Posts tagged “Canada

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

 

 


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

A new wildlife portfolio: Coyotes!

Coyotes are a resourceful predators that roam all across Alberta – and much of North America for that matter.  I often find them hunting for rodents on the prairies or padding along the forest’s edge when I’m up in the mountains.  They are beautiful animals and I wanted to share a gallery pulled together from many encounters over the past couple of years.  Please click on Coyote Portfolio or the image above to visit the gallery.

Spray Valley Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada


The Northern Lights over southern Alberta

Aurora Borealis above the forest  - © Christopher Martin-5571

I live in a forest community along the Elbow River near Bragg Creek in Alberta.  I often enjoy watching the stars against the silhouette of the trees.  When I saw the Aurora Borealis begin to shade the northern sky once dusk’s afterglow darkened, I raced around to set up my gear on the deck.

Redwood Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5561

It turned out to be a very active aurora and I had a couple of hours to watch the colors ripple across different parts of the northern sky.  The beauty above was met in equal measure by the sounds of the crickets and birds and the relaxed touch of a warm, summer wind.

Redwood Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5643-2

The time drifted by without any ties to an actual clock and I felt pleasantly ensconced in my own little world.  The Northern Lights seem to have that effect on me.

Redwood Aurora - © Christopher Martin-5612


Aurora over the prairie

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3907

A little over a week ago, on June 13th, I spent a night out on the prairies near Nanton.  I love the vast skies and many of the interesting things that fill them – above and below.  I settled into my sleeping bag to watch the stars while I drifted off.  That idea evaporated when I received an Aurora Red Alert indicating that there was a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3745

(If any images look a little grainy, please click on the picture to open a higher resolution version in a new window)

The image directly above was one of the first taken once I was set up.  I used a long exposure of 30 seconds to stretch out the lights of a semi-trailer traveling north along Highway 2.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3923

I played around there for a while before moving further east to reduce the golden glow on the undersides of the clouds resulting from High River’s lights.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3900

I found a quiet field several miles away and the timing worked out as the spikes in the Aurora had just started to appear.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3910

The Northern Lights were still glowing as dawn started to push into the sky and before 4 AM I was transitioning into sunrise landscapes.

Aurora Borealis over Nanton  - © Christopher Martin-3953


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