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Posing endangered Black-footed Ferret

Posing endangered Black-footed Ferret

Capturing pictures of an endangered species is exciting. Capturing images of one very rarely seen and once considered extinct is nothing short of thrilling. The Black-footed Ferret is a rarity on the Great Plains and the only ferret native to North America. Once numerous, the small animals were harvested for the fur trade. That, coupled with a loss of habitat and disease, resulted in a declining population and it was eventually declared extinct in 1979. Two years later, a small population ...

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Red-tailed Hawk focuses on the landing

Red-tailed Hawk focuses on the landing

This is probably my favorite image from a recent event I attended. Karma is a nine-year-old hawk that is used for falconry and educational purposes by Wild Wings Environmental Education. On this morning, just about everything came together perfectly for this shot - the golden light of the early morning sun, a dramatic sky in the background and of course the extraordinary subject. In the end, this is a capture that I am very proud of.

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Pit stop thunderstorm

Pit stop thunderstorm

On my recent trip to the northern Rockies, our first overnight stop was in northern Wyoming in the town of Kaycee. Soon after arriving as sunset grew close, thunderstorms started to build just to our east. This particular cell was quite beautiful as it was lit by the direct sunlight to the west and the shades or orange of the soon-to-come sunset. For a time it was severe warned as it was dropping golf ball sized hail - thankfully not ...

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A big, bad Bison bull in black and white

A big, bad Bison bull in black and white

Yesterday morning was a pretty dull, gray day with cold temperatures and light snow along the Colorado Front Range. That made for tough lighting and wildlife activity was pretty slow. However at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge I did find a few cooperative Bison including this big guy. Doing some post-processing of the image allowed me to add some drama to the image and I think it makes the big guy look pretty impressive (which he was!). I hope ...

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Osprey takes flight head on

Osprey takes flight head on

A very fun picture taken this past weekend at St. Vrain State Park, Colorado. There are a number of Osprey that spend their summers in the area and this was the male of a pair that is nesting within the park. He was happily perched in a tree near the nest when he decided it was time to go fishing. Thankfully I was ready and snapped this image as he headed right toward me. Due to the compression effect of using a ...

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“My what a big truck you have!”

I’m not sure who was more surprised by the close proximity I and this Burrowing Owl found ourselves in – me or the owl.

I was taking pictures of him and his mate at their burrow about 20 yards away when suddenly he decided to fly closer and landed not 15 feet away, right outside my truck window. He seemed pretty surprised at my presence although I had been sitting there for an hour.

This pair has become quite famous due to their easily accessed location and they always seem to put on a show. It shouldn’t be long before the female retreats to the burrow with eggs and then in a month or so little ones will arrive if all goes well.

For more pics of these cool little owls, see here.

A male Burrowing Owl seems a bit surprised at the presence of a photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Burrowing Owl seems a bit surprised at the presence of a photographer. (© Tony’s Takes)

The cutest kid

Let’s call it Mountain Goat Monday. The start of the week is always fraught with stress but this little one is sure to settle you down and have a calming effect. I mean, really, just look at that face!

Taken back on June 30, 2015, this Mountain Goat kid and its mom were enjoying an evening walk atop Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, Montana. The young one never strayed far from mom but couldn’t help but be a bit distracted by all the attention it was receiving, stopping every now and then to look at the people. This little one was only a little over a month or so old and it will continue to hang around with its mother for the next year or so.

Mountain Goats have a native range stretching from southern Alaska to the Rocky Mountains. The populations here in Colorado where I live are actually non-native, having been brought here in the middle of the 20th century as a tourist attraction.

A Mountain Goat kid poses for pictures on the top of Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, Montana. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Mountain Goat kid poses for pictures on the top of Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, Montana. (© Tony’s Takes)

A hobbled young Coyote

Not great pictures given horrible sky conditions and rain but they tell a story. I came across this beautiful young Coyote as it was working its way through a field yesterday. I noticed it was limping, seemingly favoring its right, front paw.

When I got home and looked closer at the pictures, I realized that paw appears to be much shorter than the others. Perhaps a birth defect or it could have been caught in a trap at some point. The good thing is that it looked quite healthy and other than its pronounced limp, seemed to be okay.

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. It appeared to missing the lower part of its right front leg. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. It appeared to missing the lower part of its right front leg. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. It appeared to missing the lower part of its right front leg. (© Tony’s Takes)

A young Coyote keeps close watch from a field. It appeared to missing the lower part of its right front leg. (© Tony’s Takes)

Panoramic Bald Eagle scream

Flying right at me making a lot of noise, this male wanted to make sure I knew it was there. Of course I am not sure how I could possibly miss this massive raptor. I cropped this image into a panorama format which really helps to draw attention the the details – and that huge wingspan.

A male Bald Eagle makes a lot of noise as it approaches. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Bald Eagle makes a lot of noise as it approaches. (© Tony’s Takes)

“Hi, honey! I’m home!”

A male Bald Eagle prepares to make a landing next to its mate in this image for Freedom Friday.

It has been an absolutely joy getting to watch this pair over recent weeks. Most Bald Eagles have left Colorado for the season and headed north. The ones that remain are mostly mated pairs that have seen the arrival of little ones over the past week or two. These two though appear not to have been successful with a nest but have chosen to stick around the Centennial State anyway, at least so far.

I have found them frequently at a state park where they are more than willing to pose and occasionally put on a bit of an airshow. I love the determined look on the male’s face as he comes in for a landing and the image does a nice job showcasing that massive 6-foot-wide wingspan and those impressive talons.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

A male Bald Eagle comes in for a landing near its mate at St Vrain State Park in northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Bald Eagle comes in for a landing near its mate at St Vrain State Park in northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Osprey stays focused on flight

This was one busy guy. He was doing everything he could to keep his lady happy from some morning ‘recreation’ to heading out and fetching building material for their home. Here he is right after launch as he went off to grab a stick from alongside the nearby pond.

When I last checked on them Sunday she was not yet sitting in the nest but it shouldn’t be too much longer. From there, it will 34 to 40 days before the little ones hatch.

A male Osprey stays focused as it takes flight in northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A male Osprey stays focused as it takes flight in northern Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Red-tailed Hawk caught off guard by strong winds

A rather dramatic image of this raptor as it banks hard right. I saw this hawk perched on the plains and stopped to snap its picture. It had other plans however and immediately launched into the air, seemingly unaware of the strong east winds that were blowing. As it pushed off the ground and extended its wings, the wind turned those wings into sails and seemed to almost cause the hawk to flip over. It did recover but did not look particularly graceful in the process.

Pushed by the wind, a Red-tailed Hawk flies sideways after launch in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Pushed by the wind, a Red-tailed Hawk flies sideways after launch in Adams County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Prairie Dog as a lone watchman

It can’t be easy being one of these creatures on the Great Plains. Threats abound as they are a food source for a wide variety of predators from eagles and hawks to fox and coyote. Man is an additional threat in many areas as Prairie Dogs are viewed as pests and can carry the plague. They are however a keystone species in many locations and critical to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Not only do many other species rely on them as food but others use their burrows for dens and nests. This particular Black-tailed Prairie Dog was up soon before sunrise recently, seeming to scout the immediate area to ensure it was safe for the rest of the colony to come out.

A Prairie Dog stands watch on the Great Plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Prairie Dog stands watch on the Great Plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Something different but something that needs to be recognized

Want to make a veteran tear up? Give this to them.

That is exactly what happened to me yesterday. I discovered these in a tiny little Ziploc bag under the windshield wiper on my truck. It took me a minute to digest what it was but once I did, I couldn’t help but get tears.

Such a thoughtful gesture and one that I truly appreciate. So, my heartfelt thanks go out to Girl Scouts Troop 63979. God bless you and God bless America!

A thoughtful gift left under the windshield of my truck - Stars for Heroes. (© Tony’s Takes)

A thoughtful gift left under the windshield of my truck – Stars for Heroes. (© Tony’s Takes)

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