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Daybreak over Banff

  Waiting for sunrise over Banff - © Christopher Martin-5850 I watched the sky brighten above the Banff from Norquay Meadow.  The moon lit the mountain a little while the townsite’s lights glowed in the valley below.

Wildlife Gallery: A whole bunch of Grizzly bears

It is no surprise that I am quite fond of bears.  Grizzly bears are of particular interest to me so it was a lot of fun putting together a gallery of my favourite Grizzly images from the past couple of years for a project that I am working on with a client.

Khutzeymateen Inlet, British Columbia, Canada - August 2013

If you are interested in seeing the images in this rather large set, please click the image or this link.

Fighting in the fields

Rutting bucks - © Christopher Martin-5183

I was roaming the gravel roads east of south of Cochrane on the weekend.  As dusk started to fall, I found a small herd of white-tailed deer in the middle of a field.  There were two bucks standing apart from four does.  The smaller male was prancing about a bit so I put on my longest lens and waited to see if anything would happen.  We are still in the middle of the rut so I was hoping they might do some antler jousting.

Rutting bucks - © Christopher Martin-5176-2

And, as it turned out, they did.  They clashed a couple of times with antlers cracking while they tangled head to head.  The battle was short, frenetic and I felt very lucky to watch this moment play out.

Rutting bucks - © Christopher Martin-5175

Rutting bucks - © Christopher Martin-5184

After this skirmish the smaller one darted away and they stood apart for a minute before moving up a fold in the hillside back towards the seemingly unimpressed does.

Rutting bucks - © Christopher Martin-5202

The last half of the lunar eclipse

Blood Moon - © Christopher Martin-4533The clouds cleared at the point during this week’s eclipse when the moon was just coming out of the earth’s penumbra.  The top edge of the full moon was just coming into e sunlight.  The majority of the surface was still in shadow and was a deep reddish orange.

Blood Moon - © Christopher Martin-4606

 The glow from the moon coloured the landscape as well.

Under a blood moon - © Christopher Martin-4547Landscape under a lunar eclipse - © Christopher Martin-4552

The moon left the shadow much too quickly for me but it was fun to watch the different looks as the clouds moved, the colours changed and the blood moon slipped away.

Cloud and eclipse - © Christopher Martin-4711Moon haze - © Christopher Martin-4709

The sky brightened along with the moon and I called it a night.Moonrise - © Christopher Martin-4658

Blood Moon Steampunk

Blood Moon Steampunk - © Christopher Martin-4579

(Please click on the image to open a higher resolution version of this photograph)

Eclipses fascinate me and this morning’s lunar eclipse was outstanding.  It was overcast for much of the night so I wasn’t sure how visible the Moon would be as it reached totality.  While it was in the Earth’s umbra, the clouds started to clear and I was able to watch the latter part of the performance.  This image was taken when a cloud passed along the top edge of the Moon while the moon was coming out of the penumbra and the sun was lighting the upper hemisphere.

Red-tailed flights in Turner Valley

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3798

On my return from the two separate visits with Great Horned Owls near High River, I drove past Okotoks, through Black Diamond and Turner Valley and then back to Bragg Creek.  I counted more than twenty five hawks before I reached Priddis.  Along the way, I stopped a couple of times that were in interesting locations.

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3755

 

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3733

One Red-tailed hawk was hunting from a wooden gate and fence dividing a farm from the highway.  This hawk dove once while I was set up – it was great to observe an attack from close range thanks to a long telephoto lens.  It returned to the post empty-taloned but then launched out over the field and grabbed a mouse when it neared the far side.  Too far for a decent photograph but great to watch.

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3786

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3787

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3797

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3799

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3801

An owl in the woods

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3303-2

A Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) brought in the day with me last week.  A short while after leaving there, I visited a stand of trees that line a gravel road south of Frank Lake.  There is a nest for a pair of these owls which has been used for decades.  I photographed the nest last spring and wanted to drive by to have a look.  The chicks would have fledged in June and the nest was empty of any residents.

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3341

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3308

I found this tiger owl a couple of hundred metres away perched about 3 metres off the ground.  It was quite alert considering its nocturnal nature and moved to three separate locations in grove over the half an hour that I watched the bird.

 

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3126

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3336

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3286

Fall harvest

Autumn moose - © Christopher Martin-1449-2

A female moose (Alces alces) had a meadow full of leafy trees and bushes all to her self when I found her in West Bragg.  I hope to see a few more in these colorful settings before we roll into the next season.

A Tiger Owl on the Prairies

 

Autumn Tiger Owl - © Christopher Martin-2733

I drove to the High River area on the weekend to look for owls.  It was still dark when I found a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) perched to the side of a small pond east of Frank Lake.

Autumn Tiger Owl - © Christopher Martin-2438

I set up on the side of the road and spent almost two hours watching him from across the water.  The morning slowly got brighter but with heavy gray clouds diffusing the sunlight, it stayed dark for most of the first hour.  The owl alternated between short naps and moments of intent staring at any stray sound or motion.  These last were both mostly imperceptible to me but kept my attention, and the long lens, focused on him.

Autumn Great Horned Owl flight - © Christopher Martin-2735

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Owl over water - © Christopher Martin-2738

Just before 9 am, he stretched wings vertically and launched into the air.  After a couple of quick strokes, he glided over the pond and landed in a bare limbed tree.

Autumn Tiger Owl - © Christopher Martin-2809

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Autumn Tiger Owl - © Christopher Martin-2751

The skeletal branches did not suit for long and he crossed to another tree edging the pond.  This tree was heavy with autumn tinged leaves and provided a third distinct setting for me to photograph this beautiful tiger owl in.

Autumn Tiger Owl - © Christopher Martin-2969

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Autumn Tiger Owl - © Christopher Martin-2859

After a few more minutes, he walked down the branch and settled closer to the trunk and more out of sight.  I packed up and while I was putting my tripod away, I watched him fly out and glide over the field behind the pond.

Autumn Tiger Owl - © Christopher Martin-2834

Autumn sunrise on the prairie

 

A fencing sunrise - © Christopher Martin-2141I enjoyed taking a little time earlier in the week to watch a sunrise from a range road on the prairie just west of Calgary.

Tungsten dawn - © Christopher Martin-2168

Autumn brings with it layers of clouds which often stretch across the morning sky and catch wonderful colors before and during the sun’s rise.

Dawn along the fence line  - © Christopher Martin-2098

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Autumn sunrise - © Christopher Martin-2089

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