Monday, October 24, 2016

Watching Them Slowly Disappear

I moved away from the Front Range of Colorado in 1972. At that time there was quite a bit of open space in between the cities and towns along the I-25 corridor. Periodically over the years since leaving I have been making trips to visit friends and relatives in Colorado and Wyoming. At every visit I have watched those open spaces slowly start to shrink and close. It's a lot like watching a group of frogs in a pot of water very slowly heating up on a stove. Most of the frogs don't realize the water is suddenly boiling before it is much too late. Some of the frogs do feel the heat and they jump out. Similarly and luckily some city and county governments along the Front Range had foresight and established open space and parks for the people and wildlife to enjoy. Sadly that is not the case for the Prairie dogs pictured here. This Prairie dog colony on the east side of Loveland, Colorado near Denver Ave and East First Street is about to disappear. A couple of years ago when I visited there was a big for sale sign up on the property. When I visited this time in early September there was a sold sign and grade stakes had been set showing that they were getting it ready for construction. These images are most likely going to be the last Prairie Dog images that I will ever take here. It is so sad to see them disappear. We are stewards of the land that God has given us and we need to be mindful how we care for it. I can only hope that the company that now owns this property does the right thing and traps and relocates these Prairie Dogs and doesn't just bulldoze them under.BTW the survival rate for relocated Praire Dogs isn't that great. God bless, chris All images were photographed from my rental car with a Canon 7DmkII and a Tamron 150-600mm lens #TeamCanon

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Foggy Down Below

This morning when I arose my first view of the Little Lake Valley down below was one of thick fog. Above the horizon of the Mendocino Range there was a weak sunrise that actually looked like it might hold the promise of a sunny day. Which ended up to be quite true for as I am writing this outside it is bright and cheery. Who knows what this day will hold? We shall see. May you have a blessed day, chris. I tossed in a Chestnut Backed Chickadee from yesterday afternoon. #TeamCanon

Friday, October 21, 2016

White Picket Fence in a Small Town

Yesterday I had to have my pick up repaired. After dropping off the vehicle at the garage I had to walk to Lenore's work to get the key for her car to drive while mine was being repaired. As I passed this simple scene I almost walked walked on. Something drew me back as if it cried out to be photographed. A simple white picket fence in a small town... God's love and blessings upon you, chris

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hanging out With the Pikas

My last full day in Colorado was spent high up in the Rockies. I left my rented room well before dawn and headed up to reach the top of the pass just after sunrise. I parked the car and grabbed my hat, gloves, some water and my camera gear. Hiking upward above 12,000 feet isn't easy for a close to sea level guy like me. I would climb twenty or thirty steps and then stop to catch my breath. I repeated this process over and over until I was high up a talus slope where the Pika live. American Pika are typically found in western North America from British Columbia in Canada to Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nevada, California and New Mexico. They are usually found at higher elevations from 8,000 to 14,000 feet, though there are two lower elevation populations; one along the Columbia River and one in North Eastern California. Their preferred habitat is in rock slides and talus rock covered slopes between the timberline and down into subalpine forest. Pikas are related to rabbits hence the nickname of "rock rabbits" is sometimes used. They definitely have the cuteness factor going for them. Pikas have a small, round body, peppery brown fur, large round ears. They are typically six to eight inches long and weigh in at about about six ounces. One of the coolest things about them is, like Polar Bears, they have black skin underneath their coats. The most amazing thing about them is that they don't hibernate. Instead, during the short window of summer, they gather a wide variety of flowers, grasses and plants and dry them in little hay stacks. These are then stored in their dens to eat during the long winter. At present many populations of Pika are in decline. It is believed to be linked to global warming. Pika are now missing at many historical sites that they used to live in. Whether this is due to drought or global warming, this has yet to be determined. Status as an endangered species has been applied for, but it was found that there was a lack of research to attain that status and research is ongoing. I had a fantastic time photographing them. It was great just sitting there in the rocks watching them running to and fro building up their hay piles. They would periodically stop to take a break and sun themselves. I photographed them until the light started getting too harsh. As I stood up to go I spotted a weasel above me that was also in search of Pikas. I don't think it wanted to be their friend! Alarm calls were sounding all over the Pika colony. I moved cross slope trying to get ahead of it, but I never sighted the weasel again. By then I was pretty tired, and I lay down on the tundra looking up at the blue sky and a few clouds floating by. Before long I nodded off to sleep. What a great nap I had! The Pikas were one of the highlights of my trip, and I look forward to photographing them in the future. God's love and blessings to all of you, Chris All images were created with a Canon 7DmkII and a Tamron 150-600m lens on a Me foto tripod. Exposures varied and it still amazes me that the Tamron lens that was damaged when it fell out of my backpack onto the concrete was able to produce such fantastic images.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Long, Long Day

The day after the wedding in Centennial (suburb of Denver) I loaded up my camera gear into my trusty little rent a car and headed west on I-70. I turned off in Idaho springs onto the Mt. Evans Scenic Highway. Climbing upward I saw quite a few aspen that were starting to turn. I stopped at the ranger station to pay and the ranger warned me of the high winds that day and told me where the Mountain Goats and Bighorns have been hanging out. I didn't see a single one! On the drive up it got cloudier and cloudier and wind was really blowing. Howling would be a better term for it. Once while getting out of the car to photograph the view the door was ripped from my hand. I stopped for a break at the Mount Goliath Natural Area and photographed a Bristlecone Pine. They are estimated to be between 800 and 2,000 years old. I was shocked to see a saw mark on the tree I photographed. When I arrived at Summit Lake I was quite happy to have my wool hat and gloves. It was a brisk 36 degrees out and there were little ponds of ice frozen. The wind was still howling and there was a guy on a bike coming downhill towards the lake that was having to pedal to make forward progress against the wind. The parking lot at the lake was full and I circled a bit until i could find a parking spot. I did a short hike to the Chicago Lakes Overlook before heading back down. coming back down it was quite a bit warmer and I stopped to photograph some aspen and the motorcycles that just love driving the twisty roads up here. I drove down into Idaho springs for lunch and then I headed west again on I-70. I went through the Eisenhower Tunnel. On a sidenote I left Colorado as a youngster the year before it was complete. When I used to ski at Loveland Basin we used to watch the big Euc off road trucks carrying rock out from the construction site from the chairlift. I drove to Silverthorne and purchased a couple of SD Cards for my camera.By then I was pretty tired and I pushed the drivers seat back and had a long nap in the sun. After I woke up I headed east on Highway 6 to Loveland Pass. I stopped to photograph the Aspens and the A-Basin Ski area. I was shocked to see that the lodge was finally undergoing renovations. For years and years now it has looked like a time capsule from 1970. At the top of the pass I stopped and took some customary tourist pictures and I went for a short hike uphill looking for some Pikas. I got one really nice image of one!. In winter the top of the pass is the drop off point for backcountry skiers and snow boarders. There is a huge bowl here that can be skied down to one of the last turns at the bottom of the pass. It's a great way to get some serious skiing in by either hitch hiking or trading off with a car and driver. After coming off the pass i went into Idaho Springs for an early dinner. I had a great sandwich from a local market and then I headed back up the byway. I stopped and dropped off most of my stuff at the Air BnB where I was staying.Nice place by the way. Then I headed up to see if i could catch a little of the sunset. my last image of the day was of my little rent a car which did a pretty good job of taking me out for a long, long day. God's love and blessings to all, chris All images were created with a Canon 7DmkII and a variety of lenses.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Blue Royalty

Steller's Jays are such a beautiful bird if you can overlook their call and the bullying of smaller birds around them. Steller's Jays were named for Georg Steller, a naturalist on a Russian ship who discovered them on an Alaskan island in 1741. Later in 1788 when another scientist officially described the species, they named it after him – along with other species including the Steller's Sea Lion and Steller's Sea-Eagle. Sunday afternoon there was a little break in the rain. I took some time to photograph the Jays coming to my backyard feeder. They are indeed a beautiful bird. God's love and blessings upon your week, chris All of these images were created with a Canon 7DmkII with a Canon 100-400 IS v.1 Due to the cloudy conditions I was using an ISO of 1600 at F 8.0 .The shutter speeds varied but were pretty slow. The camera was supported on our window sill with a ground pod and a Manfrotto 3055 heavy duty ballhead.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Adapting to City Life

After coming out of the Rockies down to the plains below I had to adapt to driving in city traffic. The traffic in Denver is really bad! For my good friend Dan's wedding I stayed at one of the major Hotels right off the 470 freeway. It was in Centennial one of the suburbs of Denver on the far south side. Coming out of the hotel one morning I looked up at the flags flying in the early morning breeze. Wow! That looks cool. Then I had an immediate flashback of coloring a Colorado flag when I was probably in third or fourth grade. You know the time when kids all over the United states learn about the state they are growing up in. I stood there lost in thought when my mind popped back to reality when I realized that there were two birds of prey flying around above me in the updraft of the breeze hitting the front of the hotel. One was a young Redtailed Hawk and the other was an immature male Kestrel. It was great they were using the building to hunt the grass along the shoulder of the freeway. The Kestrel wasn't too happy about the Redtail getting too close and he made a few dives at it. The Redtail circled a few times and then went into a stoop towards something in the grass but came up empty handed. By then it was too far away to be photographed but I was really happy to watch it unfold. God's love and blessings upon your weekend, chris All of these images were created with a Canon 7DmkII and a damaged handheld Tamron 150-600mm lens. Exposures varied.