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Hawk takes a hard left

A pleasant surprise on my way home from work today. This juvenile Swainson’s Hawk was keeping watch over a nearby prairie dog colony. I was surprised it was still hanging around and not headed headed to Argentina for the winter. It allowed me to get quite close then did a nice flyover right above me. Tough lighting and overcast skies but still a decent shot.

A juvenile Swainson's Hawk banks hard left in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A juvenile Swainson’s Hawk banks hard left in Thornton, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Amber colored mountainside in Rocky Mountain National Park

It was a typically gorgeous Colorado day this past Saturday and perfect for photography, wildlife viewing and fall foliage. With clear, blue skies above, Hallett Peak (left), elevation 12,720 ft, and Flattop Mountain (right), 12,324′, looked as rugged as ever. Below timberline on their slopes and on those of nearby mountains the aspen were radiant in fall gold.

Hallett Peak (left), elevation 12,720 ft, and Flattop Mountain (right), 12,324', looked as rugged as ever with golden aspen trees below. (© Tony’s Takes)

Hallett Peak (left), elevation 12,720 ft, and Flattop Mountain (right), 12,324′, looked as rugged as ever with golden aspen trees below. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bull elk interrupts breakfast to bugle

‘Didn’t your mama teach you not to talk with your mouth full?’

This bull elk in Rocky Mountain National Park was calmly eating breakfast until he heard another bull nearby bugle. That prompted him to sound off as well to serve as a warning that interlopers were not welcome and that he would defend his harem of 20 or so cows.

A bull elk stops eating breakfast to bugle and warn off possible intruders.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A bull elk stops eating breakfast to bugle and warn off possible intruders. (© Tony’s Takes)

Two young bull elk spar

Two young elk bulls square off on the shores of Lake Estes in Estes Park, Colorado.

While these two are young enough that they most likely couldn’t defend a harem from more seasoned competitors, they still are willing to practice future battles with each other. They sparred back and forth for 10 minutes or so with the slightly larger one (left) emerging the victor and poking the smaller one in the butt to chase him off.

Up in Rocky Mountain National Park we saw some more seasoned competitors challenge each other but only from a distance.

Two young elk bulls spar on the shores of Lake Estes, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Two young elk bulls spar on the shores of Lake Estes, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Star brightened fall foliage

The late afternoon sun was peering through this grove of aspen trees near Estes Park, Colorado yesterday. The changing of colors is a bit early this year and this was likely the last, good weekend up in the mountains. Some spots were already bare while others were nearing the end.

The sun illuminates golden aspen leaves near Estes Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

The sun illuminates golden aspen leaves near Estes Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Dramatic Colorado Mountain Peaks

Left to right: Mount Evans (14,265′), Sawtooth Ridge and Mount Bierstadt (14,065′) in sun and shadow. I went to the high country yesterday get pictures of the changing leaves and while that was successful, I am thinking this is my favorite picture to come out of the trip.

Being afternoon, the light was pretty harsh and the shadows strong making it tough shooting conditions. At the top of Guanella Pass this view of these three impressive peaks is visible from the road.

I created this HDR image of them in Photoshop by combining three images into one. Coupled with the orange foliage in the foreground and a beautiful blue sky above, the image is surreal and IMHO quite dramatic.

Left to right: Mount Evans (14,265'), Sawtooth Ridge and Mount Bierstadt (14,065') in sun and shadow.  HDR image. (© Tony’s Takes)

Left to right: Mount Evans (14,265′), Sawtooth Ridge and Mount Bierstadt (14,065′) in sun and shadow. HDR image. (© Tony’s Takes)

There’s gold in them thar hills!

The change of colors is in full swing in Colorado’s high country right now and the landscape is looking amazing. The aspen are golden and in some places shades of orange and red. This image was taken yesterday afternoon on Guanella Pass looking to the east back toward Georgetown.

Golden leaves along the mountains and hills of Guanella Pass, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Golden leaves along the mountains and hills of Guanella Pass, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Golden View

I decided I didn’t want to wait till this weekend to see the fall colors so I headed for the high country right after work today. Guanella Pass in Colorado was absolutely stunning and awash in yellows and oranges.

A golden view from Guanella Pass, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A golden view from Guanella Pass, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Hey! Watch where you’re pointing that thing!

A bull elk in Rocky Mountain National Park takes note of the funny looking guy with a camera. 😉 Truly a handsome animal. Hoping to get back up there this weekend and see them again.

A bull elk takes note of the photographer in Rocky Mountain National Park.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A bull elk takes note of the photographer in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Fiery Forest at Sunset

This image was taken this past Friday in Pike National Forest as #sunset approached. The sky was ablaze in orange and while the dense forest blocked a clear view of the horizon, it still made for a pretty good shot.

Sunset creates a fiery scene in Pike National Forest. (© Tony’s Takes)

Sunset creates a fiery scene in Pike National Forest. (© Tony’s Takes)