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Frosty Prairie Falcon

I couldn’t help but feel for this little one as it sat perched with snow and frost on its face and wings as it looked for a meal out the plains of Colorado this morning.

Not a particularly productive photo day for me as the weather seemed to have many of the critters hunkering down. I can’t say I blame them as the temperature was only in the teens when I was out there.

I reckon I will console my poor outing with a nice, not toddy. 😉 Stay warm out there!

A frost-covered Prairie Falcon on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A frost-covered Prairie Falcon on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A frost-covered Prairie Falcon on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A frost-covered Prairie Falcon on the plains of Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

American Kestrel in flight

I love these little falcons – if only they were a bit more cooperative when it came to taking their picture. I did “cheat” a bit to get this nice shot of one.

This particular kestrel is named Ajax and is a captive bird owned by Nature’s Educators. It was at one time a falconry bird but was found to be blind in one eye and not suitable for hunting. Since it can’t hunt, it cannot survive on its own and now does outreach programs with the non-profit group.

Here it seen on one of a few flybys it did during a recent photo shoot event I attended.

While they are North America’s smallest falcon, don’t let their small size fool you. American Kestrels are very effective predators and just as vicious as any raptor.

A male American Kestrel takes to the skies. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male American Kestrel takes to the skies. (© Tony’s Takes)

Lesson of the day: Do photography for yourself

Fantastic advice for anyone who takes pictures! I’m going to bookmark this one and watch it when I get down on myself for feeling like I am not getting the pictures I think I should.

I do always say that I participate in photography for me primarily – that’s why I don’t regularly share my pics in photo groups. It is something I enjoy and it is a huge outlet for me.

Do I like it when I get bunches of complements or my photos get shared a lot? Of course. But, the focus (pun intended) really needs to be on doing it because you enjoy it, you relish the time spent getting those captures.

Don’t worry about what other photographers are doing, don’t worry about if yours are up to snuff. Just take that picture for yourself – and enjoy the moment!

Bald Eagles hang out, female takes flight

This mated pair of Bald Eagles has a nest in the suburbs north of Denver, Colorado. Oftentimes they can be seen hanging around a wastewater treatment plant nearby.

On this day they were initially perched on a guard rail that goes around the banks of the pond and when I had just about given up on getting flight shots, the female took to the air.

I managed to capture some nice shots of the launch, aided by the fact it was windy so she couldn’t depart too fast.

Scroll down to view the complete sequence of images. Have a fantastic Freedom Friday and TGIF!

A pair of mated Bald Eagles hangs out on a guard rail north of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of mated Bald Eagles hangs out on a guard rail north of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

“I got up here. Now how do I get down?”

This Bighorn Sheep lamb was proving itself to be quite the adept climber, as all of its kind are. It had worked its ways up the side of a mountain in Colorado’s Waterton Canyon, stopping briefly to pose and look down at the rest of its herd.

It almost seemed like it wasn’t sure how the heck to get down from its perch on high. Of course it had no problem when it decided to rejoin the others.

The Bighorn Sheep is the Centennial State’s official animal and to me that is quite fitting. Just like the terrain and many of its people, these animals are very rugged, strong and tough. The animal is found in many places in the state’s high country.

A Bighorn Sheep lamb enjoys the view from its perch high on the side of a cliff. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bighorn Sheep lamb enjoys the view from its perch high on the side of a cliff. (© Tony’s Takes)

Young Elk bull weathers a ground blizzard

One for Wapiti Wednesday and a throwback to mid-September. At lower elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park, conditions were mild and pleasant. However, as I neared the top of Old Fall River Road, the weather conditions changed considerably.

At first it was just a few snowflakes but soon I was seeing accumulated snow on the ground, the temperature plummeted and the winds picked up. Near the top, just below the visitors center, a number of elk were hanging out including this young one.

The winds created near whiteout conditions and in fact, actually resulted in Trail Ridge Road being closed for a time stranding me on the wrong side of the park! It was quite an experience but kind of fun in a way.

A young bull Elk rides out a ground blizzard in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young bull Elk rides out a ground blizzard in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison weather the snowstorm

I haven’t done a Tatanka Tuesday in a while so here you go.

The weather early Sunday was pretty yucky with freezing drizzle, snow and cold. While it was not fit for man, the beasts are built for this, particularly these massive creatures. This bull is one of the top big boys of the heard and large and in charge to say the least.

It used to be we called these buffalo but that actually was incorrect. While they are part of the same family that includes the European and African buffalo, the Bison is its own, distinct species.

It is believed they were called buffalo by early North American explorers due to their resemblance to the Old-World species. Native Americans call them Tatanka, a Lakota word that translated means “bull buffalo.”

A massive Bison bull and others from his herd weather a snowstorm in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A massive Bison bull and others from his herd weather a snowstorm in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Snowy Owl gives a big yawn

I haven’t done too good of a job sharing pics of my relatively recent encounters with these Arctic visitors so here is a fun one.

This gorgeous Snowy Owl spent a few weeks hanging out in the area around a suburban lake. During the day, it decided the neighboring residential area was a nice place to sleep, oftentimes perching on top of homes’ roofs. On this afternoon, it did just that, much to my delight. It slept much of the time but did occasionally stir to look around. Here, it struggled to stay away letting loose with a nice, big yawn. 😉

It has been a few weeks since any of these awesome, rare creatures have been seen here in Colorado so either they are doing a good job staying hidden or they have started their trek back north for the spring and summer. It isn’t often that they come this far south so it was a real treat to get to spend time with them this winter. You can check out more of my pics of them here.

A Snowy Owl yawns while perched on a roof in a suburban neighborhood in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Snowy Owl yawns while perched on a roof in a suburban neighborhood in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Jack the Rabbit hunkers down to hide

A surprisingly cold, wintry morning yesterday on the Colorado plains. I was of course not deterred and ventured out looking for photo subjects. While scanning a field, I see this somewhat large object racing across the field in the distance. As it neared, I realized it was a jackrabbit.

By the time I got turned around, I had lost sight of it so began looking close at where I last saw it. Finally, I see this little brown spot among the snow-covered field. With his ears tucked back, I could barely make him out. Judging by how big his eyes were, he wasn’t too thrilled to have been spotted. 😉

A White-tailed Jackrabbit hunkers down in its hold among a snowy field. (© Tony’s Takes)

A White-tailed Jackrabbit hunkers down in its hold among a snowy field. (© Tony’s Takes)

Any guesses who I am rooting for in the Super Bowl?

Eagles are of course my absolute favorite photo subject so the answer is obvious. Go Philadelphia Eagles!

Yesterday’s photo drive had me covering a lot of ground, initially going to a spot I hoped would bring a bevy of Bald Eagles but one that turned out to be a dud.

On the way back I hit up some of my usual spots and was happy to find this beautiful mated pair hanging out over a frozen pond at St. Vrain State Park, Colorado. They gave me some nice poses on what was a bit of a blustery day as you can tell from their ruffled plumage.

The image does a nice job showing the size difference between male and female Bald Eagles. The male (bottom) is clearly smaller than his mate (top).

A Bald Eagle pair stands watch in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle pair stands watch in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)