Latest

A beautiful afternoon with a Snowy

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8330

After a blustery start to the day on December 27th, by 2pm the wind had settled down and the sun then came out making for a much more comfortable time while I watched this Snowy owl.  She seemed to enjoy the change in the weather too as she was very active.  Her hunting ability is exceptional and she caught a mouse on almost every glide low over the snow.

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8329

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8332

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8340

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8349

The two series, above and below, were both successful hunting runs where she caught a field mouse or something similar.

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8352

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8353

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8367-2

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8368

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8369

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8371

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8372

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8375

I have become a regular observer of this bird in particular as she has a large farm field staked as her territory and I’ve been lucky to find her there consistently.   In previous years, I have occasionally been able to repeat time with the same owl but this regularity is really special to me.

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8379

Earlier she flew to a few different parts of the field before settling on the area where she flew over in the photographs above.

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8275

sunny-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-8315

A Snowy in another snowstorm

overcast-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-7708

A couple of weeks ago I went out on the prairie looking for Snowy owls.  North of Langdon, I found this owl in a familiar locale.  It was a cold, blustery wind that accompanied the sunrise.  The snow blew into the air throughout the morning and made it feel like we were much closer to the Arctic Circle.  It was pretty dark with a bluish cast in the morning which only added to the wintry feel. At one point, the owl flew directly overhead and then around me which was a highlight for sure.

overcast-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-7702

overcast-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-7694

The rest of the morning was spent watching the owl sitting with making the odd hop/flight around the field.  Another good morning with this Snowy owl.

overcast-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-7734

overcast-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-7649

overcast-snowy-owl-flight-christopher-martin-7636

Winter prairie landscapes

prairie-winter-landscapes-christopher-martin-6117

I spent a lot of time on the prairies in December.  These days started early in the morning so I was able to enjoy watching night give way to day.  And several hours later, watch the principles switch as the short daylight hours ran out.

prairie-winter-landscapes-christopher-martin-6039

prairie-winter-landscapes-christopher-martin-7529

prairie-winter-landscapes-christopher-martin-4482

prairie-winter-landscapes-christopher-martin-5427

prairie-winter-landscapes-christopher-martin-8744

prairie-winter-landscapes-christopher-martin-5369

 

Happy New Year!

redwood-new-years-fireworks-christopher-martin-0073

I hope you have a lot of good moments doing what you love with those who mean the most to you in this new year.  My own goal is to make those happen whenever I can for myself and those people important to me.   We had a fun night doing crafts, playing games and taking in the Redwood Meadows fireworks.

redwood-new-years-fireworks-christopher-martin-9961

redwood-new-years-fireworks-christopher-martin-9973

We walked up to the Redwood Meadows sports field for the display where neighbours had gathered for skating and a bonfire earlier.  The snow was falling hard and that seemed to suit everyone just fine.  It was a great vibe to welcome 2017 with.

redwood-new-years-fireworks-christopher-martin-0008

redwood-new-years-fireworks-christopher-martin-0022

The fireworks were beautiful.  I haven’t seen them during a snowstorm before and that was cool.  The explosions were cheered by the crowd so it was an unqualified success.  And definitely a good start to the year.

redwood-new-years-fireworks-christopher-martin-0031

redwood-new-years-fireworks-christopher-martin-0055

redwood-new-years-fireworks-christopher-martin-0077

redwood-new-years-fireworks-christopher-martin-0049

 

redwood-new-years-fireworks-christopher-martin-0085

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!

Happy New Year’s Eve Deer

new-years-eve-deer-christopher-martin-7408

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.

Kreuzberg: living graffiti

 Kreuzberg - living graffiti - © Christopher Martin-8836.jpg ATTACHMENT DETAILS kreuzberg - living graffiti - © Christopher Martin-8836

When I visited Berlin last summer, I spent an early morning and, a couple of days later, a late afternoon touring around Kreuzberg.  This borough is divided into two major districts, 36 and 61.  I didn’t know enough about them to distinguish them – everywhere I went was heavily covered in graffiti.  This street art was an integrated part of Kreuzberg and often reflected the lives passing in front of it.

Kreuzberg - living graffiti - © Christopher Martin-8757

Kreuzberg - living graffiti - © Christopher Martin-8794

Kreuzberg - living graffiti - © Christopher Martin-8808

Kreuzberg - living graffiti - © Christopher Martin-8723

Kreuzberg - living graffiti - © Christopher Martin-8731

Cosmonaut and Mercedes - © Christopher Martin-8742

It was an immersive experience to photograph surrounded by this art.  And one which was a great challenge to show that integration of the art with the people.  That is what drew me back a second time on a visit where I only had five days in Berlin.  I’m glad I did, it was a really interesting place to visit.

Kreuzberg - living graffiti - © Christopher Martin-8683

kreuzberg-living-graffiti-christopher-martin-8688

Merry Christmas… with a Dancing Elk

We enjoyed a great Christmas day around our home today.  Outside, the sun was bright, the sky was blue and the snow draped everything in a blanket of white.   Inside, we played games, built toys, laughed a lot and had a really good time.

I showed my family this video embedded above of a dancing elk that I had taken a couple of winters ago up in Jasper.  My mom thought that would be a good one to share online today – the kids agreed so I worked on that this evening (and here is the Youtube link as well).  It was a fun encounter with a young female elk who separated from her herd for a few minutes.  At several points, she broke into a dance, or rodeo bull impersonation, while I watched.

I hope you and yours have enjoyed a merry Christmas and I wish you all the best throughout the holidays.

Holiday sledding at night

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7072

With the Christmas holiday in full swing around our house now, the kids and I went out night sledding on the 23rd.  The snow had started falling early that morning and kept going all day.  We went out earlier but had the most fun in the evening.

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7076

Kian had the idea to take some photos and I was onboard.  A drag of the shutter (1/10th – 1/6th of a second) with a flash of 1/200th of a second to create some motion blur while freezing the kids in action.

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7043

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7104

I played around as they sped down the great little hill just off our back yard.  They eagerly collaborated with the images – looking at the screen after each run to see what worked and what didn’t.

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7066

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7130

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7038

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7075

Holiday sledding at night © Christopher Martin-7039

We had a blast – a great way for a daddy to spend Christmas Eve’s eve with his daughter and son 🙂

A Snowy owl hunting on a rise

a-snowy-owl-christopher-martin-6318

The Snowy owl that I had photographed the previous week, I found again last Sunday.  This time she was on a snow-covered rise ~50 metres from the fence line.  It was much warmer than the week before and the sun was out so it was quite a pleasant visit.

A Snowy owl on the Albertan prairie © Christopher Martin-6232

The owl perched taking in a complete view of her surroundings – me included.  The wind was gusting ahead of a chinook that was arching across the prairies so she crouched low whenever it picked up.

a-snowy-owl-christopher-martin-6253

In between one of the wind blasts, she caught sight or sound of something to her left and glided towards a broken post.  She hovered for a moment and then dropped to the ground.

A Snowy owl on the Albertan prairie © Christopher Martin-6315

A Snowy owl on the Albertan prairie © Christopher Martin-6320

She grabbed something and quickly swallowed it.  She landed a little further behind the rise and in line with the post so I missed a clear line on the hunt’s conclusion.

a-snowy-owl-christopher-martin-6323

She soon returned to scanning the field.

a-snowy-owl-christopher-martin-6326

And I found another sight line.

a-snowy-owl-christopher-martin-6355

First Snowy owl of the season!

A Snowy owl on the Albertan prairie © Christopher Martin-5839

For the past couple of years, every November I start getting excited to see Snowy owls. That is the time that they start to return to southern Alberta after their summer nesting season in the Arctic.  This year, Great gray owls and mountain landscapes kept me away from the Prairies until December.  When I head out to the open fields east of Calgary, I crossed paths with three separate Snowies and a Red fox – truly a windfall of good fortune!

a-snowy-owl-christopher-martin-5806

The first Snowy owl was perched on a telephone pole overlooking a farm field where the fox was hunting.  She was content to swivel her head around to keep eyes on everything around but not very excited by me, the traffic passing by, the farm dog that barked now and again at the fox nor the fox herself.  So relaxed, that she stayed put for almost two hours.  It was -22°C and the wind made it feel cooler than that.  I couldn’t blame her for not moving around too much but it was quite a while to wait.  I maneuvered my car to the far side of the road so that I could keep a lens on her from my seat and waited.  The light flattened out and the clouds formed a white sheet behind her but I didn’t mind too much – I was happy to spend time with my first Snowy this winter!

a-snowy-owl-christopher-martin-5833

When she did launch off the pole, it was to glide down to the field.  She skimmed low over the snow and grass before disappearing behind a small rise.  I hopped out and walked along the fence to a vantage point where I could see the owl again.  She looked like she was preening after eating a mouse but I didn’t see the attack if it did happen.  She sat and watched some more, staring at me lazily a couple of times – and once with the focused laser beams as seen above!  After a few minutes, she stood up and quickly took flight again.

a-snowy-owl-christopher-martin-5838

I love watching owls take off – they have strong wingbeats that have a clipped range of motion which seems effective to get them into the air fast.  The Snowy owls, along with the Great horned owls, are enormous as far as North American owls go so it is impressive how much power they generate.  She flapped hard and then levelled off about 2-3 metres off the ground as she retraced her flight plan back towards the road.

a-snowy-owl-christopher-martin-5843

Near the fence line she climbed up to perch on a new telephone pole’s insulator.  Once settled, she puffed up her feathers – the one acknowledgement to the cold I saw from her this time out.

A Snowy owl on the Albertan prairie © Christopher Martin-5856

 

 

 

Afield with a fox on the hunt

langdon-fox-on-the-hunt-christopher-martin-5710

(Click on the image to open a larger version)

I found this Red fox last weekend in Langdon, Alberta.  She was hunting mice in a farm field. alongside the highway.  A couple of times she came relatively close to the fence.  I really liked this image from one of these nearby encounters.  I’m heading there this afternoon to see if I can find her, or one of the three Snowy owls I saw last Sunday, again.

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

%d bloggers like this: