September 2, 2016 Estes Park, Colorado

Elk Cow and Alpenglow
Elk Cow and Alpenglow

Rocky Mountain National Park

Yellow-bellied Marmot
Yellow-bellied Marmot

Yellow-bellied Marmots here in the higher elevations of the park are numerous and fairly unconcerned with humans approaching, so not a terribly challenging wildlife subject, but cute nonetheless.

Yellow-bellied Marmot
Yellow-bellied Marmot

I get a kick out of how they seem to love sunbathing in the first of the sun’s rays each morning.

The Sentry
The Sentry

They live in small colonies and usually one will assume guard duties while others forage.

Yellow-bellied Marmot
Yellow-bellied Marmot
Young Bull Elk
Young Bull Elk

High Country Elk

Two Young Bull Elk
Two Young Bull Elk

I have gotten a lot, and I do mean a LOT, of elk shots over the past few days. They seem to be moving down from the mountaintops this week and I have run into several groups heading down to their winter feeding grounds in the valleys below.

Two Young Bull Elk
Two Young Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem before Sunrise
Bull Elk and Harem before Sunrise

Four Elk CowsFour Elk Cows

Young Bull Elk
Young Bull Elk
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem

I have seen several large, very large bulls, escorting their harems down the slopes. A few of them are probably the largest I have ever seen.

Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk Bugle
Bull Elk Bugle

A full 14 points on this guy! And that bugle was very, very loud. This shot was taken at very close range … from the safety of my car.

Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Young Bull Elk
Young Bull Elk

Needless to say, one must be very alert to when driving around up here these days as the elk are needing to cross the roads on their way down to the valleys below.

Scratching Post
Scratching Post

That post he is scratching his head on is one of many that were just put out this week to guide the snow plows … guess that’s a sure sign summer is over.

Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk Charge
Bull Elk Charge
Uh-oh!
Uh-oh!

These shots just above may look quite alarming, but they were taken with my 600mm lens, and although it may look like I was in imminent danger, I wasn’t, his charge was actually directed at one of his harem, not me.

Bull Elk Bugle
Bull Elk Bugle
Bull Elk
Bull Elk
Bull Elk Bugle
Bull Elk Bugle

Early morning, before all the cars and people get up here, the bugling elk are something to hear. I arrive at the top just at daybreak when the elk are most active and am very glad that few people are ambitious enough to get on the road by 5:30 to catch all the action. As I am leaving the park at 10  or 11 in the morning, I pass long, long lines of cars at the entrance booths, usually a hundred or more, plus a steady bumper to bumper crowd all the way back to town.

Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Harem
Bull Elk and Cow
Bull Elk and Cow
That Time of Year
That Time of Year
Bull Elk
Bull Elk

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