On Saturday I watched the morning arrive on the shore of the Bow River. I was across the water from Calgary’s downtown and used the Center Street Bridge as a focal point between the sky and the buildings. I parked along Memorial Drive and checked the sky in a couple of test photographs. Traffic came by and made for a good start.
On the other side of the road, the rocks, snow and ice along the river bank presented an interesting foreground. It was a bit hectic teasing out compositions as the light was changing rapidly. But that’s pretty fun chaos by any measure.
The eastern sky had bundles of pink cotton candy for a few minutes. To the west the pink was a pastel that looked very pretty reflected in the Bow where it passed Prince’s Island Park.
Mallard ducks and Canada geese milled about flying up and down the river. The cackling and quacking across the water along with the occasional group of vehicles passing behind me on Memorial Drive joined the river to perform the morning’s soundtrack.
I stumbled upon the beginning of this sunrise as I was heading to the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary last weekend. Driving through downtown, the clouds in the sky looked interesting as dawn approached. I parked in the East Village near the Bow River and grabbed my gear.
A long exposure, 6 seconds at f/16, made the dim glow to the east much brighter than it appeared to me then. I saw this image on the back of my camera and raced to the water’s edge between the Reconciliation Bridge and the George C. King Bridge.
A few minutes later, I framed a lone pedestrian crossing the bridge against this fiery backdrop.
The color faded to pastels just before the sun cleared the horizon. A soft end to a beautiful daybreak in Calgary.
I spent an evening on the Bow River at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary on the weekend. It was a beautiful day, warmly lit in golden light, and I had a great time photographing the birds well into dusk. Among the birds nearby were a few Double-crested cormorants fishing and flying around. I photographed as they flew or swam by. They are exceptionally fast birds and they often fly just above the water at speed which is exciting to watch. After the sunlight had left the river, I caught sight of one of these cormorants moving upriver. Darkness was starting to settle in so I dragged my shutter in order to use the lack of light to pan with the bird as it passed me. I used a shutter speed of 1/40th of a second and it worked out pretty well.
The pair of Ospreys who summer on the Castle Junction bridge’s nest raised two chicks through adolescence this year. When I spent a day watching them in August that meant there were four of these raptors, now all very close to the same size, interacting with one another on and around the bridge area. Flying, fishing, chasing and fighting over fish dominated the moments of action amid a lot of time spent perching over the river up in the trees that line that stretch of the Bow River.
I spied this Osprey when it alighted on a weathered log with a freshly caught meal. By the time I walked a few hundred metres so that I was directly across the river from the bird, it was no longer alone. Ospreys have excellent vision, roughly twice the distance capabilities of humans, so it was no surprise that company arrived quickly. Another Osprey landed close by, shrilly announcing its arrival and crying out for a share of the sushi. The successful fisher had no interest in sharing and resisted all advances from the other to do so.
Over the next four hours, I watched this bird defend its prize from sneaky grabs for a scrap, frustrated attacks, a couple of near dive-bombs and outright theft! Throughout, the Osprey nibbled away on the fish – whether another bird was nearby or not. The other Osprey never ganged up on their family member but I’m pretty sure two of the three made individual advances.
With the repeated flybys the interloping Ospreys gave me some great opportunities for in flight shots that were interesting and new for my library. The low to ground shots in particular.
The birds were aware of my presence, I didn’t blend in with the rocks on the shoreline. I didn’t move around much and, with the river between us, I felt confident that I was not impacting their behaviour and so I enjoyed the opportunity to watch the family dynamics play out.
Several times the Osprey clutched the fish in one talon and looked to be getting ready to fly. That didn’t happen – the bird didn’t stray more than a couple of metres from the log and stayed on it for most of the time. That made me suspect this was an adolescent with little experience flying with fish but given the size, and the fact that it had caught the fish in the first place, I’m definitely not sure.
Steadily the Osprey worked away on dinner, despite the numerous distractions, and finally finished all but the smallest scraps. Shortly after finishing the Osprey flew off down the river. It flew across my sight line affording me a nice flight series – a fun little reward after four hours crouching among the rocks. I watched it all the way back to the nest where it few around a couple of times before I lost sight of it. I hiked back to the bridge and came back to the shoreline a short stone’s throw from the Ospreys new perch. Again, it took note of me and then continued looking down the river and up at the nest. Several minutes went by before the bird launched and flew up to the nest.
Last week I spent a day walking, sitting, waiting and watching along the Bow River in the Banff National Park. I was enthralled with the comings and goings of four Ospreys centred around their part of the river at the Castle Junction between Banff and Lake Louise.
My last visit with them was in April and there were only two of these sea hawks flying around. It was wonderful to see their two chicks now almost fully matured.
Four large raptors on one nest, even theirs which is massive, is pretty crowded accommodations.
The parents seemed very feisty with the young ones, cajoling them to get airborne with squawks and dive bombs.
Amid all of the excitement, the birds circled the nest, perched in the trees over the river and they flew nearby several times. I would imagine they will migrate south in less than a month so I will try to get back to spend time watching them before they go.
The pair of Ospreys I photographed in the Banff National Park a couple of weeks ago spent most of the afternoon with her on the nest and him perched high in trees over the Bow River. I waited a couple of hours for one of them to dive into the water for a fish.
It happened once, and it was fast. I missed the descent and the initial contact with the water. That bugged me but I got locked in once he surfaced.
I hoped to see a fish in his clutches but when his talons were out of the water and visible, there was no such luck – for them or me. It was interesting to watch the lifting into the air so I was not dismayed in any real way.
Flying past me, I waited to see where the next perch would be. I wanted to see if I would continue to be in a good location for the next dive. The Osprey had other ideas, and flew upriver, disappearing around a bend several hundred metres away. I watched that bend for a little while, in case there was a return flight, but ended the day shortly after that and headed home.
A female Mallard duck stretches out of the water to shake the water off of her wings. My friend Jeff (his photography website) and I were down at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary that is in the middle of Calgary on one side of the Bow River to photograph the birds that overwinter there. There are hundreds of Canada Geese and Mallards on the water at any time. The Sanctuary is a great place to watch their natural behaviour with very few disturbances.
During the lunar eclipse last December I was shooting off the Centre Street Bridge in Calgary with the moon to the west of me. As the moon came out of eclipse, I turned my attention to the east and photographed the sunrise over the Bow River looking east from downtown.
I wrote a short post on the eclipse the next day but then we left on vacation and I forgot about these images. Looking through Calgary sunrise photographs in my library, I rediscovered these and put them together here.
Another evening down at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary tonight. The wedges of geese and colonies of gulls flying in at dusk are really fun to watch. There are easily hundreds of birds returning to the Bow river for the night. Sunset was just after 6 and by 7 the birds had settled on the rocks in the channel.
After all of the chaos of the returning birds, I liked this isolated Canada goose that was standing motionless. I guess it was sleeping as it did not move for this 13 second exposure. The light reflected from the street lamps above the Deerfoot lit the water like fire. With the small silhouette of the goose anchoring the frame, I like this composition.