Sunday, March 29, 2015

There's an Elk in Here Somewhere

It was early August when this bull elk showed up sans antler velvet at Lily Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado.

He was still rubbing and working the last little bits off, thrashing the hell out of the willows. I had never seen an elk in the process of shedding his velvet, especially this close (thank you, Canon 70-200mm zoom).

Kinda gross. Kinda bloody. I'll bet it itches something fierce.

Rockin' the bright green Colorado Parks and Wildlife ear piercings too. Girl elk dig that look.

Tom Bradley ©  2015

Saturday, March 28, 2015

What's the hold up?

A male red breasted nuthatch waits while a chipmunk monopolizes the feeder.

Tom Bradley  ©  2015

Friday, March 27, 2015

Meet the Corvids!

Steller's Jays to be precise. They are in the same family (corvidae) as crows, ravens, magpies, and other types of jays. Wikipedia says Corvids are considered the most intelligent birds and among the most intelligent of all animals; European magpies have demonstrated self awareness in mirrors and crows have shown tool making ability. All I know is they are a blast to have around and watch. They like peanuts which I throw to them. One of the blue beauties is usually onto it within seconds of it hitting the ground. But here's what's cool: If I quickly throw another peanut the bird who just snatched one will fly over to it, drop the peanut in it's beak, compare the two, and keep the largest!

Tom Bradley  ©  2015

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The New Normal

This bull elk wanted to cross Highway 7 in Rocky Mountain National Park. Instead, he found himself hemmed in by a crush of cars and people wanting to experience such a majestic creature up close. Trapped in a parking lot, he eventually gave up on crossing the road and wandered back into the relative calm of the Lily Lake area.

The elk seemed resigned to his situation; he didn't force the issue or try to bolt across the road. The people were respectful and careful not to do anything that might spook him.

Tom Bradley  ©  2015

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Bambi Dropped By

Well, actually, it was Bambi's mom. Her fawn was tucked safely away in the nearby meadow. She was good enough to come by as I happened to have my 70-200mm zoom locked and loaded.

Ever wonder where the expression "doe eyed" came from? Yeah. This.

Maybe there should be another expression... "deer eared." Yikes! Think sound is a big part of these animals staying alive? Mule deer are known for their big ears, so it's a good look for her.

Speaking of staying alive, here she is a month later with her fall coat, but check out the gash on her left rear leg.

You can see it running nearly horizontally about halfway between her knee and heel (the shank below her thigh, not down by the hoof). It looks like a darkened furry flap, like something was tearing at her achilles. Hmmmm, I'm thinking coyotes. I saw a pack in this same spot a few weeks earlier. It's possible she snagged herself on dead limbs (I sure have), but I've seen her silently bounding through the thickest, brushiest, dead tree-filled mess with all the grace of a ballet dancer. Seems unlikely she would have gashed herself.

Tom Bradley  ©  2015

Friday, March 20, 2015

Flying Jewel

During June this past summer, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds swarmed around like insects at my cabin in the Longs Peak area of Colorado. Then, in mid July, the Rufous Hummingbirds showed up and took over. They were the bullies on the block; bigger and more aggressive than the Broad-tails. They owned the feeders for several weeks and the Broad-tail visitors decreased dramatically.

Male Broad-tail

Female Broad-tail

How tiny must the bones in those feet be?! I've had one sit on my finger before and I didn't feel anything. Certainly not the claws gripping my skin and the weight of the bird was barely detectable.

And the Bad Boy himself, a male Rufous Hummingbird

He could keep an eye on his feeder from this branch and dive bombed any bird foolish enough to challenge his ownership of the juice--hummers and woodpeckers included!

Tom Bradley © 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Least Chipmunk with Most Personality

Seriously, this little squirrel seemed to know how to pose for the camera. I know he was probably just begging for a peanut, but he had his charmer routine down! Usually these twitchy little rodents would scurry around, afraid of me, afraid of the sounds my camera made, just furry, blurry streaks of motion. But not this guy. He would square up in a pose and stare at me. These were the best photos of the bunch. I hope he survives the winter. I'd like to "work" with him again this summer.

Tom Bradley © 2015