Ravenpalooza…by Brad Marks

Somehow we are officially in December and as far as I can tell, we must only be getting one maybe two weeks top per month being no other explanation for how fast time is flying by. Yesterday I was wondering whether to isolate my Turkey from the rest of the fix’ns or just make one big scrumptious pile and douse it with the entire contents of the gravy bowl. A day later wondering if I’m going to get my shopping done before Christmas Eve (which, at this pace might end up being tomorrow). Thankfully, we can lean on Brad to keep us entertained while I wage battle with the hourglass. I must say, our new staff member is doing quite well on his goal milestones – especially the bonus counter for the use of “craptastic” – we never imagined it would find its way into a post in the “literal” sense. Editor note, he would have pulled a mega-score if he had replaced bird “pose[ing]” with a Python reference to the Norwegian Blue nailed to the perch – now that would be Senior Corporate Staff Writer at Intrigued material hehehe. Enough of my rambling, let’s get to Brad’s latest offering, the Ravenpalooza (or should that be Ravenpooplooza?).

Take it away Brad…

The Fall of 2021 was our first visit to Pikes Peak in Colorado.  Jan and I had high hopes of spectacular views from the top. The sun was shining in Manitou Springs at the base of the mountain where you board the cog rail to ride to the peak (visit here for more details on the cog rail).  We booked our tickets for the cog rail while driving to Colorado the day before, so we didn’t end up getting the best seats.  In fact, we ended up sitting backwards on the train as it headed up the mountain.  We were fighting gravity the whole way because the average incline is a 10% grade (up 10 feet for every 100 feet forward) with short runs of 25% grade.  This also means that while we were facing forward on the way down, we were still holding onto our seats so we didn’t fall into the laps of the people sitting across from us.

Unfortunately, the weather can change very quickly around the Front Range of the Rockies.  That visit was no exception.  As we approached 9,000 feet on the ride to the top, clouds settled in and the view diminished quickly.  At about 12,000 feet, snow started to slant past the windows.  By the time we reached the peak, we were in a full-on blizzard.  The snow was falling so fast, and the wind was so strong, that we had to follow the handrails to the visitor center for fear of getting lost in the white-out.  Understandably, we were disappointed not to have a good, or any, view at the top.  Jan and I did decide to run outside for a quick selfie in the blizzard, then ran back inside just as quickly.  After a quick break in the visitor center, we boarded the cog rail for the ride back down the mountain.

Fast forward to Fall 2022.  We bought cog rail tickets months in advance to try for better seats.  Jan and I  ended up with two front row seats.

Hit the jump to read more of Brad and Jan’s “clearer” return to Pikes Peak.

Continue reading Ravenpalooza…by Brad Marks

Another Dose of the Ravens at Yellowstone

You are in luck if you liked the previous set of images on the Ravens we saw in Yellowstone National Park (link here).  Yes, it’s another dose of those dark winged demons and to be honest, the trusty companion of the ONLY ‘clown’ related character I can actually tolerate… Eric Draven.    For starters, I tried recreate one of my favorite pictures from the last time we were at Yellowstone.

It do not think it came out as dramatic as the other one (which is now hanging in our living room), but definitely not the worst shot I’ve ever taken.  A little brighter background would probably have made it pop a little more but he was having none of my “please move over here” requests.

My close up shots received a few comments on the last post so figured a few more wouldn’t hurt.  This one is a little more stoic but shooting against the bright blue sky wreaked havoc on the exposure.  I backed it down a tad, but lost some of the eye detail in the resulting shadows.  For some reason it gives me the feeling that a large tear will emerge from its eye followed by some public service announcement to not pollute.

The following was a once in a lifetime shot of a UFO hovering over Ol’ Faithful in some kind of super secret refueling process.  Well, that was what it was until this damn raven photobombed my shot… and thanks to this inconsiderate birdbrain.. NOBODY believes me.

Hit the jump to see the rest of the Raven shots!

Continue reading Another Dose of the Ravens at Yellowstone

Nevermore … actually a lot more on the way

First off, being that this is the first post of the new year… Happy New Year everyone!  I have yet to decide on my 2010 goals and as a result my blog requirements are not set yet, but that isn’t any reason not to give a post or two.  One thing is certain, I am way behind on my wildlife posts based on the number of pictures I have in my “to post” folder for my blog.  As a result, I am going to bombard you with bird posts this month.  To be honest, I am actually having some problems identifying a few of them which is somewhat upsetting based on the amount of bird books I own and that wonderful thing they call the Internet is not helping out.  Thanks for sticking with the blog and looking forward to another year of observations.

As promised, here is the first of the bird posts.  Mr. Poe would be proud, however, it personally scares the bejeezzus out of me:

We were walking around the parking lot of Old Faithful when we saw this monstrosity of bird for the first time.  Although we had read about them and seen them in numerous horror movies, we had never actually seen one up close and quite frankly that was not a bad thing.  These common ravens are HUGE and apparently only have one thing on third little bird brain.  That, of course, being the dark seeded desire to peck our eyes out.  By the way, although it scares me, I happen to really like this particular photo and had one blown up to hang in our great room.

We had a Hitchcock flashback the first time we encountered these demon spawn.  As we walked across the parking lot to see the geyser a shadow crossed over us and landed directly above us on a light post.  Fortunately, we had our cameras and snapped a few quick shots.

Without a measure reference it is hard to actually appreciate the size of these birds.  The reference books indicate they range up to 24″ long with a 53″ wingspan.   The Smithsonian guide even credits them for removing rivets from aircraft.  This isn’t too surprising since they clearly want us dead.

Eventually this one heard the camera’s focus collars and quickly located the source.  None to pleased, it started a loud squawking in an effort to call in reinforcements.  Not wanting to test my martial arts skills against Raven-Fu we hauled it out of there and headed for the water spout.

They even stomp around with authority.  At another site we were on our way back to the car when this one made a grand entrance about 20 feet from the car.  Having experienced this previously, we took it in stride, but the family next to us were busing warning each other to find cover.  Once landed it started goose stepping its way around the cars.

On another day I did get the opportunity to snap this one.  I don’t know if this one was a juvenile or not, but it was slightly smaller than the other specimens above.  After reading all three of my bird reference books and checking on the Internet, there appears to be very little distinction between the Common Raven and the American Crow beyond the smaller stature of the latter.  So for all I know, this was an adult American Crow or simply a younger Raven.  In either case, I’ll keep the zoom lens on and keep my respectful distance.

Pleasant dreams everyone … Nevermore, Nevermore, Nevermore