Posts tagged “animals

Snowies east of Langdon

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0324

I drove east of Langdon in the evening a couple of days ago looking for owls.  At this time of the year the odds are decent to see Snowy owls perched on a silo or a fence line so I was looking for them as well as Short-eared owls that have been reported in that area recently.   It was about an hour before sundown when I found a Snowy owl perched a couple of hundred metres away along a fence line.

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0380

This beautiful fellow flew between a few posts and was not interested in having me around so I headed west as the sun fell behind a tall bank of clouds standing over the Rocky Mountains.  I found the second, and final, Snowy of the afternoon on a small oil and gas installation built on a rise that was a bit of a hike from the road.

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0571

She was perched on a storage tank and took only passing interest in me during my 15 minute walk towards her.  As I drew closer I took a few photographs and as color came into the sky with sunset, I took a bunch more :)!

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0602

She kept tabs on me but had her focus on the surrounding fields.  I didn’t see anything of note but it was a different story for the owl.

 

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0722

When she did launch she glided over to another small hill then dived into the field where it seemed she caught something.  It was too far for me to make out and when she flew again after a couple of minutes she went further away and I had no interest in chasing her any further.

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0730


My favourite wildlife photographs from 2015

 

Bow Valley Grizzly Bear - © Christopher Martin-2372

The past year was an interesting one for my wildlife photography.  I stayed largely in Alberta for the year and the animals presented in this gallery are almost all from close to my home.  Reflecting on that, I’m reminded what an incredible place I live in. Owls were prominent throughout the year with Snowy, Great gray and Great horned owls all sharing time with me.  Black and Grizzly bears were less seen for me but what I had were memorable for me.  I continue to deeply appreciate the more common animals and enjoyed revisiting some of those images when I was putting together this set.  The gallery is made up of 40 images and can be visited by clicking this link or the link above.

Bragg Creek spring owl - © Christopher Martin-5762

Looking back over the year, I pushed myself to create more dynamic images with a goal to show more of the animal’s power, grace and general movement.  I wanted to bring more patience to my time in the field and that has paid off with longer encounters and more enjoyment of the beautiful places I am in while I wait for something to fly, walk or run past.  I have continued to learn more about the animals that I spend time with and that knowledge benefits me in many ways beyond photography. This year I began connecting on a spiritual level with many of the animals that I encounter.  That continues to be an amazing journey whose benefit to my photography is significant but is a distant second to feeling the awareness of these beautiful creatures.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1945

I’m excited for the encounters that will come in the new year, the connections I will seek to establish and the places these intentions will lead me to.  Thank you for following my imagery through the year – I am honoured by everyone who chooses to spend time looking at, and hopefully enjoying, my photographs.  Let’s see where things go in 2016…

Jasper Black Bear - © Christopher Martin Photography-9739


New Year’s Eve Eagles

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8610

A pair of Bald eagles were drawn to Redwood Meadows today.  My daughter and I spotted them flying overhead when we were on our way to grab an ice cream cone in Bragg Creek.  We stopped going there and again on the way back.  They were drawn by a deer that had died near the golf course.  Ravens were on the ground while the eagles bided their time above in the nearby trees.

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8528

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8554

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8609

 

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8568

A New Year's Eve Eagle - © Christopher Martin-8578


A Snowy day on the Prairies

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-5860
I have a deep admiration for Snowy owls.  The range they cover, their adaptability, their calm repose they show when resting and their beauty while in flight are just the tip of a long list.  This time of the year is exciting for me as it marks the return of these owls to the prairies.  I was aware of recent sightings near Frank Lake and decided to head down there on the weekend.  A beautiful sunrise greeted me shortly after I arrived and then I set about touring the backroads in search of these wonderful birds.

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-4705

After an hour I found this owl perched on the fence dividing up the prairie.  She watched me stop and get out of my car with some interest and then spent much of the next four hours ignoring me!  I packed on as much glass as I had (a 500mm with a 1.4x extender) and crossed onto the field.  She was a couple of hundred meters from the road so I took an indirect line to get closer and tried to make sure I didn’t make her anxious or uncomfortable.  After 15 minutes I was about 30 metres away and she head her eyes closed more than open.  The photograph above was one of the moments when she looked my way.  Over the next hour and a half, the wind blew, she made two separate short flights low over the fields returning to a nearby fence post, I got chilled and she seemed to catch up on a fair bit of sleep.  I loved sharing time there and when she finally flew off across the road and out of sight, I thought that was the end.

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-5836

I was wrong.  I returned to my car, packed things up again, and drove west back towards Frank Lake.  About two kilometres down the road, there she was standing in a field of sticks close to the road.  These dried out stalks made an interesting environment to photograph the owl in and I set up in the ditch so I was low to the ground.  Looking at the time stamp on the image files, we stayed there for more than two hours, however it did not seem anywhere near that long.  She started to become a bit restless for a few minutes before she flew.  Preening feathers and looking around in all directions until she finally leaped back into the air.

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-5865

I followed her to her intended destination which was a pair of grain silos just across the road.  She alighted next to the open cover of one of the silos and I had a perfect spot to watch her leaning against my car.

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-5919

The picture above was not the owl landing on the silo.  There must have been mice in the silo because during the 20 minutes she perched on that lip she spent a fair bit of time looking down into hole.  Staring intently mostly but a couple of times she spread her wings out and I thought she might dive in there.  When she flew off, she followed the roofline down and disappeared from my view.  I think she was chasing a mouse but I’m not sure if she caught it or not.

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-6013

After a few seconds, the owl flew back into sight when it banked around the silos and crossed the road again.  I followed her once again until she disappeared over the low rise.  Again, I thought that was the end of this extended visit.

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-6025

Again, I was wrong.  She landed a little further down the road, I followed and we spent another hour watching one another.  Well, me watching her and her paying much more attention to everything else.

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-6048

The weather was changing fast with the wind carrying the clouds further east and leaving blue sky and sunshine behind.  I think both the owl and I enjoyed that.  I had bundled up so the chill was gone – the Snowy had no such challenges.

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-6079

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-6161

The encounter did truly end when she either grew tired of my company or was ready for a meal off of the prairie.  A pretty fantastic experience for me.

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-6292

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-6293


A new gallery of Brown Pelican images

Brown Pelican on a Cabo beach - © Christopher Martin-

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.


Rutting Elk in the Bow Valley

Bull Elk Rutting in Banff National Park - © Christopher Martin-1946

A small herd of bull elk were gathered near Moose Meadows on the Bow Valley Parkway when I was there on the weekend.  The frost bleached the grass and the cold air made the breath visible.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1945

These were mature adults with massive antlers and they were putting them to use.  The rut is on and these elk were challenging each other repeatedly.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1896

They would be eating grass and then stare at another one.  Soon after, they would stalk slowly towards each other and lock antlers. Once entwined, a push and a pull fight would take place.  Unlike Bighorn sheep battles where they smash into each other, these were shoving matches.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-1929

It was a cold morning which made for a particularly appealing scene to watch these giants battle.  The elk below was noticeably larger than the others and only one bull challenged him in the half hour that I watched.  That contest seemed like more of a measuring stick for the smaller one as it was short and there was no real challenge.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-2063

He wandered off after a while heading for the trees and leaving the others to graze and continue the odd skirmish.

Bull Elk Rutting - © Christopher Martin-2087


An autumn Grizzly in the Banff National Park

Bow Valley Grizzly Bear - © Christopher Martin-2378

On the weekend, I found a Grizzly bear traversing along the edge of the Bow Valley Parkway near the southeast entrance.  The bear, a female with the tag #148 (I think), I could see where she had been digging up roots but when I saw her she was already on the move.

Bow Valley Grizzly Bear - © Christopher Martin-2372

She crossed the road between a couple of parked cars and then disappeared into the trees.  I played a hunch and drove a kilometre down the road and waited hoping she might continue in that direction.  A little while later, she came down the road and scrambled up onto this rock shelf above the road.

Bow Valley Grizzly Bear #148 - © Christopher Martin-2323

That offered a great view of this beautiful creature and I was able to create some solid imagery when she paused to decide on her next route.

Bow Valley Grizzly Bear - © Christopher Martin-2308

Leaving the rocks, she crossed a grassy meadow and then walked through the open forest for a few hundred metres.  I loved watching her walk through the trees – at this time of the year her coat blends in with the autumn foliage.

Bow Valley Grizzly Bear - © Christopher Martin-2405

She then crossed the road again and shuffled down the hillside.  Out of sight again and this time she did not return.  I saw a video of her fishing earlier this summer so maybe she went down to the river for that!

Bow Valley Grizzly Bear - © Christopher Martin-2445


A bold young moose

Moose calf in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4834

This calf and his mother were in the Bragg Creek Provincial Park, grazing on the edge of the forest near the road.  With momma close by, the calf was bolder than I expected.  He stared at me from a few paces in the trees before crossing the road and walking very close to my car.

Moose calf in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4751

Moose calf in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4825

Moose calf in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4846

Once he had checked me out, then he skipped back again and joined in snacking on the greenery.

Moose calf in Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4786


Young rams at play… and practice

Waterton Sheep Pre-rut - © Christopher Martin-3480

On one of our morning drives, Kian and I came across a few Bighorn rams on the Akamina Parkway near Cameron Lake in the Waterton National Park.  These were adolescents, not the adult males which will battle for the attention of the ewes in the fall.  Nonetheless, a couple of them were practicing their rutting between grazing on the roadside vegetation.

Waterton Sheep Pre-rut - © Christopher Martin-3481

Waterton Sheep Pre-rut - © Christopher Martin-3507

When the big boys crash their horns together it can echo across a valley.  These battles didn’t carry that kind of power but it was great action with no lack of enthusiasm.  We were able to watch three battles and my son and I both loved watching, and hearing, the collisions.

Waterton Sheep Pre-rut - © Christopher Martin-3530

I do wonder if concussions are a problem as they are with human contact sports.

Waterton Sheep Pre-rut - © Christopher Martin-3544


In the world Raven made

A conspiracy of ravens - © Christopher Martin-4170

Raven
The many are the one
Fly over the world you have made
Share your vision with those who will see
Fly where you will and we will know you are
In time we will understand more of what is
And we will change as you change
We will fly in our way as you fly in yours
You are and we will be


Summer residents at Frank Lake

Singing from the grasstops - © Christopher Martin-6632

Frank Lake is just east of High River in southern Alberta and is a great location for birding throughout the year.  In the summer, ibis, herons, avocets, blackbirds, ducks, pelicans and a menagerie of other avians congregate there for their summer residence.

A Black-crowned night heron stalks along a fencepost.

Black-crowned night heron at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7854

On a recent visit, I enjoyed watching and photographing a number of these birds.  The Black-crowned night heron above was of particular interest to me as it stalked along this fence above a stream where it emptied into the lake.

A shorebird at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-6819Summer among the reeds in Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-6593
Flight over Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7036

White pelicans at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7668

Avocet reflected in Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-7175

Ibis at Frank Lake - © Christopher Martin-6637


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


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