For the second week in a row, I caught up Grizzly bear #152, and her smile, in Kananaskis’s Spray Valley Provincial Park. Once more she was feasting on Buffalo berries. Unlike the sunny encounter last week, the rain was falling steadily providing a sheen to the leaves, the bear’s coat and the tall grass.
The bear went in and out of the bushes, eating steadily along the way. Again I was reminded how easily they can disappear within the vegetation – they are a part of the land and seem to join it and separate at will.
A couple of hours after watching a Black bear in a patch of Buffalo berries, I found this Grizzly in another one a few kilometres away. She appeared to be a very happy bear, taking some anthropomorphic liberties, I even thought she smiled a few times as in the photo above!
This female’s tag has the number 152 and she has spent her life in Kananaskis Country according to what I could find online. With the poor berry crops of the previous two years, it is not surprising she is without cubs this year. I hope that the much better fortune this year will lead to her and the other females in the central Rockies bringing many cubs out of their winter caves next spring.
At one point, the Conservation officer attending blew the fog horn which startled the bear into a short run. One that ended at the next berry patch.
She dug up the ground near the second patch a little bit too. I expected her to be solely focused on the berries but maybe a few roots made for a better, and more complete, lunch.
When she turned around to dig in another spot, it was impossible to not stare at those incredible claws!
This summer’s weather – rain and sunshine in a daily tug-of-war – has been a perfect gardener for the wild Buffalo berries. These have ripened over the past week or two and are drawing in the bears throughout Kananaskis. This Black bear made it easy for me to find him when he sauntered across the road a couple of hundred metres in front of me. I pulled up to find him standing up in the middle of a patch feasting on the berries.
They are a great source of calories for the bears so it is wonderful to see so much fruit this year. Some years are not nearly as abundant and it seemed like that was not lost on this beautiful bear. He appeared to be relishing almost every bite. The berries stretched back into the forest and he slowly made his way further back as he ate. I lost sight of him shortly after these pictures but could see branches bend and hear the odd one crack for several more minutes before he vanished back into the wilderness as they often do.
I love the abstract quality that snowstorms can bring to landscape. A heavy snowfall in Kananaskis near the Highwood Pass changed the treeline into softened silhouettes. The scene was suggestive of charcoal sketches I still enjoy drawing.
Back in October, before the snow had decided to stick around, I spent a stormy morning along the shoreline of the Upper Kananaskis Lake. The valley couldn’t decide if it was fall and should therefore rain or winter with its snow. The compromise was a heavy sleet that came across the lake in sheets. Above, the clouds stretched apart and welded back together as the wind dictated.
We have had a few stormy blasts throughout November and the snow seems to be intent on sticking around right now. With the beauty of the winter landscape running through my head, I went up to Elbow Falls in Kananaskis early one morning to catch the sunrise.
It turned out to be a beautiful dawn matched only by the tranquility I was able to enjoy sharing the waterfall with the resident Dippers (small birds not swimmers!) and the rushing water.
Elbow Falls is a place that I have spent a lot of time at over a number of years. This past weekend the morning was one of the most enjoyable mornings I have had there. The sunrise came in gently and the colors grew beautifully – painting the clouds and reflecting in the water above and below the waterfall.
The Sarrail Falls that spill across several terraces before emptying into the Upper Kananaskis Lake is a beautiful stretch of water surrounded by heavy forest in the steep hillside of Mount Sarrail’s lower slopes. The path to this waterfall starts at the lake’s eastern parking lot and is set just above the shoreline. It is a comfortable trail that is about 1-1.15 km to this feature but carries on around the entire lake. I had planned to complete the loop but spent almost two hours watching, photographing, enjoying and studying the waterfall instead.
The 2013 flood hit this creek heavily destroying the bridge as well as sending tree trunks and boulders cascading down. These are still found perched, lodged or lying nearby all along the water’s path. I found a beauty in these that added to the overall scene and suggested to me the cycles of birth, growth and death as well as of constant change. Along with the varying crescendos of the water’s orchestra, I found myself enjoying some deep thoughts and the time to chew on them – a luxurious gift to allow oneself!
At the end, with the morning moving quickly towards noon, I chose the short walk back and the lunch I had waiting for me.
This bird was teasing seeds on the roadside in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis. It continued on as I got close to the ground and photographed it at eye level.
This coyote trotted in front of us and then slipped into forest. I kept my lens on her and she was curious enough to steal a quick look our way when she was in a small open space. We were spending our anniversary in Kananaskis and it was a nice moment to include in “our” day.
Please note that I took artistic license with this image and desaturated the colour in the forest around the coyote. The woods in Kananaskis are not black and shades of grey. For reference, the original image is included below.
(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.
The early light worked well with a few interesting clouds hanging above Elbow Falls on the day I was up there this weekend. The soft pink ahead of sunrise shared the sky with the waning full moon early. As the clouds turned to a deep peach color I moved just above the waterfall. From there the reflections of colour on the excited water were beautiful and I watched the morning open up.