One evening we watched a crab boat come down the Khutzeymateen Inlet and weigh anchor for the night. The next day there were some opportunities to photograph the vessel shrouded in mist. Against the massive trees of the rainforest and the steep valley walls, it looked almost like a toy.
(As always, please click on any image to open a higher resolution version on its own page)
Mornings in the Khutzeymateen often find the coastline wrapped in blankets of fog while low flying clouds cling to the steep hills of the rainforest and the snow-covered peaks. The Grizzly Bears are the obvious draw but the landscape of this northern part of the Great Bear Rainforest is hauntingly beautiful.
Later in the day much of the fog burned off and when we sailed by the boat I was able to have a closer look.
Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/125oth of a second on f/5.6 and ISO 1600
A prospective client asked for a selection of wild animal portraits recently. I put together a gallery and really enjoyed revisiting a number of encounters from the past couple of years. It was great to see these personalities again. If you would like to have a look at these furry, bristled and feathered faces, please click the image above or this link.
Canon 5DIII and 300mm lens: 1/1600 second at f/4 on ISO 2000
I spent one morning in Banff on the weekend and came across a male Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) along the Bow Valley Parkway. He spent some time in one roadside meadow chewing on a everything green he could see.
Canon 5DII and 70-200mm lens at 122mm: 1/250 second at f/4 on ISO 800
Before long, he crossed the road and then headed into the trees leaving a group of vehicles and their occupants behind. I hoped he was heading towards a larger meadow about a mile east and drove there to wait and see.
Canon 5DIII and 70-200mm lens at 149mm: 1/1000 second at f/4 on ISO 2000
Apparently the dandelions and lush vegetation were calling him and after not too long a wait he strode out of the forest and continued chowing down. He stayed there for more than an hour, disappearing briefly a couple of times before finally heading deeper into the shadows.
Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/500 second at f/4 on ISO 1600
Although winter felt slow to leave, the greenery now seems abundant and makes me hopeful this bear and the other animals in the park will enjoy a long summer feast.
Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/1600 second at f/4 on ISO 1000
Canon 5DIII and 200-400mm f/4 IS EXT at 526mm: 1/320oth of a second on f/5.6 and ISO 2500
A Grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) mows down sedge grass grown tall in the estuary of the Khutzeymateen Inlet. This boar was pretty nonchalant when we came upon him as we rounded one of the river channels that divides up the grassland at low tide. He was sauntering along and sat down across from us to settle down for a snack. When he turned his head sideways to chew away, it created an unusual look at this handsome fellow and his impressive chompers.
The Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos) rule the Khutzeymateen Inlet without challenge. In June, the boars roam the fields of sedge grass and the creeks that drain out of the mountains looking for females to court. The males are the kings but the mothers are the not only the queens, they are the heart and spirit of this land. With their cubs there is a tenderness and caring that is plain to see and wonderful to watch.
This mother and cub spent a couple of days along the beach near where we moored the sailboat and we were able to watch them for many hours. Here, they both looked up when a noise behind us drew their attention. A great mother raising a beautiful cub.
Bobbi and I just returned from the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary where Dan and Sandy hosted us aboard the Sun Chaser sailboat and we spent many hours looking for, finding, photographing, discussing and dreaming about Grizzlies. It was a magical experience and I have had little time to look at any images so far.
That said, this image of a cub resting on a rock is already a favorite of mine. Mom brought this two-year old down to the beach in the bay where Dan enjoys anchoring several times. They were both very relaxed about our presence, with the elder concerned only about Grizzly boars coming out of the forest edge. Her back was often to our little raft scanning the tree line as she ate the sedge grass. Meanwhile the cub, free from much – though not all – of this worry, watched us in-between explorations nearby, feasting on vegetation and mewling for milk.
Canon 5DIII and 24-105mm lens at 99mm: 1/100oth of a second on f/4 and ISO 400
We had a great afternoon in Prince Rupert today. The marina in Cow Bay was busy with boats of many different stripes coming and going throughout the day. Seals popped up amongst the boats looking for scraps from the fishermen – a quick snack between meals. While several Bald Eagles flew by overhead looking for a similar handout. One group cleaned and divided up several large Halibut on one of the tables on the dock. This drew in the seals and one eagle. The seals made out quite well and at the end, a chunk of fish was left beside the table for the eagle.
Canon 5DIII and 24-105mm lens at 105mm: 1/250oth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1000
It swooped down from its piling, grabbed the fish and then flew off to eat. I was watching from across the marina on a wharf. When the eagle left the dock, it flew towards the wharf and flew right under me as it headed away. A good start to the weekend.
Canon 5DIII and 24-105mm lens at 70mm: 1/40oth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1000
The loons have been back for a few weeks, their distinctive calls echoing across many of the lakes and ponds around Bragg Creek and the neighbouring Kananaskis Country. I have had a couple of nice morning and evening encounters with them and am now looking forward to photographing the chicks.
Bobbi and I are off to the Khutzeymateen to catch up with the bears that I met last fall. They are up from their hibernation and the cubs will be out to play while the mothers stay wary of the boars who are looking to couple up. It will be an exciting trip and I’m so happy Bobbi is able to join me this time around. When we get back, I will be out looking for the loons and their babies.
A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) launches over the fields near the town of Turner Valley in Alberta, Canada.
This owl caught sight of something from a branch above the grass and silently launched. It glided past me and then dropped into the tall grass – flying away with a mouse in its beak shortly thereafter.
Driving with the kids along Lower Springbank Road, I was hoping there would be some hawks hunting along the freshly tilled fields out that way. On the second or third field my son spied a light morph Swainson’s Hawk (Buteo swainsoni) standing on a fence post.
We watched it make a few short flights over the soil before heading continuing on. Spring is a great time for driving, and photographing, on the prairies.
We stayed near Cardston in southern Alberta a couple of weeks ago visiting family who have a cabin there. I went out for a morning on the prairie to see what would catch my eye. I was looking for wildlife initially but the prairie landscape became the focus.
I photographed some farm scenes, abandoned buildings and foothill landscapes. Chief Mountain stands out from the line of peaks that are the Rocky Mountains where they cross Canada into the United States. The mountain is close to Cardston on the edge of Waterton National Park and holds dominion over the rolling hills east of the mountains. I have not photographed this mountain before and I liked working with the contrast of the surrounding farmland.
I had not seen a Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa) since last fall and I was deeply missing them. Usually by the end of April, there are two owls in West Bragg Creek that I start seeing regularly. They are always there, just not for me with any consistency until spring. So, it was with great happiness that one was waiting for me on the weekend when I was out early in the morning.
This owl hunted along the forest edge, gliding past me several times, for over an hour. I had great opportunities to photograph her in flight and while perched. These owls mesmerize me and I feel enormous gratitude that she chose to not fly away to one of the other productive hunting fields nearby.
At one point she flew deeper into the woods where I think her nest is. I headed off but came back a half an hour later and she was out on the field. She flew directly towards me and perched in a tree not far away before hunting along the grass a couple more times. Then she flew silently back into the forest. I will head back soon and am excited to spend some more time with this owl.
When this Red-tailed hawk launched off the post I had been watching him on for a few minutes, I was really impressed by the power and balance displayed. He flew closer and then went to the ground after circling back towards the fenceline. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an attacking dive only an uninspired landing in the tall grass.
An early spring blizzard spilled across the prairies a couple of weeks ago. Cold wind and heavy snow were this Coyote’s main companions as it crossed the fields looking for rodents to eat. Sometimes the Coyotes that I cross paths with are curious and trot close to check me out. This is more frequent in the hills and up in the mountains. On the prairies, where they are often considered to be pests, they are usually more wary and run away when anyone shows any interest in them. This one was kind of in the middle, running across the road away from me and then slowing to a jog and watching me for a few minutes.
A Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) surveys the lake from a one-legged position on the water of Wild Rose in Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada. Before taking up this spot, I watched it walk out on the patch of dirt towards the water – it looked like it was checking out its own reflection when it got to the lake’s slightly abstract mirror.
I was on the edge of the lake at Wild Rose a week ago watching the three loons who were diving in and swimming on the water. A few different times a small flight of swallows deftly skimmed the water nearby while searching for low flying and water-walking insects to pick off. These Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) are swift, acrobatic fliers so trying to catch a sharp image is a fun challenge. This little one had just hit the water but missed the little creature and was just pulling up when I caught up to him.
Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens + 1.4X extender: 1/160 second at f/8 on ISO 1600
The beavers that live beside the lake at Wild Rose are back to their busy ways now that the water is ice-free. The other night I watched one swimming along the shoreline and around its lodge. It was a beautiful evening with warm sunshine and clear skies.
Just off Lake Minnewanka there was a small herd of Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) grazing along the side of the road. They were a mix of mothers, kids and young rams. All told there were less than fifteen animals stretched over a hundred or so meters. With the worsening weather, they looked to be a somber group and showed little interest beyond a few glances at much beyond the grass underfoot.
The rain had just turned to snow which bothered me more than these animals it seemed. I was hoping the storm might not be too heavy but this front edge had made me think that unlikely. For this encounter, I was happy to have the snow in the air to provide a bit of interest to the area around the sheep in some of the shots.
We watched one another for a few minutes before I headed off. The snow continued to pick up and almost a foot of snow (30cm) fell that night. This herd was smart to dine on the soon to be covered up grass along the road before the weather hit.
The snow returned for a weekend long storm. I was in Banff for a night and this was the town on Saturday morning. Heavy snow then and more since then.
The night before I was out for a walk and a friend at the bus stop suggested a photo of the storm. The flash lit up the flakes of snow between me and them and illustrate this spring storm’s intensity.
A herd of elk fanned out on the edge of the first Vermilion Lake and, with a slight break in the low cloud, one flank of Mount Rundle came into view to make for a nice scene.
Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) have the good sense to avoid winter on the prairies and they head south in late fall each year. It’s always exciting when they start to return and I have been seeing them more and more over the last couple of weeks. A little while ago, I found this one perched in a great, wild-looking tree along Highway 8, west of Calgary.
I could see the hawk was getting ready to fly so I watched from the ditch for a minute until it launched. There was a second hawk, presumably its mate, in a tight stand of trees so I figured that would be the direction it flew.
It landed beside its partner and when I drove past them I could see a nest buried in the far side of the trees. Photographs of the nest would not be in their best interest but I hope to see chicks fledge later in the spring.