Photo Gallery and Blog 2012

Muley Buck
It is mid June so I was prospecting for cavity-nexting birds in Moraine Park. Instead, I found two mule deer bucks in velvet, grazing among the scrubby vegetation. It is tough to get a decent photo of a grazing deer because there is always a bush in its face. Fortunately for me, this particular buck got thirsty after eating all that dry grass and took a drink in the river. A week later, I saw the same two bucks at the same spot in the river.

Cavity Nesters
It proved to be a decent year for woodpecker photos in the park. I managed to find these three nests that were in decent locations with cooperative birds. I hadn't seen a red-naped sapsucker for several years, even though they are supposed to be relatively common, This year, I saw three. Conversely, Williamson's sapsuckers are supposed to be relatively uncommon, yet I see those every year. Flickers are always around, but not always accessible.
This tree swallow seemed content to sit in its hole and watch me photograph a sapsucker nest, so I went over and took its picture too.
The house wrens were busy bringing all sorts of bugs to their nest.

Wildflowers
The drought had a profound effect on the wildflowers. There were a few left to photograph.
Pasqueflower
Paintbrush
Little Pink Elephants

Pika and Marmot
It's always fun to watch pikas as they scamper around among rocks on the tundra. They spend their whole summer busily collecting tundra plants and carrying them to a cache under rocks. These little guys are really fast. They run through the gaps between the rocks so you're never sure where one will pop up next. They don't stop for long. Thank goodness for autofocus.

One time, I was sitting on the ground with my tripod legs collapsed, waiting for a pika to appear on its typical path over the rocks. Instead, it came right up to me, chewed on my shoe a bit, climbed over my tripod leg and sniffed my hand.

 

There are probably lazy marmots laying around on the same rocks where the industrious pikas are busily gathering plants. It is easy to get so focused on the pikas that you forget to look on top of a rock pile for a marmot. Fortunately for me, this curious furry fellow came to look at me, and stopped right in this nice sunny spot.


Union Pacific Steam Engine
Every year the Union Pacific railroad runs a special train from Denver to Cheyenne and back, pulled by their real steam engine, UP844. It runs on the regular tracks that go through Greeley and parallel Hwy 85. It's pretty easy to drive over there, pick some convenient parking place, and wait for the train to come by. It's really enormous. Those four main driving wheels are seven foot tall and it weighs 454 tons. It has a moaning whistle that is super loud. Of course Union Pacific has it all painted and polished up nicely. It slows down around Greeley, but out in the country it goes by really fast, like 60 mph.

This locomotive is the last one Union Pacific ever bought, back in 1944. Mouseover the photo to see how it might have looked back then.


Autumn Color
September is the nicest month in many ways. A formidable, snow-capped mountain, golden aspen, and Colorado blue sky is a spectacular combination.

Elk Rut in Rocky Mtn National Park

September also brings the annual elk rut. It's when the biggest bulls gather herds of cows. Each bull stays busy keeping his harem together, sometimes strutting around and showing off his antlers. Bugling sounds echo back and forth across the meadows. Occasionally the big bull has to run off a smaller but interested bull. All this happens in the meadows of RMNP, in plain sight of visitors. Sometimes the elk are like tiny specks, far out in the meadow. Other times they are close. When a big bull walks across a road, between cars, you get to appreciate how big these animals really are.

Like everything, photographing them takes time and patience. Some days just aren't very productive. You just have to wait for a day with good light and good action.


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