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.
A wildlife version of Elf on the Shelf? 😉
While observing a few bighorn sheep rams, I kept hearing the bleating of another somewhere in the distance. A friend finally spotted the big boy, way up high on the side of the canyon wall across the river.
It stopped its decent briefly, surveying the situation below, seeming to debate whether it was going to come challenge the other rams or not. It did indeed come down, cross the river, and meet up with his buddies.
Unfortunately there were no big battles on this day but it was still a nice outing with lots of captures of Colorado’s official state animal.
Ah, yes, love is in the air this time of year for many ungulates, including bighorn sheep. The males are keen on keeping watch on the females and checking to see which ones might be ready for a bit of “action.”
Here, one big fellow flares his nostrils and sniffs a group of ewes, trying to determine if any are in estrus.
With a successful mating, there is a six-month gestation and the ewes will give birth in May to one lamb. On rare occasions, they have two.
Let’s call this Sheep Sunday and feature this handsome fellow.
He was following some ewes in the canyon last weekend and clearly looking for love. Bighorn sheep are Colorado’s official state animal and, in my opinion, a very fitting one to have chosen.
Like the terrain and the original inhabitants and settlers of the Centennial State, they are tough, rugged and strong. Rams can push toward 300 pounds and are impressively powerful.
For this image, I did a conversion to black and white which helps to really highlight the fine details of this guy’s awesome eyes, horns and fur.
Those dang, kids!
Watching the bighorn sheep this past weekend was fun, as always. I followed a few rams as they worked their way down the canyon toward a herd of ewes and kids. While the adult males engaged the females, looking for love, the kids were left unsupervised and became very rambunctious.
I was focused on the adults when suddenly, a half dozen kids came bounding down the mountain and up the road right at me! I quickly ran to the side to get out of the way, snapping pictures as I went. I figured if I was going to get run over, I might as well document the event. 😉
In the end, any collision was avoided as the young ones ran right by and back up the side chasing each other. The fun and joy they seemed to be having running and playing was heart-warming and a great thing to see.
On one of the days last weekend I bypassed the usual action of the elk rut and instead headed to the high altitude tundra. While there, much to my surprise, I happened across this handsome fellow.
Normally by now these guys have moved to lower altitudes in search of the ladies and preparing for their own rut. He apparently preferred the cooler environs up high. That was fine with me as it had been quite a while since I photographed any bighorn and he looked quite nice lying of the fall-colored tundra.
This was one handsome and muscular fellow! He was clearly in fighting form and ready for the rut.
Five rams were hanging out in Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver recently, on the prowl for the ladies. This was one of the bigger members of the bachelor herd and he was definitely large and in charge. Unfortunately, they were not in the mood to fight each other on this particular day but I did manage some nice captures.
This was one handsome fellow and he was more than willing to give me some good looks last weekend. Like with bison, I tend to like black and white pics of them. It really draws out the finer details, particularly of those awesome horns.
There are three subspecies of bighorn sheep with the Rocky Mountain variety being the largest. These guys can weigh over 300 pounds with their horns alone weighing 30 pounds!
Here in Colorado they are our state animal and are incorporated into the logo for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Finally! It had been two years since I got some decent pics of Colorado’s state animal and yesterday that streak came to an end.
I headed to this spot southwest of Denver where the bighorn sheep frequent. I counted eight rams, five that were easily accessible. Unfortunately there wasn’t any head-butting which is what I was really hoping for, but they did give me some nice poses.
On this one, the leader of the pack takes the bachelor herd down the road, the first time they have been down that low this season.
The bighorn sheep is the Centennial State’s official animal and to me that is quite fitting. Just like the terrain and many of its people, these animals are very rugged, strong and tough.
The animal is found in many places in the state’s high country. Diseases from European livestock and overhunting had caused the animal’s population to drop precipitously by the early 1900s. Thankfully conservation efforts have been successful in helping the sheep rebound since then.
I took yesterday off and headed southwest of Denver in the hopes of getting pics of the Centennial State’s official animal. Technically I succeeded but not the way I had hoped. Naturally I was really wanting to see the Bighorn Sheep rams, the big boys.
Unfortunately, my 10 1/2 mile bike ride yielded only ewes and lambs. I did see a few rams but they stayed high on the canyon sides and never came down to give me a decent shot. At least the little ones are cute and made for a decent consolation prize.