Tag Archives: RMNP & Estes Park Wildlife

A Family Of Big Horn Sheep Were Just Adorable Here In Estes Park!

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The Big Horn Sheep usually come down in March to eat after the heavy snows up in the mountains, but we’ve seen them several times so far this season. The snow must be pretty deep up there.

I took this photograph by the side the our road. I thought the three little ones were just adorable! They had come down for some grass to eat…it was much easier finding it under just a few inches of snow than way up there! Cute, aren’t they?

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You Can See Lots Of Squirrel Midden Under The Pine Trees In Rocky Mountain National Park

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Midden is an old word for garbage dump. Squirrel midden contains the remnants of pine cones and shells left behind as the squirrel seeks out the seeds enclosed in them. Sometimes squirrels use the middens themselves to burrow in and hide more food.

 Sitting on their favorite branch, stump, or wherever, they pull the outside bits of the cone off, letting them fall to the ground below, and eat the seeds inside. The piles of left-over pine cone bits below are often easily found around a fir tree forest floor. They can get pretty big.

Squirrels also hide or store their food for the winter. They do not always remember where they have hidden some of the pine cones. Often you will see holes around the midden where they may or may not have had a successful search. Some of the forgotten ones may grow into pine trees.

Why store food? Squirrels do not hibernate, they remain active through out the winter. The extra caches of food can come in handy when supplies are low during the cold months.

It’s fun to walk along the trail and see “midden” left by the squirrels as they forage for the seeds in the pine cones. If you look closely, you can find many of these heaps of midden along the trails that you had never noticed before.

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This Bull Elk Was Sticking His Tongue Out At Me By Lake Estes

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This is the cutest picture. I was walking down by Lake Estes and happened to see this Bull Elk standing in the river drinking some water. As I walked by I got my camera out and started snapping away. He looked up and stuck his tongue out at me. Funny, isn’t it?

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The Mule Deer Are Everywhere In Estes Park This Year!

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I was commenting a couple of weeks ago that I hadn’t seen any Mule Deer in such a long time. Then, all of a sudden, I see them everywhere! Outside our home and all around town.

When driving around Estes Park you always have to be on the lookout for wildlife crossing the street. Phil and I were driving to the library and we stopped to take a photograph of one mule deer on the side of the road when 3 others ran across right in front of us. This is a very common sight out here in Estes Park!

Enjoy the wildlife! They are everywhere!

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Herd Of Elk Resting By The Big Thompson River In Estes Park

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It was one of those perfect fall days…temperatures in the 60s and sunny and beautiful! Phil and I decided to take a little walk down by the lake.

As we walked we could see a herd of elk resting by the side of the Big Thompson River. This one particular elk (we call him “spike” because he only has one point on his antler) was meandering across the river. I loved this picture of the elk drinking from the river while the rest of the herd rested nearby. I thought the fall coloring was just spectacular!

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Big Horn Sheep In Rocky Mountain National Park

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We woke up this morning to heavy winds and blowing snow. Phil and I took a ride into Rocky Mountain National Park to see what it looked like in there. It had cleared in town but was still pretty blustery in the park. Up at Hidden Valley there was 4-6 inches of snow and the temperature was 28 degrees. Br-r-r.

On our way out we saw this Ram on the side of the road. He was just beautiful and the first ram we’ve seen this season. Quite a sight!

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It’s Almost Time For Hibernation…Do You Think He’s Ready?

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chipmunk

Phil and I were walking around Bear Lake when we came across this little Gold-Mantled Ground Squirrel. He was so cute…and so chubby! I don’t think I’ve ever seen one so big! And there he was…eating his cone from the Douglas Fir Tree and just enjoying the day…and the meal. 

I wonder how many he’d eaten to get this fat? I guess he has to bulk up for the long winter of hibernation. He was just too cute…and just sitting there making the perfect “Photo Op” on top of that rock!

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The Elk Are Hiding In Estes Park

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I was walking home the other day and happened to see some cars stopped on the side of the road. I couldn’t figure out what they were looking at…until I walked over and looked down. Hidden in the field were a bull elk and his harem of eleven cows. They were enjoying the rest and eating the grass. It was really cute! The rut must be almost over!

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It’s Amazing What You Can See On The Trail…If You Are Looking!

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bearclaws

We have hiked up the Cub Lake Lake many times over the past few years. It’s  beautiful hike…not too long and not too difficult and very pretty. Two summer ago when I was participating in the Rocky Mountain Nature Association’s Teacher workshop, a naturalist led all of the students on that same hike. Wow! What I didn’t know!

He introduced us to stories of how the meadows were formed by the glaciers, how the rocks were deposited there, and then proceeded to identify just about every flower, shrub, tree, bird and animal on the trail. His knowledge was incredible. Now I try to carry a flower, tree and bird identification book with me when I go out.

As we were passing a grove of aspen trees that I’ve passed many times before, he said,  “Now look at that tree. Do you see anything unusual about it?” We all looked and one of the guys said, “There’s bear claw marks on the tree. Maybe he was trying to escape from something.” When we looked up, there were tracks of where the bear clawed his way up the aspen tree.

On our last hike, I stopped and took some pictures of the bear claw marks. Now I try to really keep my eyes open and try to take in everything I can on a hike. I’m not sure if I’d ever had noticed those marks if they hadn’t been pointed out to me.

So, keep your eyes open and your ears open and learn as much as you can when you hike or even when you take a walk. You’ll be amazed at what you might have missed! And it’s so much fun to learn a new flower or tree. I bet you can’t identify all of the flowers or trees where you live!

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