Posts tagged “prairie

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


On one side of the fence

On the fence - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 


Eagle along the Cowboy Trail

On to the perch - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1600

A Bald Eagle spent a couple of mornings in and around a field east of Bragg Creek where the prairie starts.

2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 1600

He landed in the grass in one general spot a few times on the two days that I stopped to watch so I suspect there was a carcass that was an easy meal.

Scouring the field - 2014 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/25ooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 800

The only distraction came from a pair of ravens that pestered the eagle in the air and on the field.  They proved to not be a significant deterrent as the eagle muscled them out away.

Bird jousting - 2014 © Christopher Martin

 Canon 5DIII and 500mm lens: 1/5oooth of a second on f/4 and ISO 800


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

 


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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