Alberta

More from the Canada Day lightning storm

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-390

When my children and I decided to head out from Redwood Meadows to find a good vantage point to watch the lightning storm hanging over the Bow River between Cochrane and Calgary, we stopped when we got past the edge of the forest and could first see the storm itself.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-184

We found a spot 10 miles from the closest edge of the storm and watched the show which rippled and flashed in the massive clouds rising off the northern horizon.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-201

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-292

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-570-2

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-301

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-431

At one point while we were watching the lightning erupting at 3, 4 or 5 different places at once, my son said, “Baby Thor is having a temper tantrum”.  That seemed about right and apparently he has an enormous amount of energy because the lightning flashed and the bolts flew constantly for the two hours that I was there.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-357

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-506

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-405

I re-worked the image that I first posted from the storm – cooling the white balance by almost 1000°K.  I really love how the lightning bolts crackle out of the cloud column.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-388

On the way back, I stopped by a pond where the western edge of the storm, still busy with sheet lightning, was reflected in its surface.  A beautiful final view of the storm before heading home.

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-593

 


Lightning in the clouds over the Foothills

After the fireworks at Redwood Meadows last night, my children spotted lightning flashing to the east.  At that moment we voted to become storm chasers and we headed towards the prairies to see what the storm was all about.   It turned out to be far beyond my expectations!

Canada Day Lightning Storm - © Christopher Martin-388

This storm was hanging over the northern ridge above the Bow River and stretched from Cochrane to Calgary.  The size was impressive, but the electrical activity was truly spectacular.  The lightning flashed throughout the peaks and valleys of the clouds constantly for the entire two hours that we watched from a high spot near the Springbank Airport.  I will share more images from the night soon but when I saw this one, taken with my telephoto lens aimed at one spot that had been flashing steadily, I was excited to get a quick post out!


Great gray owl on frost and in gold

Great Gray Owl in the frosty meadow - © Christopher Martin-6695-2

Last week’s dropping mercury and precipitation allowed the fields around Bragg Creek to be encased in frost on the weekend.  I spent the morning watching birds of all sizes waking up – with most waiting for the sun to warm things up a bit.  This Great gray owl was more interested in breakfast and I watched him hunt for a couple of hours taking his catches back to the nest hidden somewhere in the forest nearby.  These images of the owl just lifting off the grass with a field mouse in its beak really captured the tone of the morning – frosted grass, shafts of golden light, a spectacular bird in flight.  It was another wonderful morning spent in awe of the natural world.

 

Great Gray Owl in the frosty meadow - © Christopher Martin-6646

Great Gray Owl in the frosty meadow - © Christopher Martin-6692

Great Gray Owl in the frosty meadow - © Christopher Martin-6647


A hunting owl

Easter Great Gray Owls - © Christopher Martin-7379

I have photographed this Great gray owl in the same area for the past five years.  When I found her hunting for field mice just off the gravel road, I set up and watched her make two successful dives from branches that hung only a couple of metres above the tall grass.   I haven’t seen her or her mate over the winter so it was great to reconnect and watch the action.  I particularly enjoyed watching how she flew through the open forest.

Easter Great Gray Owls - © Christopher Martin-7383

Easter Great Gray Owls - © Christopher Martin-7381

Easter Great Gray Owls - © Christopher Martin-7387


Prairie sunrise silhouettes

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7733

Sunday’s sunrise shone through a narrow break on the horizon.  A storm coming out of the mountains darkened most of the sky but with the light rode in from the east and painted the leading edges of the clouds.  I was east of Bragg Creek along Highway 8 as the colour started to build so I pulled in behind a stand of trees that have great lines.

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7688

The branches silhouetted against the dawn gave me a lot to work with and here are three takes over a fifteen minute window before the colour drained out and the clouds stretched fully across the sky.

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7701


Geese on the wing

Geese in flight - © Christopher Martin-7189

This pair of Canada geese flew over our deck in Redwood Meadows.  These birds are migrating all across North America now and we are certainly getting our share.  With the overcast sky, the even light showcased the beautiful textures and tones in the wings.


Flying low over the Prairies

Low flying Prairie eagle - © Christopher Martin-4927
The Bald eagles in the Livingstone area have held my attention for more than a full day and I’m looking forward to getting back there soon.  I am wanting to catch one of their attacks on the Richardson ground squirrels that blanket the fields.  The last time I went out, this immature eagle flew in front of me and I thought it might find one.  It didn’t happen then but the opportunity for in-flight photographs was wonderful.

Low flying Prairie eagle - © Christopher Martin-4923


Great gray ascension

Great gray owl's ascension - © Christopher Martin-6677-2
This Great gray owl was hunting for field mice in West Bragg yesterday.  It dove a few times, easily punching through the thin covering of snow left by Friday’s snowstorm.  I watched it fly between fence posts before it flew up to this branch.  It turned out to be a good vantage point as it caught a mouse on its next dive.

I do want to also wish everyone a Happy Easter!  I hope everyone enjoys time with family and friends over the weekend.  We started the morning with a fun hunt with yarn that led the kids to their respective jackpots.  While we were outside, I looked for our resident rabbit but he was nowhere to be found – so no Easter Bunny photographs this year!


Swans moving ahead of dawn

Swans starting the morning - © Christopher Martin-4472

A week ago, shortly before sunrise I found this small flock of Tundra swans in a pond near the Bar U Ranch along Highway 22.  The birds had just started moving around breaking the ice that had formed on the water.  It was cold and quiet – I enjoyed watching the swans sort themselves out, shake off chill and step up onto the ice.

Swans starting the morning - © Christopher Martin-4499


A spring snowstorm in Bragg

White-tails in the snow - © Christopher Martin-6321

The snow fell heavily last night after an initial hailstorm started things off.  This morning there was two inches (~5 cm) of snow on the ground.  I went out for a short drive into West Bragg.  I missed the Great gray owl that a couple of photographer friends watched this morning.  This mother White-tailed deer and her two fawns along the edge of the snowy forest made up for that though.


Late afternoon along the Livingstone Range

Late afternoon at the foot of the Livingstone Range - © Christopher Martin-6240

Driving along Highway 22 after a day with the eagles, I was traveling parallel to the Livingstone Range of the Canadian Rockies.  The foothills lead up to it in a couple of rounded hills and then the mountains jut up sharply from there.  It was an impressive scene with the sharp contrast between hills and mountains as well as light and shadow of the late afternoon.


Spread eagle

Livingstone Eagles - © Christopher Martin-5920

With the steady wind that was blowing, this near-mature Bald eagle only had to open its massive wing to take flight.  With the ~2 metre wingspan it easily glided over to a neighbouring tree where a couple other eagles were perched.  It was another great weekend on the high Prairie east of Lundbreck watching eagles.


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