Morning Surprise

Cooper's Hawk

So the plan today was to drive to the upper parking lot at the trailhead and beat the ‘shroomer to the upper meadows to see if I might find the elk herd before they retreat to the coolness of the dense forest. And of course maybe get pictures of the dusky grouse flock before her dog had a chance to scare them into the forest. There were no grouse but as I neared the edge of the forest I heard a strange call that required investigation. I eventually spotted the bird in a tree calling down to me. I had seen these before but always thought they were some kind of meadowlark or something. Not a tiny bird but not a big one either, bigger than a robin though. Anyway, I snapped a few pictures until the bird took off, and I continued on through the forest to look for elk.

Mule Deer Fawn

Alas, there were no elk on the summit but there were a few cute mule deer, including a doe with her curious fawn in tow. They stopped briefly to check me out and kept on walking. With my long lens I was able to photograph from a distance beyond their danger zone.

Upon arriving at my desktop I loaded up the interesting new bird and discovered it to be a Cooper’s Hawk. The All About Birds site provided by Cornell Labs identified the raptor for me including a few interesting facts about their lifestyle. They are a forest dwelling bird that feeds on other birds and migrate in the winter along with osprey to South America. According to ABCBirds.org , “Like so many other species, Cooper’s Hawks are harmed by habitat loss, which may limit suitable breeding habitat. Collisions with glass windows, turbines, and poorly lit communications towers also account for many deaths.” Just one more reason that I’m against the wholesale adoption of all those stupid windmills that don’t supply enough power to justify their damage to the landscape.

That the hawks eat other birds could explain the apparent shortage of song birds on my mountain this season! Well anyway, there is at least one nesting pair living in the dark forest, and maybe more. Now I can’t wait to get back up there for some more captures!

 

 

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” and this year’s wildlife calendar “Colorado Wildlife 2023“!

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

Most Special Day of the Summer

Today will probably go down as the most special day of the entire summer. Last summer began tragically when the osprey nest in Eleven Mile Canyon was blown down in a storm with the loss of all three eggs. I saw the osprey occasionally throughout the summer but never both of them together. The literature says the nest is the glue that keeps an osprey pair together for life and if the nest is destroyed there is no guarantee that the pair will return as mates the next year. At the end of the season when the warmth of summer was  giving way to the cold of winter I was fortunate to be present when the pair met at a tree near the old nest, perhaps just as they were preparing for their 4,000 mile journey to their winter location in South America.  One of the birds was repeatedly bringing sticks back to the tree and dropping them on what looked like a good place to rebuild a nest. Some stayed in the tree and some fell on the ground, but it appeared like the one was trying to say to the other, this is where we are going to meet next year. Eventually it started to rain and the beautiful moment came to an end, but not before I got a nice video of the moment!

Osprey in Eleven Mile

Well this spring I was diligent to visit the site often near the end of April and the beginning of May. I was there when the first of the pair arrived, waiting faithfully at the chosen tree. I never did see a second osprey and there was no nest built this summer in that particular tree. Once again, I spotted a single osprey occasionally throughout the summer but never two together and I was never able to track down the location of a new nest. Osprey offspring begin to fly in August and by the first of September they are expected to be self sufficient. The parents appear to begin their migration about the first of September just to make sure the new ones are forced to gain strength and perfect their skills before the bad weather comes in and they too must migrate.

But the bad news was up until today I had not seen any sign of juvenile osprey in the canyon. I had almost given up, but today I had errands to run in the city and decided on a swing through the canyon on my way home. As I was driving upstream against the sun I spotted a bird in a tree over the river. At first I thought it was just a crow but I got out the binoculars to make sure. It was definitely not a crow, through the glare of the sun it was obvious the bird had a white head. I got out the camera and moved about a little trying to locate better light. A little better light revealed an osprey but still the scene was so severe I was unable to tell if it was an adult or a a juvenile. Suddenly I heard the familiar chirp of an osprey and a second raptor was flying upstream with a fish in tow. Soon both birds were flying together in a joyful dance in the sky and I was able to capture one of the my best images ever!

Eventually the pair landed in a tree nearby in much better light and I was able to capture a couple of nice portraits, revealing the fact that we now have two new osprey in the canyon 🙂 That means of course that the pair returned and built a nest somewhere else in the canyon, hatched two eggs and all is right with the world 🙂 I hope to visit the little ones a couple more times before they make the long trip south where they will remain for a couple of years before finding a mate for life and begin the circle of life anew .

 

 

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

Coyote on the Hunt

Outsmarted Again

So I’ve been tracking this red-tailed hawk for days, and for days he has avoided a successful capture of his image. Today was no different… as I pulled my truck into the trailhead parking lot I spotted the familiar fellow perched on a perfect power pole for a picture. His favorite pole is in a place where I can’t get close to him without climbing down in a hole and shooting straight up. If I climb the hill on the other side, the early morning light is shining on the opposite side and I’m only going to get a silhouette.

Red-tail Hawk

Today he was on a higher pole in a place where the trail approaches high from the southeast where he was in good light, and even better conditions if he took flight in his usual direction. He waited patiently while I climbed the hill and sat down in an advantageous position to prepare for the image. I pre-focused my 400mm lens with the 1.4x teleconverter attached and perfected the exposure. I sat and watched for a few minutes while snapping a couple of stills until he began to fluff his feathers in preparation for flight. I was totally ready when he took flight, exactly in the opposite direction, away from the light and directly behind a mass of power lines. foiled again 😦

I completed my hike over the summit without seeing any more birds close enough to photograph and headed on into Victor to check on the art gallery and then over to the Gold Camp Bakery for coffee and a muffin and a sandwich for lunch later on. A quick pass through Goldfield yielded nothing so I decided to give it up and head for home. But as I neared the trailhead parking again I once again spotted my nemesis in an even more advantageous position!

Red-tail Hawk

So I pulled in, attached the 2x teleconverter for an even closer view, and made my way slowly toward the formidable raptor. I assumed he would allow me to get a bit closer before taking flight so I didn’t pre-focus or get my exposure parameters ready. I looked up and spotted the great bird looking right at me when suddenly he took flight and dove straight at me in perfect light. My decision to use the 2x proved unfortunate as my frame was so small and focus so far out that I was unable to get him in the frame. I quickly adjusted my focal length so as to get him in the frame, but by then he was circling overhead mocking me 😦 He made several passes over me to take a good look but overhead captures are never going to equal a head on pass at close range.

In reality… the bird gave me every chance to get the picture this time and I blew it. Oh well… tomorrow is another day!

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!

Coyote on the Hunt

Canon R7 and New Birds

I’ve been busy lately!!!! Setting up a new camera and shooting some new bird species! So I have upgraded to the Canon R7 from my old 90D and I’m loving it! The manual for this camera is 1000 pages long though so it has taken me a bit of time to get it all set up the way I like it! We went to Manitou Lake and Eleven Mile Canyon yesterday in hopes of getting some high ISO images to test the camera’s low light capability, plus I wanted to try out DXO Pure Raw on some noise.  In the process I captured some new  birds, according to Merlin anyway… Saw some red-breasted merganser ducks, a green-tailed towhee, and a flock of broad winged hawks!

It was great having the amazing animal eye focus on the R7 helping me with the in flight pictures… The old 90D focus system actually came from the ancient Canon 80D and it was a difficult beast to control. The focus points were so far apart that the camera would often lose tracking and just go completely out of focus. The R7 with it’s newer mirrorless technology uses a completely different focusing system that enables the entire screen for thousands of focus points. There is no losing the subject with that system! Unfortunately there wasn’t much action at the lake, just a few birds perched in the reeds, no osprey, herons or pelicans flying around.

Oh, and I like DXO Pure Raw but will stick with Topaz for it’s amazing flexibility and convenient workflow. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the images!

 

 

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!

Seasons of the Raptor (second edition)

Seasons of the Raptor

I am pleased to announce that I have released the second edition of my first book, “Seasons of the Raptor“. It includes a new chapter complete with exciting images of the return of our beloved osprey pair to Eleven Mile Canyon, following the destruction of their nest in a violent spring storm the previous year. Also included is the return of the bald eagles to their nest at the entrance of the canyon along with their beautiful new eaglet who is now growing rapidly and working hard at learning to fly!

The book can be purchased from my printer / distributor at Lulu .com, along with a number of other publications I have created! For those of you who prefer Kindle, the book is available on Amazon in ebook format!

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!

Osprey in Eleven Mile

Eagle Action at Eleven Mile

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile CanyonI try to make it to the canyon at least once a week to check on the eagles. Very soon I expect to see the female sitting on eggs in the nest but that day was not today. When I arrived there were no eagles near the nest, only a red-tailed hawk a little further upstream. However I was happy to find Speckles on his favorite tree up by the bend, just waiting for me to photograph him :)

I pulled in as close as I could and trained my long lens on his position high in the tree. The light wasn’t very good so I hoped he wouldn’t stay right there very long but unfortunately for me I must have arrived shortly after he did. He took his sweet time preening his feathers and looking around until my arms and hands were about to fall off from holding the heavy equipment. My hand kept going asleep so I had to keep shaking it out to keep it from going numb and I was sure I was going to miss the inevitable flight.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile CanyonEventually he called out and a few minutes later his mate arrived in a tree a few feet upstream. They chattered together for a few minutes and then he flew upstream. Fortunately after an hour of waiting I just happened to be ready and managed to capture a couple of nice in-flight images before he disappeared around the bend. I was glad to see his mate, I haven’t seen her with him this season and am glad to see she’s doing well. Eventually she flew upstream as well so I followed in hopes of better light.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

I spotted them together at the south end of the bend and hoped that I’d be able to capture them together, but just as I got there Speckles flew off. I decided to wait and see if he might return and sure enough in a few minutes he flew back in and circled the river before landing on their old favorite tree, my favorite one to photograph 🙂 Eventually both eagles departed and after one more trip up the canyon they hadn’t returned or landed where I could see them. Typically they like to go soaring about that time of day so I just headed on downstream to take another look at the nest.

This time one of the nesting pair was at the nest for a few minutes before flying off and soaring high into the northern sky.

 

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!

Checking on the Eagles

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

I had a free day so I decided to check in on the eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon. My last few visits there have been less than stellar so I wasn’t too optimistic, but cold and snow the night before had me thinking this day might be different. I was in the canyon just after sunrise plowing through three inches of new snow, feeling thankful for new snow tires on the back of my truck! Lol, this visit was a first though, I got so tired and sleepy between the tunnels that I had to find a pullout and take a nap 😦 On the other hand it was very quiet that early and the canyon is a great place to take a nap! I’ll have to keep that in mind 🙂

I made it all the way to the end without seeing a thing and made the turnaround. I would make the turnaround one more time without success and then finally spotted the eagle called Speckles in a tree high on the ridge to the west. He was too far for a good picture but of course I had to at least give it a try. It was so cold in the canyon at that time I decided to just move on and hope for a better sighting of a different eagle.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

I usually give up after two passes through the canyon but decided this day to take a chance and make three. Finally after 10:00 a.m. Speckles was finally getting busy and I found him in a tree down by the water. I couldn’t get a good angle on him from the truck so I grabbed the monopod and hiked down the river a bit in hopes of better light and a better view. I captured a couple of nice shots of him on the branch before blowing my best chance of the day for in-flight pictures. He flew right at me and almost right over my head but I couldn’t wrangle the monopod into position in time and missed the whole event 😦

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

Later on I got a couple more opportunities for in-flight pictures and finally around noon managed to get a picture that made the day feel worth while. I’ll have to get back there soon if there is going to be that kind of action! It won’t be long and our nesting pair will be laying eggs and spending a lot of time at the nest. Remember though, this year the area down by the river in front of the nest is off limits for the reproduction period from January through June.

Keep my book, called “Seasons of the Raptor” about the Eleven Mile Canyon and other Colorado raptors in mind if you are looking for a gift for an outdoorsman or for some light reading in your spare time! The book is also available as an ebook and can be read for free from your Kindle Unlimited account!

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.

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