I dunno, there is something about female hooded mergansers that just really reminds me of the title character in that 1935 horror flick. That crest on the top of the head really looks like the hairdo of Elsa Lanchester in the film. Yeah, I know, I am a little weird sometimes. They are, though, beautiful birds and lots of fun to watch.
Taken at sunrise on New Year’s Eve. The bison herd at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge was to the east with the rising sun behind them. Normally that doesn’t make for good pictures but on this morning, it worked out perfectly.
The cold weather allowed the bison’s steamy breath to be quite visible as their dark frames and the trees were silhouetted against the orange sunrise. Just a really cool scene and I am liking this capture quite a bit.
For the past two months, we have been hearing at least two great horned owls calling to each other near our house. Usually we begin to hear them right after sunset while I am out grilling up dinner (yes, we are some of those crazy Coloradoans that barbeque in the freezing cold and snow – haha).
I had looked many times and stood out there in the dark but had not seen them – until this week. Now, three nights in a row I have spotted one of them in a neighbor’s tree, calling out to its potential mate.
As you can see, this was after sunset but the shadowy form kind of makes for cool images. Now is the time of year when these guys start pairing up, setting the stage for the spring babies. I drove around last night, hoping to find a nest but didn’t have any luck but will keep trying.
A fantastic look at this beautiful raptor taken on Christmas Day and a fitting image for Freedom Friday.
The rest of my family was in no rush to open gifts and instead opted to sleep in. I, of course, rarely do that and instead headed to a nearby open space to see if I could find any photo-worthy subjects.
Santa brought me a number of bald eagles that morning, including this gorgeous adult. I captured this image as part of a sequence of it launching and heading off to fish. It does a great job showcasing that massive 6+ foot wingspan and the beautiful plumage of these birds.
“Tony! Tony! Get over here NOW!” My friend sounded more like my mother as he excitedly called me to where he was standing watching a creek on New Year’s Day.
As I ran over, I saw what the excitement was about and I couldn’t blame him. This little mink was out in the open and posing, occasionally moving around to check out its surroundings.
These little guys are quite common in Colorado however they are also rarely seen. The entire encounter lasted less than five minutes but it was an absolute thrill and the first time I have seen a mink in person. So darned cute and a great way to start the new year.
What to do when you are standing around in 15 degree weather, shivering, waiting for hours for an elusive creature to appear? Point your camera down!
As we get further into the depths of winter, lakes, ponds, creeks and some rivers are icing over. As I noticed this past weekend, it creates some pretty cool shapes and crystals along the water. You really need to view these full screen and study them a bit to fully appreciate the crazy detail.
Best of all, it provided a distraction from the miserable cold and the fact I was waiting for hours for an animal that never appeared. 😉
A great start to the new year. Well, I don’t know what the rest of 2021 holds for my photographic endeavors but it sure started off in fine fashion!
New Year’s Day I was photographing a great blue heron on an icy creek when I noticed movement about 10 yards behind it. Much to my surprise, there were two river otters! The light was horrible as the sun had not risen entirely and it was a long shot so those pictures didn’t really come out.
The next day I returned, hoping for another chance at these elusive creatures and, thankfully, one made an appearance. It was initially in the shadows making it hard to get a good shot but then it emerged on the opposite side of a nearby pond in full light.
It was a long ways away limiting the quality of pictures but I was absolutely ecstatic to see and photograph a river otter, a first for me and something few ever see.
River otters were once entirely extinguished from Colorado due to the fur trade and waterway pollution. Colorado Parks & Wildlife began reintroducing them in the 1970s and while it has been a very successful program and they are not considered endangered, they are still considered a threatened species.
Finally! I have historically had pretty good luck getting images of these wintertime visitors to the Colorado Front Range. This season though, they just haven’t wanted to play nice with me.
On New Year’s Eve I spotted one on a utility pole northeast of Denver and decided to give it another shot. While it did not stick around to pose, it did at least give me a flyby. It was a bit distant so the images had to be cropped more than I would like but they didn’t come out too bad.
They are absolutely beautiful raptors. During the winter, they spend time in much of the lower 48 states. Summers will find them on the Arctic tundra on northern Alaska and Canada.
One last “top shots” video recapping my 2020 photo year. Today, I look back at some of the mammals that I photographed. From the tiny American pika to the massive moose, I was fortunate to spend time with some pretty amazing creatures. Two new animals that I had never photographed were highlights including a suburban bobcat family and the wild #horses of Sand Wash Basin. All images taken here in Colorado.
Oh how I love these types of birds. I previously shared my top shots of bald eagles and owls, now we look at some images of other types of eagles, hawks and falcons. Raptors are extraordinary creatures, ferocious predators but also quite beautiful and widely varied. From the tiny American kestrel to the monstrous golden eagle, all hold a special fascination for me and are quite often the focus of my images. Here’s a look back at my favorite captures of these creatures of the sky from my 2020 photo year.