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Getting ready to ride

Getting' ready to ride - 2014 © Christopher Martin

This boy had the far off gaze that I see on many of the cowboys and cowgirls faces as they get set for their turn at the rodeo.  This little cowboy was competing in the mutton busting event where young boys and girls ride out of the gate on the back of a spirited sheep.  As with the senior riding events, the goal is to stay on which is no easy task no matter what you are on the back of.

The Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow on Saturday

Pow Wow's crowd and performers - 2014 © Christopher Martin

I went next door to the Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow and All-Indian Rodeo with Bobbi, Kezia and a few of our friends.

Pow Wow Dancers

After watching both, Kezia preferred the Pow Wow over the rodeo.  Bobbi and I were lucky as we were invited to join her so we all had a great time listening to the drums and singing as well as watch the wonderful dancing.

Pow Wow dancer - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Tomorrow is the last day of this great annual event.  I will be focusing on the rodeo over the dancing this year so it was great to have a few hours to watch the competitions that follow the grand entrance.

 Pow Wow dancers - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Pow Wow dancers - 2014 © Christopher Martin

On one side of the fence

On the fence - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 

A Grizzly Boar’s Breakfast in the Khutzeymateen

A Grizzly Boar's Breakfast in the Khutzeymateen - 2014 © Christopher Martin

(Please click on any image if you would like to view a higher resolution version in a new window)

When the Grizzly Bears wake up from their hibernation in the mountains above the Khutzeymateen Inlet, the sedge grass is waiting for them.  When Bobbi and I were there in June breakfast, lunch and dinner for them finds sedge on the menu.   On this cold, wet morning this boar was one of several bears spaced out along the banks of the estuary at low tide mowing away.  The volume, of grass eaten and sound created, were both very impressive.

Attack!

Owl's Attack - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/16ooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 2500

I have been trying to capture this image for a long time.  With the familiarity I’ve been lucky to establish with the Great Gray Owl pair in West Bragg Creek this year, they will often hunt near to where I am set up.  On the weekend, one of the owls flew towards me and made a couple of dives from the post he landed on a few yards away.  The stars aligned on one of these attacks and I froze him just before he disappeared into the knee-high grass.

Red-naped Sapsucker in Bragg Creek

 

Red-naped Sapsucker - 2014 © Christopher Martin

It always exciting when I come across a new creature for the first time.  On the weekend, while photographing two beautiful owls, I had my first encounter with a Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis).  I’m used to seeing Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers frequently around Bragg Creek but the distinctive red patches sent me looking through my bird book to identify this new (to me) species.  We are on the northwest edge of their summer range but they are apparently quite conspicuous so I must have missed them previously.

Scratch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

(Please click on any image if you would like to view a higher resolution version in a new window)

When one of the owls flew to a fence post near a stand of trees, it disturbed this small woodpecker.  The little bird started chittering away and ended up flying out of the tree above the owl and landing on a post in front of me.  He settled down and took a minute to scratch the feathers on his nape before heading across the meadow.  It didn’t bother the owl in the least but I really enjoyed the short visit.

Red-naped Sapsucker - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 

Flight

Flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin

(Please click on the image if you would like to view a higher resolution version)

A pretty simple image from an early morning this weekend.   I watched the pair hunting over the field in West Bragg Creek for three hours and enjoyed many great opportunities.  This was one of my favourites on the day.

A Coyote Lookback

A little curiosity - 2014 © Christopher Martin

This young coyote was sitting on the edge of the gravel road when I walked by.  We watched each other for a minute and then the pup got up and trotted away.  Given their curiosity, I hoped for a look back over the shoulders and he was kind enough to oblige.  He hopped off of the road right after this and joined a second pup and the mother.  They were in the trees so I caught a fleeting glimpse of the family but no photographs.

The sun’s fire in the trees

Fire in the trees - 2014 © Christopher Martin

(Please click on the image if you would like to view a higher resolution version)

A hazy sky created deep, rich hues in the rising sun and the morning sky.  A beautiful scene to watch unfold as the day grew but it was a small silver lining to forest fires burning across the province right now responsible for the haze.  While we haven’t had forest fires around Bragg Creek and Kananaskis so far this summer, there are ten fires in Alberta currently.  Most are being held or are under control presently with only one reported as being out of control.  It is a testament to people involved in fighting these fires and a reminder of our place in this natural cycle that allows for rebirth.

Great Gray Owl on a morning hunt

Owl and grass - 2014 © Christopher Martin

I was able to spend another morning with the Great Gray Owl in Bragg Creek that I have had the good fortune to watch several times (links: #1 and #2) this summer.  She was waiting patiently on a fence post when I spotted her.

Morning perch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

She almost seemed to wait while I quickly set up my long lens on its tripod before hunting in the deep grass.  Over the next half hour she made several dives and had no trouble catching unlucky field creatures (by my count she was batting .333 on the day).

Owl's attack - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Skimming over the grass - 2014 © Christopher Martin

She would stay in the grass for up to a minute after each lunge so I had the opportunity to focus on the launches back into the air a couple of times.

Out of the grass - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Morning flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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An owl's take off - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Once the sunlight reached the field, the morning warmed up quickly and the owl’s pace slowed.  On one of the last dives before I left, the owl had been on the far side of the field and then glided across.  En route, it dropped down almost disappearing.  When it popped its head back up, there was a great moment where the yellow eyes peered out of carpet of green.

In the field - 2014 © Christopher Martin

By then the light was getting harsh and I was getting hungry.  When she flew out, I packed up and drove off.

Field flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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