I couldn’t have asked for a nicer Valentine’s Day! My wonderful wife packed a picnic lunch, we left the house for Chatfield and were hiking along Plum Creek by 2:00. Right off the bat we were treated to a great horned owl, which we followed for a bit and were able to photograph at close range in three different trees.
We had lunch and decided to hike out to check for the porcupine in his usual area. I soon spotted him on the ground near his tree, Shina got a real kick out of watching me waddle down the snowy hill after the waddling porcupine.
We spent some time with the porcupine, then made a long loop through the flooded, now mostly frozen area of South Plum Creek, back to the truck. We decided to head home and drove out the west side of the park instead of going south, sure glad we did. As soon as we reached Catfish Flats we spotted two coyotes on the east side of the road. We soon realized that this was a male and female, and we were able to watch them hunting voles for the next half hour. They put on quite a show – at one point the male came to within 15 feet of the truck, crossed the road to check for prey in a culvert, then crossed back and followed alongside the truck for about half a mile. He caught a vole for the female coyote and presented it to her, which she gladly accepted, but when he tried to help himself to one that she had caught he was harshly scolded. The sun was setting as the couple retreated to the trees, a great end to a perfect day in the field!
Left the house around 1:00, picked up Dan and headed to Roxborough State Park. Most of the mulies were grazing up high on the hogback, way out of my camera range. No sign of the bald eagle that’s been out on the lake lately – hopefully it’s still in the area, I haven’t had the chance to get any decent shots of it yet. Left Roxy and headed to Deer Creek Canyon Park, found the main deer herd at their usual spot. The mule deer bucks, unlike their whitetail cousins, have yet to drop their antlers. Got a couple close shots of a yearling, waited for the big bucks to get up and move toward us but gave up after an hour.
Exited the Deer Creek area and headed to Chatfield. Plenty of red-tailed hawks at Chatty, just out of my range – still working toward that 500mm lens! Spent a little while shooting the mallards and goldeneyes at the flooded Plum Creek area, really beautiful birds. We’ve been having better luck with coyotes on the west side of the park lately, so we headed that way around 4:30. No canines around so we spent a half hour or so shooting canada goose close-ups – there’s got to be around 500 of them taking a break from their migration to refuel at the park. We decide to call it a day and started to head home, but just as we reached the entrance road we spotted a coyote mousing near the shoulder. Spent the rest of the sunset hour with the yote, got some shots but the light was less than perfect – still a great way to end the day!
Dan and I were able to visit Cherry Creek for an hour or so this evening, saw plenty of whitetails but no coyotes. A snow storm was moving in, making it windy and cold and causing the deer to be more skittish than usual.
Spent a couple of hours this afternoon at Chatfield State Park, saw 4 coyotes travelling together (took me forever to figure out that it was the same family unit that I had spent so much time around this summer, they look different in their winter coats!), several whitetails, two large groups of mule deer and a porcupine.
Headed back out to CCSP with my friend and fellow photog, Dan C. Didn’t see a single coyote, but did see a ton of pheasants and got some decent shots of a couple groups of whitetails. Had a nice hike through the ice-covered creeks and marshes, until Dan broke through the ice and fell into about 2 feet of swampy ice water – funny to me, not very funny to him. Somehow kept the camera from getting wet though, great job!
“Last April, in a narrow mountain valley in northwestern Colorado, Cristina Eisenberg was searching for scat… In the course of her research, Eisenberg had seen and handled thousands of scats just like this one, but not here, not in Colorado. Everything about it — the size, the shape, the smell, the contents — indicated a creature that had been extirpated from the state more than 70 years ago. Everything about it said wolf…..”
click here for the High Country News story
click here for the New West story
Went to Cherry Creek for the afternoon / sunset, was able to watch a family of three coyotes hunting pheasants in the tall grass. Also had luck with a kestrel, whitetail deer and osprey.