Monday, October 20, 2008

Noisy Varmit

Speaking of wildlife... We had another visitor last night. It would seem that the racoon's are feeling territorial over our yard (more than likely, our compost bin). We were woken by an amazingly noisy ruckus. You would have thought there was some part dog, part rabbit creature being subjected to some sort of medieval torture device in our backyard or something. Jess and I scurried out of bed to see what was up and spotted this one in our tree. Now what would be cool is if we could attract some mountain lions to eat these guys, that would actually be worth getting up over :) Question then is what would eat the mountain lion? I dunno why she swallowed the fly, perhaps she'll die.

Needless to say, my picture shooting skills aren't that great in the early hours of the morning. I didn't even think to grab the tripod that was 5 feet away from me. Oh well. He wasn't sitting all that still anyway. Not bad for a .6 second handheld exposure though f/1.8 ISO 1600

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Suburban Elk

Well, I have to say, the fall sure does bring about some wonderful weather here in Colorado. Nice cool nights, perfect for sleeping, with crisp mornings that don't offer much incentive for getting out of bed in the morning. By afternoon though the temperature is near perfect, coupled with the wonderful sun shiny weather that the state is known for. Fall has always been my favorite time of year. It's cooling down in the mountains, and the peaks are starting to become snow covered, which I have a wonderful view of from my office window at work. In fact, 2 local ski resorts have already opened, but only one slope on each so far. Talking to others that have lived here longer than I, soon we'll see some of the other crazy weather Colorado is known for. Unbelievably radical swings in temperature... It's in the mid 70's here today, and they're calling for mid 40's the middle of the week, then a swing back up to the 70's again. Variety is the spice of life I guess.

On another note, and also the reason for the title of this post. The fall weather has brought on a flurry of wild life activity in our area. When I first moved here last year, I had mentioned observing quite a variety of wildlife as well. Well, nature does not disappoint. We were over at a friends house last night, who happens to live across the street from our local park. This lead to the opportunity to witness an elk in an area I would have never suspected one to come. Seems this guy likes to chew his cud in the local ball park.

After running home (literally), and grabbing the camera, I managed to get these shots of him. Turns out he wasn't to afraid of me either. I was probably standing about 15 feet away from him at one point (with a fence between me and him). That was close enough for me. I suspect he wasn't lucky enough to win himself a harem this season. Someone else said he was walking around with a bum leg too. Still, pretty wild that I live close enough to the mountains that these things are around. Several of my co-workers who live further in the mountains have some nice photos to show off of the wildlife they get to see. Let's just hope the cars around here drive with enough caution to not make a mess of things.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


So we took a trip up to Rocky Mountain National Park again this weekend. The leaves are beginning to turn down here in the front range, so I figured that a lot of leaves up at higher elevation must be getting close to peak. I had this planned for at least a week and was quite excited to get back up in the mountains. I've been limited to 7000 foot maximum elevation due to the clinical study I am in. Last Friday was my last session until next year, so I could get to higher elevations now. Of course since I had this planned, the weather forecast wasn't all the great. It was supposed to rain late in the day, with accumulating snow at night in the high country. I decided I wanted to go anyway. I'd just have to pay attention to the cloud activity.

We arrived at the park around 10:30 AM. I had chosen a trial to hike on the western side, since I've been in Colorado now for almost a year and was yet to make it over the continental divide. (Crazy huh?) Well, trail ridge road, and old fall river road were both open. I was in luck. These roads usually close down sometime in October because the road conditions become so bad. I don't blame them The road up is pretty steep and twisty turney. I can see why the close it down. Old Fall River road is dirt, and unidirectional (up only). My wife made the comment that she never intends of driving up that road. I thought it was great. There were several areas that were quite narrow with a significant exposure (drop off) down the side of the mountain, without any kind of barrier preventing you from going over. Anyhow, below is one of the views from Old Fall River road, of the valley. It was pretty much at the base of road, not very high up.
Also, before we started to ascend the road up over the divide, we made a quick "nature break" While my son was doing his thing in the privy, a couple of other photogs (with mighty big lenses and tripods, I must add) spotted this little squirrel gnawing away on a bunch of pine cones. I guess it was fattening itself up for the winter. I pulled out my camera with my measly lens (yes, I had lens envy) and managed to snap this shot. Not to bad for being extended out to 300mm and hand held with no image stabilization, if I do say so myself.

We finally got to the trail head around noon, ate lunch in the car, then headed off up the trail. It was 4.4 miles to the ultimate destination (a lake). I knew this late in the day, we would never make it, but it would be nice just to get out anyway. Below is a picture of a small stand of Aspen that has turned for the season. This picture doesn't really do these trees any justice. They seem to range from an orangy red color all the way to an amazingly vibrant yellow. Almost as if they were luminescent, generating their own light. Several times, walking through the forest, you would spot some aspen through the trees, and they were so vibrant, it was almost as if a ray of sunshine was shining right down on them, even though the sky was overcast.

A little further down the trail, we came across a nice stream. Of course, Geoffrey had to play in the rocks and in the water, etc. He seems to like getting his picture taken, as long as its on his terms.

One of the good things about overcast days in the forest, is you can stop down your lens and get a decently long exposure without having to add filters. I always enjoy taking pictures of water and trying to get that nice flowy, fluid look. I was pretty happy with this shot.

About halfway up the trail, I spoted some mountains in the distance that I was able to see earlier. I always like to track terrain in the distance to use as a reference for my location. The cloud deck dropping down on them. Not a good sign when you want to stay dry. So we turned around and headed back down the trail towards our car. Along the way we spotted this Elk cow grazing on some vegetation. She wasn't to really willing to move, but after slowly approaching here and making some noise she moved for us.

Turns out where she moved to, was with the rest of her harem, protected by this here bull. It was kind of cool the way he followed up through the trees as we were hiking to make sure we weren't going to go after any of his property. That's one guy I would not want to tangle with.

As we were walking about it started to rain lightly, so we called it a day and drove home. It was nice to say that I've now seen water that flows to the pacific instead the Atlantic. In fact, that stream I took a picture of above, is part of the head waters that becomes the mighty Colorado River. Hope you enjoy the pictures. Don't forget you can always click on them to see bigger versions.