Posts tagged “winter

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


A sentinel on the Prairie

A sentinel on the Prairie - © Christopher Martin-0331-3

I spent one morning this weekend on the prairies north of Strathmore around Bruce Lake.  This trip along the backroads came in between two chinooks and there was a thin blanket of snow that had fallen the day before to cover the land in white.  I had not explored this area previously and when I saw this tree framed by the broken down fence line, I was happy I to have come this way.  I can only imagine the vignettes that have played out in front of this gnarled trunk over many years.


Foxy runner

Foxy runner - © Christopher Martin-0195

 

I found this Red fox sprinting away from a farm west of Springbank, Alberta.  A dog was just giving up the chase when I caught sight of the fox running at full speed in the ditch.  By the time it passed me it was out of pursuit and was cantering along.


Eagles in the Elk Valley


Elk Eagle Valley - © Christopher Martin-0150

We were in Fernie a couple of weeks ago and on the drive home found a few Bald eagles who were flying around a carcass that had been pulled a few hundred meters off the highway.  They scattered when we first stopped but came circling back around the trees and back to the easy meal.  A nice break during the lean winter months.

Elk Eagle Valley - © Christopher Martin-0157

Elk Eagle Valley - © Christopher Martin-0161

 


Flying at the Canada Olympic Park

 

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Our kids are in a WinSport Snow School program learning to ski and snowboard at the Canada Olympic Park in Calgary.  The hill is a great place to learn and the instructors are adept working with children.  Both of them are having a blast out there.

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I watched them for an hour on Sunday and then wandered over to the terrain park to watch some very talented boarders and skiers fly.

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There are great rollers, kick jumps and skate park features which these snow creatures were ripping off of.  I had a great time watching them.  I grew up skiing in the mountains but never aired things out like this – so cool!

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And there was even a Superman laying it out…

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Coyote in Kananaskis

Kananaskis Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9379

This coyote trotted in front of us and then slipped into forest.  I kept my lens on her and she was curious enough to steal a quick look our way when she was in a small open space.  We were spending our anniversary in Kananaskis and it was a nice moment to include in “our” day.

Please note that I took artistic license with this image and desaturated the colour in the forest around the coyote. The woods in Kananaskis are not black and shades of grey.  For reference, the original image is included below.

Kananaskis Coyote - © Christopher Martin-9379-2

 


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.

 


Bobcats through the trees

 

Alberta Bobcat Lynx - © Christopher Martin-8851

There has been a bobcat and her kitten spotted several times over the past month in the forest that wraps around the community of Redwood Meadows.  The mixed forest and light snow provide excellent cover for these medium-sized cats so they can disappear without notice which makes actively searching them out a challenge.  Up until yesterday, I had yet to see either of our native lynx species, the Canada lynx and the bobcat, in the wild.  The mother was tawny almost having a tiger’s colouring when it slipped into the shadows when its kit had caught up and they went deeper into the woods.

Bobcat prowl - © Christopher Martin-8857

Driving into Redwood in mid-afternoon, we saw a cat crossing the road.  Nothing unusual until we drew a bit closer and realized it was much larger than a house cat and its spotted coat and bobbed tail indicated it was a lynx of one type or the other.  The reddish-tawny colouring was unlike any Lynx images that I have seen but a lack of direct experience saw me do a bit of research to confirm the identification.  The prominent spotting, colouring and white/black tip on the tail ruled out Canada Lynx leaving me sure that I had spent a bit of time with two beautiful bobcats.

Bobcat kitten - © Christopher Martin-8860

I couldn’t be more pleased to have had this opportunity to see this pair and in my own town.

Alberta Bobcat Lynx - © Christopher Martin-8853


A visitor on the deck

Fawn hills fauna - © Christopher Martin-9466

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.

Deckside deer - © Christopher Martin-9445


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