I caught a sunrise on the prairies east of Mossleigh on the weekend. Fog had rolled over a large swath of southern Alberta so the morning was spent watching skirmishes between the rising sun burning off the clouds and the walls of fog. Here the early pink light had painted the clouds but not yet reached the fields nor broken through the opaque wall behind this tree.
I have driven by the Burmis Tree, an Alberta icon, many times while traveling through the Crowsnest Pass on my between British Columbia and Alberta. It stands out on a rocky outcrop just above Highway 3 where the road bends into the valley below Turtle Mountain. This limber pine catches many people’s eye as they travel past with its gorgeous lines and skeletal beauty. This weekend I drove past close to midnight and stopped for an hour to photograph the tree. This image is from the western side of the hill facing east. The limbs were backlit by the headlights of the oncoming traffic and the hill glowed red from their tail lights as they passed by.
I spent one morning this weekend on the prairies north of Strathmore around Bruce Lake. This trip along the backroads came in between two chinooks and there was a thin blanket of snow that had fallen the day before to cover the land in white. I had not explored this area previously and when I saw this tree framed by the broken down fence line, I was happy I to have come this way. I can only imagine the vignettes that have played out in front of this gnarled trunk over many years.
With the cold snap of the past week, I found myself thinking about warmer climes. Hawai’i is usually at the top of the list for me and I pulled this 2012 image out of my library as a nice reminder of one of our favourite places in Kaua’i. This photo is from the top of the Koke’e State Park near the Kalalau Valley overlook. The tree is silhouetted against the clouds rising up from the coast far below this mountain ridge just before sunset.
(Please click the image to open a higher resolution version)
… and just about everywhere else in this part of the world is frozen solid. Temperatures have been stuck below -20°C for the week. Much too cold but rather beautiful. This branch hung over a trail I was on near Johnson Lake in the Banff National Park. It seemed to be a fitting summary of the change into full winter.
The first day of the year was a bright, sunny one in the Foothills. I took a little drive through the backroads near my home in the afternoon and found this resolute young tree to be the right subject for the first photograph of 2014.
We sent 2013 packing in style and had fun welcoming in 2014. The kids didn’t make it to midnight but we did a countdown for them when my daughter woke up in the night. It was great to spend the night with our good friends and hope everyone was able to enjoy their New Year’s Eve in the way that works for them.
From my family to yours, we wish you a year of happiness, health, good surprises and the opportunities to make it a great year. Happy New Year!
Canon 5DII camera with a Canon 24-105mm lens at 73mm: 0.5 seconds at f/16 on ISO 200
An image of the colourful bark of a Rainbow Eucalyptus tree I photographed on the island of Kaua’i in Hawaii is the Picture of the Week on the Science Friday website. They produce great web, video and audio content with their goal for SciFri to be brain fun for curious people. I agree and certainly found the article that they wrote about Rainbow Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta) very interesting. It was fun to collaborate a little bit with their team. Thanks Becky and Andrew!
In front of the patio to the front door of my house there is a stump where the previous owners had cut down what must have been a large tree. Aside from the occasional decoration, this trunk remains largely unused by us. However, we all like it so there it stays. Now, I understand why… today a pair of Boreal Chickadees started to dig out their hollow to make their nest. They carried out small clumps of wood pulp clawed out on every trip. I hope they choose to stay here.
Driving through farmland south of Cochrane today, I came across a glowing ball in the top branches of a thicket of scrub bush. The ball was a North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum). The glow was from the sunlight reflecting off of the quills.
I knew this was one of the things that porcupines frequently do as they climb up to eat the bark, but it was my first time to see it directly. I had to cross a field to get remotely close and as I drew near, the spiky fellow dropped down lower into the branches. Indicating it was uncomfortable with me coming over for a visit. I waited a hundred feet away for a few minutes to see if it would relax and climb back to a higher spot where I would have a clear line of sight. It didn’t but I was able to find a couple spots where the face and front claws could be seen amid the brambles.
Hopefully next time I can approach a little slower or find a more curious porcupine that will let me take a couple of photographs that better portray these interesting creatures.
This squirrel has lived in the woodpile beside our garage for more than three years. I used to think that he poached the bird seed for the woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches that stay near year round that we put out. Now I just put out extra for this little fellow. This afternoon I was throwing peanuts out on the deck and he showed up right after I whistled to the bluejays to let them know their snack was served. In this photograph the squirrel had carried one of the peanuts up to a low branch while a jay above set some snow loose when it jumped off its perch.