Posts tagged “alberta

Steer wrestling at the Tsuu T’ina rodeo

All rodeo cowboys are tough.  I particularly admire the steer wrestlers as that is an event that I have a hard time even dreaming of trying out.  Leaping off a perfectly good horse onto the back of a small cow with large horns seems a bit too close to the insane end of the scale for me.

Mind the horns - © Christopher Martin-0673

I absolutely love watching and photographing this event despite having no interest in doing it myself.  The short go of the steer wrestling event at the Tsuu T’ina All Indian Rodeo on July 26th put the top 10 qualifiers in the finals and a shot at the money.  Keenan Crane (the image directly above) had a great run and took home the cheque and the hardware – well deserved!

A diving request - © Christopher Martin-0750

Dirt slide - © Christopher Martin-0752

Power slide - © Christopher Martin-0738

Dirty work - © Christopher Martin-0587

Leap of faith - © Christopher Martin-0703

This series of Leon Montour pulling in a steer illustrates a bit of the power, balance and danger of this event.

Steer dive - © Christopher Martin-0600

Handlebars - © Christopher Martin-0602

Riding side by side - © Christopher Martin-0603

It's all in the hips - © Christopher Martin-0604


Tsuu T’ina Nation Tour Rodeo Finals

This weekend was the 41st annual Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Rodeo which draws First Nation people born to the saddle from all over North America.  The rodeo is held at the Redwood Meadows Arena which just across Highway 22 from my home.  This is one of my favourite rodeos and it was great to be able to be on the rails for the last day.

High Flying Bull Rider - © Christopher Martin-0339

It was an afternoon that started with sun which gave way to heavy, heavy rain and ended with high clouds towards the end of the night.  Dynamic photographic opportunities came with the changing weather which was great for me.  Weather doesn’t make too much difference for the people or for the animals – they are all ready to go no matter what is going on above.  I have a stack of photographs to look at, and will share more soon, but wanted to get out this first image of one of the high-flying bull riders from a great afternoon in the Bragg Creek area.


A Coyote’s breakfast leaps

Leaping Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9854-3

This morning I found a coyote skittering along the ditch on Highway 8 in between Bragg Creek and Springbank.  At first, I thought it was an older pup but then I realized it was an adult in its sleek summer coat.  I often photograph coyotes in the cooler months when they have their heavier jackets on so I’ll forgive myself the initial error.  I believe this one was a female and she was absolutely beautiful.  I was worried when I spotted her as she seemed to be trying to cross the road amid pretty steady traffic.  Watching her, it became apparent that she and a couple of ravens were attracted to some bits of roadkill on the highway.

Leaping Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9737

It was a relief when she slipped under the fence towards a field with an open stand of broken and weathered trees.  She turned her attention towards hunting for field mice and that’s where the fun really began.

Fencline Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9766

Turns out she is an accomplished hunter and I was delighted to watch her successfully catch two mice on three jumps.  Of those leaps, I was in good position for two of them and am happy with the action caught.

Leaping Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9853

The image above is the start of the first leap.  The image at the top of this post was the next image as she was fully airborne.

Leaping Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9860

The whole sequence from target acquisition to landing is efficient and I admired the focus, power and dexterity she showed.  The three leaps all occurred within a short 2-3 minute stretch.  On either side, she favoured me with a few inquisitive looks.

Forest Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9773

Leaping Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9883

After a total of fifteen minutes she crossed a gravel back road and disappeared into the heavy scrub brush on the other side.

Gravel road Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9898


Catching early light in the clouds

Prairie dawn over Springbank - © Christopher Martin-8717-2

The perch on the hill I photographed the Aurora Borealis and lightning storm from a couple of weeks ago is now officially one of my favourite prairie viewpoints.  On the weekend, I left my home in the dark and headed northeast towards the growing dawn.  With a short drive I returned back to the same spot and found the view to be beautiful.

Prairie Dawn - © Christopher Martin-8716

A heavy cloud stretched overhead towards the horizon with a break which allowed the first rays of pink sunlight to skip along the underside.  The fast rising sun quickly changed the light from pink to gold as it pushed through less of the atmosphere.

Prairie Dawn - © Christopher Martin-8747

 

 


A wicked lightning storm

Prairie Storm Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8527

One of my drives home earlier this week was made more exciting by a massive thundercloud just south of Highway 8.  I stopped near the Rockyview Fire Department in Elbow Valley and photographed as it rumbled past.  There were a few lightning strikes that I managed to capture but I was paying more attention to the angry beast.

Prairie Storm Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8558

It was dark, dark grey in the center, the edges were rolling fast and the temperature plunged by 10°C or more just before the rain began to fall.  I scurried back into my car once the volume raised up to a downpour.  Back on the road, I wondered how the storm would develop as it moved eastward.  The next morning, I learned that it contributed to the flooding and heavy hail that beat up Chestermere.  That was one of the mean summer storms we get in the Calgary area and I am sorry to hear about the damage it caused.

Prairie Storm Lightning - © Christopher Martin-8566


American avocets at Frank Lake

Avocets at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7726

Frank Lake, just east of High River, is a great refuge for birds during migrations.  It also serves as a summer home and breeding ground for many shorebirds and waterfowl.  The sandy flats, rocky outcrops, tall reedy marshes and open water appeal to a wide range of birds and provides nice habitat to raise their chicks in.

Avocets at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7528

Avocets at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7727

The American avocet (Recurvirostra americana) is a beautiful shorebird that summers in Frank Lake.  This is the northern end of their summer range – I’m glad they choose to come this far.  I have photographed them at the lake a few times before where they have been feeding in the muddy shallows and beaches.  On a trip there a couple of weeks ago, I was looking for some in flight images.  When I had walked down to the shore, all the birds were active.  I don’t think it was because of me or any raptors that had rustled everyone up.  It seemed like it was a sunny afternoon, lot’s of chicks were hungry and all of the birds were flying, swimming and running around.  It was a great scene with pelicans, stilts, geese, gulls and ducks all milling about.

Avocets at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7485

And avocets!  I found two small groups of them along the shoreline.  One was a group of adults that generally left one another alone to forage for the tiny insects they favour.  The other was a pair with their brood of four chicks.

Avocets at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7316

Avocets at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7282

From the adult group, I was able to track a few fliers.  The family was a great bonus as I had not seen avocet babies before and I enjoyed watching them following their parents around.

Avocets at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7561

Avocets at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7694


Fox kits playing tug-of-war

Fox kit tug-of-war - © Christopher Martin-1579

At one point when I photographed a family of foxes in May, there was a ragged piece of cloth which served for a long-running tug-of-war at one point in the evening.

Fox kit tug-of-war - © Christopher Martin-1568

These three kits were the main players and they alternated between 1 on 1 and 1 on 2 battles.

Fox kit tug-of-war - © Christopher Martin-1467

For a while, a fourth looked interested in joining but they didn’t join in for very long.

Fox kit tug-of-war - © Christopher Martin-1451


Birding before dawn

Black-legged stilt in Nanton - © Christopher Martin-4044
While waiting for sunrise when I was out on the prairie I stopped at a small roadside slough where there were a variety of shorebirds milling about.  One Avocet and two Black-necked stilts were curious about my nighttime activities and stayed close by.
Avocet in Nanton - © Christopher Martin-4036It was too dark for the camera to expose the birds as they moved around so I used a flash set on low power to illuminate the Avocet swimming a few yards off the shoreline.  The stilt found that quite intriguing and circled me on land and in the air a couple of times before I carried on towards the eastern glow.
Black-legged stilt in Nanton - © Christopher Martin-4074
Black-legged stilt in Nanton - © Christopher Martin-4053

Wild Rose Country

Wild rose morning in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-6182

This wild rose (Rosa acicularis), Alberta’s provincial flower, was glowing among the trees a couple of mornings ago when I was out early in Bragg Creek.  The sun had just cleared a hilltop across the fields so the light was still soft and warm.  Early mornings in the summer are a source of great inspiration from and communion with nature for me.


Canada Day at Redwood Meadows

Canada Day Fireworks - © Christopher Martin-6016

Canada Day is always a great event in the Redwood Meadows community.  Due to enthusiasm, organization and efforts of the small army of volunteers a super fun day is created.  From the bike parade led by the Redwood Meadows Fire Department, the entertainment on the outdoor stage, the adults tea party in the shade and all of the great children’s activities (face painting, bouncy castles, slip and slide and more) to the fireworks at the end of the day – they were all fantastic.

Canada Day Fun - © Christopher Martin-5989

Our children had a great time down on the grounds and I wasn’t far behind.  The weather cooperated, after a nasty hailstorm the night before, so I have a bit of a sunburn to show for my time listening to music and watching the kids play.

Canada Day Fun - © Christopher Martin-389920

 

Canada Day Fun - © Christopher Martin-789971

Canada Day Fireworks - © Christopher Martin-6040

The fireworks are always good and I think they were really great this year.  They started at 11pm under a still fairly bright sky.  We sat facing northwest so I enjoyed having that element to frame the explosions against.  A great day and we were all worn out at the end.  Thank you to everyone who made this happen!  Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day Fireworks - © Christopher Martin-6046


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,216 other followers