Author Archive

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron over Frank Lake

After a day that started with snowfall, the clouds cleared in the evening.  Desiree and I headed south to Frank Lake to see what birds were staging around the shoreline.  With the unusual dip in temperature, I was unsure which birds may have jumpstarted their migrations and which would still be there.  We were treated to a large squadron of white pelicans which were the main focus of our bird watching and photography.  The sun fell under the clouds an hour before dusk and the light was incredible right through to sunset.  Aside from the pelicans, we had several species of seagulls, great blue herons, cormorants, hawks, coots, ducks and shorebirds that came by.  And, a number of Black-crowned Night-Herons too. Surprisingly to me, most of those were juveniles.  Which Desiree was able to identify as Night-Herons.  Which was great as I thought they were an egret or another type of heron.  The young look very different from the adults in this species of heron!  This photo caught the heron flying into the warm sunlight and I was lucky to have it catch the eye.


Cat Creek Waterfall

 

We started the September long weekend with a family hike up Cat Creek on the southern side of Kanananskis.  It’s a short walk through the forest that offers beautiful views down the Foothills and more intimate scenes in the valley.  It was late afternoon and we enjoyed being in no particular rush.  The trail has signs about the area’s history as main trail into Kananaskis last century as well as a short-lived period as a coal mining hotbed.  We arrived at the end of the main trail shortly after 5 o’clock and had the pond below the waterfall to ourselves.

Cold but not bitterly so, the youngest kids all had turns jumping in and taking short swims.  Desiree and I climbed up the cliff beside the waterfall and explored further upstream for a little while.  Above the cliff edges were striped with thick moss and the stream had several small drops.  However the waterfall at the end of the trail was rightfully the star of the show.  It is one of the prettiest that I have seen in Alberta.  That comment may be influenced by the company I was with – most of my very favorite people.  Nonetheless, it was a great location to take a few photos.

The walk back in the evening light was just as beautiful.  We finished with most kids sleeping on the way home.  A great day.

 


Storm clearing over Water Valley

Photographed north of Cochrane in Water Valley in the early evening in June.  The trailing edge of a storm had lost its enthusiasm with only a ragged veil of rain left to haze the Rocky Mountains slightly.


Perseid Meteor Shower over Bragg Creek

Desirée and I went out to look for shooting stars last night for our favorite meteor shower of the year.  The Perseids didn’t let us down and we saw a couple dozen on either side of midnight west of Bragg Creek.

The Milky Way stood out against the deep night and I was lucky to catch a few crossing that incredible arch.

 


Neowise on a summer night

Desiree and I went out to photograph the Neowise comet on consecutive nights in late July before its nightly tour over the northern hemisphere ended.  It was amazing to see the comet so bright.  With longer exposures, the tail flared out behind in a way that I haven’t photographed before.  That was beautiful and I’m glad we were out there and could share that together.

The comet was difficult to see with the naked eye.  With the camera, and a 6 second exposure, it stood out even against the sparkling sky.


Loon on the lake

A quiet moment watching a lone loon between his dives under the water.


From the archives: Port Angeles sunrise


I have to admit to missing the ocean badly right now.  The pandemic has interrupted a couple of trips to the coast but a stroll through my image library helped.  I landed on some images from a morning two Aprils ago where I was on the narrow strip of land where the Ediz Hook Reservation for Native Birds borders against a US Coast Guard Air Station.

The sun rose just after 6 am.  I was on the shore by 5 and enjoyed watching twilight brighten the night sky.  The hour seemed to glide quickly past – as is often the case when I’m out photographing landscapes.  Not before I had managed a few different scenes of the blue hour on this interesting spot along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.

When the sun was up, I did a little beach combing.  Walking through the wash of the tide, I found a few interesting miniature scenes.  This one was a favorite of mine.

 


Early summer flowers in Kananaskis Country

On a walk in the hills above Sibbald Flats a couple of weeks ago, we had a great time following a stream into the forest.  Flowers clung to the rocks in odd spots along the water’s run.  I broke up the hike with a few shots of them along the way.

If you are interested in the names, just hover over the picture and you can see them.

 


The start of summer lightning

We had a massive thunderstorm roll directly over our home last weekend.  A warm night met with heavy clouds with rain, wind and lightning all in large measures.  We have some incredible storms in the summer – this one felt like the first of those.  Here the forest in my backyard is silhouetted by lighting arcing across the clouds in the storm.

 


Swallow vertically

A tree swallow on barbed wire south of Cochrane.


Whiskey Jack on the wing

I love Canada jays.  They go by a couple of names (well I guess we like to call them by a few names) – I like Whiskey Jack and Canada jay more than gray jay but those are just my own preferences.  Some people see them as mischievous camp robbers.  I don’t.  For me, they exemplify companionship as I always flitting around in pairs.   I found this one in a tree and waited until it flew off towards the call of its partner.


Backyard isolation

The squirrels continue to race around the trees in our backyard.  Social distancing and self isolation obviously have no meaning for them. Still, I did identify with this one for a minute when it perched alone. Soon it resumed scrambling up the trunks and leaping across branches.  It drew a little closer to the balcony in short order.

 


Archive images: Sol Duc Rainforest

Last April, I was on Washington’s coast photographing in the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle.  The Sol Duc Rainforest was one of the incredible forests that I spent time photographing in.  I found the old growth with the density of wilderness to be stunning.  It’s a beautiful location to get lost for days.  I had a few hours and look forward, down the road, to get back for more.




Great gray owl in the late winter forest

On a solo outing to some remote roads, I found a gorgeous great gray owl perched on a telephone pole in warm afternoon sunshine.

A short wait ended with the bird gliding into the forest.  It found a perch there and moved to two other ones before flying to a knot of trees close by.

She scanned the sky occasionally, watched the ground steadily but did not find a target on or under the snow.  One launch had the owl drop onto a pile of deadfall.  I caught a nice launch off of a tree trunk and followed the bird up to her next perch.

Soon she flew across the nearby meadow and landed in a lone evergreen.  She flew along a frozen creek to a slender tee – a winter’s skeleton – that bowed under her weight.

 

And then she flew west, further afield, and well beyond my shooting range with the gear I have.

ng range.


Archive images: Last summer with black-crowned night herons

A small slough west of Calgary is a little gem for birds from spring until fall and one I like to visit now and then.  Last August I was surprised to find a few night herons perched among the long grass surrounding the water.  I had not seen them frequent this location previously so it was a pleasure to watch them for about a half an hour.

It was early evening, around 6pm, warm with only a rustle of wind – just enough to keep the mosquitoes away.  One heron found the conditions favorable and flew overhead at one point.

The herons were more active on the far side of pond.  However one bird was stationed closer to me and I kept my long lens trained on that one for the most part.  Eventually that paid off when a farm truck rumbled by on the gravel road behind me and set the heron to flight.  The launch yielded my favourite photographs – I am a sucker for images that capture motion and power – but I was spoiled across the whole time I was there.


Archive images: Summer snowstorm – Kootenay National Park

Last June I traveled to Radium with my children.  On our travels there we passed through the Kootenay National Park during an early summer snow storm.  We stopped along the Kootenay River to photograph the icy blue water and bright green of the young forest being met by the white blizzard.


Evening towards Kananaskis

A night on the western edge of Bragg Creek in January.  The clouds had incredible texture all afternoon and when the last light caught them it threw incredible pinks and purples across them. A cotton candy sky glowing to see the day off.  Same scene above and below – two versions.

 


Bohemians in the backyard?

As cool as that visual could have been, self isolation would frown on people congregating in our backyard. Instead, a flock of 60 or more Bohemian waxwings flew into the trees behind our home in the morning. They nibbled at the trees, and the odd chunk of snow hanging in the branches. Flitting around the forest edge, I enjoyed their industry for half an hour as the morning sun shone over the hills.  These are a favourite backyard bird for me.  They don’t come around my home often but it is magic when they do.


Backyard blue jays

The home isolation as the world buckles down is hard.  We are very fortunate to live in a forest so the time at home affords the opportunity to watch the trees and the wildlife that lives in it.  These blue jays come by a couple of times a day.  I’m sure I’ll be sharing more from my backyard for a while to come.  Be safe, be isolated and find hope.

 


Great gray owl – winter edition

 

Driving home through Millarville last weekend, I hoped to see a great gray owl along the edge of the forest that skirts the road toward Bragg Creek.  I had my camera beside me and my girlfriend and I kept eyes peeled for them on fenceposts or perched in the trees.

We found one amid a snow storm.  It was not in a stop friendly location so I took a couple of quick shots and continued along.

Happily, another one was waiting a few miles further along.  This one was watching over a field and was kind enough to have chosen a tree that was across from a small pullout.  We had time to point out the owl to the kids and for me to put a long lens on it.  After a few minutes, it launched out over the field and I had some good flight opportunities.

It had been a few months since I had seen a great gray owl so I was thrilled to get to see two that evening.  I’ll have to make sure I retrace my steps there again soon.


Aurora Borealis in the Yukon

Last summer we went to Whitehorse to visit my girlfriend’s family.  One of the nights, we noticed a few lines of color waving in the sky above our patio.  We hopped in the car and drove out of town.  Whitehorse is a pretty small city but the urban lights were too bright for the display to stand out.  We followed a gravel road up a forested hill to a stony field that opened up.

The moon had not quite set when we set up so the first half an hour had the bright moonlight, illuminated clouds and muted northern lights blending across the night sky’s canvas.

The moon set and the aurora display intensified as well so that the greens, blues and traces of purple rippling above were mesmerizing.  We stayed there for a couple of hours.  That was my first time to the Yukon and it was wonderful to be able to enjoy the Northern Lights that far north.  I hope for the same kind of luck when we visit there next.


Evening over Sulphur Mountain

With the day slipping away from the Vermilion Lakes in the Bow Valley, the clouds began to light up in the last light of the day.  This column started out bright white and soon burned into a hot pink.  It hung over the valley between Sulphur Mountain and Sunshine Peak brushing them with a faint pastel hue before dimming as night took hold.


An abstract with the moon

The crescent moon on my daughter’s birthday in January was beautiful.  Here I framed it between the silhouettes of the trees along the forest in Redwood Meadows. During the exposure (0.8 seconds) I moved the camera slightly to play with the elements and see what would trace across the image.  This one had an interesting look of motion in it.


Bald eagle in a tangle of branches

Whitehorse is home to bald eagles among many other birds – large and otherwise.  We found them on several occasions during our visit there last summer.  This one landed in these twisted branches and I was able to play with her framed by them.