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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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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 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.
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.
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.
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.