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Battle over burrows

A male Burrowing Owl and a Prairie Dog face off over the rights to an underground home. Very fun to watch this interaction.

These two creatures have a very symbiotic relationship and normally get along great. The owls use abandoned Prairie Dogs’ burrows and they both share watch duties keeping all safe from intruders by sounding alarms when danger approaches.

The pair of Burrowing Owls at this spot though was very protective of their clan and did not like it when any type of creature intruded. In this case, the owl was being a bit over-protective. Its burrow was actually about 20 yards away and all this Prairie Dog was doing was wanting to return to its own home.

Thankfully for the Prairie Dog, the owls don’t sit for long so it just waited till the owl moved on and then it reclaimed its home.

A Burrowing Owl and a Prairie Dog have a discussion about the rights to a burrow. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Burrowing Owl and a Prairie Dog have a discussion about the rights to a burrow. (© Tony’s Takes)

“Go ahead. Hop in. It is safe.”

“Go ahead. Hop in. It is safe.” 😉 An American White Pelican seems to be trying to convince a Snowy Egret that it would be okay to check out its mouth. Of course in fact Pelicans don’t eat Egrets but it did make for a pretty darned funny image. A good one for a ‘caption this’ contest. What do you got?

An American White Pelican shows off for its friends and a Snowy Egret. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American White Pelican shows off for its friends and a Snowy Egret. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bull Moose grazes among high country wildflowers

My photo excursions this past weekend didn’t quite go as well as I had hoped. Wildlife proved to be elusive on one day and the weather with thick cloud cover problematic on Sunday.

This image comes from yesterday in Rocky Mountain National Park. I spotted this handsome fellow as he moved with purpose along a tree line in view but too far away for decent pics. I anticipated he would be coming to a spot where a dirt road intersects and sure enough, he did.

The dim, early morning light was inhibited further by thick clouds over the valley so most of my pics were quite disappointing. I did manage this one when, for a very brief instant, the sun broke through and shed light right where the bull happened to be.

This image is available for purchase here.

A bull Moose grazes among wildflowers in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

A bull Moose grazes among wildflowers in Rocky Mountain National Park. (© Tony’s Takes)

Mamas and baby Bison take the high ground

A fun picture of these ladies and their offspring. The herd was on the move and it was tough to get decent shots of them as they were all clustered up. Rather than push a less than ideal situation, I decided to risk it and go a good ways ahead of them.

With a hill then between them and I, I was keeping my fingers crossed they would continue on their same path and pop up at the top. Sure enough they did. Six pretty cows and four calves led the herd giving me this cool capture of these once endangered species.

If you’re interested, this image is available here.

Bison cows and calves stand atop a hill on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Bison cows and calves stand atop a hill on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Purple Gallinule makes for a very colorful subject

I don’t think I have ever photographed a more colorful bird than this one. Taken back in May in the wetlands of central Florida, it was hopping along the tops of the vegetation.

Purple Gallinule are relatively common around the Gulf of Mexico and have occasionally turned up much farther to the north into southern Canada. Populations of the bird have decreased greatly in recent decades and it is considered a “species of high concern in North America”.

Osprey extends the gear and flaps and prepares for landing

I haven’t posted too many pics of these awesome raptors this year simply because I just have not had too many photo ops with them. This pic dates back to the end of April when this male and its mate were setting up a home in northern Colorado.

They were very busy getting their summer residence ready and here, he returns to the nest showcasing those impressive talons and wide wingspan. By now, any young ones they had are likely flying or very close to doing so.

Osprey can be found across much of North and South America, only staying year-round in Florida and the Baja California area. Winters are spent in South America and along the Gulf Coast while they summer in the northern third of North America.

These beautiful raptors are known for their amazing dives into the water as they try to snag their prey. They are larger than most hawks and striking in their appearance with dark brown and white plumage and bright yellow eyes.

A male Osprey comes in for a landing in Firestone, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Osprey comes in for a landing in Firestone, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Very brave Yellow-bellied Marmot

This little guy / gal was extraordinarily brave as compared to most of its species. With humans photographing Mountain Goats just feet away, it was quite curious about the goings on. More than once it would pop out right among the people, look around, then go for a walk, seemingly uncaring about all the larger creatures nearby.

A Yellow-bellied Marmot crawls out from under some rocks on Mount Evans.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Yellow-bellied Marmot crawls out from under some rocks on Mount Evans. (© Tony’s Takes)

"I see you out there!"

A Great Horned Owl owlet peers out through a gap in its nest in the cavity of an old tree. Remnants of a meal hang out in front of it.

This little guy / gal kind of had an evil look as it eyeballed me back in April. This was on my first visit to this site and I didn’t get a good view of the three little ones that day but it was pretty exciting nevertheless.

The parents have apparently chosen this spot for their home for a couple of years now which is somewhat surprising as it is along a pretty busy bike and walking path through suburbia. I will definitely be going back to check it next spring.

A Great Horned Owl owlet peers out from its nest in a tree cavity.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Great Horned Owl owlet peers out from its nest in a tree cavity. (© Tony’s Takes)

Sunshine State Bald Eagle

Yup, no matter where I go, I am going to find the eagles, you can be sure of that. Ha! Taken back at the end of May on our family vacation. This was one of a nesting pair near Kissimmee, Florida as it returned from an unsuccessful fishing trip.

I was struck by how much smaller the eagles down there were than the ones we have here in the west. I knew there were two different subspecies of my favorite raptor with the ones to the south being smaller but was surprised how noticeable the difference was. The two down there looked almost scraggly compared to the robust ones here.

A Bald Eagle soars over the headwaters of the Florida Everglades.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle soars over the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle soars over the headwaters of the Florida Everglades.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle soars over the headwaters of the Florida Everglades. (© Tony’s Takes)

Mountain Goat kid takes the leap to get to mom

A little bit of high country drama involving this little one, its herd and humans and dogs.

As usual, the Mountain Goat herd on Mount Evans was hanging out near the parking area this past Saturday morning. There were probably a dozen or more tourists and photographers enjoying watching the animals as they bounded on the mountain.

A young couple with two dogs decided to disregard commonsense and bring their pets close to the herd. To wildlife, dogs are predators, and the herd reacted as you would expect – they quickly fled down the mountain a ways to distance themselves.

In the process, this poor little kid got separated from its mom. It was initially out of my view but I could hear it desperately calling for help. It seemed like an eternity but finally it topped the hill behind me and was able to see the herd. Quickly, it bounded down the rock face of the hill flying right by me to its mom.

It was quite close and the action fast but I managed a few shots as it went by including this one as it leapt off one of the rocks.

While it made for a cool capture, the situation that created it was frustrating. I have dogs and I love dogs. However, they and wildlife simply do not mix – period. By choosing to bring their dogs in close proximity to the Mountain Goats, they stressed the animals, created unnecessary drama and a potentially dangerous situation, and ruined a great wildlife viewing opportunity for tourists and photographers.

I see this time and again in this spot and many others and it is very frustrating. If you have dogs and take them with you to locations with wildlife, keep them well out of sight and earshot of the wildlife.

Mountain Goats are pretty docile and not likely to attack. Moose, elk and other creatures may not be so quick to retreat. Be courteous to others there to enjoy these gifts from Mother Nature.

Scroll down to view the complete sequence of images.

A Mountain Goat kid bounds down the mountain to get to its mom. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Mountain Goat kid bounds down the mountain to get to its mom. (© Tony’s Takes)