Posts tagged “Springbank

Ice fog nightscapes

 

During a cold night in November where ice fog spread low around the Springbank Airport west of Calgary, I photographed around the area for a couple of hours.  I started capturing light trails from traffic going through the intersection where the Springbank United Church stands.  Most of these exposures were close to 20 seconds to allow the vehicles to pull their lights through the scene.  Later I moved towards farm fields nearby and caught the moon as it rose out of clouds and shone over the mist.  The intensity of the nearly full moon allowed for shorter exposure times which suited me well – my hands were chilly by then and I was ready to pack it in soon after.


Harvest ravens

Late October provided a window of warm weather that gave farmers the opportunity to finish their harvesting.  Driving near the Springbank Airport, I saw the dust plume generated by a combine on one field and went to have a look.  Often, birds and coyotes can be drawn in looking for any dazed or dead rodents resulting from the harvester passing over their burrows.  These ravens were four of a much larger group that were following behind the tractor.  I watched these ones as they hopped and flapped around, cawing at one another while searching for food.


A sunrise in Springbank

The sun climbed over Springbank hill while I was heading into the city a couple of weeks ago.  I stopped at this stand of aspen with its blend of broken trunks, spidery branches and open canopy which I thought would provide an interesting frame for the sunrise.


Signs of spring – mountain bluebirds

A pair of mountain bluebirds were flitting around a bird house west of Calgary a few days ago.  They caught my eye when I was driving past the farmland on the way to my daughter’s dance studio.  I stopped for a few minutes, watching as they appeared to be moving into their summer home.


Sunset over Springbank fields

Sunset over a field in Springbank west of Calgary.


An old bull’s stare down

I found this Highland bull on a fold west of the Springbank airport.  He was scratching an itch along the broken planks in the corral when I stopped.  He raised the horns, huffed and stared at me from under his dishevelled mop.  Seemed like he was the master of his domain and he wasn’t particularly interested in my intrusion into it.  A good character to photograph and then part ways with.


Bald in eagle in a blue sky

bald-eagle-blue-sky-flight-christopher-martin-3949

A couple of days ago I spotted this bald eagle balanced atop a telephone pole.  He was watching a small conspiracy of ravens gathered on a snow pile on the edge of a field in Springbank.

bald-eagle-blue-sky-flight-christopher-martin-3946

 

After a few minutes his curiosity seemed to get the best of him and we launched towards the group.  He spiralled above them for a moment but must not have seen anything too appealing as he landed on another telephone pole instead of amongst the ravens.

bald-eagle-blue-sky-flight-christopher-martin-3953

bald-eagle-blue-sky-flight-christopher-martin-3954-2

bald-eagle-blue-sky-flight-christopher-martin-3965

Maybe it was just to have a closer look before deciding.  Either way he decided not to stick around for long and flew a couple of hundred metres away and into a stand of trees isolated in middle of the field.

bald-eagle-blue-sky-flight-christopher-martin-3968

bald-eagle-blue-sky-flight-christopher-martin-3970

 


#83 – a cow in a field

#83 - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Canon 5DIII camera with a Canon 500mm lens: 1/000 of a second at f/4 on ISO 800

The evening light was soft and warm last night.  I loved the colour in the coats of this small herd in Springbank.  #83 was particularly interested and turned out to be particularly photogenic.


Prairie Hawks in flight

Banking in and looking out - 2013 © Christopher Martin

With spring sprung, there are an abundance of hawks wheeling in the sky over the Prairies now.  Through the winter, the Rough-legged hawks had the air to themselves and now Red-tailed, Swainson’s and Broad-wings have joined them.  This dark morph Swainson’s was beautiful and wheeled around me for a couple of turns.

Red-tailed Hawk - 2013 © Christopher Martin

This Red-tailed hawk screamed at me when I stopped to photograph it flying over the fields.  It flew beside me and let loose one of the shrieks that Hollywood still often uses to dub over the Bald Eagle’s less impressive one.

Red-tailed launch - 2013 © Christopher Martin

Another Swainson’s launched out of this tree and looked beautiful in the warm, evening light.

Curious - 2013 © Christopher Martin

One other Red-tailed watched me out of the corner of its eye as it glided past but saved any vocalizations for another time.  This hawk was one of the few I saw that wasn’t flying.  I did not see a nest nearby so I think the bird was just taking a break from hunting.

Perch - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Snowy Owls in Springbank? Yes!

Over the shoulder - © Christopher Martin-9689

(please click on any image to open a new page with a higher resolution version)

The days between Christmas and New Year’s have involved watching a pair of Snowy Owls in a new location.  Thanks to a sighting near Calaway Park shared by Andrew Hart with the Alberta Bird group, I drove along the back roads in the area looking for one of these majestic owls.  It was near sunset when I found the first one along Range Road 40 on a transmission tower.  The bird was a long way from the road and even with a 500mm telephoto lens plus a 1.4X extender (for a total of 700mm of reach) the two images below are cropped in significantly.  With failing light and a settled bird, I left this one and headed east towards the Springbank Airport.  Across the road from the airport, I saw the white oval of a second Snowy perched as seen above.  This owl was much closer which helped tremendously given how dark it had become.

Pre-flight - © Christopher Martin-9500-2

Despite the title and the pose, the owl did not fly after this shot.  It was readjusting its body by a quarter turn to the east and ended up staying in the position below until sometime after I left.

Attention - © Christopher Martin-9514

My wife and I went past the airport the next day and found one of the owls perched alongside Township Road 250.  The hunt seemed ready to commence but a raven flew by and spooked the owl into a short flight across the field (and beyond my lens’s range).  It was wonderful to see one of the owls glowing in the beautiful winter light.

Launch - © Christopher Martin-0175

Flying away - © Christopher Martin-0178-2

I was unable to go that way today however my wife did and she watched both of the owls perching, hunting and jousting with a raven.  I’m hoping they settle into the area and spend their winter here.  Last spring my searches for Snowy Owls took me out to Langdon and on towards Brooks so it’s nice to save the couple of hours driving there and back for more time photographing these owls (as well as the coyotes, eagles and hawks which normally hunt in the Springbank Airport area).


Autumn with a hawk in Springbank

The crops around the Springbank airport have all now been harvested.  This leaves the fields shorn bare except for the uncollected bales of hay.  The attraction drawing hawks is the exposed ground which presently offers little protection for field mice and the like.   I have spent a fair bit of time walking and driving along the range roads to photograph some of the activity while it lasts.  This Red-tailed hawk, one of the light morphs, was absolutely beautiful.  It flew between a couple of posts before launching out across the meadows.

(please click on any image to open a higher resolution version)


A screaming hawk in Springbank

This Red-tailed hawk is often perched on one of the telephone poles which line a gravel road along Highway 8, west of Calgary.  This morning I turned off to see if I could find her.  I did and she wasn’t overly pleased to see me.  As soon as I stopped near her pole-top perch, she took flight.  I felt like I stole this one before she flew further down the road.  I was happy with this image and didn’t want to harass her further so I left her alone.