around a couple of times, both times in the winter. The cold at Eleven Mile Reservoir is extreme so one time I turned around for that reason and the other time because I knew that I would not be able to climb the ridge without snowshoes or at least my Ice Trekkers.  The logical solution is to explore the trail the first time in summer… but I always seem to have something to do in the summer!

Yellow Wildflowers at Eleven Mile State Park

Well yesterday I didn’t have something to do… the osprey have probably already migrated to South America, the eagles have vanished from the Canyon and the deer and elk are nowhere to be found. I’ve seen pelican flying over the canyon on their way to the reservoir but the eagles don’t seem to have that behavior. I’ve seen the eagles fly west around the mountain where their nest is but from there where they go is a mystery. Once we spotted a bald eagle at the reservoir, along with a bunch of other birds hanging around a bag of trash thrown down by a camper, but that is the only time. However I have been suspicious for a long time that the eagles make the wild southeast section of the reservoir closest to the dam their summer home, the only section of the park without vehicle access.

Eleven Mile State Park

So I arrived early at the park yesterday with the intention of creating a video of this exploration and began the trek around the cove to the rugged ridge on the other side to the east. As I neared the ridge I could finally see where the trail was going to cut through the trees and rocks, up close it became obvious that the trail was a well maintained route facilitated by a set of stairs constructed of logs. I quickly made the steep but easy ascent anticipating a fabulous view on the other side. However the reward did not come immediately, I had to hike probably another half mile where an offshoot onto another outcropping became available.

On the higher ground the trails turn to forest roads for the Park Service, but mountain bike tracks also indicate that these are commonly used trails for bikers, something I’ll have to keep in mind. I would like to explore the entire southeast side someday but the distance is too great for me to want to do it all on foot. Mountain biking the section would be awesome!

Eleven Mile State Park

Well anyway, I made my way down closer to the shoreline to where the view did open up, allowing me to get some beautiful pictures and survey the entire vista to the west and north. I could see that there are a number of inlets in the wild terrain of the southeast side but I was unable to see the big dam marking the entrance to the stunning Eleven Mile Canyon. I suspect you would have to get right up to it in order to see it, so I wasn’t really expecting to see it from the first outcropping anyway.

After exploring the massive rocks creating this beautiful access to the lake I decided to just sit awhile and see if I might see the raptors flying over the clear blue water in search of the big trout I’ve often observed there. In the stillness of the morning, motion on the big island in the middle of the reservoir had caught

Pelicans at Eleven Mile State Park

my eye. Pelicans were landing and taking off from there and closer inspection through my big lens revealed a huge population of pelicans and great blue heron making themselves at home. The pelicans were all bunched together close to the east shore while the blue heron were spread out closer to the high ground in the on the north end. None of the birds paid any mind to the kayakers and paddle boarders floating past.

I never did spot any raptors, although some other hikers told me that red-tailed hawks could regularly be seen soaring overhead. Eventually I could feel my skin begin to burn from the blazing Colorado sun so I decided to call it a day, next time I will be sure to remember sunscreen. Although there are many trails up there going in every direction it wasn’t difficult to find the way back… just don’t stray too far from the water and you will eventually be returned to the starting point.

Once again, there is a video associated with this adventure, so I hope you enjoy it! If you do, I hope you will consider subscribing to my channel, you can definitely help it to grow by doing so!

Pelicans over Eleven Mile Reservoir

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!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Beautiful Outing at Manitou Lake

It always seems like the greatest expedition is going to yield the greatest images, but sometimes it’s the simplest choice that’s the best. This was one of those days… A quick check of the time of sunrise in Colorado indicated the sun would be peeking over the horizon at about 6:00 a.m., and by coincidence that’s exactly the time the gate at Manitou Lake opens 🙂 Other much more difficult locations with dubious chances for great images were quickly cast aside and plans were made for a sunrise arrival at the lake.

Great Blue Heron at Manitou Lake

Kevin and I were greeted by a few great blue herons fishing along the shoreline but unfortunately we were unable to get very close before the great birds took flight. No matter though, the herons weren’t done fishing and landed at more opportune locations around the lake where we would be able to make a more stealthy approach. A pair of beautiful pelicans were enjoying the early morning sun, standing on a log poking through the surface of the water. The interesting effect was it looked like they were standing on the surface of the lake!

A couple of laps around the lake on foot yielded a few nice images of great blue heron and pelicans landing on the water. by 9:00 the sun was already getting hot and the birds were all retreating to the shade where they could enjoy this beautiful Colorado summer morning in comfort.

These are just a couple of images that we were able to capture, please check out our new wildlife group called Wildlife of Eleven Mile Canyon and Manitou Lake to see more! And if you love wildlife the way I do, please feel free to join the group!

Pelicans Swimming

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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

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!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Pelicans Swimming

Eleven Mile and a 2x Converter

Had an opportunity to borrow a Canon 2.0x III teleconverter yesterday so I immediately thought of the eagles nest at Eleven Mile Canyon which has always been just out of reach for a good crop with my little 1.4x converter and 400mm lens. As I drove into the park area I didn’t see any eagles at the nest so I cruised on into the canyon in search of the osprey and blue heron and hopefully even the juvenile baldies.

Great Blue Heron at Eleven Mile Canyon

Didn’t see the osprey or the peregrines near the entrance so I motored upstream searching the banks of the river and nearby trees where I have seen the great birds many times. Eventually I spotted a blue heron in a tree, mostly just taking a nap, but looking up every once in while for possible threats. Unfortunately he was on the dark side of the river and with the 2x which introduces a two stop loss of light, my ISO values at a shutter speed of even just 1/800th of a second were up around 10k to even a less workable 12,800k. There was so much noise in the preview that I really couldn’t even tell if I had the image in focus. Oh, forgot to mention, with the 2x I’m limited to F11 and my Canon 90D won’t autofocus with a lens combination smaller than F8.

Osprey at Eleven Mile CanyonUnfortunately I didn’t get another opportunity to photograph until I had been all the way up the canyon and almost back out, when I finally spotted a large bird across the river resting in a dead tree. A quick glance through my long lens verified that the bird was an osprey so I rested my camera on the window frame of my truck and captured a few images. Eventually the beautiful hawk took flight and I was lucky to be ready, capturing a few images of him as he flew off with a fish in his sharp talons.

I quickly exchanged the 2x for the 1.4x which allows for only one stop of light loss and auto focused on his flight against the beautiful blue Colorado sky 🙂 Later as I looked through my images it appears as though the tree the osprey was using to eat his breakfast could be a good candidate for a nest next spring. I hope she or he was taking good notes, it’s going to be a long winter down in the tropics before they return again to breed next spring!

Osprey at Eleven Mile CanyonHappy with my captures I departed the canyon, taking a quick look one more time for the peregrines on the cliffs of the canyon entrance. The eagles nest once again appeared to be empty, but I decided to put the 2x back on to do a magnification check against the 1.4x, just to see what it would be like to watch the nest a bit closer. As I peered through the lens and monkeyed with the focus ring I spotted one of the juvi’s in a tree a few yards behind the nest. I snapped a couple shots of him and decided to go down to the river bank for a closer look.

I grabbed my big tripod with the heavy duty Vanguard ball head and took a better look. Just as I got focused the third young bald eagle flew right in front of the other two and landed in the nest. Quick reactions resulted in a pretty amazing capture of all three of the offspring in one frame drawn in close with the 2x converter 🙂

Juvenile Bald Eagles

So I have to say it was a pretty happy day in the canyon with good images of a great blue heron (taken with the 1.4x), the osprey and the young 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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

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!

This post is not sponsored and all equipment used in it’s creation was purchased by me on my own volition.

Awesome Birds at Manitou Lake


It was an awesome morning with the birds of Manitou Lake. I knew it was going to be a good morning when I spotted a great blue heron on the water the instant I arrived. He stayed for a long time and even let me get pretty close! The pelicans were flying in and out and I even spotted a couple of new birds for my Ebird profile at Cornell Ornithology labs!

Flock of American White Pelicans

Anyway, I am quite tired tonight so I am going to post this YouTube video instead of doing a lot of writing. What do they say, a video is worth a thousand words 🙂 or something like that! If you enjoy the content I hope you will like and subscribe! It would really help my channel to grow!

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! I should mention at this time that this blog post is not sponsored by Canon or any other firm. All equipment used in the making of the blog and video have been purchased by me on my own volition.

 

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