Posts tagged “alberta

Snowy owls aloft in the blue sky

Overhead, underview - © Christopher Martin-2425
A sky free of clouds and a polarizer filter allowed for rich blue sky backgrounds for the flight shots I was able to take from morning through to noon last weekend.  South of Irricana, along Highway 567, there were five owls that I saw.  I was able to have eight separate encounters with these owls as I drove between their respective territories.
Snowy owl mid-flight - © Christopher Martin-1519
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Full extension - © Christopher Martin-1517
It was pretty cold, -20°C, so waiting for each of the launches was a bit numbing.  But I like the set of images and the fingers did warm up later in the day.
Shadow wing - © Christopher Martin-2469-
Snowy jump - © Christopher Martin-2467
With the mild winter, that day excepted, that we have enjoyed so far, I have no idea how long the Snowy owl population will stay before they head north to their breeding grounds.  While they are here, it is great fun to be able to spend some time watching and photographing these most beautiful of birds.
Wings up, landing gear down - © Christopher Martin-1509

A Snowy owl’s elusive smile

A Snowy cry - © Christopher Martin-1524

This Snowy owl had been chirping at some ravens nearby when it was perched on a telephone pole and they were flying above.  Eventually one came too close which prompted the owl’s leap into the air.  She looped around the pole once before settling on another one further from the mischief makers.  While banking in the turn photographed above she cried out again.  This time proved an excellent opportunity to photograph her “smile”.


A Snowy Owl’s flight over the prairies

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1458

On the weekend I followed reports of Snowy owls northeast of Calgary near Irricana.  I left home early and arrived in the area just after sunrise.  I was lucky enough to spy the first Snowie of the day perched on a fence post glowing in the soft light.

Irricana Snowy Owl - © Christopher Martin-1415

The pure white owls were until quite recently thought to always be males.  That has been disproved leaving it hard to determine the gender from casual observation.  I will allow for the old convention though and refer to this one as a he.  The other four birds I photographed that morning were banded to varying degrees and I will refer to them as ladies in a future post.  It took only a few minutes before he launched and scouted low over the field for breakfast.  This was repeated a couple of times with each sortie ending with a return to the fence line.

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1457

On the last flight that I photographed of this owl, he flew away from the fence and landed in the middle of the field on a pipeline valve which allowed for an interesting backlit shot as he flared his wings to land.

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1474


Prairie landscapes

Prairie ghost light - © Christopher Martin-0264

An early morning east of Calgary near Strathmore looking for Snowy owls came up with only one shy one isolated in a field.  This allowed time to see the prairie landscape.  And, as it has turned out, one of the last days before the warm weather of the past couple of weeks came and melted all of the snow.  While I’m not missing the bitter cold, I did enjoy the icy air and snow-covered fields when I was out then.

Lonely Snowy Owl - © Christopher Martin-9963

Broke down - © Christopher Martin-0344

Backlight on the prairie - © Christopher Martin-9940


An eagle in the woods

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0573-4

There was a murder of crows circling a wooded spot east of Bragg Creek that caught my attention.  I was driving into Calgary and pulled over to see what was going on.  At that moment, this Bald eagle flew out of the trees and blasted through the middle of the group.  They scattered and the eagle landed on a branch close by.

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0533

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0568

Whatever had drawn these opportunists in must have been deeper in the woods as I couldn’t see anything from where I was parked.  While the eagle looked around I had time to switch lenses in favour of the longest one I have so I was able to get in quite close.  The detail in the feathers was nice especially with the strong lighting – the relatively low angle of the sun in winter helped me here.

Redwood Eagle - © Christopher Martin-0574

After a couple of minutes the eagle launched and banked into the forest.  The crows had not yet returned so I imagined that he was hoping to finish his meal before being bothered again.

 


A sentinel on the Prairie

A sentinel on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-0331-3

I spent one morning this weekend on the prairies north of Strathmore around Bruce Lake.  This trip along the backroads came in between two chinooks and there was a thin blanket of snow that had fallen the day before to cover the land in white.  I had not explored this area previously and when I saw this tree framed by the broken down fence line, I was happy I to have come this way.  I can only imagine the vignettes that have played out in front of this gnarled trunk over many years.


Foxy runner

Foxy runner - © Christopher Martin-0195

 

I found this Red fox sprinting away from a farm west of Springbank, Alberta.  A dog was just giving up the chase when I caught sight of the fox running at full speed in the ditch.  By the time it passed me it was out of pursuit and was cantering along.


Rocky Mountain Sunsets

Chinook sunsets over the Rockies - © Christopher Martin-9867

During the chinook of the last few days there were several beautiful sunsets that I took time to enjoy.  Looking west at the Rockies is one of my favourite skylines and their silhouette at dusk often adds immensely to a landscape photograph.

Rocky Mountain After Glow © Christopher Martin-9926

Chinook sky - © Christopher Martin-1437

The chinook ended last night with the arrival of a snowstorm which continues this morning.  I’m not too dismayed, it was nice to have a break of warm weather in the middle of winter.

Ridges of fire - © Christopher Martin-9856


A Grouse in Kananaskis

Kananaskis Grouse - © Christopher Martin-0013

This bird was teasing seeds on the roadside in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis.  It continued on as I got close to the ground and photographed it at eye level.


Coyote in Kananaskis

Kananaskis Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9379

This coyote trotted in front of us and then slipped into forest.  I kept my lens on her and she was curious enough to steal a quick look our way when she was in a small open space.  We were spending our anniversary in Kananaskis and it was a nice moment to include in “our” day.

Please note that I took artistic license with this image and desaturated the colour in the forest around the coyote. The woods in Kananaskis are not black and shades of grey.  For reference, the original image is included below.

Kananaskis Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9379-2

 


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