It’s been a busy couple of weeks, leaving little time for daily trip reports. I’ve been enjoying the slow arrival of Spring in the outdoors with camera in hand, here are some photo highlights from recent outings:
I’ve recently finished my first large-scale landscape panoramas consisting of multiple images merged together – I’m not entirely happy with the results, but it’s a start! Click on the photos below to view the panoramas at full size.
In six days of helicopter work, the crew has captured 14 of the park’s 56 wolves. The park’s wolf population has declined precipitously from only two years ago when 171 wolves roamed the territory. In a normal year, about 25 wolves have been captured and collared, Smith said.
Wolf advocates are celebrating the return of wolves to Colorado after biologists for a recreational ranch recently announced a pack may have taken up residence.
But that same prospect has sparked fear in neighboring ranchers and outfitters.
Spent the evening in Cherry Creek S.P. – plenty of wildlife around including a red-tailed hawk (very close, but too many branches in the way), two far-off bald eagles, several coyotes and whitetail deer, but the muted winter light was just horrible for photography. I’m really ready for the spring to bring some sunshine, blue skies and color back to these grey and brown foothills.
Spent another nice afternoon at Chatfield with my wife – hiked in to the trees to look for the owl, after a half hour of searching I found it roosting about 20 feet up. The light was less than optimum, and there were too many branches in the way to get great shots. Spotted a ton of hawks, but other than that is was an uneventful yet still incredibly enjoyable evening.
Another 6-coyote day at Chatfield – from the Highline Canal to Fox Run, the song dogs were out in full force. One of the Plum Creek yearlings made an appearance, as well as the alphas and an unknown yote. The Catfish Flats female took down another goose, this time alone, just west of Kingfisher.
The male was about a half mile south of her, hunting voles on the far side of a row of trees, unaware of the entire thing. We watched her for a while, then finished the day with a couple of close hawks at Massey Draw.
Spent the late afternoon taking pictures of mule deer at Deer Creek, then Dan and I headed to Chatfield for sunset coyotes. Found the Plum Creek’s (male and female alphas, not sure where the 2 yearlings were) at their usual spot, in sight but way out of camera range in the blowing snow, so we hit the west side of the park. Caught the beautiful Catfish Flats couple (see Valentine’s Day trip report) out in the snow. These two are excellent hunters, this is the first time I’ve ever seen coyotes succeed at hunting geese. My coyote luck seems to be getting a little better, finally – spotted 6 of them today.
Attempted to drive up to the Rampart Range area with Dan, but turned around due to the snow storm. Spent the rest of the evening at Chatfield, trying our best to get shots of the only subjects readily available, red-tailed hawks in terribly low light. Saw a coyote, some whitetails, and the usual porcupine – all too far away to get decent shots. Another rough winter day…
Down to one wolf. I guess that means the end of the wolf pack. The Druid Peak wolf pack was formed in the release enclosure back in 1996. Most of the wolves came from the same pack in British Columbia, but not all. For example the big alpha male came from another pack. The Druids immediately set about trying, and then finally succeeding to dominate the Lamar Valley. It was a good 14 years with hundreds of thousands of people seeing them.
Last year the Obama Administration removed federal protection from some of the wolves that had been restored to the northern Rockies under the Endangered Species Act. The move paved the way for controversial state-regulated wolf hunts.
NOW, with David Brancaccio, takes a comprehensive look at all sides of the wolf issue.
Show airs on PBS on February 26th at 8:30 PM (MST)
click here to view the program online
Recent discoveries show that wild wolves may again be living in Colorado. Ryan Warner speaks with Wildlands Network President and conservation biologist Michael Soulé.
Biologist Douglas Smith has led the Yellowstone Wolf Project since its inception and has studied wolves for almost thirty years. He co-authored with Gary Ferguson the book Decade of the Wolf, which details the historic wolf reintroduction effort in Yellowstone.
Colorado D.O.W. –
At least two elk died as a result of being chased and injured by dogs near Durango and Bayfield; dogs have chased bighorn sheep in the Almont Triangle area near Gunnison; deer have been harassed near Creede and within the city limits of Durango; and deer and elk have been chased in the Montrose area.