Bull Moose, Long Lake Sunrise, CO (9/26/2016)
After getting great looks of a bull moose in the Brainard Lake area in August 2015, I had another oppurtunity to visit in September 2016. From reading web posts, moose sightings are not nearly as common in September since the moose rut begins. However, if one does run into a bull with the cow moose he has gathered into his group, one has the chance to see many moose together, mating behavior and maybe even bulls fighting for dominance. Arriving at sunrise, I soon found a cow moose and soon after that this majestic bull that crossed in front of me. I was told that this was very lucky since moose hadn't been present during the last week! You can see the velvet is gone from his antlers and the antlers are much shinier and harder than the pictures I had taken previously. This bull also seemed more agressive now that the rut is beginning and in this shot he clearly was king of the road! By this time in September, the dominant males stop feeding and just focus on gathering cows into their group and defending their group. This bull had gathered three cows, three calves and a young bull who wasn't mature enough to mate.
Talking to the other photographers I ran into, they said the moose would leave the Brainard Lake area and may make their way up to nearby Long Lake where they sometimes enter the water for very scenic shots. I decided to try my luck. I arrived at Long Lake and there were no moose visible but the scenery was amazing so I hiked around taking photos of the fall foliage and landscapes. After about 30 minutes, I noticed that the young bull and several cows were approaching the lake. Soon after that the large bull I had seen crossing the road earlier had made his way to the lake as well! I ended up with some amazing looks and got to witness very interesting behavior. The bull was pursuing several cow moose each of which had calves already. This resulted in the bull getting rebuked by the cows which made for a fun spectacle to witness. Here the magnificent bull calls to the females with a low frequency grunt with beautiful Long Lake in the Background with Fall colors in full swing.
Here one group of moose entered the lake as another bull hung around the edge of the lake. I was told that these bulls would likely battle in the next few weeks as the Rut peaked but I never saw two mature bulls get close to one another let alone fight.
This is one of my favorite panorama shots I've ever taken! Glassy Long Lake with a reflection as on group of moose entered. In the distance you can barely see another cow with two calves making their way up the lake on the left hand side. I was told that this area is often windy. In that case, the moose often stay in the forest. Also, the lake wouldn't provide these beautiful reflections!
The same bull again called amongt the beautiful fall folliage.
Here is a cute young bull who hasn't yet been kicked out by the dominant male. He is begining to become mature and here he is sticking out his tongue as he senses the cows nearby. The dominant bull was exhibiting the same behavior. When I showed Aditya these photos, he liked the young bull that best becuase he felt he was the cutest and he liked his tiny antlers.
Despite the rut beginning the bulls still were in close proximity to the calves although the cows kepts close watch on the bulls.
It was clear the bulls were full of energy. Here is the dominant bull bounding through the meadow in front of the cows. What a a handsome fellow!
I never expected to see such amazing behavior and scenery. The Brainard Lake area is really a gem which many people do not know about! Seeing bulls like this is difficult in most places but not here!