|Sunrise on Point Lookout, at the entrance to Mesa Verde.|
A February day at Mesa Verde National Park began with it now being light enough around 7am as for the sun to soon be crawling over the eastern horizon, lighting up the towering rampart of Point Lookout as I drove into the entrance of the park. The vertical cliffs of sandstone at the summit glowed with gold, while the more angled and brush covered lower slope turned rosy. And all the other slopes still in shadow provided a wonderful contrast of angles and tones.
Up onto the Mesa itself, and 20 miles in as I neared park headquarters, I saw that I had plenty of time for a swing around the Mesa Top loop road. To see how things looked now that the sun was much further north than it had been back at Winter Solstice. A nature photographer has to keep up on such things, you know.
|Square Tower House cliff dwelling site in the soft shadows at sunrise.|
At Square Tower House I parked and walked down the paved path to the overlook. The sunshine was just creeping over part of the rim of the canyon, but the alcove below with the remnants (lovingly stabilized by the National Park Service) of the prehistoric village lay in soft daylight illumination.
In late afternoon as I was driving "outbound" as the rangers call it (there's only one road into the park, and out) a bobcat Lynx rufus) was walking down the opposite edge of the road. This being a National Park with no hunting, it was much more relaxed than if it had been surprised by a vehicle pulling up behind it outside the park.
And though I had my camera equipment beside me, it was zipped up in the case, and it did not have the long lens on.
This still being the serene offseason in the park, I stopped right in the road, put my warning flashers on, and watched the bobcat to see if it was going to bolt out of sight into the brush, or not. It didn't. So I hurriedly pulled out the camera and changed lenses, while the beautiful little predator walked up onto the brushy bank a little.
I didn't think I had time to change the camera to a much higher ISO speed, so I shot away with what it was set on. What the heck.
|Blurred but beautiful bobcat shot.|
Still no other cars approaching behind me, so I kept shooting. The first one here I like even though the shutter speed was slow enough to make for a blurred image. But it is of the small cat in full length stepping down the slope. It almost looks like a tiger in this shot.
|Bobcat, over the shoulder pose.|
Then it turned back up the slope and almost seemed to pose briefly. From this angle the patterns in its fur shows how well it can blend in with the brush.
|Bobcat, hoping I'll drive on and leave it alone.|
Then it looked to the other side, right at me. Between its momentary stillness, my resting my hand on the car window, and my camera's state of the art image stabilization technology, we had a win.
And I continued "outbound", down the hill to Cortez and home.
Photo Location: Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, USA.
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© Copyright Stephen J. Krieg