Bragg Creek

Snowshoeing on the Elbow River

Last weekend there was a break in the storms where blue sky appeared for an hour or two in the afternoon.  It was cold but the sunshine was inviting so I strapped on snowshoes and headed outside.  The Elbow River is still largely frozen over so a walk along the plain at the north end of Redwood Meadows seemed a good call.  The clouds left with snow trailing just behind their departure.

I ended up playing around more than covering any real distance.  The slope from the berm to the river was a fun distraction as I jumped down into the snow and clambered up again a few times.

I ended with a short trek onto the plain and then back along the forest.  A few photographs of some wintering berries close to the berm coincided with the clouds closing in again.  The snow began to fly and I made my way home.

 


Tsuu T’ina Pow Wow: Friday’s Grand Entrance

The Pow Wow is the centre of the Tsuu T’ina Nation’s Annual Celebrations.  Last Friday evening Kezia and I went to the Redwood Meadows Fairground before the Grand Entrance.  Kezia was invited to join her friend dancing afterwards which hit the night out of the park for her.  The photography was great along the way with the beautiful regalia in the late sunlight.

 


Tsuu T’ina Rodeo: More from Friday night

On Friday night at the rodeo, my daughter and I watched the barrel racing.  We had a lot of fun watching these amazing partners tear around the barrels.

 


An evening at the Tsuu T’ina Rodeo

Under mild protest my son and I watched the last half of the evening set of the Tsuu T’ina’s 43rd annual rodeo last night.  Kian found a few boys to play kendama with so that bought me a little time to photograph.  The sun dropped into some wildfire smoke that laid above the horizon which made for dramatic backlighting.  I will share more soon but I’m packing my gear and heading over for Sunday’s short go this afternoon.  Here a cowboy lifts the calf into position to fix three of the legs with a half hitch knot to complete his run in the tie-down roping event.


The Tsuu T’ina Nation’s 2017 Rodeo is underway

 

Kezia and I went to the first night of the Tsuu T’ina Nation Annual Celebration’s 43rd Annual Rodeo.  Kezia’s friend was dancing in the Pow Wow so we did not stay too long.  Definitely looking forward to getting back tonight.

 


A spring in the step


White-tailed deer are a bit flighty so when I came across this doe munching on some flowers (another dandelion hunter as it turns out), it was no surprise that the tail came up and she took a few quick steps away.  She quickly returned to grazing so I wasn’t too much of a threat – or the flowers were too good to walk away from.

 


Wildlife during a winter blizzard

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The snow started to fly on Friday and has kept falling through the weekend.  And, it’s cold!  I went touring west of Bragg Creek yesterday but saw very little – even when the sun came out for a couple of hours.  Today was a different story and I saw a couple of moose, some white-tailed deer and a small banditry of chickadees.

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Moose love the cold so I hoped to see them in one of their regular haunts.  I found this young bull grazing in the bushes.

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These chickadees, mostly black-capped with a couple of boreals, flitted around a fence line that’s long been fighting to hold back the bushes behind.  I’ve always liked watching these little birds – they move very quickly so it’s a nice challenge to photograph them.

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Happy New Year’s Eve Deer

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This White-tailed stag was found during a short drive into Bragg Creek on Christmas day this year.

We are slowly warming up to New Year’s Eve and looking forward to the fireworks that our local community of Redwood Meadows puts on.  Always a great show – and they go early so the children get to enjoy them too!

I hope everyone has enjoyed, or is enjoying the last day of 2016.  It has been a winding year for our family, as it often goes, but still filled with a lot of laughs and the continued wonders of rearing my two children.


A phantom hunting in the snow

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5076

The snowstorm and the cold accompanying it were considerable the morning I watched this Great gray owl hunting west of Bragg Creek.  Neither one impeded her focus or her ability to hunt.  She caught three mice as they scurried beneath the snow.  The sharp eyes guiding her to great effect.  The descent above started with her perched in a branch.  Her head cocked at subtly different angles to range in before she flew.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5066

This strike proved unsuccessful as it appeared she came close but came away with nothing.  She looked at me for a second and then lifted off to alight on a post holding up the fence I was leaning against.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5092

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5093

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5103

A short regroup was over after a few minutes when she dove with her back to me, grabbed and returned with a mouse.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5125

That was swallowed quickly and she then retreated to another branch on the tree line behind the fence.  She flew along the forest’s edge between a couple of spots.  Which gave me a few good opportunities to shoot her in flight.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5156

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5215

She snagged another unfortunate creature as we approached noon and I left soon after that.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5156


Forest flights in a snowstorm

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4970

A snowstorm hit Bragg Creek last weekend quickly draping the area in white and pushing the temperature way down.  I caught sight of this owl along a familiar stretch of open forest divided by a gravel road.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4954

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4968

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4972

It was a steep challenge keeping sharp focus as she flew through the trees and with the heavy snowfall but I had a great hour or so watching her and trying to keep up.  I ended up with many in-focus tree, out-of-focus owl shots but when it worked out the other way around there were some interesting images.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4916

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-4914

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5159

When I did return to my car, it did take a few minutes for my fingers to thaw – that’s always painful but quickly forgotten.

Great gray owl hunting in a snowstorm - © Christopher Martin-5244
She was very successful during the time I watched her.  Three field mice were the first courses for breakfast from five silent descents into the tall grass.  When time allows, I will share a few of those action shots in another photo story here.


Barred owl: a little curious, a lot shy

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It was May of this year when I saw my first Barred owl in Bragg Creek.  I’ve lived here for ten years and spent a lot of time in the forests so it was a real thrill to find a new (to me) species in the area.  In late October, another one was waiting for me as I was walking in the woods along the edge of Kananaskis Country.  This time, the owl watched me intently for a few seconds, scanned the ground for prey for a few more and then repeated that for a couple of minutes while I watched and snapped a few images.  Eventually the owl flew a short distance away but they blend into this type of forest so well that I lost sight with the next glide that followed.  A beautiful creature.

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An owl on the other side

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On the other side of the road, this Great gray owl continued hunting after it flew across.  She left the open forest for the denser evergreens on the southern approach which provided a completely different look from the images that I shared yesterday.

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She flew between a couple of posts before gliding between a couple of trees.  I was lucky to be in position for some great opportunities.

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The owl flew into the middle of this large tree, beside the trunk, and I thought she might choose to rest there for a while.  She did for a few minutes, but soon grew restless and began scanning the ground for activity.  She turned around, saw something and then shot out of the tree.  I lost sight of her almost right away but heard a lot of squawking and commotion before things went quiet again.  I assume the owl struck successfully but did not go into the woods to check – either way the cycle of hunter and hunted continued with one coming out successfully.

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