Posts tagged “Canada

Electric Sky

A very energetic storm rolled out of the mountains and spread across the prairies last night.  Bobbi was driving home as the clouds thickened and the lightning began to streak across the sky.  At her urging, I went out to photograph the light show and it was spectacular.  The summer heat seemed to have loosened up Zeus’s arm and he was firing bolts down to the ground and between clouds for a couple of hours.

Lightning Forest - 2014 © Christopher Martin

(Please click on the image if you would like to view a higher resolution version)

This image was taken at the sports field in Redwood Meadows just a little ways from my house.  The clouds were running east along the south side of the Elbow River.  To the north, the sky was clear which presented an interesting background to lightning.  Following a few minutes set up by the field, I went out onto the prairies after this image and had a great (although late) night storm watching.


Getting ready to ride

Getting' ready to ride - 2014 © Christopher Martin

This boy had the far off gaze that I see on many of the cowboys and cowgirls faces as they get set for their turn at the rodeo.  This little cowboy was competing in the mutton busting event where young boys and girls ride out of the gate on the back of a spirited sheep.  As with the senior riding events, the goal is to stay on which is no easy task no matter what you are on the back of.


The Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow on Saturday

Pow Wow's crowd and performers - 2014 © Christopher Martin

I went next door to the Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow and All-Indian Rodeo with Bobbi, Kezia and a few of our friends.

Pow Wow Dancers

After watching both, Kezia preferred the Pow Wow over the rodeo.  Bobbi and I were lucky as we were invited to join her so we all had a great time listening to the drums and singing as well as watch the wonderful dancing.

Pow Wow dancer - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Tomorrow is the last day of this great annual event.  I will be focusing on the rodeo over the dancing this year so it was great to have a few hours to watch the competitions that follow the grand entrance.

 Pow Wow dancers - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Pow Wow dancers - 2014 © Christopher Martin


A Grizzly Boar’s Breakfast in the Khutzeymateen

A Grizzly Boar's Breakfast in the Khutzeymateen - 2014 © Christopher Martin

(Please click on any image if you would like to view a higher resolution version in a new window)

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.


Attack!

Owl's Attack - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/16ooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 2500

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.


Flight

Flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin

(Please click on the image if you would like to view a higher resolution version)

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.


A Coyote Lookback

A little curiosity - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.


The sun’s fire in the trees

Fire in the trees - 2014 © Christopher Martin

(Please click on the image if you would like to view a higher resolution version)

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.


Great Gray Owl on a morning hunt

Owl and grass - 2014 © Christopher Martin

I was able to spend another morning with the Great Gray Owl in Bragg Creek that I have had the good fortune to watch several times (links: #1 and #2) this summer.  She was waiting patiently on a fence post when I spotted her.

Morning perch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

She almost seemed to wait while I quickly set up my long lens on its tripod before hunting in the deep grass.  Over the next half hour she made several dives and had no trouble catching unlucky field creatures (by my count she was batting .333 on the day).

Owl's attack - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Skimming over the grass - 2014 © Christopher Martin

She would stay in the grass for up to a minute after each lunge so I had the opportunity to focus on the launches back into the air a couple of times.

Out of the grass - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Morning flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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An owl's take off - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Once the sunlight reached the field, the morning warmed up quickly and the owl’s pace slowed.  On one of the last dives before I left, the owl had been on the far side of the field and then glided across.  En route, it dropped down almost disappearing.  When it popped its head back up, there was a great moment where the yellow eyes peered out of carpet of green.

In the field - 2014 © Christopher Martin

By then the light was getting harsh and I was getting hungry.  When she flew out, I packed up and drove off.

Field flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin


Good Morning Deer

Good morning Deer - 2014 © Christopher Martin - 9360

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.

White-tailed deer - 2014 © Christopher Martin - 9391

 

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.

Antlers and grass - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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A stag in the woods - 2014 © Christopher Martin


A morning of fog and mist in the Khutzeymateen

Morning in the Khutzeymateen - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

(As always, please click on any image to open a higher resolution version on its own page)

Fog and mist - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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A morning full of weather - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

Morning in the mountains of the Khutzeymateen Inlet - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

Crabbing in the Khutzeymateen - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 

 


A Banff Grizzly on the move

A summer's walk - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

Stepping across the line - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

Meadow lunch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

In the garden patch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/1600 second at f/4 on ISO 1000


Hunting for breakfast

 A morning flight - © Christopher Martin-8614

Canon 5DIII and 300mm lens: 1/1250 second at f/4 on ISO 2000

I left the sun to climb over the horizon on its own this morning and slept in.  The days start early in the summer so when I left my house at 6am, we were well into daylight.  I drove into Bragg Creek looking for wildlife and almost immediately found an owl.  She was perched on a fence post and looked a little sleepy.

Sleep owl - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 300mm lens: 1/1000 second at f/4 on ISO 2000

I stayed back a good distance and watched her lazily swivel her head a few times but she largely just hunched up and gazed out over the field.  After 15 minutes or so she perked up a bit seeming to pick out something in the tall grass.  She launched (as seen in the first image) then dipped but did not dive into the grass.  Carrying on, she crossed the field and found a higher vantage point in a large evergreen tree in the field near the forest’s edge.

Evergreen perch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/2000 second at f/4 on ISO 4000

Some noises in the trees, unheard by me, drew her attention for the better part of a half an hour.  Her head turned away from me and the field, I waited for her to either head towards the trees or redirect her attention to hunting in the grass.  Lucky for me, she chose the latter and I was able to photograph a few nice flight shots when she flew from the first tree to another.

Green flight - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/2000 second at f/4 on ISO 1250

The second perch was a higher spot and she only stayed there for a couple of minutes before picking out a target.  When she flew, it was a masterful attack.  She glided down, hovered for a couple of beats above the area of her attention and  then dove headfirst into the green.

Dive attack - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/1250 second at f/4 on ISO 3200

After a few seconds, she climbed out of the grass with a field mouse clutched in her beak.  She stayed on the far side of the field and disappeared with her breakfast into the trees.

Breakfast of champions - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/2000 second at f/4 on ISO 2500


Side Sedging Grizzly

 

Side sedging Grizzly - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.


Spirits in the Khutzeymateen

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.

Bear spirits - © Christopher Martin

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.


An eagle’s easy snack

Eagle on the move in Cow Bay - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

Those are my scraps! 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

Over - under - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 24-105mm lens at 70mm: 1/40oth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1000


Waiting for the loons…

Loon in repose - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

Female loon - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

Navigating late spring ice - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 

 


Turner Valley Hawk

Red-tailed in Turner Valley

A Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) launches over the fields near the town of Turner Valley in Alberta, Canada.


Owl Flight

Great Gray Owl on the hunt - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/3200 second at f/4 on ISO 1600

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.


Swainson’s Hawk in Springbank

Swainson's launch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

Field hunting - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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.

Swainson's Hawk extended - 2014 © Christopher Martin


The Prairies in Chief Mountain Country

Morning on Chief Mountain - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/6400 second at f/4 on ISO 400

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.

A farm on the foothills - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 24-105mm lens at 32mm: 1/2500 second at f/4 on ISO 1600

Forgotten on the prairie - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/2500 second at f/4 on ISO 800

Tractor on the prairies - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/1000 second at f/8 on ISO 400

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.

Barn and Chief - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/160 second at f/16 on ISO 400

 


Spring with a Great Gray Owl

Great Gray Owl Launch - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/1600 second at f/4 on ISO 2500

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.

Owl portrait - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/1600 second at f/4 on ISO 2000

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.

 

Post launch - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/2000 second at f/4 on ISO 2000

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.

 


Full extension

A Red-tailed Hawk launches off a post on the prairie west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/2000 second at f/4 on ISO 800

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.

ed-tailed flight - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/2000 second at f/4 on ISO 800

 

 


Stormin’ Coyote

Coyote in the storm - 2014 © Christopher MartinCanon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/800 second at f/5.6 on ISO 1000

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.


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