This moose was grazing in a marsh west of Bragg Creek when I drove by. She stared at me for a minute, trotted through brambles a bit and then stared back to me again.
April 24th update: Thank you to The Mysterious Blogger for suggesting the title of this post – now updated. And, to P.grover for improving my/our understanding of moose and threats to their health.
This was easily one of the sweetest moments I’ve seen when this bull moose nuzzled with his calf.
The bull is likely mating with the cow again this year which brings him into the same area as the calf. I didn’t expect them to have a bond but when this tender moment happened on the weekend, I was obviously wrong.
This calf was born in 2016 and still stays close to his mother. The three moose have been hanging around each other again during this year’s rut. I don’t know how long they will stay together as a little family before the bull returns to the solitary life.
When I started watching them, the calf was laying down while the parents grazed separately nearby. Over the next hour they all moved slowly around the small meadow and the edge of the forest. It was a relaxed atmosphere which I think is reflected in the photographs.
Eventually the big fellow laid down and was soon napping. The cow and calf continued grazing. And I headed home.
As dawn broke on a recent morning when I was up in Kananaskis, the skies were leaden and threatening to drop some form of precipitation. It was cold and windy so it seemed an open question whether it would be rain, snow or a frozen mix of the two. The weather foiled my plans for a sunrise shoot of Mount Kidd but made it an easy decision to drive further up the valley into the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. I passed a few White-tailed deer but did not see much else on the way up. Apparently I had an appointment (unbeknownst to me at the time) with this wonderful family of moose. They were standing around this marsh in plain view beside the turn off of the Kananaskis Lakes Trail up to the Upper Lake’s parking lot and trailhead.
The calf stayed close to her mom but was not very shy. Staring at me several times to satisfy her curiosity about what I was and whether I was something of interest or not. The bull was hidden within a few trees at first so it was a great surprise when I saw his antlers first come into sight.
When a snowplow passed by, its scoop loudly grinding against the asphalt, the young one was startled and ran a little ways off from the roadside. Mom followed and they munched along as they slowly headed into the forest.
The bull was a magnificent creature. Healthy and very confident, neither the vehicles nor my presence made any impression on him. He kept his eyes on any activity around him but was focused on grazing. I watched him for the next hour as he moved between trees, bogs and little fields. Their ability to blend in and disappear, despite their size, was observed many times and always surprises me.
The storm’s intensity ebbed and flowed through the morning and the snow followed accordingly. At times falling hard, at times almost stopping completely. Along with adjusting the camera settings to drag the shutter and blur the snow’s motion or freeze the flakes in action, it was a great setting to photograph these moose in.
The bull kept an eye on the family as they went into the trees and eventually followed them away from the marsh. The encounter ended shortly thereafter but I would not ask for anything more. It was a great day in Kananaskis.
This beautiful moose looked amazing in this autumn meadow. Snow in Moraine Lake that morning, was rain lower in the valley. This created a glow in the grass and a shine on her coat.
She crossed the meadow slowly, grazing as she went along, before she slipped up into the forest. I continued west along the Bow Valley Parkway and met up with a Grizzly to continue a particularly great day.
This calf and his mother were in the Bragg Creek Provincial Park, grazing on the edge of the forest near the road. With momma close by, the calf was bolder than I expected. He stared at me from a few paces in the trees before crossing the road and walking very close to my car.
Once he had checked me out, then he skipped back again and joined in snacking on the greenery.
In early April I went into Kananaskis along Highway 66 from Bragg Creek. I was late getting out of bed and did not leave myself enough time to set up for a sunrise shoot. I went for a short hike around Elbow Falls but returned to my car pretty quickly. Heading back, I was scouring the hillsides and trees for wildlife. I was lucky to catch this female just as she was stepping out of the forest. The sun hadn’t cleared the mountains across the Elbow River so the moose was not yet in the sunlight. I decided to set my camera up on my tripod and wait for a few minutes.
Patience often pays off and it was true on this occasion. After at least fifteen minutes of watching the moose casually grazing along the slope, I heard a couple of sticks break near where she had come out from the trees before. A couple of minutes after that, a calf came out onto the hillside.
The pair dined for a while occasionally eating together with mom always watchful as cars passed by or a strange sound came to her ears. They were calm and it was special to be able to watch them. I hope the buds, leaves and shoots start to grow soon so their rather austere winter diet is replaced.
My parents and I went out for our fairly annual moose run this morning. The kids give the drive to look for wildlife a pass as they were busy assembling new toys and reading new books. We found two bull moose in a line of aspen along a ridge and watched them walking for a few minutes. They dropped down through the deep snow into a meadow of scrubby willows nearby and set about grazing on the slender branches.
Aside from that, it was nice to share an encounter with these wonderful animals with my parents on Christmas morning.
Mother Nature flipped a switch a week ago and now we are free of snow and the temperatures are t-shirt appropriate. The moose probably aren’t excited about the warmer weather but I’m sure they are enjoying snacking on the new greenery. Looking at the photographs of this young bull moose afterwards, it struck me that it has been about nine months since I have had snow-free backgrounds of moose.
Regarding the moose, expect that they will start retreating for the cooler forest just after dawn pretty soon. I think it is finally safe to say we are now coming out of the mild, but very long, winter here.
When the mother and calf had retreated into the woods, this moose remained in the meadow and kept grazing.
When she moved into a stand of brambles, I used larger apertures to minimize the depth of field to separate her head from the branches in the foreground and background.
The shallow plane of focus and a black and white conversion worked well for this image below.
The moose around Bragg Creek, and elsewhere I would imagine, like the cold. When the thermometer drops below zero, they seem to come out. The colder, the better. This weekend we have stayed below -20°C and I found moose in a few different places around West Bragg Creek.
I got to spend an hour with a small herd of three cows and one calf. They were pretty docile, grazing on slender, red branches for much of the morning. They moved together and apart between stands of these branches and more open meadow. The young one played a little bit, running between mother and minders a couple of times.
These two moose crossed a farm field moving towards the heavier woods of Kananaskis, west of Bragg Creek. The mother kept up a brisk trot but the calf seemed untroubled by the pace. She came towards me across the field and then joined a path that crossed a low point in the fence a hundred feet in front of me. On the road they paused for a second and then hiked up into the forest.
(please click on the image for a more detailed version)
A young moose surprised me when I was out looking for owls along the fence posts in West Bragg Creek. It slipped under some barbed wire which was the commotion that caught my eye and then jumped up onto the road. Here it was trotting to the other side and disappeared a couple of seconds later. I saw its mother through the bushes looking back towards the road. After a few more seconds, the little one drew up alongside and the two walked deeper into the woods.
The last few mornings I have been driving the backroads in West Bragg Creek looking for moose. With the days warming up, their winter coats are being shed and I like the parallels between these sleek summer hides being revealed and the rapidly growing buds and leaves. The energetic growth of spring has my attention firmly in its grasp. I have had a few really nice encounters where we watched each other for a few minutes and I was able to photograph them in interesting spots. The moose above took a shortcut between two paths which gave me an opportunity to photograph him surrounded by the branches.
The antlers of the bull above are just starting to push out and you can see the dark coat where the shaggy winter hair has worn away. I hope I can photograph this moose later in the year when he’s at his most impressive.
This is the same moose as in the first image. I liked how all his hooves are in the air and he seems to be skipping across the road. Definitely my imagination taking a flight of fancy but still nice. I was disappointed to see his ears back as that likely meant I had made him uncomfortable. It happens but I try hard to avoid that.
After following the deer around for a little while, I walked back to the car and continued driving along the back roads that skirt between West Bragg Creek and Kananaskis. I went by a thicket beside a pasture thinking I would photograph the horses there for a few minutes. Instead, I found a moose stripping branches near the road.
She watched me for a minute, then continued moving through the meadow snacking along the way.
She wandered towards the frozen creek and then turned west and leapt over a fence before crossing the road and meandering into the edge of the forest where I lost sight of her.
Last weekend I was touring around Bragg Creek’s back roads in the morning looking for wildlife. I did not have any close encounters but had this great moment where I watched this moose dash across the meadow and into the dormant forest. Moose have a grace of movement that you wouldn’t expect from a huge animal. With the mild winter so far, the grass hasn’t been blanketed by snow which allowed this bull to keep a fast pace and he was gone in a few seconds up a slope that would have taken me a few minutes.
Hiking west of Bragg Creek last weekend I ended up in a meadow that was a mix of evergreen trees and waist-high wild grasses. Navigating this open field is much easier in the winter with the frozen ground and there are all manner of animals trails to follow. It was one of these that led me to this incredible bull moose who was grazing beside a large stand of trees. I noticed him from a distance and then slowly moved closer under his occasional glance.
I was quite surprised when, as I moved around the trees to get a better view of the whole animal, I saw a second bull. I often see female moose and calves in groups of 2-10 but I can’t think of a time outside of the rut when I’ve seen two bulls together.
As I watched them, they seemed very comfortable and were not intimidating one another. I was fascinated and really enjoyed studying them interacting. I stayed with them for about half an hour and I came away with the impression that they acted like brothers. One, the first one I saw, had the larger rack and acted like the big brother. Both were beautiful creatures. I’m always happy to see healthy bulls as it means good things for the local population in general.
This encounter came about an hour after photographing a mother and baby moose a few miles away so it was a great morning in K-Country. Much more for me to learn about these beautiful animals. I love the opportunities I have to do that with them in their natural surroundings. I rarely forget how lucky I am.
Before the sun rose yesterday, I was driving in West Bragg Creek on one of the dirt roads that skirts Kananaskis. Looking for wildlife, I noticed a moose in the trees.
I stopped and after a few minutes she walked towards me and into the clearing, then I noticed the calf come out of the forest as well.
There were some branches that she had her eye on and they both stared at me for a minute and then wandered towards the stand for breakfast. They both appeared to be in good health, the late winter has helped the grazing animals with a little more time to store food.
I was in Kananaskis for the sunrise on Mount Kidd above Wedge Pond on the weekend. I finished the landscape photography by 7:30 and then headed along Highway 40 up towards the Highwood Pass to enjoy the beautiful drive and keep an eye out for wildlife. Just after the summit this cow and her calf were grazing on the edge of the forest.
I pulled over and stayed with them for about half an hour. One of the beautiful things of Kananaskis is that it has nowhere near the volume of traffic as Alberta’s neighbouring National Parks. There are rarely bear jams on the road and when you find wildlife, there isn’t the frenzy of crowds agitating the animals. So, with these two beautiful moose, I was able to share time and enjoy watching them.
Earlier at Wedge Pond, I met a fellow photographer, Chuck Kling, visiting from Montreal with his wife. We met again at these moose and it was fun to share that moment. They come to photograph wildlife in Alberta frequently, a good reminder how nice it is to live in these parts.
On Sunday morning I went into West Bragg to look or wildlife along the backroads and a few trails. When I got to Wild Rose, there was a moose cow halfway up a driveway. I didn’t have a good angle but it was nice to watch it eating branches for a few minutes. While I was waiting to see if she would walk into a better position, another moose walked into another stand of branches that was much closer to me. About 20 meters away! She didn’t seem bothered by me so I set about photographing my new friend.
After about half an hour, her curiosity got the best of her as she walked out of the bushes, onto the driveway and walked towards me. I stepped back towards the rear of my car and she walked around the front.
She snacked on a small group of brambles right beside where I had parked my car for a couple of minutes and then retraced her path back up the driveway.
She stopped at a few branches as she walked up the rise and then laid down on the lawn in the snow.
I took this last picture before I left her to relax. I hope spring comes soon so that all of the wildlife get to forage on some greenery. I think this winter’s early start, cold spells and deep snow have taken a toll on their reserves.
It’s probably easy to tell that I really like moose and love photographing them.
Here is a link to a set I put together for a print series I’m working on.
These images were taken over the past four years around the Bragg Creek and Kananaskis areas in Alberta.
The deck off of our bedroom looks over the path that runs the length of Redwood Meadows towards the Elbow River. A couple of days ago, I was looking out of the windows towards the water and I saw a large bump in a clearing in the trees just across the trail. I ran out of the house with my 300mm lens to grab my tripod from my car and then walked up the rise. I thought it was a moose and I was really excited to see a young cow laying down in the snow. She seemed to be relaxing in the last sunshine of the afternoon. With the long lens, I was able to stay a good distance from the moose and she was not upset having me nearby. When their ears lay back and they keep their eyes pinned on you then you need to back away and possibly leave. I try to keep that from happening so that they stay comfortable and I can spend some time with them.
After a few images, she stopped nuzzling in the snow and got up to nibble on the twigs and branches. With her slowly walking westwards, I headed further down the path to the trail that leads down to the river. My thought being that if the moose kept moving west, she would come to this path which would allow for unobstructed photographs with the opening in the forest.
Leaving the moose behind, I lost track of her for a few minutes. I thought she might have headed through the forest north directly to the river but then I heard some rustling and soon saw her among the trees near the path. Here she was munching on foliage and watching me. I had set up in the middle of the path as I wanted her to see me and then choose whether to come closer or remain in the forest. With moose, I prefer to make sure they know where I am as they can become stressed if you disappear then suddenly appear or create noise nearby (per the shutter on a camera). She moved parallel to me and then crossed the small clearing and dined on the branches skirting the edge of the path.
Heading down the path, I thought she was going to the river but then she headed east, backtracking into the forest. At that point, I thought she was gone for the day. Evening was coming in quickly so I headed on to the river to see what the sunset might look like. The last one I shot there in December was beautiful so it is always worth checking. There wasn’t too much color to the west so I headed up one of the dried up channels of the river and was very happy to see my new friend once more. She had toured through the woods and then headed to this arm of the river to continue grazing.
I didn’t follow her this time as she trekked through the snow, heading up another path to my house. At the top of the trail, I looked for her and this is the last image I made with her heading north into a stand of trees towards the main part of the river. Possibly to cross into the undeveloped forest there or to continue her eastward trek between the Elbow and our small community.
Moose are not a rarity around Bragg Creek, but this was the first time that I have seen a moose directly in Redwood Meadows. A very special encounter with a beautiful animal.
Good friends of ours told us about a small group of moose that settled in a field in West Bragg Creek a couple of days ago. This morning, I was out there early and quickly saw the young bull.
I made sure he saw me from a long ways off so that there were no surprises.
I moved slowly and watched his ears for signs of distress – if they get laid back then it is a sign that the moose is agitated. He is a young fellow maybe 4 or 5 years old judging by the immature rack. Nonetheless, still a very large animal and very impressive watching him track easily through the scrub brush and boggy grassland.
The cow was in the middle of a stand of trees to the side of the marsh where the bull was grazing.
She poked her head out to see what I was about. She quickly concluded that I wasn’t anything to be concerned with as she laid down in the grass presumably near her yearling. I didn’t see the young moose and had no interest in stressing the mother or getting into a dangerous position so I didn’t move any closer to the trees.
Great to see these young moose out. We have pretty decent numbers in the Bragg Creek area but I always worry about the impact of hunting so it is wonderful to see babies, yearlings and young bucks when they return to these parts of their range.