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Canada geese skirmishing on Frank Lake

The tall grass near the bird blind on Frank Lake is nesting ground for Canada geese, ibis, yellow-headed blackbirds, herons and more.  At dusk the cacophony rising up from these residents can be surprisingly loud.  There are birds chasing one another, others returning with material for their nest, food for their chicks as well as occasional territorial spats.  It’s an incredible spot to set up near the trails and watch life on a marsh.  On a visit there in early May the weather was warm and the sunlight before dusk was incredible.

Throughout the evening, the Canada geese were active with a couple being particularly feisty.  That presented some new image opportunities that I had not yet photographed which is always exciting for me.

When the sun set, the activity level along the shoreline rose noticeably.  All manner of birds flew overhead and low along the water.  Some of the geese moved their skirmishing to the small pond directly in front of me.  I didn’t move around and they seemed oblivious, or at least undistracted, by me – which was perfect.  I stayed until it was dark and loved every minute.




 

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Around the edge with a red-winged blackbird

I took advantage of a Red-winged blackbird’s interest in me and photographed it among the reeds on the edge of the third of the Vermilion Lakes.  There were several blackbirds calling one another and flying between perches.  They would flit between the little islands of long grass on the lake, the trees hanging over the water and the bushes that filled in the shoreline.

This one came closer and stayed longer than the others which gave me a few good moments to photograph.

A heron’s portrait

There are a couple of great blue herons near Exshaw, east of Canmore.  In late April, before the greening up in the grass and the trees, I found this stark and beautiful scene with one of them pausing within it for a moment.

Watching owls fly in the Palouse

On the first day I was in the Palouse earlier this year, I found a great horned owl haunting an abandoned farmstead near Colfax.

My friends photographed the rolling hills and fields while I waited for the owl to fly.  Over the course of an hour or so her started up in a broken metal structure, flew over to a green field, returned to the farmhouse and alighted at the weather vane nearby.  At one point she met up with her mate in another field before leaving him when he stepped into the taller grass.  She hunted successfully twice but she was just out of sight both times.  I loved the even lighting from the overcast sky coupled with the varied scenes that she went through while I was there.

A soft sunrise over the Vermilion Lakes

Dawn reached across the Fairholme Range and brushed the sky through to Mount Rundle. An eight second exposure traced the motion in the scene, blurring the water into soft streaks and stretching out the clouds above. Photographed on June 4, 2017 on the Vermilion Lakes in Banff National Park’s Bow Valley.

Early morning at Two Jack Lake

After a long night of spectacular auroras which I enjoyed from the western shore of Lake Minnewanka (one post here and the other there), I went to nearby Two Jack Lake to catch the sunrise.  The clouds, the sun and the mountains all conspired to present an amazing start to the morning.  The wind was a bit mischievous as it blew softly but steadily over the water breaking up Mount Rundle’s reflection in the image above and Mount Girouard’s in the one below.

At one point a Canada goose entered the water and I liked the way she showed up in this image blurring slightly during the 1.6 second exposure as it paddled by.

The goose carried on to the far side of the lake.  Later a paddle boarder followed the goose’s lead and went out for an early tour around the lake.  She was there with a photographer for a shoot – a pretty great morning for that.  I liked being able to add in a shot of her gliding across the water.

I packed up the tripod as the colour in the sky started to fade out and with the boarder making several passes in front of the scene which kept the water rippled.  I stopped at the overlook above the lake about twenty minutes later and made this last image of the paddle boarder silhouetted against the sunlit mountains reflecting in the water.

The May 21st Minnewanka Aurora – into the early morning

Following on from my last post on this geomagnetic storm, here are a few of the images from later in the night.  As the early hours of May 21st dripped past, the sprites in the Northern Lights appeared and then alternated with beautiful glowing arches.  These continued painting across the sky well past the earliest sign of dawn.

The rise of the crescent moon came just after 4 am as the aurora’s glow started to fade and night handed the sky over to day.  Within an hour the sunlight brushed its own colors across the canvas now shared with clouds instead of stars.

Lake Minnewanka’s Northern Lights

There have been strong Aurora Borealis events over the past couple of weeks.  These have extended far enough south that those of us in southern Alberta have been able to enjoy great displays in the night sky.  Throughout the earliest hours of May 20th the Northern Lights flashed, rippled and glowed over Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park.  It was a beautiful night with few clouds and a sky that looked like someone had spread out all the diamonds across a dark blanket.

Along the lake’s western shore, many people had come out to see the auroras.  When I passed the marina, the storm was in a lull but the green glow drew a sharp line on the Palliser Range’s silhouette.  I’m usually alone when I’m photographing at night so it was neat to be part of a loose community all there to enjoy this natural event.

Most people were lined up along the dam.  I hiked down a trail a bit further south and found a stretch of rock along the water’s edge that looked good to me.  I spent the next four hours watching the sky, scrambling around the rocks and photographing the aurora.  The photographs here are from the first hour during an active period following the lull.  I will share a few more from later in night in another post soon.

 

Aurora over the Elbow River

Last weekend there was a massive storm in the sky on Saturday night.  Not the thunder and lightning kind – though there was a very energetic rain shower around 2am – rather a geomagnetic storm.  With that came bright auroras which rippled and shot for several hours.  The rain actually woke me up and when I looked outside, I could see the Northern Lights between gaps in the clearing clouds.

I picked up some gear and headed outside right away.  Living near Bragg Creek we have dark skies except for the glow from Calgary to the east so it was easy to see the show right from my deck.  When I walked over to the banks of the Elbow River, it coincided with an intense burst that lasted for almost twenty minutes.  I woke my daughter up later when I went back home and we were able to catch another smaller outburst – her first in real-time.  Easily the best part of a great night.

 

A fox trotting through the Bow Valley

In April, I crossed paths with a red fox near the Johnston Canyon campground.  She was running at a steady clip along the Bow Valley Parkway towards me.  I photographed her on the road and as she turned down towards the overflow parking lot and along the not then melted snow piles.

The fox stayed focus on wherever she was heading and only broke her pace while she crossed the snow.  There seemed to have been a few things that drew her attention momentarily.  It was less than ten minutes from when I saw her until she disappeared down a trail towards the river and possibly a bridge to cross it.

Loons on the lake in Banff National Park

I found a pair of common loons on the third Vermilion Lake in the Banff National Park on the weekend.  They were diving and skimming the water surface for food, enjoying the sunshine and paddling close to each other at different points.

The sunlight caught the iridescence in their feathers.  It is beautiful when the red eyes glow and the silky greens shimmer along their necks.

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