We have had a few stormy blasts throughout November and the snow seems to be intent on sticking around right now. With the beauty of the winter landscape running through my head, I went up to Elbow Falls in Kananaskis early one morning to catch the sunrise.
It turned out to be a beautiful dawn matched only by the tranquility I was able to enjoy sharing the waterfall with the resident Dippers (small birds not swimmers!) and the rushing water.
The fields and forests west of Bragg Creek have been owl havens for me in the spring and summer for several years. The autumn and winter encounters have been much less numerous but I added one more on the weekend. A couple of warm days had melted most of the snow in this meadow but on the morning I was out it was cold.
I had spotted this Great gray owl perched on a weathered fence post as I drove along the road. I pulled over, hopped out and crossed the fence to get the rising sun behind me and onto his front.
The day warmed up several degrees in the sunlight while I hung out with this beautiful raptor. I stayed there for a little over an hour and he made a couple of flights to alternate posts along the fence line. His focus on hunting seemed to take second place to warming up in the sunshine.
When I left he was staring intently at a spot in the long grass – I waited for another 20 minutes hoping an attack dive would come. His patience beat mine and I left with a few good flight photos, a smile and a thank you to this beautiful owl.
The Leaping Tiger Gorge is a deep canyon created by the Jinsha River whose headwaters are in the Tibetan Plateau is the upper course of the Yangtze River. The water volume is immense and with the amount of ground carved away always runs a earthy colour. The color is repeated with some of the ripples in the rock exposed between the water and the edge of the forest which traces a ragged line above the river.
There is a visitor site that is interesting and allows you to descend several hundred feet down to the river level. The legend holds that a tiger was once seen leaping across the gorge. At a minimum distance of 82′ (25m) that would have been amazing to watch. Being able to feel the spray off of the rapids and hear the roar of the water up close was beautiful. I think I will remember my time in the gorge for a very long time.
Vicki Alford made the excellent suggestion to include some imagery to show the river’s power. I have included an image with a faster shutter speed taken from a viewing deck roughly halfway down the canyon.
Creatures in our forest are readying for winter right now. This squirrel, one of our long-time neighbours, was out collecting warm material to line her home with when she found one of our strings of Buddhist Lung ta prayer flags (Tibetan:རླུང་རྟ་; Mandarin Chinese:風馬 – Feng ma; meaning “Wind horse”). I found her while she was well into separating one of the flags. I really can’t take much issue with this resourceful little creature so I think we will have to buy some more flags to replace these.
After hiking along the Boom Lake trail last weekend, I drove into the Kootenay National Park for a little ways. I stopped when I noticed the snow blowing off of the peaks along the Ball Range that is a line of mountains along the Continental Divide. Looking up from the British Columbia – Alberta border on Highway 93, the snow was backlit by the sun which had still not risen above the wall created by Storm Mountain, Beatrice Peak and Stanley Peak.
Wind pushed veils of cloud up the valley obscuring the ridgeline for seconds or minutes. When the view was clear, it presented a constantly changing scene as the snow lifted into the air.
I really like Brown Pelicans (their scientific name is Pelecanus occidentalis). They can be acrobatic in flight but generally look very cool while gliding in the sky or low over waves. They are inquisitive, excellent hunters and socially engaging. They are also active early in the morning and late in the evening which allows for some great lighting opportunities when photographing them.
I have put together a gallery of a few of my favourite Brown Pelican images here (or click the image above). In the gallery, please click on any picture to see a full size image. Most of these images are from Los Cabos in Mexico with a couple of flight pictures from Laguna Beach, California.
On this day of remembrance of those who have served, sacrificed and given so much to so many we say thank you. It is a small repayment of our debt to you but is heartfelt and my children understand the history that you have helped shape for our country. To those in our family who gave their lives and those who returned with memories no one should be burdened with, we love you and we remember.
The image above is of the Governor General’s Foot Guards during the Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada (note: this image was taken August 2008)
I went for a hike along the trail to Boom Lake on the weekend and felt like I walked into a preview of winter. The lake is near the aptly named Storm Mountain on the western edge of Banff National Park and the area was already blanketed in 1-1.5′ (30-45cm) of snow. With the sun shining, I was happy to walk along the trail for a couple of kilometres as it was an area new to me. From the trailhead a bridge crosses over Boom Creek almost immediately. I slipped under the bridge on my way out and set up the photograph above which I felt illustrated the wintry feel. This image is also the December image on my just completed 2016 landscape calendar so it was a worthwhile hike on a couple of fronts!
After a great evening with another family who came over for dinner, we enjoyed having some time playing around before bed. Kian and Kezia had a bunch of glow sticks that they connected together and swung around in the dark. We had a lot of fun tracing out crazy patterns during a series of long exposures.
With the cooler days that have come with November, we have had some snow fall up in the mountains. I went up to Two Jack Lake for sunrise on Friday to see how things would look with a bit of snow in the picture. Facing Mount Rundle and her reflection in the water there was just the odd skiff of snow along the shoreline. The color deepened in the sky for a few minutes before it started to color the clouds clinging to the mountain.
When I first arrived, the sun was still a while away from lighting up the clouds. The darker scene, below, allowed for a longer exposure and more stretch to the clouds and water.
I love this time of year when snow starts to build up and the scenic opportunities shift to one dominated by the white blanket that settles unevenly across the land. Winter in the Banff National Park is probably my favourite time of the year there. It is exciting to be on the edge of it.
A small group of monks from Ganden Sumtseling Gompa took a walk around Lamuyang Lake in the early evening. I was strolling along the wooden pathway and stopped to photograph them as they approached. The monastery sits on a hill above the lake a short distance from here and I was told monks often circle it before dusk. I did love photographing Sumtseling that evening but this was a good moment where I felt a connection with this place and her people.
(please click on an image to open a higher resolution version)
Autumn is nearing its end this year in my part of the world. When I was in Shangri-La, China last month fall colors had just started to appear in the forests. In the Puducao National Park, I found these brilliant leaves among the deep greens dominating the foliage along the southern shoreline of Shudu Lake. If you are interested in seeing other images from my trip, please click this link.