Sunday, July 23, 2017

Mount Evans Mountain Goats: July 2017, Part I

I'm mildly obsessive about things I could see in Colorado that I can't see in Texas. Maybe more than mildly. Regardless, while I enjoyed the sunrise and marmots on my recent visit to Mount Evans, the whole experience was going to be made or broken by one subject and one subject alone.

Mountain goats.

On my visit last year, I saw none.  Nada.  Zilch.  I told myself the bighorn sheep were a nice consolation prize, but that was a lie.  I can see them in Waterton Canyon.  Mountain goats are what I was after, and a visit without them this year would be a disappointment,

So this year, I planned.  The Front Range Wildlife Photographers Facebook group has been full of mountain goat pictures since early June, and I scoured the comments for details on where the shots had been taken.   I checked the weather forecast for a day with clear skies and light winds.  Then, I made my move.

This time, I was not disappointed.

Mountain Goat, Mount Evans
I saw my first few while the sun was still fairly low in the sky, and even though golden hour had technically passed the light was still warm.  This scraggly fellow did me the favor of facing right into it.

Mountain Goat, Mount Evans
I tried to anticipate where their grazing would take them and positioned myself where I'd get good light if they moved like I expected.  I didn't approach them, and they had the option not to approach me.  But they hardly paid me any attention at all, content to shuffle along nibbling at the carpet of wildflowers.

Mountain Goat, Mount Evans
On the rare occasions when they did glance my way, it was usually with just mild interest before they resumed their feeding.

Mountain Goats, Mount Evans
Eventually the kids started to make their appearance.  I love how these two posed as if they had commissioned a portrait for their formal living room.

Mountain Goat, Mount Evans
Shots of behavior always have a better chance of being special.  This one of a kid with an itch doesn't quite get to that level, but it's still plenty cute.

Mountain Goats, Mount Evans
Grazing is apparently harder work than it looks, because these two quickly needed some rest.

Mountain Goats, Mount Evans
Rest didn't last for long, though.  I imagine you've got to eat a lot of wildflowers even to fuel tiny bodies like these.

Mountain Goat, Mount Evans
I didn't even notice that their little horns were already starting to appear at first.  They grow up so fast... *sniff*

Mountain Goat, Mount Evans
This fellow presented me with a challenge.  He was between me and the sun, and stubbornly (though unintentionally) refused to turn his head to the left so I could get better light on his eye.  But I liked his face so much that I had to shoot him anyway.

I was reveling in the time I was getting to spend with these beautiful creatures.  Conditions were comfortable, and I was in no hurry.  I became just another mountain goat, moving idly up the mountain along with the small herd.  I didn't sample any wildflowers, though.

More to come!

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