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.
The snow fell heavily last night after an initial hailstorm started things off. This morning there was two inches (~5 cm) of snow on the ground. I went out for a short drive into West Bragg. I missed the Great gray owl that a couple of photographer friends watched this morning. This mother White-tailed deer and her two fawns along the edge of the snowy forest made up for that though.
Bobbi and the kids watched a Lynx walk around our house and into the woods behind yesterday. I wasn’t home so that wasn’t a show meant for me but we do have less elusive wildlife that comes around. Particularly in the winter, some of the mule deer who live in the community clip clop onto the deck looking for seeds underneath the bird feeder. This doe was bold enough to visit during the daytime. She was rewarded with a pretty good snack being the first visitor in a couple of days.
With the cooler mornings of late August, mist becomes a frequent visitor before dawn in Bragg Creek. This young White-tail stag stared at me from a field near the hamlet which gave me a moment to photograph him surrounded by, and almost a part of, the mist on the weekend on a day that started very close to freezing.
(please click on the image for a higher resolution version)
This fawn was trailing its mother along this cliff trail above the Elbow River in Kananaskis. The rising sun had just hit the hillside so the warm light soaked the hill.
There is a small pond just across the road from the firehall in Redwood Meadows. Spring is when wildlife is most active in this stretch of water.
It regularly overflows its northern edge at that time of the year and then fills up a much larger area, not even close to a lake but it becomes a much larger pool. This year has had a fair bit of rain so the pond has stayed beyond its borders for the summer so far. The other evening, the light was really rich and warm. With the hot temperatures, it was a draw for the animals. I was happy to watch them for a few minutes.
I find deer to be so alert that I usually can get close and keep them relaxed by letting them see me while I move. When they are watching me, I can take a couple of steps without causing them to bolt away. A small flash of movement caught in the corner of an eye or a stray sound will scare both small herds, and larger ones, away.
I did not get particularly close to this pair of white-tailed deer. I exchanged a few looks as I passed them while on a hike in West Bragg and they were already on alert so I made a couple of images and then continued along the trail that the line dividing Bragg Creek from the edge of Kananaskis Country. With the rain of the past week, I expect things will start greening up quickly now. I will get back to this field this weekend of the next one to check on both these white-tails and the foliage.
I’ve been carving out a little time to review my photography over the past year. It’s been nice to recall some good adventures and revisit some of my favourites from 2011. I spent a fair bit of time sitting in the snow waiting, driving back roads looking and hiking game trails exploring so it was a great year. I crossed paths with a few animals and here are my favourite images from those encounters.
This moose and her calf were grazing along Highway 40 west of Highwood Pass in Kananaskis. She was beautiful and here I was able to make a nice side portrait of her as she watched her young one prancing around.
Where we live we have a lot of opportunity to see white-tailed and mule deer. I photographed many groups and individuals of both over the last year. This white-tailed buck was wary of me at first but after passing his sniff test he returned to his wandering.
The Great Gray Owls are present throughout the woods and meadows that I often wander through but they seem to appear only when they want to be seen. I was able to have some long encounters throughout the year and I continue to be amazed by these magical creatures.
I wanted to photograph more bears this year and I spent a lot of time reading about behaviour, habits and their movements through the year. It paid off and I was able to enjoy some very good encounters where they were not threatened by my presence and I was able to photograph them safely.
This grizzly encounter was a surprise. Our group was busy photographing the raw wilderness in the Tonquin Valley on the eastern shore of Amethyst Lake when we noticed this boar walking over the rocks and bushes a couple hundred feet away. He saw us at the same time and though he didn’t seem threatened, he wasn’t interested in getting any closer either. He made a quarter turn and walked along the shoreline away from us.
This last one is just a brief glimpse of a humpback whale that Bobbi and I had on a sail we went on in Kaua’i. I like the abstract aspects of the image overall and it is the source of one of my goals which is to photograph more marine wildlife in the coming year.
I felt sad banishing the runner-up images back to the library without giving them a chance to stretch a bit so I’ve put them into a slideshow here. Have a look at the near misses if you are so inclined. Thanks for taking a stroll through 2011 with me.
I wandered away from the Lake Windermere shoreline and up a trail to this marshy field. There were two young mule deer stags lounging away the early evening in the tall grass. They showed a little interest for a minute and then went back to relaxing.
This buck stood up to walk over to a fresh set of grass. There was a bit of a glow off the velvet of the growing antlers in the soft light. With the buttercup wildflowers providing a little color and detail to the scene it was pretty easy photography. The osprey and the river otter proved to be more challenging when I finally headed back to the water’s edge.
A snowstorm obliterated the opportunity to photograph the “supermoon” on March 18th but I was out in a field the night before to see how the moon looked. The moon was impressive and it was really great to be out in the moonlight for a few hours. In the image above, the pink sky is the result of the city glow and the light from the moon. With two of the three deer walking slowly during the long exposure, they have a ghostly appearance.
As the last couple of deer trotted past, I panned with them. Under the moonlight they were dimly illuminated so I raised the ISO, opened the aperture and underexposed a bit to try to capture enough light to show the landscape with the deer moving through it. Even with the noise in this image I like the motion.
Below, a simple landscape image with the moon as it rises clear of a band of haze laying just above the horizon.
A long exposure looking west towards the mountains was one of the last images from the evening. The layers in this photograph from the lights, to the hill, the mountains and into the stretched sky are interesting.
As for the moon itself, I didn’t take an image that really showed the scale of it during this close pass unlike some of the incredible photographs I have seen around the web. This image was taken with a telephoto lens and then cropped in slightly. It doesn’t convey how close the moon came but it is nice to photograph our lone satellite.
A young doe sauntered out of the forest and into our backyard this morning. She was in no hurry to pass through as she found a few flowers around our deck that were still available.
We have a small herd of mule deer that stay close to the community year round. It’s always great to see one of the family come around for a visit – even if they always dine and dash.
I’m not sure how long autumn will stave off its colder cousin. I’m finding snow on my mind a lot lately so I hope that isn’t imminent foreshadowing at work.
This image is from a field in Springbank the morning before the current stretch of rain settled over us.
I still need to get out to capture the fall colors which are really coming in now.