A Season of Osprey on Video

https://youtu.be/ROkImlet4nI Video of an entire season with the osprey,  from the nest to annual migration.  Please subscribe to my channel if you enjoy!

Vaya Con Dios my Feathered Friends

A cold quiet sunrise greeted me at Eleven Mile Canyon. One of  my favorite places for wildlife photography was formerly teeming with life through spring and summer but on this crisp autumn morning the river was silent. There were no herds of deer gathering in the clearing on the opposite bank of the South Platte River, no beaver hard at work in the reeds and no birds chirping. The only sound was that of the gurgling river on it’s journey through the Rocky Mountains and across Nebraska to join the Mighty Missouri.

Sunrise on the South Platte River

As the sun arose to greet the icy pristine water,  plumes of steam swirled around and combined with the fog forming from above. It was a beautiful tranquil scene, a fitting greeting to the changing seasons, autumn and the relentless approach of the Rocky Mountain Winter. As the morning sunlight conquered the darkness a lone bald eagle greeted me from far above, intently watching over the scene from her perch in the treetops.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

Eventually I decided to venture deeper into the canyon hoping for signs of life along the roaring whitewater, or perhaps near the placid pool above that.  Only the sound of the rushing water greeted me as I strode past the home of the peregrine falcons, perhaps they have already embarked upon their annual southward migration.

As I neared the osprey nest the incessant chirping of the juvenile osprey was conspicuously absent, the nest high above cold and empty. The two young raptors had been spending a lot of time watching over shallow waters in a meadow upstream so I just American Dipper  in Eleven Mile Canyonkept walking, hoping for one more chance to photograph the majestic creatures.

Finally, a lone American dipper greeted me at the prime fishing spot… Hopping around on the rocks, occasionally jumping into the ice cold water in search of sustenance. I whiled away the time observing the shenanigans of the energetic little bird, trying over and over for the perfect capture as I awaited the return of the osprey.

Osprey Soaring and Fishing

I repeated scanned the valley above and  below for the osprey hoping to see their triumphant return from a fishing trip, prey firmly in the grasp of  their mighty talons. But the moment did not come, the treetops remained silent,  the river in sole possession of the tiny birds of autumn. It appears that the cold snowy weather that enveloped Colorado earlier in the week has convinced them that it was time to begin their odyssey southward to the warm waters of Central America where they will spend two to three years maturing and gaining in strength and skill before once again venturing north in search of a mate and suitable breeding ground.

Osprey Fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon

Vaya Con Dios my beautiful feathered friends, may He watch over you and keep you safe in your travels. I look forward to your return to this magnificent canyon someday.

For your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

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!

A Lot of Birds

Pair of Bald EaglesStopped in at Eleven Mile Canyon to see if the osprey were still there, hoping for some pictures… It was foggy, a weather phenomenon that I was hoping would add some atmosphere to my images! I took a quick look up at the eagles nest and much to my surprise both adult bald eagles were in the nest! Unfortunately the fog was so dense that I could barely see them but I fired off a couple of shots anyway. I was hoping to be able to catch one in flight heading out for a fishing trip but the fog grew even more heavy, so thick that I couldn’t even see the nest. By the time the fog cleared a bit the eagles had already departed.

Osprey and Fish

It was a quiet morning on rivers edge, no sign of deer or beaver,  I wasn’t hearing any sign of the peregrines or the osprey either so I just hiked upstream with my eyes and ears trained on the banks for signs of wildlife. Eventually I heard the unmistakable sound of the osprey calling. They were beyond the nest near the wide spot in the river upstream. I hiked up there and took up a position on a rock hoping to witness a thrilling dive into the placid water for a fish. Each osprey took a turn at flight, each returning with a good sized fish. I’m not sure where they are fishing but it was definitely not where I was!

Song Sparrow in Eleven Mile Canyon

The osprey each found a perch high on a tree on the mountainside and I knew that with a big fish to feast on they wouldn’t be moving any time soon. I decided to hike  back out and check on the eagles when I heard some chirping down by the river… further investigation revealed a flock of little birds hopping around on the opposite river bank. I’ve been hoping for the opportunity to photograph the little American dippers so I scampered over the rocks down to the riverbank where I set up my gear for a photo shoot 🙂

Yellow Rumped Warbler in Eleven Mile Canyon

I thought I was shooting American dippers based on behavior, hopping around the waters edge looking for food… but it wasn’t until I was on the desktop computer at home that I realized I had been watching several little bird species in the water. There  were grey ones, brown ones, yellow ones and more! it turned out to be quite a day after all!

For your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

Birds 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!

The Circle of Life

Great Blue Heron in Flight

Was privileged this weekend to witness another milestone in the circle of osprey life in Eleven Mile  Canyon. I arrived at sunrise as usual hoping to catch the flurry of activity that occurs only at that magical moment in time. If I am lucky I might see the Great Blue Heron flying back from the dam to his favorite placid water where the river widens out. Sometimes the big beaver can be seen leaving his lodge and swimming downstream for his daily activities. The deer also are active at this hour and will often cross the shimmering river, and if I am extra fortunate I might witness the osprey diving for a fish just as the glorious light of sun appears

Mule Deer Crossing the South Platte River

Today fortune shined upon me as I spotted the blue heron winging towards me just as I had made the final adjustments to my camera in preparation for the moment 🙂 I could hear the whoosh of his giant wings as he powered past me on the other side of the river. I panned my camera hoping for a good shot of the huge aquatic bird, a quick check of the LCD screen looked promising. For a brief moment I thought I could hear the loud chirping of the osprey in the distance… I scanned the mouth of the canyon for the great birds to no avail. Perhaps I had mistaken the angry squawking of the peregrine falcons for the call of the osprey.

Osprey Soaring and Fishing

Eventually I began to wonder if the osprey had left the canyon for their winter destination so I decided before any further waiting I would hike into the canyon and have a look at their nest. Sadly there was no activity at the nest so I ventured further upstream to investigate a wide area in the river that I believe the osprey have been fishing. As I neared the hunting grounds I heard the unmistakable sound of the osprey call and shortly thereafter spotted him high on a treetop, peering down hopefully at the water.

Osprey Soaring and Fishing

Soon his sister came soaring past and took up a perch in another tree. The two didn’t linger long and flew downstream toward their nest. I turned around and swiftly walked the quarter of a mile or so back to the nest and took up a position on the mountainside opposite the osprey nest and waited. Soon one swooped in with a good sized fish and began to feast on a nearby tree, quickly followed by the other… also with a good sized fish!

Mule Deer in Eleven Mile Canyon

It was only last week that it appeared the younger raptor was still not yet very good at the art of fishing, she just sat in the nest and cried for mama to feed her. I wasn’t sure the parents were still in the area so I was relieved when mama bird delivered a fish to the nest. This week however there is no sign of the adult birds at all. All the literature I have read says they will fly south anywhere from the middle to the end of August and I believe them to have taken that journey by now.

Osprey in Flight

Fortunately in just one more week both of the juvenile birds now appear adept at catching fish. They will remain for up to a week, gorging on fish and gaining strength for the long flight to Central America where they will remain for a couple of years before flying north to look for a mate and continue the Circle of Life.

For your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

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!

Lessons Learned

Osprey Fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon

It was quite a summer of photography and I definitely had to up my game this season! For nearly four decades in Colorado I have enjoyed photographing our beautiful mountain landscapes, iconic wildlife including bighorn sheep, mountain goats, deer, elk and even a few bear! I have been successful shooting all these subjects from the fully manual era to auto focus, early digital, and finally to these times of amazing technology that could barely be imagined when I first began this amazing journey with my Minolta X-700 35mm film camera.

Bald Eagle in Flight

My first digital camera was the original Canon 1D. The camera was so intuitive and amazing that I never even bothered to learn how to use it’s advanced focusing system. The camera was so good at finding the subjects I was interested in that I didn’t even need to learn any more about it beyond it’s most basic settings. Unfortunately that camera had only a 4.5 megapixel sensor and quickly became obsolete as camera technology exploded at light speed.

Great Blue Heron in Flight

By the time the Canon 40D was introduced I was doing a bit of sports photography and was forced to master single focus point selection which involved only one additional button and a joy stickl on the back of the camera. By the time the 70D arrived I was confronted with increasingly difficult situations which required learning “back button focus“. With that skill mastered, I was able to rapidly switch between servo and single shot photography with just a thumb and one button on the back of the camera.

Mother Bald Eagle with Her Eaglet

But this summer was different, starting with the discovery of the eagles nesting in Eleven Mile Canyon. No big deal at first, the mother eagle was just sitting in the nest with her eaglet and my previously acquired skills were perfectly sufficient. Then it happened, the eagles flew! They took flight in some of the most magnificent photographic opportunities I had ever been presented with!

Osprey Gathering

And suddenly I was a complete failure as a photographer 😦 All my pictures were blurry and the opportunity for game changing images was lost. Back to the drawing board… Of course there were some obvious solutions, shutter speed too slow being the first major culprit. A quick trip to the internet provided the necessary information, birds in flight require a shutter speed of at least 1/1250th of a second, preferably 1/1600th and up. I decided upon shutter priority mode with auto ISO to accomplish this task and I began to get some pretty decent eagles in flight captures.

After extensive observation I learned a bit about eagle habit, what time of day they might fly, when they might return and even a couple of indicators for when they might be getting ready to take flight. Eagles are big and tend to soar in steadily making accurate focus a fairly dependable action. I believed I was set, my skills were up to the task of photographing raptors 🙂

Doe and Fawn Crossing River

One day the eagles weren’t there and I decided to venture further into the canyon in search of them. As I scanned the banks of the South Platte River looking for signs of additional subjects I spotted a huge nest on a dead tree high overhead. Closer inspection revealed a bit of motion in the nest so I parked Big Blue and got out with my long lens for a better look.

Sure enough, there was a large bird in the nest with two small bobbing heads… But what was it, a hawk of some kind perhaps? I climbed the opposite bank for a better look and surmised that this beautiful birds must be osprey. I shot for awhile and headed for home with my cache of fascinating images. A quick check on the internet confirmed my original assessment, indeed there was a family of osprey nesting high above the pristine waters of the South Platte River.

Great Blue Heron in Water of Glass

Subsequent trips to the viewing area revealed that further advancement in my birding skills was going to be required… for the first time I was forced to deep dive into the capabilities of my camera. Settings that I had glossed over when I purchased my Canon 90D were now items of interest… First image priority, second image priority, acceleration and deceleration, erratic motion and focus point switching were all in play with the osprey. Flight without any kind of warning, rapidly changing direction, flying through the trees and dipping and diving had rendered my previously learned skills completely inadequate.

Osprey and Hummingbird

Now by the end of summer, many dozens of hours of practice, study and trial and error have elevated my skills to a new level. I have confidence that I have my camera settings dialed in, my skills honed and my patience perfected… as much as humanly possible 🙂 Now for what I have learned …

In a nutshell, I’m not going to try to go into great detail about camera settings since each camera manufacturer and each camera is different… but at least for birds in flight and probably many other additional applications, this is what I have learned:

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

For starters, if I am anticipating birds in flight right from the get go, I’ll put my camera on shutter priority at 1/1600th of a second  with auto ISO. For birds in flight you are going to need at least a 400mm lens if not longer, so I make sure I am using my 100-400 with my 1.4x extension attached. That limits me to F8 and consequently one focus point, but I’ve discovered that unless the bird is flying against a pure backdrop such as the sky I have better luck with the greater magnification and a single point anyway. Tv mode also allows me access to the rear wheel for quick adjustment of exposure compensation which I am going to need if the bird flies high with the bright sky in the background.

Double-crested Cormorant in Flight

If I  get on scene and the birds are in the nest I may want to dial back my shutter speed to 640 which is going to bring the ISO down quite a bit for a cleaner picture. If a beaver is swimming downstream or I see some deer walking across the stream I may bump the shutter speed up to 1/800th or so to freeze the motion. But if nothing else is going on and I am going to just watch a nest for action I’ll bump the shutter speed back up to at least 1250 or 1600 depending on the light.

Wilson's Warbler

Also if I find myself in a low light situation anticipating action I may go to manual on the mode dial and use the widest aperture available, which is going to be F8 with the 1.4 attached, or F5.6 for my lens at its widest focal length without the 1.4x, and the lens fully extended to 400mm. In Tv mode, the camera may select a stop down from the widest aperture which may bump you into a higher and less clear ISO range. And of course always be paying attention to your background. If it is brighter than the light on your subject you may need to bump up your exposure compensation. A bright sky may require at least +1. As in the case of the osprey and bald eagles with their bright white heads, you are probably going to want to dial that back to -1/3 or -2/3 to avoid blowing out the brilliant white feathers.

Great Blue Heron in Flight

Well I guess that’s about it for now… I have to say though, I’m looking forward to autumn and prime season for the majestic large mammals that mostly stand and pose for me.  Even with all the learning and practice a lot of birds in flight don’t turn out and I am going to enjoy the much higher success rate on the big animals 🙂

For your enjoyment I have created many short multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

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!

Juvenile osprey in flight

Another Excellent Adventure

Bald Eagle on Nest

It was another excellent morning for photography at Eleven Mile Canyon. First of all I was glad to see that reports of a wildfire in the area were either not true or the fire is already out, no smoke anywhere in the area 🙂 I arrived just before sunrise and went immediately down to water’s edge to check for any action in the river below the dam. On a lucky day I might see the big beaver working on his lodge or even the osprey fishing for trout in the placid water. As I was getting my camera ready I spotted the great blue heron already on his daily return flight from the reeds and fish in the calm water above the dam. Unfortunately  I was not able to capture the

Tree Squirrel Eating

daily event as I was still fiddling with batteries and lenses 😦 I did however, notice that there was some movement in the eagles nest that I haven’t seen for some time! It was one of the adult bald eagles sitting on the nest and I quickly readied my camera for an eagle sitting still shot… Tv mode with a 400th of a second, ISO 640, F9 and -1/3 exposure compensation so as not to blow out the bright white on the eagle’s head!

Pair of Canada Geese

A quick scan of the area revealed nothing but a few Canada geese swimming in the placid water well below the dam. I thought I might be able to see the osprey watching for trout above the dam, but there was nothing but a bunch of tiny grey birds flitting back and forth between the cliff on the west side and the pine trees on the east side of the river 😦 This cute tree squirrl and this pair of Canada geese seemed like worth subjects though!

Mallard Duck

I looked on all the usual tree tops for the osprey but they were nowhere to be seen. The falcons were also taking a day off and I began to wonder if they and the osprey had already headed for South America. There was a cute duck quacking and swimming around in the glass like water by the reeds so I snapped a few of those, although I usually don’t bother shooting ducks and geese… but today I just wanted to make sure I captured something!

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

With nothing going on above the dam I decided to venture back into the canyon to investigate the osprey situation. As I neared the nest I was surprised when one of the majestic birds flew right over my head. I wasn’t able to recover in time to get the shot but luckily I had arrived at the beginning of the morning feeding so the first raptor took up a position in the nest. I also took up my position high on the opposite bank with my favorite view of the nest and the entire riverbank.

Osprey in Eleven Mile Canyon Colorado

The youngster in the nest chirped noisily so I hoped the parents would soon answer with a fish… However it was the sibling who first answered the call and he too landed in the nest. But being in no mood to share his catch he quickly departed with his prize and perched on a dead  branch on my side of the river. In quick succession though, the mother osprey appeared with a stick for he nest followed by the father who delivered some kind of catch… It didn’t look like a fish, perhaps one of the ubiquitous ground squirrels was the preferred catch of the day!

Doe Mule Deer in the South Platte River

Eventually the majestic birds all disappeared so I headed upstream to see if I might find them fishing in the wide part of the river a couple hundred yards to the south. I didn’t see the osprey but I did spot this nice doe mule deer eating the lush grass on an island. She cast a wary glance in my direction so I just sat down and hoped she would continue. She quickly became comfortable with my presence and began to eat again. I snapped quite a few images of her in various positions but this one at water’s edge is my favorite!

Gold Finch Eating Flowers

After shooting a few stills of the beautiful flowing water I headed back to my truck where I noticed this little gold finch feeding on some wildflowers. A nice ending to an excellent morning.

For your enjoyment I have created a short multimedia video for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channel  if you would like to see more of our adventures!

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!

Making of the Osprey Video

The other day I had the privilege of watching a young osprey make a valiant attempt at catching a fish in the placid waters of the South Platte River just  above the old dam at the entrance of Eleven Mile Canyon near Lake George, Colorado. I had watched these magnificent raptors grow from helpless chicks to ferocious predators over the last two months and after seeing the fishing effort I was inspired to create my newest video, “Osprey Family Grows Up“.

Osprey Mother and Chick

This journey began in June when I first discovered the nest along the river. Earlier in the spring I had also been watching a bald eaglet grow up and take flight but when that happened the activity at the nest was greatly diminished so I went up the canyon looking for additional subjects to photograph. I had heard their were raptors in the canyon but had never seen them for myself.

By the time I made this discovery the chicks were already fairly large and well developed. Their wings however weren’t fully formed and they were unable to catch air at all… all they could do was flap their stubby wings furiously and chirp for all they were worth!

At first I watched from the opposite river bank, straining my neck to see the nest, built on top of a dead pine tree at least 100 feet over the pristine river flowing below. After unsuccessfully scrambling over the rocks along the riverbank to photograph the parents in flight, my sights turned to the opposite side of the dirt road and a steep trail up the mountainside.  I shouldn’t say trail, it was more of a faint path used by deer to access the wilderness on the east side of the rugged park but it was a way to scale the mountain!

I scrambled up the steep incline and found a suitable rock upon which to sit and stabilize my photography gear.  Otherwise the mountainside was so steep that I would have surely fallen off the mountain in the heat of battle! I found another rock where my backpack was accessible and also safe from rolling down the hill onto the road 60 feet below. I considered bringing a tripod in on occasion but the spot was so precarious I decided against it which unfortunately means all my video footage is handheld and some of it a bit shaky. My primary goal is always of course still photography for my stock business but there were times when the chicks were chirping excitedly and a still image would have just been insufficient to take it all in.

Osprey Chick Learning to Fly

I returned to the location at least weekly to check on the progress of the progress of the young raptors. While researching the habits of osprey I learned that the eggs can hatch up to a week apart and that became obvious as I studied the chicks. One was obviously ahead in development, he ate more food and appeared to be considerably stronger. He was also the first to catch some air, flapping his now fully developed wings and rising a foot or two off the nest while his sister looked on with great admiration.

Osprey Gathering

During this time the offspring were of course unable to provide for themselves. I watched with fascination as the parents worked hard to keep the young ones fed. The father osprey would spend hours perched in a dead tree high over the nest watching for danger. The mother remained in the nest most of the time tending lovingly to her chicks She would occasionally leave the nest to retrieve sticks for nest building and sometimes to go catch a fish. The patriarch would also occasionally leave his perch for a few minutes before returning with a fish which he would just drop off before returning to his perch.

Eventually it became apparent the older sibling was about ready to fly so I returned daily hoping to witness the first adventure out of the nest. The mother osprey took on a new routine, leaving the nest to perch on a tree on the opposite bank. From there she would chirp loudly, as if she were encouraging the youngster to take the leap out of the nest. Finally the day came, the young osprey flapped his wings and rose up out of the nest. Then he just kept going and landed on top of a a massive rock slightly above the nest and about 30 feet away.  There he strutted around proudly doing a happy dance which I wish I would have remembered to obtain video footage of, but I was so excited about getting pictures that I forgot all about it!

Osprey Soaring

Then I began to worry that he wouldn’t be able to get  back to the nest, but after about a half hour of strutting around he took a leap off the cliff, and soared high into the clear blue Colorado sky! At first he wasn’t too adept at landing, he wanted to come to rest on one of the many treetops but he kept missing them and finally found another huge rock to land on. His sister followed his success, taking flight about a week later.

Then for a while it appeared there were regular feedings, early in the morning, one around noon and one in the evening. The osprey seemed to know what time it was and one by one they would return to the nest where a fish would be brought in by mom and dad.

Now from my studies on the subject, there is no formal fishing training for the osprey. They just seem to figure it out for themselves. I noticed that the juveniles were making a lot of trips downstream so one day I decided to set up near the old dam with a good view of the placid water both upstream and downstream to see if I could figure out where they were fishing.

Osprey Fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon

And then it happened, one of the young ones circled the water just above the dam and then swooped in for the kill. I was able to get some still images of the attack, including the splash down and the takeoff. While he was nearly submerged I  became concerned that he would be unable to get out of the water and danger was ahead! The water in that area, although not whitewater is moving quite swiftly. If he were swept over the dam into the roiling water at the bottom he would

Osprey Fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon

surely perish 😦 I have since learned that osprey have no problem exiting the water, sometimes with great weight from a very large fish!

Unfortunately this attempt only yielded a bit of sea weed but I noticed him returning with a fish from further downstream on another day. Now I see both juveniles frequently fishing together but I have not been able to match my photographic success from the big day.

Now it is mid August and near the time when the osprey fly south to their winter location in central or South America. The adult osprey go first, leaving their offspring behind. The young ones have been known to remain for a few days gaining in strength and skill before they  themselves take flight on the long journey south.

Pair of Osprey

I will frequently return to the location until all the majestic birds have departed which will be a bittersweet day. I know that the time must come and it is part of the cycle of osprey life but I will miss the great birds as they have become a big part of my life this summer! I wish them luck and safety on their long odyssey and hope for their return next spring to repeat the cycle! I have learned that the adults return to the nest but the yearlings remain in the southern location for two or three years before striking out on their own to find a mate and reproduce.

I encourage you to watch the video, you will hear the chicks chirping loudly, the river roaring below, and see images not seen before. You will feel like you were there yourself to witness the whole reproduction cycle 🙂 Also, if you enjoy the footage please click the icon on the lower left to subscribe! And visit my video channel where you will find many more, including bighorn sheep, deer and the elk rut in Rocky Mountain National Park!

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!

My Best Day with the Osprey

It was without a doubt my best day ever with the osprey since finding their nest in Eleven Mile Canyon earlier this summer. The two little ones were already hatched by the time I learned of them and it was pretty special to get to watch them grow, learn to fly and now learn to catch fish for themselves.

One other time when I was set up along the river further downstream I spotted one of them trying to fish in the calm waters where the river widens, but I wasn’t able to capture a very good picture… it was just too far away. My buddy and I have been regularly camped out at the nest trying to capture all the action, including the daily feedings as the parents bring fish to the nest. It’s quite an exciting event for  little ones, they begin squawking loudly and flapping their wings when they see the parents approaching and it is a blast to photograph the delivery of the fish. It doesn’t take long and if you can get high enough on the other bank you can see them ripping off strips of meat with their powerful hooked beaks.

Osprey Fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon

But since the little ones have learned to fish for themselves the feedings are few and far between and there is little action at the nest. I have been noticing that they are flying downstream and I surmised they were probably fishing in the calm water on the south side of the dam. So yesterday I decided to take a chance on hanging out at the dam, the risk being that none of them ever show up and I get no reward for my efforts.

Osprey Fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon

I arrived at sunrise and went directly to the dam, biding my time photographing the peregrine falcons that frequently fly over the river to attend to some kind of falcon business on the other side of the river. Then I heard it, the loud call of an osprey. It was one of the juveniles and I grabbed a few images of him as he flew a few laps around the calm water. Eventually he landed on top of a dead tree overlooking the glass like early morning water of the South Platte River. He probably perched for about a half hour, looking all around and occasionally letting out a squawk, I assume to let his sister know of his whereabouts. Osprey can turn their heads completely around so you have to be careful if you are photographing them in the tree to make sure they aren’t looking backwards!

Osprey Fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon

Then all of a sudden he took flight, making another lap and then descending toward the water. I desperately tried to follow him with my long lens but I lost him as he neared the water. I just kept moving my camera and shooting until I found the water and there was the majestic bird in a great struggle to catch is breakfast. At one point he was almost completely submerged, which caused me a bit of concern. If he were unable to escape the water he would be carried over the dam where he would surely perish 😦

Osprey Fishing in Eleven Mile Canyon

But as it turns out the young bird had everything under control and soon burst out of the water in triumphant flight. Unfortunately it appears that he only managed to capture some seaweed so breakfast would have to wait. He returned to his perch in the tree and soon his sister arrived and took up a perch in their other favorite tree. One more unsuccessful attempt was made before the pair flew together downstream where I know they have had success in the past.

Doe and Fawn Crossing River

The osprey weren’t my only success on the day, I was astonished as a doe mule deer and her fawn crossed the river in the beautiful light of a Rocky Mountain sunrise. Fortunately both of them in the light at the same time, as I set my exposure and focused on the pair for a perfect capture 🙂 Then to top it off on my way out of the canyon I spotted the Great Blue Heron walking in the calm water as if he were striding through a mirror. And much to my surprise there was a purpose to his slow stroll through the water. Apparently the huge birds slowly walk along until they find a fish which they quickly grab and eat with their powerful beaks.

Great Blue Heron in Water of Glass

With over 600 images to process I will be working on this adventure for a while! But these are a few of my favorite ones, many of which I have uploaded to my website for purchase.

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!

Sunrise on the South Platte River