Author Archive

Summer in Osoyoos

Running through the vineyard - 2014 © Christopher Martin

We are enjoying some family time at the Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort in Osoyoos, British Columbia. The trail down to the water is through the Nk’Mip Winery and their vineyards. When we went down last night for a swim in the lake, it was great to watch the kids running down the pathway.


Great Horned Owl in the trees

Owl in the trees - 2014 © Christopher Martin

I found this Great Horned Owl near a nest that I watched earlier this year.  The adult pair successfully fledged two owlets by early June and haven’t seen any of the owls in the area over the past few visits.  On the weekend, I spied this beautiful bird deep in a stand of trees.  It seemed to be relaxing on this branch – probably just winding down from a busy night and early morning hunting before going for a sleep.  It was great to see one member of this family again.


The setting of a supermoon

 

Supermoon setting - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Moonset of the latest supermoon coincided with dawn last weekend.  I was photographing the prairie landscape and climbed up to a spot where I had a bit of elevation in order to look over the fields and be somewhat on level with the Rockies.  The mist laying low over the fields was a lucky bit of happenstance.


A little bear cub in the K’tzim-a-deen

A handsome cub - 2014 © Christopher Martin

This young Grizzly bear cub was beautiful and proved to be curious, with a measure of caution, every time that we came across him and his mother when we were in the Khutzeymateen Provincial Park in June.


An ill-tempered Grizzly bear

Khutzeymateen staredown - 2014 © Christopher Martin

A Grizzly bear male watches from the tall grass of the Khutzeymateen Estuary.  He looked to have been on the wrong side of a couple of fights judging by his beaten up coat.

Grizzly reflected - 2014 © Christopher Martin

We were on a zodiac inflatable and he was on the edge of the river.  We looked at each other, us six in our boat and him now on a log.  He growled and huffed while swiping his claws across the tree bark.

Swipe - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Then, having made his point, he turned his back on us, indicating that we were no longer worthy of concern and continued feasting on the sedge.

Growl - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Wary over dinner - 2014 © Christopher Martin

We watched him as we retreated and he wandered to the edge of the forest and then disappeared from view.

In their land - 2014 © Christopher Martin


A lone owl out for breakfast

Wings - 2014 © Christopher Martin

To start the long weekend, I went looking for the Great Gray Owl pair who have been very active over a field of tall, green grass for much of the summer.  I had a relatively short visit with one of the owls on this encounter.  The bird stayed across the field for most of the hour I watched him.  He did fly across, land nearby and stay for a few minutes at one point.  However I got there a little bit later than usual so the morning hunt was winding down.

Fence flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin

There was one particularly good dive that I pulled a nice sequence from.  I love the wing positions in these shots and the intention in the focused stare.

Owl morning hunt - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Owl morning hunt - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Owl morning hunt - 3 - 2014 © Christopher Martin

It was good to see the owl again after being away for a couple of weeks.  When he headed back towards the forest edge and their nest, I headed back to my home too.

Flying away - 2014 © Christopher Martin


Tsuu T’ina Rodeo – Sunday Favourites

Faith Holyan Roping at the Tsuu T'ina Rodeo - 2014 © Christopher Martin

The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Indian Rodeo is a grand event, as I have written about and shared photographs from for the past few years.  This year I was able to watch most of the Sunday Finals and the performances met all expectations.  Last week, I shared a few photos from the Saddle Bronc final.  Here are a few favourites from the other events on July 27th.

Rodeo airborne - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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The race is on - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Backbone slide - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Stand up - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Roping a runaway - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Round the barrel - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Bull flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Rodeo clowns at work - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Showdown: Bull versus Cowboy - 2014 © Christopher Martin

These last two images are from Marlon Williams’s ride on Big Carl.  Marlon had a great ride and only came off the back after he’d logged the full 8 seconds and the bell had been rung.  This earned him the championship for the Bull Riding event which was the last one on the evening.

Bull and cowboy win - 2014 © Christopher Martin


More lightning on the edge of the prairie

The other side of the fence - 2014 © Christopher Martin

With the nightly storms, I have had a couple of opportunities to get out and photograph the lightning.  These are the remaining shots from the first night that I went out and had great forks of lightning stretch out in the clouds near my home.  The storm’s strikes would come in waves and resulted in several nice images.

Lightning along the Cowboy Trail - 2014 © Christopher Martin

I wanted to put a person into the scene and I graciously accepted the invitation to do so :)

Storm watching - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Night lightning - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 


Mist and sunlight on the land

Misty backroad - 2014 © Christopher Martin

The heavy rain last night created thick mist this morning.  I went out looking to work with the ethereal and had a great time working around a gravel backroad in Bragg Creek and a trail on the edge of Kananaskis.  The weather has been fantastic during the day with storms at night for the past week or so.  I’m happy for this pattern to continue.

Let the sunlight be seen - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Wet and backlit - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Dawn in Bragg Creek - 2014 © Christopher Martin


Another electrical light show

Lightning strikes the ridge above Bragg Creek in Alberta, Canada.

Driving home last night, another storm thundered over the foothills and the prairie around Bragg Creek.  Lightning was flashing regularly so I set up and shot a few frames before the rain hit.  A herd of cows must have thought I was the delivery guy as they all wandered over.

Cows and lightning - 2014 © Christopher Martin


Saddle Bronc Finals at the Tsuu T’ina Rodeo


Ready to ride - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Seth Fenner in flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin

The finals of the 40th annual Tsuu T’ina Nation Indian Rodeo were held on July 27th.  This rodeo is a favourite of mine as the competitors, the stock and the atmosphere are all excellent.  This year was no exception and I had a great afternoon photographing the cowgirls and cowboys in their respective riding, racing and roping events.  The Saddle Bronc is always exciting as these horses get charged up and it is incredibly hard for anyone to hang on for the required 8 seconds.  Seth Fenner walked away as the champion with a memorable ride on Cowboy Casanova that earned him 76.5 points (the photograph above is from that ride; the one below is at the end of the ride when the pickup men come in to assist the cowboy’s dismount).

With help from the pickup men - 2014 © Christopher Martin

The high quality of the stock contributed to a great final and the cowboys met the challenge.  The cowboys in this event always amaze me – it’s like riding a rocket while wrestling an angry crocodile.  There were a couple of qualified a number of exciting rides with a couple full times and a couple buck offs.  It’s fun to watch and I’m always impressed how skilled and committed all of the supporting cast are (the pick up men, rodeo clowns, officials and beyond).  The Tsuu T’ina Rodeo is on the same level as much larger rodeos and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

A fight to fly - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Here are a few more photos from the Saddle Bronc event.  I will share more from the other events soon.

Bucked off - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Charging out - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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One second to ground - 2014 © Christopher Martin


Electric Sky

A very energetic storm rolled out of the mountains and spread across the prairies last night.  Bobbi was driving home as the clouds thickened and the lightning began to streak across the sky.  At her urging, I went out to photograph the light show and it was spectacular.  The summer heat seemed to have loosened up Zeus’s arm and he was firing bolts down to the ground and between clouds for a couple of hours.

Lightning Forest - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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

This image was taken at the sports field in Redwood Meadows just a little ways from my house.  The clouds were running east along the south side of the Elbow River.  To the north, the sky was clear which presented an interesting background to lightning.  Following a few minutes set up by the field, I went out onto the prairies after this image and had a great (although late) night storm watching.


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


Good Morning Deer

Good morning Deer - 2014 © Christopher Martin - 9360

While watching a Great Gray Owl hunting in the morning, this young White-tailed Deer entered the field and wandered around for the better part of an hour.  It saw me and the owl but was not particularly interested in either of us.  Preferring to devote its attention to finding the best grass shoots and dandelion stems.

White-tailed deer - 2014 © Christopher Martin - 9391

 

A little earlier, I came across another White-tail in a forested meadow.  This young stag was head down eating when I noticed him but then lifted his head and gave me a beautiful look before I left.

Antlers and grass - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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A stag in the woods - 2014 © Christopher Martin


Eagle along the Cowboy Trail

On to the perch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1600

A Bald Eagle spent a couple of mornings in and around a field east of Bragg Creek where the prairie starts.

2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1600

He landed in the grass in one general spot a few times on the two days that I stopped to watch so I suspect there was a carcass that was an easy meal.

Scouring the field - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/25ooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 800

The only distraction came from a pair of ravens that pestered the eagle in the air and on the field.  They proved to not be a significant deterrent as the eagle muscled them out away.

Bird jousting - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 800


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