Nature

Upper Kananaskis Lake – summer mornings

This summer I feel like I have rediscovered the Kananaskis Lakes located in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.  In particular, I have spent a lot of time at the upper lake.  The peaks that ring the lake have appealed to me recently in a new way and I have been drawn to visit at different times of the day to photograph them.

The jagged profiles, mirrored reflections and rocky shoreline are all elements I love to work with and the Upper Kananaskis Lake knits these together in a beautiful way.  These are a few of the photographs I like from these visits.

And here are some evening shots from an earlier post this summer as well.  It’s a beautiful place to spend time.

 


#139 in the berries

I found grizzly bear #139 between the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes last weekend.  He has a history of being in the news over the past couple of year (not a problem bear just one that people find with relative frequency so there are a fair number of images and articles on him).  This time, he was strolling between the forest and the Kananaskis Lake road, grazing on the buffalo berries that are ripe and delicious (for the bears at least – they are too tart for my taste when they first ripen).

 

I left the bear after alerting one of the rangers to his presence as he was moving closer to a campground.  I went for a walk along the shoreline a few kilometres away and returned past the spot an hour later.  The bear had crossed the road by then and was grazing on the high side of the hill.

He has been referred to as scrawny in the past so it was good to see him looking healthy and devouring berries.  He’s a beautiful bear – especially when he flashes that wonderful smile (please allow for a bit of anthropomorphization.  I truly believe animals have personalities and emotions).  I hope to cross paths with him again for years to come.


Wedge Pond – mist, reflection and alpenglow

Wedge Pond is a favourite location of mine in Kananaskis Country.  She sits below the massive chunk of rock that is Mount Kidd and in calm moments mirrors the entire mountain on her surface.  Several more peaks along the Kananaskis River Valley are prominent from the shoreline as well.  Collectively they provide a lot of visually appealing elements to work with when photographing around this little lake.  I usually head there in late September when the aspen trees around the pond turn a brilliant yellow (previous posts with those images).  A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by a friendly Australian photographer who will be coming this way next month and was looking for some local information about Kananaskis and Wedge Pond in particular.  That got me thinking about Wedge a little earlier than usual and I headed up in the wee hours on August 11th..

The mist was swirling early.  Cold, humid air and a gentle breeze combined to push the mist across the water.  On this day, the sky was clear and the alpenglow was visible above the mountains early and then slid down the surrounding peaks.  The morning exceeded all expectations I may have had and I was blessed with an amazing start to the day.  The red that first painted the peaks was soon washed over with golden sunlight and I headed up for a hike at Chester Lake.


A smoked sunrise

The smoke from the wildfires in British Columbia and Alberta continues to come and go west of the Rockies in southwestern Alberta depending on severity of the fires, the weather and the wind.  One morning last week it was particularly thick and made the rising sun a circle of deep red, orange and yellow.  At one point wispy clouds layered above the sun that was truly beautiful to me.


A grizzly bear in the fireweed

Last weekend I came across this grizzly bear late in the day along the Kananaskis Trail (Highway 40).  He first came out of the forest on the high side of the hill and traveled through this patch of fireweed before slipping back into the woods.

He was in the trees briefly before continuing down the hill and coming to the road.

Meeting the pavement, he crossed straightaway – which is always a bit of uncertainty given the wildcard of a speeding vehicle.  However this time the four vehicles nearby were all pulled over and no other traffic came so he had no issues.

Dark clouds rolled in and he disappeared down the bank so that ended the short visit.  I headed up to Highwood Pass and watched the weather scrape over the mountains for a bit. Note: that is a great place to enjoy watching the land – the elevation, jagged peaks, often fast-moving clouds and ever-changing weather combine endlessly.  When I drove back down, I found the bear further up the road in hillside of brambles feasting on buffalo berries.  Failing light and falling rain softened the scene and made finding the bear and getting sharp images a challenge but I was grateful for another short visit with this beautiful bruin.

 


Berries and a black bear

Returning from a sunrise shoot atop the rock pile that gives Moraine Lake its name, I found a beautiful black bear grazing on berries.  The patch was close to the road connecting Moraine Lake with the Lake Louise area which meant a bear jam started to build right away.  I didn’t stay for long, just grabbed a couple of shots out the window from the other side of the road.  Great to see the berries coming in, they are a critical source of calories for the bears in the Banff National Park.

 


Two mornings on Moraine Lake


Last weekend I spent two mornings waiting for, and then watching the sunrise, on Moraine Lake.  The two days were definitely not alike.  On Saturday morning, the clouds hung low obscuring the tips along the Valley of the Ten Peaks.  The color palette was decidedly cool.  It was reminiscent of the night before after the sun had set at Upper Kananaskis Lake.

The next day welcomed clear skies in all directions.  I would have welcomed a few clouds above the mountains to catch the alpenglow but the peaks down the valley soon did.  And that was beautiful to enjoy.  It had been a couple of years since the valley had shared this particular scene with me.

 

Watching the peaks glow red is stunning and I love watching that light spread down mountainsides, racing against the golden sunshine’s imminent arrival.  The transition is very fast with the alpenglow lasting 4-5 minutes before the sunshine blends in and the red disappears from the rock faces.


Kingfishing on the water

A family of belted kingfishers (Megaceryle alcyon) live and fish around a small lake west of Bragg Creek in Alberta, Canada.  They are tricky to photograph but a lot of fun to try.  Over a couple of hours there were a few close flybys.  Some I missed completely, they are very fast and can change direction instantly.  But there were a few that got closer to what I have in my head.  I’ll be back soon!


Grizzlies spring foraging in Kananaskis

The first grizzly bear I saw this year was along the Kananaskis River in May.  I was watching ground squirrels playing around the field in the Opal picnic area.  Then they started standing up alert and chirping to one another.

Looking towards the river, I couldn’t see anything.  Then from out of the forest first one, then a second bear arrived.

They hadn’t noticed me, or maybe more likely, they had but did not have any interest in me.   Happily, they padded across the parking lot behind my car and continued on to cross Highway 40.

Their interest was in foraging on the hillside and I watched them for a few minutes until they slipped back into the woods.







Dandelion hunting in Banff National Park

In Banff National Park’s Bow Valley, the dandelions are among the first flowers to come into bloom in large patches.  This draws the bears as it has to taste delicious compared to the other vegetarian items on their spring menu.  I spied this young grizzly bear mowing through one of these patches that was along the train tracks.  I always worry about the trains rolling through the park as they continue to have wildlife impacts. But during the short time I watched this bear grazing, no trains came by and no other distractions interrupted this bear’s snack.

Eventually she strode up the little hill, along the rails for a minute, gave me a quick look and then continued down the other side and into the woods.

 


Pollination in Kreuzberg

Last summer when I was in Berlin I visited the Kreuzberg district several times to enjoy the street art, graffiti and just the vibrant atmosphere in general.  At one point, I stopped to look at these wonderful flowers that smelled amazing.  This little bee thought they tasted just as good!


An old bull’s stare down

I found this Highland bull on a fold west of the Springbank airport.  He was scratching an itch along the broken planks in the corral when I stopped.  He raised the horns, huffed and stared at me from under his dishevelled mop.  Seemed like he was the master of his domain and he wasn’t particularly interested in my intrusion into it.  A good character to photograph and then part ways with.