After hunting in the forest for a while, the owl flew to the edge of the tree line and operated from the fenceposts there. He snagged two field mice within a couple of minutes, consuming one in the grass and one on a post. He then flew deep into the woods. Possibly to share with its mate or to continue hunting in another area.
The early spring this year may see the Snowy owls leave their wintering grounds around Southern Alberta soon. When I was in Irricana photographing this owl, it was 16°C and she was panting to stay cool. I’m not concerned about their health in this heat as their nesting sites in the north get into, and above, these temperatures in the summer. However, I don’t know when it, or something else, will prompt them to leave as they always do.
I found this pair of Coyotes while driving the backroads west of the Springbank airport last weekend. The male was laying down and enjoying the sun when they came into view. The female, seen in the image below, had been trotting around nearby and only stopped when she saw me. She stared at me for a few seconds but with the headwind and the sun in her eyes she took a long blink before turning away and taking up a sitting position a bit further from me.
The male rose up and crossed warily along a low ridge parallel to me before heading back towards the female. They both looked healthy and I believe the patches on the female’s side are her winter coat shaking out rather than mange or some other irritation. I hope they are planning to den in that area – I’d love to watch their pups this spring.
There was a murder of crows circling a wooded spot east of Bragg Creek that caught my attention. I was driving into Calgary and pulled over to see what was going on. At that moment, this Bald eagle flew out of the trees and blasted through the middle of the group. They scattered and the eagle landed on a branch close by.
Whatever had drawn these opportunists in must have been deeper in the woods as I couldn’t see anything from where I was parked. While the eagle looked around I had time to switch lenses in favour of the longest one I have so I was able to get in quite close. The detail in the feathers was nice especially with the strong lighting – the relatively low angle of the sun in winter helped me here.
After a couple of minutes the eagle launched and banked into the forest. The crows had not yet returned so I imagined that he was hoping to finish his meal before being bothered again.
Eagles, owls and bears were chief among the highlights when I look back over my wildlife photography in 2014. I spent time with Grizzlies in the Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country and the Banff National Park. Eagles were often elusive, spiralling far above or banking around a corner, but I had great encounters in Prince Rupert and in the Great Bear Rainforest. Closer to home, Great Gray Owls and Great Horned Owls let me find them now and then in the foothills and out on the prairie.
(Please click on any image to open the gallery of 2014 wildlife images)
Beyond these animals, interesting and beautiful wildlife in Mexico, Arizona and around southern Alberta also grabbed my attention. Taking a bit of time to enjoy recalling all of these highlights, I created a gallery with 45 images that meant the most to me. If you are interested in having a look, please click on any image or this gallery link to open a new webpage with my collection of these photographs. It was a good year and I’m looking forward to more exciting encounters, taking more opportunities to learn more about the animals I photograph and to keep learning to see deeper and to create interesting imagery that tells some of their stories.