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A watchful bull for Moose Monday

This past weekend I headed up to Roosevelt National Forest in Colorado looking for these cool creatures. Unfortunately there was only one and the light was at a premium. He didn’t want to wait for the sun to fully rise before heading off into the forest but was kind enough to give me some pretty nice captures.

This is just before he left the willing and disappeared into the trees. These guys are a lot of fun and thankfully, getting more and more abundant here in the Centennial State. Soon the rut will begin and you will want to keep your distance, even more so than usual.

A bull Moose looks up from his grazing in Roosevelt National Forest.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A bull Moose looks up from his grazing in Roosevelt National Forest. (© Tony’s Takes)

Beautiful Coyote poses for pics in the high country

I was on my way back from a trip to near timberline yesterday, somewhat disappointed in my captures that I had gotten thus far. This pretty lady changed my luck. She ran across the road in front of me and I naturally expected her to continue on into the forest. Instead, she stopped about 20 feet away and stood and posed. Then, much to my surprise, she actually laid down, giving me another batch of shots. Taken in Roosevelt National Forest.

A Coyote pauses and investigates while in a canyon west of Boulder, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Coyote pauses and investigates while in a canyon west of Boulder, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Rising sun in the smoky high country

Down below, the sunrise was obscured by clouds. This morning I was at about 10,000 feet allowing a clearer view – kind of. While there were no clouds directly above, some were along the horizon as was smoke from wildfires in the region. The smell of the smoke was quite strong but the red sun made for a bit of a surreal scene and was kind of cool. Taken in Arapaho National Forest.

Smoke from wildfires in the region colors the sunrise red. (© Tony’s Takes)

Smoke from wildfires in the region colors the sunrise red. (© Tony’s Takes)

Handsome Rufous Hummingbird hangs out in the forest

This guy took a keen liking to our feeder at our campsite this past weekend. So much so in fact, he pretty much kept all other interested hummingbirds away, something which they are known to do. I failed at getting any decent flight shots but did manage some decent ones as he stood guard. Taken in Arapaho National Forest.

A Rufous Hummingbird hangs out in Arapaho National Forest, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rufous Hummingbird hangs out in Arapaho National Forest, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rufous Hummingbird hangs out in Arapaho National Forest, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Rufous Hummingbird hangs out in Arapaho National Forest, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

“I’m telling you, that Prairie Dog was THIS big!”

“I’m telling you, that Prairie Dog was THIS big!”

These four Burrowing Owl owlets were quite animated on this morning a couple weeks ago. No, they weren’t really chatting about the neighboring rodents. They were however getting very close to flying and there was a lot of wing flapping going on. Here, one was testing out those wings while three of its siblings looked on.

A Burrowing Owl owlet tests out its wings while its siblings look on. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl owlet tests out its wings while its siblings look on. (© Tony’s Takes)

Curious little Elk calf checks out the photographer

The first Wapiti Wednesday of the season following my first captures of these mountain residents this past weekend.

Driving through the Kawuneeche Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park I came across a good sized herd of cows and calves enjoying the cool, damp weather. Most were not interested in me at all but this little one couldn’t hide its curiosity.

As I kneeled and started to snap pictures, it was intently focused on me, keeping close watch and no doubt wondering why I had interest in it. This year’s newborns are growing fast and as you can tell, starting to lose their spots.

Elk are one the of the largest members of the deer family. Native Americans called them ‘wapiti’ or light colored deer. The animals once had a wide range across North America but hunting and human influences now have them primarily found across the western parts of the continent.

An Elk calf takes a keep interest in the photographer.  (© Tony’s Takes)

An Elk calf takes a keep interest in the photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

American Pika picks a tall watch tower

When you are one of the smallest creatures in the big mountains, it is tough to see around, particularly for a Pika who lives in talus fields with rocks that for us would be the equivalent size of a house. This little guy (or gal) had a nice solution.

One particular rock that almost seemed to be turned on its end stood tall above the surrounding landscape and made the perfect perch for the Pika to check out those gorgeous Rocky Mountains.

An American Pika keeps watch from a tall rock on Trail Ridge Road.  (© Tony’s Takes)

An American Pika keeps watch from a tall rock on Trail Ridge Road. (© Tony’s Takes)

Rainy day flowers

Some captures from this afternoon after a period of intense rain here in the Denver area. I don’t have a true macro lens so made do with my wide angle and getting within a few inches of the flowers.

Somehow my camera was taking JPGs instead of RAW files so that really limited my ability to process the images and get the quality I was hoping for. Nevertheless, it was fun to take some pics of something different.

Columbine flowers following a rain in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Columbine flowers following a rain in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Columbine flowers following a rain in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Columbine flowers following a rain in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Flowers following a rain in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Flowers following a rain in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Flowers following a rain in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Flowers following a rain in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Flyby for Freedom Friday

Oh my goodness this lady is just beautiful. She is the matriarch at one of the Bald Eagle nests I watch and is always impressive.

It is however somewhat unusual to see her doing housework, that is normally something the male does at this particular nest. On this morning, perhaps the male just got tired of doing everything and laid down the law, prompting her to go fetch a small stick to add to the home. 😉 Image taken back in April.

Bald eagles have been a spiritual symbol of Native Americans for hundreds of years. There were variations between tribes as to the eagles’ symbolism but for most it generally represented bravery, wisdom, strength and courage. It was believed that the eagles carried prayers to the Great Spirit.

A female Bald Eagle returns to her nest with a small stick. (© Tony’s Takes)

A female Bald Eagle returns to her nest with a small stick. (© Tony’s Takes)

Snowy Owl chilling out in suburbia

Denver may see record heat today so that has me wanting for cooler temperatures and the increased wildlife activity they bring. Looking back on this past winter, there is no doubt that this Arctic visitor was the highlight.

It is rare for Snowy Owls to come this far south to Colorado but at least five different ones spotted in the Centennial State during the season. This particular one hung out for a few weeks in January in a suburb northwest of Denver.

The types of events that bring them here are called an irruption and while it isn’t perfectly clear what causes them, it is believed that a very successful summer breeding season results in an over-population of young owls in the Arctic. As a result, many head south in the winter in search of food.

It could be years before the next event like the most recent occurs but I will be anxiously awaiting and ready!

Image available here.

A Snowy Owl gazes toward the setting sun while perched on a house northwest of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Snowy Owl gazes toward the setting sun while perched on a house northwest of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)