August 22, 2016 Twin Lakes, Colorado

St. Elmo Hummingbird Feeder
St. Elmo Hummingbird Feeder

Day Trip to Saint Elmo, Pronghorns and Bighorn Sheep

Love the feeder hangers at the general store in the ghost town of St. Elmo, if I weren’t homeless, I’d have to find some of these to hang around my house.

St. Elmo General Store
St. Elmo General Store

Other than the general store, there really isn’t all that much to see in St. Elmo, though I did get a kick out of the assortment of rodents being fed in the fallen down remnants of a building across the street from the general store.

St. Elmo Feeding Area
St. Elmo Feeding Area

Two kinds of ground squirrel, least chipmunks, pine siskins, and  juncos, all gorging on sunflower seeds.

White Rock Mountains
White Rock Mountains

On the road up to St. Elmo, I passed these white rock mountains, quite stunning set against the Colorado blue sky.

White Rock Mountains
White Rock Mountains
White Rock Mountains
White Rock Mountains
Along the Back Road to Leadville
Along the Back Road to Leadville

Rather than drive the main highway from my campsite at Lakeview, I found a “shortcut” that went up and over the hills and then paralleled the highway as it made it’s way to Leadville. I drove this road several times after seeing pronghorns in the distance one morning.

Pronghorn Antelope
Pronghorn Antelope

Finally, one afternoon I ran into the herd moving at a fast clip along the ridge between the dirt road and the highway.

Pronghorn Antelope
Pronghorn Antelope
Pronghorn Antelope
Pronghorn Antelope

The lone male takes up a guard position in the rear and drives his harem toward a new grazing area.

Pronghorn Antelope
Pronghorn Antelope

So fortunate to catch them as they stopped atop this ridge gazing back at me, before disappearing down the hill.

Bighorn Ewe and Lamb
Bighorn Ewe and Lamb

On my last early morning trip up to Independence Pass, I came across a small band of bighorn ewes with a solitary lamb, kind enough to pose for a couple shots before slowly grazing up the side of the mountain.

Bighorn Ewe and Lamb
Bighorn Ewe and Lamb

I broke camp at Lakeview and drove 6 miles south to spend one night at the Clear Creek Reservoir dispensed camping area before heading north to Estes Park for a couple weeks of exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Being more than a little concerned about the motorhome’s ability to climb the 8 mile grade on I-70 up to the Eisenhower Tunnel, I managed to find a shop in Buena Vista that could take me in to have the ignition wires and spark plugs replaced. For the last month or so, I could feel the engine sputtering a bit under heavy load and realized that I definitely was experiencing a loss of power. Anyone familiar with the Workhorse Vortex 8.1L engine would recognize the probable cause of this power loss … this is the fourth set of wires and plugs I have had done in 65,000 miles. A couple years ago, I finally had the Workhorse recommended fix for this installed, a pair of 3 inch fresh air lines that direct cool air up and back to the rear of the engine. I had hoped that would cure the problem, but obviously it did not, though it possibly did extend the time interval between having to replace ignition wires and spark plugs.

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August 11, 2016 Twin Lakes, Colorado

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunks
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunks

The Blue Cup Returns to Action

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunks
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunks

Being unable to locate any wildlife on the roads here in the mountains of Colorado, to get my wildlife fix, I was forced to dig out the old blue metal coffee cup and lure in what wildlife I could find here at the campsite.

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Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunk
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunk

A little on the ” Blue Cup ” can be found in this older post, from my campsite in Pagosa Springs, where I first captured a couple of chipmunks trying to gain sole possession of a source of food.

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunks
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunks

Here at the Lakeview Campground, I have Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels, at least three of them, in addition to about eight Least Chipmunks, and a flock of Juncos all competing peacefully for bounty contained in the cup and scattered around it on my picnic table.

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunk
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunk
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels and Least Chipmunks
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels and Least Chipmunks

Whereas the two chipmunks back at Pagosa Springs aggressively would drive the other away, here everyone seems willing to share the bounty. I have seen no aggression between species or individuals of the same species. Even the Juncos would hop right into the midst of feeding chipmunks to grab their fair share of seeds.

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunk
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunk
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunk
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunk

I started shooting at mid day and experimented with a couple of different backgrounds ….

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunks
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel and Least Chipmunks

… but wasn’t really pleased with the results.

Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel
Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel

So, bright and early the next morning, I moved my setup to the other end of the picnic table and waited for the sun to poke it’s head over the mountain to the east, and found the perfect background … the shadows of the surrounding pines.

Least Chipmunks
Least Chipmunks
Least Chipmunks
Least Chipmunks

There are times when there are as many as five little chipmunks all gathered around the cup chowing down, or waiting to get a spot inside the cup where the real goldmine of seeds is located.

Least Chipmunks and Junco
Least Chipmunks and Junco

Two or three Juncos will quite often come in to share the feast. They appear to have no fear of hopping right in amongst the chipmunks or the much larger squirrels.

Junco and Least Chipmunks
Junco and Least Chipmunks

The wonderful lighting conditions only last for an hour or so until the sun gets high enough to start throwing some bright areas into the background, so I have to wait another day to get more shots with this dark background. I’m afraid you haven’t seen the last of these little guys .. they continue to just crack me up.

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