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Golden Eagle gets its portrait taken

Golden Eagle gets its portrait taken

Such an absolutely stunning raptor! I’ve been quite close to a Golden in the wild before and their size is something that is hard to appreciate if you haven’t been near one. However, this past weekend I took part in an event that let me get within just a few feet of one and, well, wow! A local wildlife photographer group arranged for a visit with Nature's Educators, a non-profit group that does public outreach events to educate the public on ...

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I see you down there!

I see you down there!

"I see you down there!" A Great Horned Owl owlet checks out the photographer in Thornton, Colorado. My time with this trio was brief but so much fun. I learned about the nest early last week. On the day of this picture, Thursday, two, including this one were in the nest still. One had fallen out of the nest and was perched in a bush on the other side of the trail. The nest day, all three were out of ...

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Some Monday morning serenity with a gorgeous sunrise

Some Monday morning serenity with a gorgeous sunrise

The first day of the workweek is rarely a fun one and Monday oftentimes lives up to its reputation. Rather than feed the fire, here’s an image I snapped this weekend to calm things down. This was actually looking to the north at a 90-degree angle to the sunrise. The rising sun lit up the cool, cotton ball clouds and the reflection colored the ice and water orange. When you get stressed today, just try to think of a scene ...

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High key Bison bull head on

High key Bison bull head on

One for Tatanka Tuesday! The Bison herd at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge near Denver, Colorado has seen a half dozen new births this spring. I keep trying but I have yet to get good pics of the little ones as they keep hanging out too far away. This past weekend, some of the big bulls provided a nice consolation prize. Here, one of the big boys marches right toward me. The light was drab due to overcast skies and ...

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The diamond ring

The diamond ring

Oh my. I cannot begin to describe what I experienced yesterday. Eclipse 2017 was everything I had hoped it would be. Breathtaking would be a good word for it. Here you see the ‘diamond ring effect’ – the few seconds right before the eclipse enters totality. Nothing short of amazing! I had planned on driving home right afterwards but unfortunately traffic kept me in place. I did actually start to head for home and didn’t make it two miles before hitting a ...

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Jackrabbit keeps its most notable feature down low

The ears on these residents of the Great Plains are so large they are usually the first thing you see when you spot them. This particular Black-tailed Jackrabbit had the right idea to try to conceal itself by tucking them down low. I had already spotted it though as it sat on the brush covered landscape on northeastern Colorado. It didn’t stay around long but did give me this capture.

Also called the American desert hare, these jackrabbits have a wide range across the western United States where they can be found at altitudes ranging from sea level to 10,000 feet. Here in Colorado, they are pretty common on the plains.

A Black-tailed Jackrabbit tries to hide on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Black-tailed Jackrabbit tries to hide on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Mountain Goat soaks in the morning sun

The conditions at 14,000+ feet can be harsh any time of year so when it is nice, you have to be sure to enjoy it. That seemed to be what this handsome fellow was doing a couple of weeks ago. While it was a chilly 40 degrees, there was some filtered sun coming through and the wind was relatively calm.

Not truly goats, they are actually members of the same family that includes antelopes, gazelles, and cattle. These handsome creatures are found from Alaska down to the Rocky Mountains of the United States. Found at high altitudes, Mountain Goats are sure-footed climbers and built to withstand the alpine areas that they typically inhabit.

A Mountain Goat soaks in the morning sun atop Mount Evans in Colorado.  (© Tony’s Takes)

A Mountain Goat soaks in the morning sun atop Mount Evans in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

"I don’t want any neighbors!"

A pair of Double-crested Cormorants get into a heated discussion about roosting rights. The lower one had been camped out in this tree for quite a while. When the upper one arrived, it let it know that it did not really want any company. After putting up a brief fight, the upper Cormorant decided it wasn’t worth the battle and flew off to find another place to spend the day.

A pair of Double-crested Cormorants have a discussion about roosting rights. (© Tony’s Takes)

A pair of Double-crested Cormorants have a discussion about roosting rights. (© Tony’s Takes)

Wide-eyed little owl

I think this little one was a bit surprised to have company early in the morning out in the middle of the Colorado plains. Two, minor county roads intersected the spot and it likely doesn’t get much traffic other than ranchers and perhaps someone like me looking for critters. A brief, early morning rain shower had dampened things and the owl’s feathers as well. The light was a bit dim as the sun was still rising and it was overcast making for a bit of a tough shot. Thankfully the Burrowing Owl stayed put just long enough for me to grab a few shots.

A damp Burrowing Owl keeps watch from a perch on a fence post in Morgan County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A damp Burrowing Owl keeps watch from a perch on a fence post in Morgan County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Pronghorn doe enjoys a relaxing morning in the Colorado plains

It sure isn’t often you find one of these wary creatures laying down. They usually see you coming from a long way away and start retreating immediately. This particular lady was the exception, letting me roll right up and snap some pictures as she laid down on the prairie.

I saw quite a number of these speed demons this past weekend, mostly does but a few bucks. I had hoped to find some new fawns but didn’t have any luck this time.

Before the arrival of western Europeans, it is believed as many as 40 million Pronghorn roamed the open rangelands of North America – possibly more than there were bison. Hunting and fragmentation of their habitat by fences and human settlements took its toll and as few as 20,000 remained at the start of the 20th century. Thankfully conservation and education saved them from extinction and they now number almost 1 million.

A Pronghorn doe takes a rest not long after sunrise on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Pronghorn doe takes a rest not long after sunrise on the Colorado plains. (© Tony’s Takes)

Hide-and-seek with a Ring-necked Pheasant

Hardly a rare bird on the Colorado plains but one that has eluded me. I certainly have seen many but getting a quality capture has proven difficult as they are notoriously shy and seem to be able to disappear in brush in an instant.

On Saturday I see this beautiful specimen standing tall and proud on top of a round hay bale and instantly I think, “Finally!” Well, those thoughts didn’t last long as this guy saw me coming and took cover immediately. He stuck his head up for the briefest moment giving me this one shot.

While not what I was hoping for, it does make for a fun capture.

A Ring-necked Pheasant hides on some hay bales in Morgan County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Ring-necked Pheasant hides on some hay bales in Morgan County, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

American White Pelican grabs the air at takeoff

We spent our weekend at Jackson Lake State Park, Colorado, one of our favorite summertime spots. Certainly there was plenty of time playing in the water but my family allowed me some photo time too. Of course since my wife absolutely loves these massive birds, she didn’t mind too much.

Anecdotally, it seemed like there were more Pelicans there this year than we have ever seen in the 15 years we have been going there. Here, one that had swam close to our boat decided it was time to go and takes flight. So much fun to watch them. They may be a bit goofy looking but they are extraordinarily graceful flyers.

An American White Pelican takes to the air over Jackson Lake in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

An American White Pelican takes to the air over Jackson Lake in Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Close up of an American Alligator

It donned on me this morning I hadn’t shared many pictures of these creatures from my excursion into the headwaters of the Florida Everglades a few weeks ago. Let’s fix that today.

This pretty lady was sunning herself on a small patch of high ground in the swamp. Our airboat captain did a fantastic job of putting me in a good position to get some nice, close up captures of her.

We saw at least a half dozen gators in the span of a couple of hours and was surprised at how, for the most part, they didn’t seem particularly bothered by us. In a way, that was a bit disconcerting as they are absolutely impressive. This one was a female so somewhat on the small size as she was “only” about 8 feet long or so. Males can be up to 15 feet long!

The American Alligator was actually came under the protection of the Endangered Species Act in 1967. Twenty years later, it had recovered enough to be removed from the list and today they are quite numerous.

Up close with a female American Alligator near Kissimmee, Florida.  (© Tony’s Takes)

Up close with a female American Alligator near Kissimmee, Florida. (© Tony’s Takes)

Freedom’s launch!

Freedom’s launch! Today is American Eagle Day and I sure can’t let that go by without sharing a picture of my favorite photo subject.

According to Time & Date, the day is “Celebrated annually on June 20, the observance commemorates the day in 1782, when the bird was added to the official Seal of the United States.” IMHO it sure is a whole lot better than the turkey that old Ben Franklin preferred. 😉

This particular Eagle is one of my favorite mated pair and has a nest southwest of Denver, Colorado. On this particular morning about a month ago, they were quite busy keeping their two eaglets happy.

A Bald Eagle launches into the air southeast of Denver, Colorado. A Bald Eagle launches into the air southeast of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

A Bald Eagle launches into the air southeast of Denver, Colorado. (© Tony’s Takes)

Can you come out and play?

Oh my goodness. These two cuties were so darned entertaining!

Arriving at the top of Mount Evans (#Colorado), the resident Mountain Goats were nowhere to be found initially. This isn’t entirely unusual as there are lots of places for them to be but, eventually, they do usually show up at the main parking area. Sure enough, a couple hours later they did appear and the herd put on a nice show and gave me lots of pictures.

The highlight by far were these two kids who were extremely rambunctious, bounding around, butting heads and climbing on top of each other. During a brief break from the fun, one had climbed on top of a rock, seeming to want to take a break. His friend though wasn’t ready to stop and tried to coax him down for more play.

Mountain Goats are actually not native to the Centennial State. They were brought here during the 40s, 50s and 60s as game animals and as tourist attractions.

Two Mountain Goat kids come face to face. (© Tony’s Takes)

Two Mountain Goat kids come face to face. (© Tony’s Takes)