Posts tagged “prairie

A Snowy Owl’s flight over the prairies

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1458

On the weekend I followed reports of Snowy owls northeast of Calgary near Irricana.  I left home early and arrived in the area just after sunrise.  I was lucky enough to spy the first Snowie of the day perched on a fence post glowing in the soft light.

Irricana Snowy Owl - © Christopher Martin-1415

The pure white owls were until quite recently thought to always be males.  That has been disproved leaving it hard to determine the gender from casual observation.  I will allow for the old convention though and refer to this one as a he.  The other four birds I photographed that morning were banded to varying degrees and I will refer to them as ladies in a future post.  It took only a few minutes before he launched and scouted low over the field for breakfast.  This was repeated a couple of times with each sortie ending with a return to the fence line.

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1457

On the last flight that I photographed of this owl, he flew away from the fence and landed in the middle of the field on a pipeline valve which allowed for an interesting backlit shot as he flared his wings to land.

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1474


Prairie landscapes

Prairie ghost light - © Christopher Martin-0264

An early morning east of Calgary near Strathmore looking for Snowy owls came up with only one shy one isolated in a field.  This allowed time to see the prairie landscape.  And, as it has turned out, one of the last days before the warm weather of the past couple of weeks came and melted all of the snow.  While I’m not missing the bitter cold, I did enjoy the icy air and snow-covered fields when I was out then.

Lonely Snowy Owl - © Christopher Martin-9963

Broke down - © Christopher Martin-0344

Backlight on the prairie - © Christopher Martin-9940


On a cold clear morning…

Alberta Sky - © Christopher Martin-8649

This strange cloud and a few stragglers lit up brilliantly ahead of the rising sun.  I was driving east towards Calgary and stopped for a few minutes to watch what looked more like a stack of cotton candy than a regular cloud.  Mind you, whenever I think a cloud is just a normal one, watching it morph unpredictably as it crosses the sky reminds they are magical creations.

 


Happy New Year!

On the hunt - 2013 © Christopher Martin

From my family to yours, we hope the new year sees you realize what you want, need and wish for.  May you enjoy the journey throughout the year and beyond.  Thank you for visiting my website and I hope you have enjoyed the photographs over the past year.  I am looking forward to sharing more in 2015.


Autumn animals… before the season is too long gone

Autumn animals - © Christopher Martin-3346

In between the absurdly early snowstorm in September and the first winter cold snap that started last week, we had a great autumn here in the Foothills between Calgary and Banff.  I spent a fair bit of time on the prairies and enjoyed some good encounters with their wild residents.  The Great Horned Owl above was from a stand of trees west of High River during a great day where I had two separate encounters (one and two) with these beautiful owls.  The one below is closer to home being a few miles south of Cochrane.

Autumn animals - © Christopher Martin-4927

A beaver in the lake at Wild Rose, west of Bragg Creek, let me watch him swim on an overcast day where the ripples were soft and provided some nice opportunities.  On another visit a pair of muskrat preened on the lake’s shoreline before returning to the water.

Autumn animals - © Christopher Martin-7120

Autumn animals - © Christopher Martin-7113

Autumn animals - © Christopher Martin-6745

White-tailed deer are regularly seen in the fields as they stock up for winter.  It was cool to see the young stag in the second image that was stag traversing the blackened earth in a much less recovered section of the Sawback prescribed burn that was done in 1993.

Autumn animals - © Christopher Martin-5786

Autumn animals - © Christopher Martin-8338

Another White-tail on the prairies stood on alert in a field south of Cochrane where I watched two stags rutting.

Autumn animals - © Christopher Martin-9399


Fighting in the fields

Rutting bucks - © Christopher Martin-5183

I was roaming the gravel roads east of south of Cochrane on the weekend.  As dusk started to fall, I found a small herd of white-tailed deer in the middle of a field.  There were two bucks standing apart from four does.  The smaller male was prancing about a bit so I put on my longest lens and waited to see if anything would happen.  We are still in the middle of the rut so I was hoping they might do some antler jousting.

Rutting bucks - © Christopher Martin-5176-2

And, as it turned out, they did.  They clashed a couple of times with antlers cracking while they tangled head to head.  The battle was short, frenetic and I felt very lucky to watch this moment play out.

Rutting bucks - © Christopher Martin-5175

Rutting bucks - © Christopher Martin-5184

After this skirmish the smaller one darted away and they stood apart for a minute before moving up a fold in the hillside back towards the seemingly unimpressed does.

Rutting bucks - © Christopher Martin-5202


An owl in the woods

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3303-2

A Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) brought in the day with me last week.  A short while after leaving there, I visited a stand of trees that line a gravel road south of Frank Lake.  There is a nest for a pair of these owls which has been used for decades.  I photographed the nest last spring and wanted to drive by to have a look.  The chicks would have fledged in June and the nest was empty of any residents.

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3341

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3308

I found this tiger owl a couple of hundred metres away perched about 3 metres off the ground.  It was quite alert considering its nocturnal nature and moved to three separate locations in grove over the half an hour that I watched the bird.

 

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3126

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3336

Owl in the woods - © Christopher Martin-3286


A bull at sunrise

Sunrise Bull - © Christopher Martin-2122

Canon 5DIII and 24mm lens: 1/25th of a second on f/11 and ISO 800

The early morning sky was beautiful this morning.  I stopped for a while to watch the clouds move from the pinks and purples to the reds and oranges and then into the yellow and golds.  This bull was not impressed by any of that – he was calling from his solo field to the cows in the field across the road.  He stared at me at one point and that worked for me.


More lightning on the edge of the prairie

The other side of the fence - 2014 © Christopher Martin

With the nightly storms, I have had a couple of opportunities to get out and photograph the lightning.  These are the remaining shots from the first night that I went out and had great forks of lightning stretch out in the clouds near my home.  The storm’s strikes would come in waves and resulted in several nice images.

Lightning along the Cowboy Trail - 2014 © Christopher Martin

I wanted to put a person into the scene and I graciously accepted the invitation to do so :)

Storm watching - 2014 © Christopher Martin

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Night lightning - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 


Another electrical light show

Lightning strikes the ridge above Bragg Creek in Alberta, Canada.

Driving home last night, another storm thundered over the foothills and the prairie around Bragg Creek.  Lightning was flashing regularly so I set up and shot a few frames before the rain hit.  A herd of cows must have thought I was the delivery guy as they all wandered over.

Cows and lightning - 2014 © Christopher Martin


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