A Bird in Hand

My original plan today was to hustle up the mountain and beat the elk to the summit where I would stealthily hide myself and photograph them when they came over the top. However just at sunrise I encountered a nice herd of mule deer at the top of the first mountain and had to stop and photograph them. It was such an

Mule Deer at Sunrise

amazing scene, the sun just coming up, the deer bathed in beautiful golden morning light, surrounded by fantastic scenery! I feared this interruption would make me late for the second summit and the elk but the old adage came to me… “a bird in hand is worth two in the bush”. So I stayed for as many pictures as I could gather. The deer were a little nervous and a couple of the does ran off but soon came back when the bucks decided the lush mountain grass was worth hanging around for.

And as it turns outย  I was only eight minutes behind schedule for the elk, which weren’t there anyway. I have a lot of experience with mule deer behavior. You can usually count on them doing the same thing a few days in a row. They travel in a circle and show up in the roughly the same place each day at the same time. They do vary their path by a number of yards, I suppose to throw the mountain lions off track. By the time they are done with an area it is so tracked up that following them by smell would not be an easy task.

Mule Deer Sunrise

Elk however appear to have a much larger range. Once they pass by it may be several days or never that they show up again. So yesterday I was fortunate to see and film the elk at a distance but today I saw deer. A day with any wildlife is a good day, I might add ๐Ÿ™‚

The trek through the dark forest was a tough today… I haven’t been through there since the last snow and it is starting to pile up in the shade of the tall pines! Soon I will be needing snowshoes to get through there, which will be an extra treat… nothing much that I like better than snowshoeing!

Mule Deer Doe

In addition to the usual pictures I include in my posts, this time there is a YouTube video to go along with my submission. I was able to capture a few minutes of footage of these amazing birds which you can view on my channel here!

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 Sangre de Cristo

On the Wings of Eagles

What an awesome day with the bald eagles in Eleven Mile Canyon! I drove in expecting to see them at the bend and just when I was getting worried that they weren’t going to be there I spotted one on the very top of a dead branch intently watching the placid water below. This particular stretch of river is a favorite for the raptors for it’s wide valley and slow moving water. I quietly parked and took up a position just on the other side of a bush so as not to bother the intrepid hunter too much.

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

But man it was cold! I was only out for a few seconds and already my fingers and toes were burning. Soon I began to shiver and then there was no holding the camera still. I went back to the truck for my portable seat so that I could steady my elbows on my knees, and hopefully then the camera. And I waited… hoping to see the inevitable dive into the river for a fish. I watched for probably about a half an hour and then it happened. The eagle leapt off his perch and swooped downward. I fired off as many shots as I could hoping for a sharp image of the impact point. But he never got there… apparently he lost sight of his prey and just swooped back toward the sky.

I tried to watch where he went, packed up my gear and drove upstream… relishing the heat inside my vehicle! Eventually I spotted him again, this time on my side of the river… Luckily there was a large parking area so I situated the truck so that I could just aim out the window and shoot, without getting out into the cold. Soon I heard the call of an eagle on the other side… I spotted his mate high in the treetops watching the action from the other side of the river. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

train the camera on her from inside so I got out and braced my elbows on the hood of the truck. It wasn’t long before my fingers were once again frozen and burning… and I began to shiver uncontrollably. I tried to shoot some video and even the Image Stabilization feature of my lens was not able to overcome the onslaught of hypothermia. I just could not believe how cold it was!

The eagles took one more flight upstream where I was able to shoot a few more images before they flew on, apparently to their home out of sight. I hope somewhere along the line one of them was able to catch a fish so they have a good meal!

Bald Eagle in Eleven Mile Canyon

In addition to the usual pictures I include in my posts, this time there is a YouTube video to go along with my submission. I was able to capture a few minutes of footage of these amazing birds which you can view on my channel here!

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!

Fitting End

Rocky Mountain Sunset

This amazing Rocky Mountain sunset is a fitting end to a great weekend… Friday of course was the beautiful sunrise on the Sangre de Cristo Range where I was able to capture such a nice pano. Saturday was the magnificent morning in Garden of the Gods… and this evening, such a beautiful sunset marking the end of the weekend.

I almost missed the entire thing, just happened to need to take out the trash and the second I stepped out the door I noticed the soft orange glow enveloping the entire town. I looked to the west and to the south and saw these spectacular lenticular clouds shining in the soft glow of the setting Colorado sun. I ran in and got my camera and quickly fired off a couple of shots. Unfortunately my 100-400mm lens was too long to adequately capture the scene so I had to scramble back in the house to get the 24-105.

Rocky Mountain Sunset

Fortunately the fiery display was still in full glory so I grabbed a few more frames. I started out with 1/400th of a second because that’s just what the camera happened to be set to, but I quickly noticed the high ISO value and dialed it back to 1/60th which brought it down to a much more agreeable ISO 250. With those settings I shot until the colors began to fade.

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!

Rocky Mountain Sunset

A Frozen World

Sunrise on the Sangre de Cristo Range was exquisite this morning, the golden glow of sunlight reflecting off fresh snow on the 14,000 foot peaks as a new winter storm begins to build in the distance. This was the highlight of my trek to the top of my favorite mountain today. Perhaps the four footed critters sense the approaching weather and have already hunkered down. As I began my descent I noticed that the distant peaks were already becoming obscured by dark clouds, it’s a good thing I got an early start!

Approaching Storm

Unsatisfied with the results of my adventure in the high winter wonderland, my thoughts turned to Eleven Mile Canyon. The clouds were giving me that beautiful soft light that I knew would be perfect for photographing bald eagles. Plus I know it is nearing the mating season and I am hoping that some of the migrating raptors decide on Eleven Mile as a place to hold over before they meet up and journey on.

_MG_2161A quick glance as I entered the park showed no activity at the nest so I decided to drive the entire six miles into the canyon, hoping for eagles especially, maybe even aย  golden… but satisfied to see any kind of wildlife stirring in the frozen world that is the Colorado Rocky Mountains! The river at the mouth of the canyon was mostly frozen over, a situation inhospitable to any of my favorite wild creatures! About halfway up, openings in the ice began to appear and it wasn’t long before I spotted a lone American Dipper fishing along water’s edge. Much to my surprise the brave little fellow was actually leaping off his perch on the shoreline to dive under the icy water in search of a meal. It was a challenge to capture him in the air as he dove into the water but I finally managed to get a satisfactory image. I tried to follow him under the water to capture his exit, but that proved to be nearly impossible. The little guys actually swim under the surface for several seconds, changing direction all the while!

Icy South Platte

As I drove up the canyon I noticed that all of my favorite locations looked amazing in the snow and ice, the water even more beautiful than usual. I stopped several times to get out and photograph the amazing scenes using my 25-105mm lens with a circular polarizer attached, which was perfect for shooting the river as it snakes it’s way out of the mountains. I thought about trying some long exposures but it was extremely cold down by the water. I think I’ll wait for my 10 stop ND to arrive in the mail later this week and make another run at it next week with a heavy coat on! I decided this image looks best in black and white… and I also used my own toning method that I have perfected over the years to add a hint of blue to enhance even more, the mood of the bone chilling cold!

Winter Eagles

As I got back in the truck I spotted the faint shadow of a huge bird passing by… It was a bald eagle flying low, up the canyon towards the reservoir. I tried to keep an eye on him as I proceeded up the canyon, but a driving mistake here could be catastrophic! I was in no mood for a swim in the river so I eventually lost track of my intended subject ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

More and more open water began to appear and the ducks and geese were taking advantage of it for themselves. I hoped that where waterfowl were gathering there would also be eagles in search of fish. My eyes scanned the shoreline and the treetops as I searched for the huge raptors. Finally, a large bird in a tree about 60 yards off the opposite bank. I put my 400mm and 1.4x extension back on and took a look. It was a bald eagle, staring at me from the distance. I snapped a couple using the truck window frame to steady the camera and dialed in the proper exposure compensation, well over a stop against the bright morning sky. Once I had captured the perching scene I looked down to reset my shutter speed to a 1600th of a second in anticipation of a flight. When I looked back up the great bird was no longer on the perch. I leapt out of the truck and looked around frantically for him and eventually

Winter Eagles

spotted him heading right at me! I acquired focus and completely loaded my buffer. A couple seconds later the camera buffer had cleared and the eagle soared past and made a circle just overhead. I felt so blessed to have witnessed such a tremendous flight ๐Ÿ™‚

Eventually he flew around a rock outcropping and steered toward the east end of the reservoir, an uninhabited area of the lake where I have long believed the raptors go to spend their days. As I made my way back down the canyon I spotted the second eagle of our nesting pair, high in a tree on top of the mountains, motionless as if frozen as surely as the river they depend on for sustenance. I captured a couple more images even though I knew she was too far off for a usable picture, I can’t help myself.. a bald eagle!

My day wasn’t done though… as I drove along another large raptor flew past on his way down the canyon. I tried to follow what appeared to be some sort of white hawk, but he never stopped and I didn’tget a chance to get out the camera. A couple more scenery pictures of the frozen river and I decided to call it a day, and what a day it was in the frozen world of the Colorado Rocky Mountain winter.

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!

American Dipper on an Icy Perch

A Good Omen

Whenever I see a fox in the wild I think of it as a good omen ๐Ÿ™‚ Not sure why but it just seems like life is a little better when I have an awesome wildlife encounter like this! We had a pretty good snowstorm yesterday so I was ready to jump in the truck at sunrise in the hope that I would experience a great opportunity for one of those magnificent “after the storm” panoramas on the Sangre de Cristo Range to my southwest.ย  As I rounded a couple of sharp curves on highway 67 it was becoming apparent that my trip out into the cold early morning sunlight was going to be richly rewarded!

Snowstorm on the Sangre

I was going to have to hustle though, already another storm was moving in and the scene was changing rapidly. I leapt out of the truck at the overlook, switched my camera to custom mode 2 which I had set up for rapid access to my favorite motion blur and panorama settings. C2 takes me directly to full manual, shutter speed at 160th of a second, aperture f8, and the ISO set to 100 in order to get a uniformly exposed series of images with good depth of field and low noise to work with in the automate function of Adobe Photoshop. I snapped off about 15 images to cover the entire range followed by a blank frame to mark the end of the series. Then I turned my attention to a few more intimate images of the individual peaks as I watched the storm clouds roll in over the picturesque range of towering mountains.

Red Fox HuntingThen off to a hike on my favorite trail to hopefully capture some elk or deer in the beautiful fresh fallen snow. As I cleared the top of the ridge much to my surprise I came almost face to face with this beautiful red fox happily chowing down on a freshly caught rodent of some sort, probably a mouse I imagine. Even more to my surprise the little fellow didn’t immediately run off! He just looked at me like he recognized me and kept on with his business. Eventually he strode toward me and walked right past me not four feet away! Too close to even get a shot, with my long lens and 1.4x teleconverter attached for long distance wildlife photography! He just slowly made his way over the ridge, back to his den with a full belly I suppose ๐Ÿ™‚ I just stood there in disbelief at what I had just experienced. Most fox encounters I’ve had have been long range sightings, barely close enough to get an image large enough to display in my blog… much less a print quality closeup!

Red Fox Hunting

Eventually I resumed my trek through the winter wonderland on the summit of the mountain. I have to say I love the snowstorms, the times when I have the mountain completely to myself ๐Ÿ™‚ Not much was stirring on the mountaintop this morning. Perhaps the wild creatures are all aware of the oncoming weather on the heels of the first storm, snug and warm in their nests and dens.

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!

Snowstorm on the Sangre

Disclaimer – This post is not sponsored and I have not received compensation from any of the products or equipment used in the creation of this post.

Fools Errand

Snowstorm on the Sangre

One glance out my front window this morning was all it took to convince me that today was a day that was not to be experienced from indoors! The storm clouds on the Sangre de Cristo Range were stunning and and the cold crisp mountain air needed to be experienced from the heights of alpine glory!

Coyote on the MountainI had just gotten started when I spotted a coyote hunting on the mountainside, too distant for a really good picture… So I determined that I should pursue him in an effort to get a better shot! He already knew of my presence so a direct approach was not going to work. It looked like the best idea was the long way around the mountain, out of the sight of the wary canine with a stealthy approach back down from the summit. A stiff icy wind was blowing in my face so I had high hopes that he would neither hear nor smell my approach.

Coyote on the Mountain

Sounded good on paper… until I went into oxygen debt trying to scale the steep mountain in overdrive ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Finally at the top I stood gasping for air looking around for the stealthy beast. For a brief moment it appeared my plan was successful, there he was no more than 30 yards away, staring out at me from the safety of the tall grass. I had cleared the summit ready to snap a picture… or so I thought ๐Ÿ˜ฆ The wily coyote had spotted me the instant I spotted him and as soon as I raised the camera he disappeared into the mountain grass like a ghost ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

I knew in my heart he was gone, but I wandered over to the hillside anyway to see if I might catch a glimpse of him on his way back to the thick brush he calls home. Of course I was fully aware I was on a fools errand at that point, once a coyote decides to vanish there is little hope of seeing him again.

Snowstorm on the Sangre de Cristo

So I continued my trek over the summit to the edge of the west side where there would be a spectacular view of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Range with it’s brand new mantle of white. I can only imagine the horrendous winds that were propelling these amazing clouds and blowing snow.

I didn’t get the hero shot of the coyote but I am happy to have at least a small prize to commemorate the sighting. Also got some great exercise, fresh air and some great shots of the mountains after our latest winter storm ๐Ÿ™‚

Snowstorm on the Sangre de Cristo

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!

Coyote on the Mountain

Bucket List Tincup

Admittedly, Tincupย  is a fairly minor tick on my bucket list, along with a number of other Colorado ghost towns that I would like to visit ๐Ÿ™‚ It wasn’t even the main reason for visiting that part of the state this week… but what the heck, we were there and why not?

Ghost town of Tin Cup Colorado

The main reason for the journey to the other side of the big mountains was the quest for a picture of moose in the wild. Kevin and I were told that moose hang out at Taylor Reservoir all the time. All we had to do was show up and moose would be flocking to us for the sheer joy of having their picture taken ๐Ÿ™‚

So I awoke at 3:30 a.m. so as to be able to reach the other side of Cottonwood Pass by sunrise, when we knew we would have the best lighting conditions with which to photograph the numerous herds of moose that we would surely encounter. Alas, it was not to be so.ย  Just as with our previous fervent attempt at a moose picture on a difficult trek to Hartenstein Lake on the other side of the pass when the moose showed up a day late, we saw nothing ๐Ÿ˜ฆ With all the smoke from the fires, the rugged Collegiate Peaks mountains weren’t even an image worthy target.

Ghost town of Tin Cup Colorado

With nothing better to do we proceeded down the eight mile dirt road to the ghost town of Tincup. According to undercovercolorado.com, the town got it’s start as a mining town in 1880 as the mining town of Virginia City, however confusion over three towns in three different states with the same name resulted in reincorporating the town as Tincup in the year 1882. Eventually the mines were exhausted and the town had pretty much died by 1918, when the final official election was conducted.

The rough dirt road led to the tiny picturesque town of few inhabitants where we found the best location to grab a few frames with the magnificent San Juan mountains to the west. That took all of about five minutes and then we were off to the Taylor Park Trading Post for a look around followed by one last effort to spot a moose in the marshy area adjacent to the water.

Fog and Frost at Cottonwood Lake Colorado

Seeing none, we headed back over Cottonwood Pass in hopes of spotting a mountain goat or a bighorn sheep in the thin air of the 12,600 foot byway over the Continental Divide. Again no luck on the pass, leaving Cottonwood Lake as our last chance to acquire the coveted large mammal images. As we descended down to lower elevations fog began to thicken and even though there were no critters in sight, fog on Cottonwood Lake looked incredible was pretty cool ๐Ÿ™‚ Finally, a few images for the blog post!

Here we decided to call it a day and head for home. Little did we know that our luck was about to change on a detour to Eleven Mile Reservoir. But that is a subject for another blog post ๐Ÿ™‚

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!

Alpine Autumn

It was a beautiful morning above the treeline this morning, actually difficult to describe in words… Wonderful cool, calm and colorful experience, the kindย  that makes me glad I live in the mountains. The trek

Young Buck and a His Doe

started out with a bang as a young buck and his mate galloped through the mountain grass about a quarter of a mile from me. I grabbed a couple of shots before they disappeared over the ridge and then looked around to see if I could figure out what they were running from.ย  I’m sure it wasn’t me as I was nowhere near, perhaps it was a coyote down in the valley below.

Autumn Gold Above Treeline in the Pike National Forest of Colorado

I spotted a red-tail hawk in the tree tops about a quarter of a mile away, pretty close to the trail that I would be traversing near there. I set up my camera for a hawk in flight and hoped he wouldn’t take flight before I could get there. No luck there,ย  I looked up every once in a while to see if he was still there and before I could get anywhere near him he disappeared into the smokey morning mist while my eyes were on the trail.

Autumn Gold Above Treeline

After that there were no more animals to be found, just a few colorful aspen trees in their lonely stand against the harsh high country existence. I found the starkness of the moment compelling as I spotted image after image in the distance… some dead aspen in the foreground against a colorful grove below in the valley. Another small aspen stand with the rugged peaks of the Pike National Forest in the background.

Autumn Gold Above Treeline

Eventually my hike came to an end and I had to decide whether to continue my drive in search of more color, or to just call it a morning. It occurred to me that I still needed to scout out the Pony Gulch Homestead Trail on the other side of Cripple Creek so I drove on over there while scanning the tree tops and hillsides for hawks and deer. The GPS took me on a dirt road that I have not yet explored and up a steep hill that I’m not sure will be passable in the wintertime without a 4×4…

Autumn Gold Above TreelineI located the trail head and hiked back in about a quarter of a mile to assure that the Alltrails GPS route matched the path that appeared before me. As I strode along the unfamiliar route, the welcome sight of a series of cairns appeared before me. Others have mapped out the path and left the trail guides for those who would follow ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, it was a great morning and these pictures turned out even better than I had hoped!

These were myย  favorite pictures of the dozen or so that Iโ€™m going to publish later this morning. Please feel free to visit and follow my Instagram page for the rest of this morningโ€™s plus hundreds more!

For your enjoyment I have also created a library of multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channelย  if you would like to see more of my adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons more of my images are displayed!

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!

Smokey Autumn

A quick check of the weather forecast this morning dictated what I might be able to accomplish. Smoke from all the fires is everywhere but today the report particularly called out the valleys for air quality concerns. I was

Fall Colors in the Rockies

thinking of making my first outing since my return from Rocky a trip to Eleven Mile but with all the smoke I decided I’d be better off visiting a peak rather than a valley.

So I decided upon my usual trailhead in hopes of spotting a few deer and maybe even some elk. In the absence of those I figured I’d see some nice aspen trees changing color and maybe even the hawk or some other birds. Unfortunately a guy with a Vesper Sparrow in the Morningdog beat me to the trailhead so there were no big animals to be found and the hawks were in hiding as well.

But the trees were pretty and I was visited by a couple of cute little vesper sparrows at trail’s end. I took a drive up to Victor Pass to see if the colors have changed on Pikes Peak, but there was too much smoke in the sky to see the state of colors on the peak.

These were myย  favorite pictures of the half dozen or so that I’m going to publish later this morning. Please feel free to visit and follow my Instagram page for the rest of this morning’s plus hundreds more!

For your enjoyment I have also created a library of multimedia videos for my YouTube channel! Feel free to watch and be sure to subscribe to my channelย  if you would like to see more of my adventures! Also feel free to follow my Instagram page where tons more of my images are displayed!

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!

Fall Colors in the Rockies

Autumn in Rocky Looking forward to next weeks return visit! Be sure to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss this year’s adventure!

Video of autumn in the Park. Looking forward to next weeks return visit! Be sure to subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss this year’s adventure!