A 25 second exposure and a fast lens (in this case, a Canon 24mm f/1.4 set at f/1.8) revealed wisps of clouds stretching east across the Kananaskis River valley a little after 4 in the morning on October 7th. The soft green glow betrayed the Aurora Borealis pulsing low over the northern horizon.
Red light from my headlamp illuminated Highway 40 in this 10 second exposure that centered on the hazy Northern Lights.
(Please click the image to open a higher resolution version)
This bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) was snacking on salt roadside and was unsure of my intentions as I drove by. A flash was needed as the morning was still waiting for night to loosen its grip. I was just west of the Highwood Pass on Highway 40 in Kananaskis Country – likely my last drive over this spot before it is closed for the winter.
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.
A large group of ewes were walking along this ridge with a gang of frisky youngsters in tow. A bit further down the road were 12-15 rams that looked to have separated from this group as they were grazing on the south side of the highway. Maybe they were sneaking away for some guy time. This is around the time lambs are born but I didn’t see any really small ones here. Not sure if they will be born soon or if they have been already and their mothers are keeping them in more remote spots for now.
These two younger lambs did not have the sure-feet and confidence of their more mature brethren which made their traverse of this steep, jagged part of the rock below the ridge an interesting walk to follow.
There are a number of great locations to see Bighorn Sheep when heading into the Rocky Mountains from Calgary. The place where I made these pictures is one of the most accessible: it is a long stretch of the Bow Valley Trail between Exshaw and Canmore. The sheep can be frequently seen right beside the road, up the mountain slopes on the scree or, more dramatically, on the cliffs that loom 60′ above the road just north of Lac des Arcs.
This ram came up a few minutes after the herd of ewes and lambs had gone. He was a beautiful animal and we loved watching him stride across the rocks. This ended an incredible day on a fine note after having seen a herd of elk, a moose, a Barrow’s Goldeneye, a grebe, a mating pair of osprey, several hawks and a bald eagle between sunrise and sunset.