Bobbi and the kids watched a Lynx walk around our house and into the woods behind yesterday. I wasn’t home so that wasn’t a show meant for me but we do have less elusive wildlife that comes around. Particularly in the winter, some of the mule deer who live in the community clip clop onto the deck looking for seeds underneath the bird feeder. This doe was bold enough to visit during the daytime. She was rewarded with a pretty good snack being the first visitor in a couple of days.
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This bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) was snacking on salt roadside and was unsure of my intentions as I drove by. A flash was needed as the morning was still waiting for night to loosen its grip. I was just west of the Highwood Pass on Highway 40 in Kananaskis Country – likely my last drive over this spot before it is closed for the winter.
The Summit Cafe is a favourite place for Bobbi and I to have breakfast when we are in Canmore. I was there last weekend, sitting on their patio outside. The sun was out, the snow had melted and it had more of a spring feel than anything else. These House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) contributed to that with their chittering and occasional outburst of song. There were about 15 that darted between the roof of a nearby building, a deck railing and a shrubbery that was more stick than bush given the time of year.
It is no surprise that I am quite fond of bears. Grizzly bears are of particular interest to me so it was a lot of fun putting together a gallery of my favourite Grizzly images from the past couple of years for a project that I am working on with a client.
If you are interested in seeing the images in this rather large set, please click the image or this link.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I drove to the High River area on the weekend to look for owls. It was still dark when I found a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) perched to the side of a small pond east of Frank Lake.
I set up on the side of the road and spent almost two hours watching him from across the water. The morning slowly got brighter but with heavy gray clouds diffusing the sunlight, it stayed dark for most of the first hour. The owl alternated between short naps and moments of intent staring at any stray sound or motion. These last were both mostly imperceptible to me but kept my attention, and the long lens, focused on him.
Just before 9 am, he stretched wings vertically and launched into the air. After a couple of quick strokes, he glided over the pond and landed in a bare limbed tree.
The skeletal branches did not suit for long and he crossed to another tree edging the pond. This tree was heavy with autumn tinged leaves and provided a third distinct setting for me to photograph this beautiful tiger owl in.
After a few more minutes, he walked down the branch and settled closer to the trunk and more out of sight. I packed up and while I was putting my tripod away, I watched him fly out and glide over the field behind the pond.
When I was in the Khutzeymateen (K’tzim-a-deen) in June, the sedge was waist-high in the estuary which sits at the end of park’s fjord. The Grizzly bears come out of hibernation in late May or early June and the grass is growing fast and waiting for them. We spent an hour watching this boar mowing a path through the green. He was a big, beautiful bear and it was a privilege to spend some time watching him in his valley.
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We took the zodiac from the sailboat in the morning and were lucky that the weather didn’t beat us up. The rain varied between a drizzle and a downpour which provided great mood to some of the images. Being in the Great Bear Rainforest on the west coast, it can rain hard and often does. There is a point where it is impossible to photograph, or even stay outside, but that day it went easy on us and played nicely. Along the way we saw several bears at different points in the estuary and only headed out when the tide started to come in.