Posts tagged “prairie

A Great horned owl’s flyby

High River Great Horned Owl's flyby - © Christopher Martin-3721

I found this Great horned owl and her mate flying around a long line of trees on the edge of a farm field east of High River.   On this flight she flew at eye level, very close to where I had my camera and lens setup on a tripod.  Too close to fit the whole bird in the frame but I was happy to get a sharp image.


Prairie sunrise silhouettes

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7733

Sunday’s sunrise shone through a narrow break on the horizon.  A storm coming out of the mountains darkened most of the sky but with the light rode in from the east and painted the leading edges of the clouds.  I was east of Bragg Creek along Highway 8 as the colour started to build so I pulled in behind a stand of trees that have great lines.

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7688

The branches silhouetted against the dawn gave me a lot to work with and here are three takes over a fifteen minute window before the colour drained out and the clouds stretched fully across the sky.

Prairie sunrise silhouettes- © Christopher Martin-7701


Swans moving ahead of dawn

Swans starting the morning - © Christopher Martin-4472

A week ago, shortly before sunrise I found this small flock of Tundra swans in a pond near the Bar U Ranch along Highway 22.  The birds had just started moving around breaking the ice that had formed on the water.  It was cold and quiet – I enjoyed watching the swans sort themselves out, shake off chill and step up onto the ice.

Swans starting the morning - © Christopher Martin-4499


A Bald eagle’s Prairie flight

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3331

Watching birds in flight is a source of great pleasure for me.  Perhaps it’s the freedom I imagine they enjoy (written just as two ravens glided by my window, acrobatically playing on the air currents outside) or the grace that many of them carry into the sky.  When I have the gift of watching them close to the ground, it gives a different perspective and one that I particularly enjoy photographing.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3315

So when two of the four bald eagles that watched for quite a while on the weekend glided off of their tree perch and landed out on the field nearby, I was excited.  I had hoped they may dive on the prairie dogs as they passed by.  They did not, it seemed that an alert had gone up as the little creatures were nowhere to be seen at that moment, and they alighted in the short grass.  They chirped a little at each other but it seemed like they were just enjoying the sunshine as they stood in their respective spots for close to ten minutes.  The adolescent launched first – I wanted to blur the wings in flight so I dragged my shutter.  I’m still evaluating those results – we’ll see another day if I think they are worth sharing.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3316

When the mature eagle lifted off the Prairie, I kept the shutter speed fast to freeze the motion and panned with the beautiful bird as it powerfully drove past.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3321

When it buzzed a magpie that had also been sitting in the field, that bird flew up and in front of the eagle for a short ways.  The eagle’s eyes were on this diminutive cousin of the raven and the crow but it was undeterred as it flew back towards its small convocation.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3329

As it gained a little altitude, I liked the way the elements in the background looked in soft focus.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3339

At one moment during this short flight it did look down at the field at one point – again raising my hopes of a dive – but nothing like that came of it.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3345

Both eagles rejoined the other two that had remained in the tree.  They all remained there for an hour before hunting over the fields individually later.

Bald eagle prairie flight - © Christopher Martin-3581


A frosty cow

Hoar frost cow - © Christopher Martin-9987

The hoar frost a few days ago was met by ice fog in the morning.  I was along a gravel road when I first saw a soft outline in a field.  A little further along I found several cows around a swampy pond.  The cow above was close to the fence line and I was able to make a nice portrait with ice clinging to the hide.

Hoar frost cow - © Christopher Martin-9969


Snowies east of Langdon

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0324

I drove east of Langdon in the evening a couple of days ago looking for owls.  At this time of the year the odds are decent to see Snowy owls perched on a silo or a fence line so I was looking for them as well as Short-eared owls that have been reported in that area recently.   It was about an hour before sundown when I found a Snowy owl perched a couple of hundred metres away along a fence line.

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0380

This beautiful fellow flew between a few posts and was not interested in having me around so I headed west as the sun fell behind a tall bank of clouds standing over the Rocky Mountains.  I found the second, and final, Snowy of the afternoon on a small oil and gas installation built on a rise that was a bit of a hike from the road.

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0571

She was perched on a storage tank and took only passing interest in me during my 15 minute walk towards her.  As I drew closer I took a few photographs and as color came into the sky with sunset, I took a bunch more :)!

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0602

She kept tabs on me but had her focus on the surrounding fields.  I didn’t see anything of note but it was a different story for the owl.

 

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0722

When she did launch she glided over to another small hill then dived into the field where it seemed she caught something.  It was too far for me to make out and when she flew again after a couple of minutes she went further away and I had no interest in chasing her any further.

Langdon Snowies - © Christopher Martin-0730


My favourite landscape photographs from 2015

Mount Athabasca in the first light of dawn in the Jasper National Park

I had fun pulling together this list of my landscape images that stood out to me.  Last year I spent time in some beautiful places near and far which certainly helps towards making pretty pictures.  Within those moments, I really enjoyed composing the images to try to create something more compelling than just pretty pictures – although I like those too!

Fireworks in Redwood Meadows to celebrate Canada Day

I felt like I put more effort into my wildlife photography last year but am happy with the progression with my landscape images.  The sky makes up so much of what makes or breaks a landscape image for me and I see my exploration of that continuing in 2016.  If you are interested in seeing these of images, please click on any image or this link to open the image gallery.  Thank you for visiting now and throughout the year.

A quiet prairie landscape before dawn near High River, Alberta


Watching over the prairie

I found this Great horned owl (Bubo virginianus) perched on a long abandoned barn’s window sill.  It was a cold day and this spot was out of the wind and facing the sun, which did come out a little later.  Pretty smart place to doze the daylight hours away.

Great Horned Owl barn perch - © Christopher Martin-6822


A prairie dawn

Prairie dawn - © Christopher Martin-4539

A cluster of grain silos sits on the horizon under the brightening dawn sky on the prairies east of High River, Alberta, Canada.  I love big skies and I think the scale provided by these farm buildings helps convey that here.


Reconnecting with the Snowy owls

Snowy owl in the field - © Christopher Martin-5476

I drove to High River yesterday and spent the morning touring the gravel roads looking for wildlife on the prairies.  My hope was to find a Snowy owl as they have begun returning there.  An hour after sunrise, east of Frank Lake, I spied a beautiful owl perched on a fence line and I spent the next four hours watching it sit, fly, hunt and then sit.  A lot of watching while she dozed or scanned the surroundings but it was time I enjoyed completely.  I wanted to share this photograph of the bird from the early afternoon when she landed in a field and was surrounded by sticks left behind after the last harvest.  I am excited to share more from the day and will soon.


An in-flight snack

A Merlin's inflight meal - © Christopher Martin-5597

I found this Merlin feasting from a fence top perch near High River last weekend.  I watched him for a couple of minutes before a hauling truck passed by.  At that point, the noise and proximity disturbed this fellow and he took flight.  He shot upwards with a couple of fast wing beats and then surprised me with a hovering break to grab another bite.  It was likely a readjustment of the load but it was neat to watch.

A Merlin's dinner - © Christopher Martin-5572

A Merlin's inflight meal - © Christopher Martin-5595

With the prey in the right place, he then banked away over the prairie and settled in the grass a couple hundred metres away to finish his meal.

A Merlin's inflight meal - © Christopher Martin-5610-3


On old friend around a weathered barn

Great horned owl - © Christopher Martin-5454
I had the great pleasure of seeing a Great horned owl at an old barn east of High River.  It is one that I have visited a couple of times over the past couple of years.  This window, which faces north, is a favourite daytime perch.  The heavy clouds only threatened rain and their midday dimming effect seemed to encourage the owl to make a couple of sorties over the surrounding fields during the time I spent there.

Great horned owl - © Christopher Martin-5403

Great horned owl - © Christopher Martin-5402

The owl flew along the fence line twice which afforded me a few great in-flight shooting opportunities.  I left the barn with my friend perched in the deep shadow of the barn’s interior.

Great horned owl - © Christopher Martin-5414

Great horned owl - © Christopher Martin-5443

Great horned owl - © Christopher Martin-5445

Great horned owl - © Christopher Martin-5344

Great horned owl - © Christopher Martin-5347