Last but not least in my look back at my photo year, we come to mammals big and small – with a reptile thrown in for good measure as well. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to photograph so many of the creatures which we share this planet with. Each one is special and each chance to see them thrills me. Enjoy this view of pika, marmots, bison, foxes, bears and so much more!
Elk bull serenades the ladies
What lady wouldn’t love to have a handsome, strapping man sing to them? Of course, the bugling of an elk is not quite music like we are used to but it did work on the cows.
This bull had himself a good-sized harem of 30+ cows and he was quite vigilant in ensuring they stuck around. Here, he lets loose with a bugle that filled the valley and many of the ladies in the harem stopped eating and took note.
Have a fantastic Wapiti Wednesday.
“Wait! Was it something I said?”
An elk bull tries to woo a cow but she was having no part of it. A fun shot from a chilly, drizzly evening in Rocky Mountain National Park.
As I sat at my campsite, I heard the big boy bugling. I wasn’t too keen on venturing out given the cruddy weather but decided to go ahead and am glad I did. The bull had a harem of 30 or so cows and calves.
He had them all rounded up and in a grassy area right next to the campground. I pulled up a spot under a tree, trying to shelter from the rain, and spent a good while photographing the group.
“Let’s go, ladies! Get back there!”
With another elk bull threatening to siphon off some of his harem, this big boy was doing his best to keep his group together. He had gotten most of the 40 or so of them herded together, making it easier for him to keep things under control.
This cow and calf seemed to be tempted by the competitor though and started to wander away. That, of course, was unsatisfactory. He quickly circled around, got the pair turned around, and escorted them back, giving them an earful as he did.
Have a fantastic #WapitiWednesday!
Bull elk fills the valley with the sounds of fall
The bugling sound of an elk bull is unmistakable and oftentimes hear in the Colorado high country. Such was the case on this morning as one of the ‘top guns’ in Rocky Mountain National Park rounded up his harem.
He had quite an impressive group, probably 40 or so cows, and a few had begun to wander. That, of course, would not do, and he set off in pursuit of them across the valley. The big guy cut them off, let loose with a guttural bugle heard far and wide, and the cows quickly returned to where he wanted them.
It was a neat scene with low fog just above the valley floor, obscuring the tops of the mountains and the elk dotting the grasses below.
Huge elk bull bugles as the rut kicks into high gear
Rut on! It is that time of year when the hormones in the elk are raging and the bulls are competing for the affections of the ladies. This capture is certainly worthy of featuring on Wapiti Wednesday.
We spent this past weekend camping in Rocky Mountain National Park and while the weather was less than ideal for humans, the cold and drizzle helped to get the big boys motivated.
This particular bull was large and in charge and he had the harem of 40 or so cows to prove it. As he kept his group penned in at a corner of the meadow, he made sure competitors knew they were not welcome.
Coming soon… The sound of the rut!
I can’t wait! September in the Colorado high country is one of my absolute favorites.
The temperatures cool down leading to crisp, calm mornings and evenings that require you to bundle up just a bit. The leaves begin to change and there is that unmistakable sound of bugling elk as the males gather up the ladies into harems, vying for their love.
This image, taken last year at about this same time, had one of the big boys calling to the cows, trying to woo them his direction.
Elk cow makes a rare appearance on the Colorado plains
Well, normally I would have to reach into the archives this time of year for a pic for Wapiti Wednesday but not today. This past weekend, while hiking along the South Platte River north of Denver I saw something that you normally would never associate with the area – an elk!
As I am walking along, I see a large mammal ahead and initially dismissed it as a deer. A second glance told me no, this was way bigger than a deer. As the sun wasn’t entirely up yet, light was at a premium but pointing my lens I realized what it really was. Awesome!
Of course, she turned tail and headed off but I pursued for probably about a mile up river, giving her a wide berth so as not to make her go too far too fast. I only managed a few captures in low light but what a treat to see!
This area is about 15 miles from the furthest east spot in the foothills you would normally see them. It certainly had to cross a LOT of suburbia to get to this spot.
Rest in peace, Big Kahuna
I learned today that the biggest, baddest elk bull of Rocky Mountain National Park was found dead last week. For years he has delighted visitors and photographers with his impressive size and incredible rack.
The last rut season was hard on him as he suffered a pretty serious injury sparring with another bull. He seemed to recuperate, albeit slowly, but did not make it through the winter. We may never know why. It could be perhaps due to that injury, old age (he was estimated to be 12 to 14 years old) or some have speculated predation from a mountain lion.
Certainly, I shot more than my fair share of pics of him over the years, these ones dating to September 27, 2019. I remember with great clarity that particular photo session with him.
I was camped in the Moraine Park Campground and with chilly temperatures and light rain falling that evening, I wasn’t inclined to head out and photograph. Instead, I had just poured my favorite adult beverage expecting to relax and just take it easy when I started hearing extraordinarily loud bugling from over the hill. I couldn’t resist the call.
I donned my rain gear, grabbed my camera and hiked over the hill. There was the big guy, standing guard over his harem and making sure any competitors knew who was in charge. Relatively few humans were there that evening due to the weather which made for a nice, peaceful visit with him.
I walked away happy I had ventured out and now, even more, cherish that time with him. He will live on not only in pictures and memories but also through a long, proud blood line.
Elk bull standing watch over his harem
The rut is over now but I still have a few pics to share from this year’s action. Overall, I didn’t do as well with the pics as I have in the past but there were some good ones to be had, including this one.
This handsome fellow had himself a nice harem of a dozen cows or so but he was struggling to keep them contained. Three competing bulls nearby were pressuring him and doing their best to woo the ladies away, sometimes having success.
The big guy was trying to alternate between eating and patrolling the harem, stopping here briefly to bugle while still having grass in his mouth. Apparently he wasn’t taught to not talk with food in your mouth. 😉