The eagles are back…

The Bald Eagles have started to appear.   The first one near Bottrell.  We spotted ravens gathering around the gravel pit and suddenly among them, an eagle.   It flew into a near by tree….Eagle Bottrel cropped wm….then came to check us out, flying right over head.Bald Eagle Fly Over Bottrel cropped wm# 2 – again with the ravens.     It also flew off and watched from a nearby tree.Eagle Watching his lunch# 3 – getting closer to town, just off Lochend Road, I spotted this beauty!  So majestic!!

#4 – We watched a massive Bald Eagle circle the Nature Reserve from our deck and land in the large pine up on the ridge.  I grabbed my camera and headed out the front door.  It took off from the pine, soaring down to the flats, then started a gradual assent.  Bald Eagle Riviera cropped wmFull wing span, right over my head.  Moments of magnificence!!

 

Evening with the Short Eared…

I have been fortunate,  with numerous owl sightings these past few months.  One evening after supper, my husband decided to join me on another adventure.  He had never seen an owl in the wild.   I was hoping my luck would continue for his sake and we were not disappointed!!  The first sighting, we saw the biggest Short Eared Owl!  It is hard to explain the feeling when you see a owl in the wild.  He has now had the privilege to experience this very special feeling.Short Eared Owl Big Deal wmWe saw another one on the west side of the road in the trees, but with traffic, no opportunity to stop, just watched as we cruised by.   We then decided to head east, so the setting sun was behind us.  We came across another beauty hunting near the road.  It decided to take a break on a fence post up the road and as we slowly drove by, I managed to snap a few more pics…Short Eared back lit wmShort Eared Owl look back in sunset cropped wmShort Eared Owl Poser wmjpgI have been told that these owl are not common in the area, so to see them more than once has been amazing!

Trudging through the snow

We have had a ton of snow this year!   I am sure it is challenging for the wildlife.   This male moose was moving pretty good through the drifts.   Male Moose on the move wmHe was moving in and out of the trees.  We moved to the west so we were ready if he came into the clearing.  He appeared, just as we hoped!!Moose male close up cropped wmWas able to get a great close up shot as he popped out of the pines.Moose Male strutting his stuff cropped wm Big boy!  Would love to see him with his antlers!

White Ghosts (and their little friends) on the Prairie

The Snowy owl is often referred to the White Ghost of the Prairie.  Perhaps it is due to the rare opportunities to spot them in the wild.  This winter, I made 2 trips attempting to spot the Snowy’s east of Cochrane.    Both trips, I came home empty handed.  A few weekends ago, I decided I was going to attempt trip #3.  It was a beautiful sunny day and I headed northeast to Highway 72 as I heard there were several sighting around Beiseker, AB.   Before I even got there, I spotted a large female…lucky for me, there was a turning lane and I was able to pull off out of traffic.   Females have dense dark markings, while males become whiter as they age.Sleepy Snowy - female cropped wmShe was sleepy and stuck around for a while.  Again…good luck for me.  The white feathers and sun proved a bit challenging…blowing out the white chest on my first few images.    I finally underexposed by 1/3 stop to capture this image.  She started to become more alert,  still comfortable, not stressed, looking at something in the distance.  Snowy eye spy cropped wmCheck out those talons!!  Before I knew it,  wings were up and she was gone….I had no idea the wings span would be off the chart!!  I will be more prepared the next opportunity for flight…Take off Snowy cropped wmAmazing…I felt so fortunate to witness this beautiful bird in nature.   My adventure continued down many back roads east of Beiseker.  In this area, there are also lots of partridge.   They are hilarious to watch and very hard to photograph.  They are often along the side of the road or nearby fields.   Any movement, they run…then fly!Partridge flock off and running cropped wmPartridge flying wmIn one group, a lone partridge decided to stick around and eat while the flock disbursed….but when the calling turned into a frenzy, it was off and running…Partridge hanging back still eatingPartridge off and running to catch the group…you can even see the snow flying!!

I finally was able to see a couple that didn’t spot me right away and captured their amazing colors.Partridge sound the alarm cropped wmPartridge hiding in the hay cropped wmSo much fun to watch!  Okay, back to the White Ghosts.   The sun was going down and I was thinking it was time to head home,  but something caught my eye on a telephone pole in the distance.  It was another Snowy.  She took off from the pole and landed off in the field.    She put a smile on my face, because this trip I had the privilege of seeing the White Ghosts before heading home.  Snowy Female out in the field wmLittle did I know, my trip was just about to get even better…a male Snowy!Snowy Looking back cropped wmHe was busy…not paying much attention to me.  I watched in wonder as he scanned the field looking for supper, every once is a while turning his head to see if I was still there…re-positioning on the post.   I felt so fortunate to finally see a snowy in action!!Male Snowy on Fencepost wmHe flew off into the field.Snowy landing in the snow cropped wmI didn’t see any prey…but hoped it was supper time for him!!  Looking forward to my next “ghost” experience!!

Hat trick of winter birds…

The day of our Great Grey owl adventure, we spent some time at my friends after our tour.  She has an amazing acreage where the birds are abundant.   On this day, sitting on the deck, we spotted three species of chickadees…

Boreal Chickadee out on a limb at Suzes cropped wm

Boreal Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee Suzes posing in the pines cropped wm

Mountain Chickadee

Chickadee posing at Suzes cropped wm

Black Capped Chickadee

A hat trick…unusual to see all three at the same time!

A rare sighting…

I was invited to tour a beautiful Retreat called Back to Nature, just outside of Water Valley.   Since I was heading northwest of Cochrane, I grabbed my camera, just in case!!  It was extremely windy that day and I was pretty sure everything would be grounded, but on Horse Creek Road, I came across this hawk hovering…I got out of the car to snap a photo and he took a moment to check me out…Hovering in the wind - Hawk on Horse Creek cropped wmAfter the tour,  I was about to head home when the owners started telling me about another group coming out to check out a rare bird they had photographed recently.  I asked if I could grab my camera and join them in taking some photos…what a privilege!! They told a story about the chestnut-backed chickadees…very rare in Alberta.   These little birds only fed from the ground, picking up seeds and eating in the nearby trees.  They also didn’t come around when the grosbeaks come near…Pine Grosbeak snacking- Make at Back to Nature cropped wmAs always in bird photography…it takes patience, a little luck and the right conditions.  We watched patterns of feeding, and favorite spots to see where these little chickadees would appear.   Their favorite spots were deep in the trees, but occasionally, they would pop out just before dropping down to pick up another seed.  Viola….a beautiful shot of a chestnut-backed chickadee…Chestnut Backed Chickadee at Back to Nature cropped wmThanks to the folks at Back to Nature for sharing their amazing experience!!

 

A new owl day…

I am always amazed when I see something new…especially when it involves owls.  I am in awe every time I see one.  Well, to get back to my adventure, I was out with my friends and we were searching for a snowy owl that was spotted in Grand Valley.  It was getting later in the day and we were all ready for supper, but thought we would take one more loop to see what we could find.   No snowy was found, but in Wild Cat, thanks to another birder, we spotted our first Short-Eared Owl.First sighting Short Eared WCH cropped wm…first one ever and first one of the day!  So cute…so tiny…so far away…but a first!  We snapped a few photos, laughed with delight and headed up and over the hill to see if the Great Grey was around.  No luck there, so back to thinking about supper.  Coming down the hill, we spot something on the fence post up ahead….Short Eared First Sighting cropped…a Short – eared, this time much closer to the road…we weren’t sure if it was the same one, as it looked a little bigger, but we counted it as sighting anyways.  This one didn’t stick around for long.  More laughter followed.   When we turned onto Grand Valley Road, we say two more Short Eared…they seemed to be everywhere…but these ones were to the west and we were on the curves on Grand Valley, so no place to stop.   More laughter…thinking we were so fortunate just to see these little cuties!   Heading north, we passed the two big hills and I spot something in the field out of the corner of my eye, I yell…”Stop the car”!   The driver checked all mirrors and the cameras starting firing!  Beautiful light, subject taking a pose and an amazing opportunity to capture a great photo….Short Eared Owl Puffed GVR cropped wmShort Eared owl puff ball cropped wm…now, not just laughter but belly laughs…feeling so lucky…usually when you see something new,  it takes days or months sometimes to see another one and then to actually get the opportunity to capture an amazing image in less than an hour…wow!!  Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, another Short – Eared….right next to the road…Short Eared Owl Side profiile cropped wm…first looking off into the sunset…Who me short eared owl GVR wm…and then a full stare, saying “hello ladies!”

Always love being out in nature on photo adventures with my girlfriends!!

Lucky last stop…

Over the Christmas  holidays, the weather was frigid, but we had a guest who needed to see the Rockies!  We were on the look out for animals,  but no owls to the west, no elk at Two Jacks and everyone was getting hungry.   I said, one more stop…there is usually a herd of Big Horns near Norquay…and they didn’t disappoint.   It was a big herd and the first time I saw several males with the herd….Male Big Horns Norquay cropped wmThis big male was busy checking out the females…very focused….Focus BHS Norquay wm

The light was amazing and although it was freezing, I was memorized by the activities happening in front of my eyes!   Digging for food…Male BH good spot Norquay cropped wmwatching each others backs….Herd at Norquay cropped wmplaying in the snow (at least that what it looked like as this youngster bounded down the hill)…Playing in the snow BHS Norquay cropped wmpondering where the best spot to find good food…Pondering BHS cropped wmSo happy the last stop was a lucky one!

 

Oodles of Owls

A day to remember…

On many occasions my friends and I head out on an adventure to find the Great Grey’s…sometimes we are lucky if we see one…

Great Grey first sighting of the day cropped wm

First sighting

…this one was the first one of the day,  spending quite a while checking out various locations.  It was the beginning of an amazing day…Great Grey in V of Tree cropped wmGreat Grey back in the yard cropped wmOn our way to pick up another friend, we saw 2 more Great Grey’s flying overhead.  After gathering everyone…we headed back to check out where the 2 were spotted…Great Grey One with the tree cropped wm…and off in the field, we spotted this one.  They blend in so well, they are easy to miss!  This owl provided us with a show…moving from post to post…

…not seeming to mind us at all….

Great Grey checking us out cropped wm…with no good options for lunch…off to find another spot….Great Grey wings down cropped wmGreat Grey wings up cropped wmWe weren’t sure if this was one of the one’s we saw earlier…but we counted it as a sighting…

Up around the corner…another one was sitting on a fence post on the roadside…but there was a vehicle behind us and no where to pull over…so we took a loop and the passengers watched as the owl headed into the trees….Great Grey so hard to spot cropped wm…again…camouflaged and so hard to spot…5 Great Grey’s in one day…truly breathtaking!!

Best photo of the day…up close and personal…

Great Grey Close up Focused cropped wm

Eye on the prize

….definitely one of the best days ever being in the presence of these astonishing birds and oodles of them to appreciate!

 

 

 

Winter Wonderland…

Big Hill Springs Provincial park is an amazing place to hike all year round!  In the winter, the ice formations are captivating…and you never see the same thing twice…

I have used different lenses on several outing and the lighting can affect the imagery….

IMG_8645

wide angle 10 – 20 mm on a cloudy day

On a recent camera club outing, I had fun using my telephoto lens to capture the water and ice!!     Finding uniqueness at every turn…

Bubbles and Ice wm

Telephoto 70 – 200 mm

Forming Icicles Big Hill Springs cropped wmFrozen leaf trap wm

 

Ice Face wm

Can you see the face?

There are usually birds and often wildlife in the area as well.    During this outing members saw a Bald Eagle and a Great Horned Owl.   Great place to take an adventure any time of the year!!

Lunch break…

One day a few weeks ago, I was on my way home for lunch.  The sun was shining and I was enjoying the drive down the hill when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something on the walking trails!  It was a fox!!  I was so excited, I grabbed my camera and ran up to the trails.  It must have been a sight…it was winter, I was in my dress shoes and long dress coat running up the hill with my camera and long lens in tow!  Well,  I got to the spot and nothing…but it was fresh snow so I started following the tracks…in and out of the rocks…down the hill…then across the road.   Since I was in my dress shoes..not great for winter snow banks…I decided it was probably time to head home…so sadly I started down the hill.   Then…off to the east, I saw movement.  I crossed the road… steadied may camera and voila…this beautiful sight appeared out of the rocks!!Fox in Riviera cropped wmIt was as if I asked for the pose…only a mere moment, but truly breathtaking…

Then I watched as this little beauty cruised in and out the the rocks hunting for lunch!   Fox hunting Riviera cropped wmSo happy I went home for lunch on this day!!

The Boys of Bragg Creek

I have been out on several occasions photographing the wild horses in Alberta northwest of Cochrane.  I was asked if I had any photos of a particular stallion…and after doing a little research found out this stallion was part of a herd in the Bragg Creek area!  I travel in this area often and had never seen any wild horses, so one day, my friend and I needed a photography fix…so off to Bragg Creek we went to see if we could find the Bragg Creek herd.    We got out of the car when we spotted some Gray Jays hanging out in the flats…

 

It was as if they were giving us a sign…as the next thing we saw was the black stallion…Black Stallion Brag Creek wmFollowed by the brown stallion…Brown Stallion Bragg Creek eating wmboth busy eating while the grass was still accessible…Black Stallion Brag Creek rolling in the dirt cropped wmthe black stallion rolled around in the grass…scratching his back…so majestic as he was getting up off the ground…Brown Stallion Bragg Creek wmthe background of the flats was amazing as they worked their way through the dead fall…Boys of Bragg Creek wmthese were a couple of big boys…we followed them as they wondered over the hills looking for good things to eat…Black Stallion Bragg Creek eating closeup cropped wmonly pausing for a moment to have a look up at us…Black Stallion Bragg Creek close cropped square wmBlack Stallion Bragg Creek leaving cropped wm…then off into the mountain range…

..although this was not the particular stallion I was asked about…I now know there is a herd in the area and I will be back to capture more special moments with the wild horses of Bragg Creek!!  More Alberta wild horses can be viewed in the Gallery

Coffee with the big boy…

In October, I spent the weekend working in Canmore.   I got up early Saturday morning, picked up a coffee and decided to head out on an adventure!  I headed into Banff, hoping to see some Elk and took the turn to Lake Minnewanka.  It was a cool morning…not a lot of traffic…and I took the first road heading to Two Jacks Lake.  As I headed up the hill and came around one of the first corners…I saw antlers.   I quickly pulled over, climbed up through the sun roof and down in the ditch on the side of the road appeared a bull Elk…Bull Elk Two Jacks first spotted wmHe was so big and I was so close, I couldn’t even get the full rack in the picture. I had no idea how big he was until I pulled further up the road so I could see down the hill…Bull Elk Eating wm…absolutely stunning…and although he brought his head up to have a quick look…he was more interested in filling up on grass than paying attention to me.   I spent the good part of an hour, enjoying my coffee and watching this big boy enjoy his breakfast!! Bull Elk Two Jacks staredown cropped wmA few other visitors stopped to take a look…one gentlemen asked me if it was a reindeer…I explained it was a bull elk.  He then asked me if I thought it would be okay if he walked across the road to take a picture with his cell phone.  I explained that bull elk can be dangerous and that the reason I was photographing from my car a safe distance away from the wildlife was to stay safe and to respect them in their own environment.   I am happy to say he chose to take the picture from his car!

This big boy crossed the road to see if there was anything good to eat on the other side…Bull Elk Two Jacks Looking back cropped square wmThen the tour bus arrived and he was gone…Bull elk leaving cropped wm…I too departed as the tour bus stopped and the tourist flowed out of the bus doors…the peaceful morning was no longer…

…but as we headed up the hill together, he stopped one last time as if to say goodbye…Bull elk last look cropped wmand I got one last shot…

What a privilege to capture moments like this in our amazing backyard!!  More elk photos can be found in the Gallery

San Diego tourist spots…

I had to hit a few bird spots and had a fabulous couple days photographing at Famousa Slough…a wetland in the middle of a residential area.  It was filled with Snowy egrets, black-crowned night herons, blue herons, pelicans, starlings…

 

…and to my surprise and delight a couple young osprey….I knew their call well!  I sat and watched them learn to fish for their lunch as I enjoyed mine.                                                           READY…Osprey fishing Famousa Slough cropped wm      SET…Osprey set cropped wm      GO!!!!Osprey dive famousa slough cropped wmAnother adventure was a trip to La Jolla, famous for the sea lions and they didn’t disappoint…

 

…and another day, took a long walk along the mouth of the San Diego river to see more birds and a few reptiles…

 

There were so many places…I need to go back and explore some more!!  A little outside my normal one hour distance, but had to share the highlights of my trip down south…

More os

Safari down south…

I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego this fall.   I heard such great things about the San Diego Zoo, that I planned a full day on my itinerary!   I have toured many zoos over the years, but I never experienced the action I encountered on my adventure in San Diego…

There were big cats, all awake and alert except the Tiger…

Lion San Diego Zoo cropped square wmLeopard background cropped wmCougar San Diego Zoo cropped wmTiger San Diego Zoo cropped wm

Elephants and rhinos…

Elephant San Diego Zoo cropped wmRhino San Diego Zoo wm

Giraffes and gorillas….

Giraffe San Diego Zoo cropped wmGorilla Male San Diego Zoo cropped smGorilla Female San Diego Zoo wm

Koalas, flamingos and pandas…

Koala San Diego Zoo cropped wmKoala 2 San Diego Zoo cropped square wmFlamingo San Diego Zoo cropped wmRed Panda peeking cropped wmPanda San Diego Zoo cropped wm

So many animals up and moving about…and a brand new baby Takin born that morning…

Baby Takin cropped wmIf you are in the area, I highly recommend a visit to the San Diego Zoo!!

Highlights of the Fall

Happy New Year!  It has been awhile since my last adventure story…sad to say, I have not had any time to post due to a very busy fall schedule.  I thought I would combine some of my favorites to share the highlights of the past season…

bees, butterflies and dragonflies…

…the last few hawks of the season…Hawk in flight north of Airdrie cropped wmHawk near WG ranch 2 cropped wm…a fall trip to Kananaskis, filled with beautiful colors and a herd of big horn…

…a hike to Troll Falls to see the waterfalls change with the season and…

…a Spruce Grouse trying to stay camouflaged in the trees…

…birds of course…

…and the last of the greens to a carry us through until spring…Mount Kidd glowing in the sun wmLooking forward to many new adventures in 2018!

A little Paint to brighten your day…

One day a friend and I were heading out to check on the Osprey nests.  We came across a beautiful scene that brightened our day!  On the Morley First Nations land, we spotted this mare and her foal.  We pulled off the road and watched the little one put on a show…Paint and foal Morley cropped wm…he wasn’t sure about us…Paint and foal having a drink Morley wm…decided to have a drink…Paint foal prancing Morley wm…which put a little skip in his step…Paint foal behind mom cropped wm…around and around mom I go…Paint foal staying close cropped wm…but not venturing too far…Paint and foal walking away wm…then together, they wandered off.

Practice makes perfect…

I was out on a photo adventure, driving down TR 252 .  I had a car behind me so pulled off on a dead end road to let them pass.  What a detour…a big thanks to that driver!    Hawk near plant 1 cropped wmOn a fence post sat a young hawk…and I witnessed something incredible.  After a stretch and a shake…Hawk near plant 2 cropped wm…the youngster seemed to be practicing the art of flying…Hawk near plant 3 cropped wm…extending a wing …then stretching out a leg…Hawk near plant 4 cropped wm…wings up ready to soar…then a wing and leg on the other side…Hawk near plant 5 cropped wm…maybe it was hawk yoga…either way for over 20 minutes…it was fascinating to watch!  Love being out in my backyard!!

A little prayer always helps…

Our young Osprey has been out practicing.  One day on the way home, I spotted her on the top of the Church…just a short distance from the nest.  Young Osprey on Church cross wmIt was a beautiful blue sky behind her and I watched the young one prepping for flight.   First a tapping and flexing of her claws…Young Osprey on Church cross clicking claws cropped square wmThen she did these head bobs…back and forth…and with each head bob she would move her body in different directions…I am thinking to see how everything worked together…

She had an itch…check out the size of those claws!!Young Osprey on Church cross scratching head cropped square wm..and finally she was ready to launch….Young Osprey on Church cross ready for take off cropped square wmShe was tentative and almost had a look of fear as she left her perch on the top of the cross…probably saying a little prayer as she took off…

but a few pumps later, she was soaring…

I kept watching as she flew down to the river… she would drop a wing and veer towards the ground…perhaps practicing what she was doing on the top of the cross…or maybe it was how she was taught to fish…either way it was fascinating to watch!!  When she was taking off…I too said a little prayer…wanting her to have a successful flight so she is prepared to head off south for the winter…

Young Osprey in nest cropped wm

Young Osprey at the Cochrane Toyota nest

 

Opportunity knocks…

I usually don’t bring my camera along when I head to business meetings, but the opportunity to revisit Frank Lake prompted me to schedule some photography time before my meeting.  On route, this young hawk was a pleasure to watch…having a bad hair day as it was losing the last of its baby down…

It has been the driest summer on record and Frank Lake was extremely low.  Another bird photographer was at the lake and we chatted while in the viewing blind.  We were both excited to spot a Sora in the reeds…hard to capture, but fun to watch!! Sora Frank Lake cropped wmA Yellow-headed blackbird…a regular at Frank Lake…Blackbird Yellow headed Frank Lake in reeds cropped wm…then a young Ibis came to visit…

Ibis first sighted Frank Lake cropped

White-faced Ibis

Ibis side view Frank lake cropped wmIbis One leg side view Franks Lake cropped square wm …the most amazing iridescent colors in the sunlight!!  On many of my adventures, I learn something new (this trip was learning about new birds, the Sora and the Ibis)…

On the way home, I was on the look out for wheat fields…needed for a commissioned photography project.  I also learned there are many varieties of wheat…

I photographed them all … and option #1 was the winner…Opportunity knocks!!

One legged Willy

The Riviera pond had a special guest last week!  The neighbours called him “one-legged Willy”!  My experience with Blue Heron has been “they see you…they’re gone”… Blue Heron Riviera Pond sleeping 1 cropped wm…so I was surprised when “Willy” didn’t bolt with all the folks walking near the pond! Once I had a closer look…”Willy” was sleeping!!  At one point, he tucked his head into his long flowing chest plumes…Blue Heron Riviera Pond sleeping cropped wmEventually, the playground noise got his attention, but he stuck around…Blue Heron Riviera Pond cropped wmWe were able to walk all the way around to the other side of the pond (thus the different light) but by that time, the wind picked up causing ripples in the reflection shot… Blue Heron Riviera Pond reflection wmThen it was time…but I was prepared…enjoying some great quality time with “one-legged Willy” before he headed off into the sunset! Blue Heron Riviera pond take off cropped wmBlue Heron Riviera Pond in flight cropped wmSuch a majestic sight…right in “my backyard”!  Enjoy more Blue Heron photos in the gallery!

Babies on a backyard adventure…

The twin fawns have started to explore the backyard…

They came down out of the woods the other day and went scampering along the back fence finding something good to eat…

Mom called to the young ones from her normal spot in the trees…Mom in her normal spot calling the kids cropped wm…one listened…popped its head up as if to say “coming mom” and immediately started up the hill…

…the other fawn…kept eating…ignoring the call…Fawn 2 ignoring mom cropped wm…eventually looking up as if to say…”Okay, okay…I’m coming”…Fawn 2 coming mom cropped wm…taking an about face and heading back to mom…

…these little ones certainly bring joy to the neighourhood and I always have a big smile on my face with every encounter!

 

Wild Horses in Sundre

The long weekend, we went on an adventure to try and locate some wild horses in the Sundre area…so we hit Highway 40 …the back road north.   Hawk HIghway 40 cropped wmFirst sighting of the day…. a hawk on a fence post…and then nothing for hours…

We drove up to the top of some amazing back country…the only ones around…expecting to see something just around the next corner…

Moutaintop range Wild Horse Road wmMy husband was very patient…but it was time to head home…so we headed east to get to the main highway and as we came around the corner…we see a group of wild horses crossing the bridge on the road…I climbed up through the sunroof to capture some shots as my husband pulled off to the side of the road…but another truck came up behind us and sent the herd running for the hills….

Our brief sighting quickly faded…but we sat there chatting about the missed opportunity and to our delight, the lead stallion came back down the hill….Sundre Stallion standing his ground cropped wm…and slowly a few others followed….Sundre grey stallion coming down hill cropped wmGiving us a few moments to be a part of their world…

The entire time the lead stallion stood his ground and watched us closely….Sundre Stalliion still watching cropped wm…then another truck came burning up the road…and off they they went…Sundre herd heading into woods wmI have come to realize the amazing opportunities that have unfolded over the past year on my photography adventures….being able to see glimpses of wildlife has been spectacular…

Luck…right time…right place…whatever the reason…I recognize my good fortune!

Third time’s a charm for the green flash…

I was sitting on the deck one evening and out of the corner of my eye, I caught a green flash…it was a hummingbird!!  This was the first time (for me) seeing a hummingbird in Alberta! I ran inside and grabbed my camera hoping it would came back.   I sat down to wait…and missed opportunity #2 as it came buzzing in and out…gone before I even stood up.  I was going to be prepared for the next time…so I stood, had my camera focused and was ready… and lucky for me…third time’s a charm!  Hummingbird taking a sip cropped wmHummingbird colorful back view cropped square wmHummingbird on tiptoes cropped square wmHummingbird closeup second flower cropped wmHummingbird midair cropped wmAmazing to watch…so fast…so tiny…and that iridescent green flashing in the evening sun …wow!

Another day with the Heron on the Highway…

The Blue Heron stuck around for a few more days.   I was chatting with the neighbors who described the blue heron and asked what it was..they had just seen it on the pond on Highway 22.  After explaining…I jumped in the car with my camera to go take a look.

At first…no luck … so I crouched down under cover of the tall grass to see if I could get closer to some baby coots…again no luck…but when I stood up…this is what I saw…Blue heron first spotted on fencepost on 22 cropped wmIt was on the other side of the pond, standing on a fence post…my favorite kind of photo! I worked my way around to the other side….hoping to get a shot before it took off.   The herons are very skittish and don’t stick around once they spot you.  My luck came back that day….giving me the opportunity to capture this amazing moment!!Blue Heron on fencepost Highway 22 warm color tones wmIt was only a moment…and off it went…Blue heron in flight cropped wmAccording to the local paper, it stopped at the same pond on the same days last year!  I will mark my calendar for 2018 to see if it returns!!

I’m “Hangry”…

A flock of tree swallows were buzzing around a nest box…

 

Squabbles on the wire…in and out of the box…not sure who is who…mom, dad, kids…there were so many…

Then out of the box a young chick…who seemed to be ignored by the group flying around…the mouth kept getting wider and wider and further out of the hole…I am thinking the young one was getting “Hangry”!

Tree Swallow hungry chick cropped wmFinally someone came to the rescue…and fed the little one!Tree Swallow hungry chick 2 cropped wmPure craziness to watch!

Humor in the herd…

I was out with a friend on a tour of the Rockies a few weeks ago and we came across a herd of Big Horn Sheep on the way up to Norquay.  I was with this same friend this week and she helped me with a little perspective….which was the inspiration for this blog! When I was processing the photos from this outing…I was a originally disappointed…no “money shots” as they talk about in wildlife photography…

…but after looking at the photos in a different way…I found some great humor in the adventure…

Bottoms up cropped wm

Bottoms up!!

Big Horn sheep lamb hairstyle cropped wm

Hey dude…check out my “rad” hairstyle!!

Big Horn sheep lamb hairstyle cropped 2 wm

Big Horn ewe sticking out her tongue cropped wm

Na-nana-naa-nah!

The perspective my friend provided was….

“Give yourself permission to get out of your busy mind and allow yourself to have some fun!!”

Sending out a big shout out and thanks to my friend…just what I needed!  Hope you enjoy the humor!!

Nature in My Backyard Collection on Display at the Local Gallery…

Several “Nature in My Backyard” pieces are on display at the Final Touch Studio Gallery in Cochrane, Alberta…

 

…along with the current “Nature in My Backyard” Card Collections!

 

This Saturday, August 12, 2017, the “Nature in my Backyard” series of cards(above)…

…prints and framed art will be displayed during the upcoming Art Walk at the Cochrane clubhouse!   Canvas framed in rustic wood, prints framed in various sizes and card collections are available for viewing/sale….

This event posted on the upcoming events page, will run on the second Saturday of each month (August, September and October) from 9:30 – 1:00 pm in conjunction with the Cochrane Farmers Market.   Come by, say hello and check out the new photography from my recent “Nature in My Backyard” adventures!!

A little bit of everything…

A few new things…many individual moments…here are some shots from the last few weeks…

Hawk in flight RR 51 cropped wm

A Red Tailed Hawk entering into a mid air fight for territory…

Cedar Waxwing on post OS cropped wm

The stunning colors of a Cedar Waxwing…

Bobolink GVR cropped wm

A Bobolink hanging out on Grand Valley Road…

Eastern Kingbird babies left the nest cropped wm

Eastern Kingbirds fledged from their nest…

Hawk Glenbow Ranch 1 cropped wm

A Swainson’s Hawk at Glenbow Ranch…that wasn’t happy to see me…

Sparrow eating berries in the wind cropped wm

A young Sparrow hanging on in the gusty winds…

Cowbird GVR cropped wm

A young Cowbird testing out the wings…

Meadowlark Wild Cat Hills singing eyes closed cropped wm

A Meadowlark singing the most beautiful song…

Mourning Dove RR 274 cropped wm

A Mourning Dove posing for the camera…

Kestrel RR 25 cropped wm

A young American Kestrel hunting in the fresh cut fields…

Geese backlit in grass on TR 252 cropped wm

Canada Geese playing hide and seek in the tall grasses near the marsh…

A little bit of everything but some amazing moments to share!

Tour of the Osprey nests…

I have been out checking on the numerous Osprey nests this year…

In Cochrane, the young are testing out their wings and mom is constantly feeding them…Osprey young stretching wings cropped wmOsprey feeding young Cochrane cropped wm

At 22…no sighting of the young, but mom is always sitting up on the top of the post…Osprey at 22 on post cropped wmIn Exshaw, mom came in to settle on the top of the post at the nest site…Opsrey Exshaw Nest cropped wmAt the train yard…there is one chick in the nest…Opsrey with young Railyard Bow River cropped wmAs well as one chick at Glenbow Ranch…you can just see the top of the head poking out of the nest…Osprey Glenbow Ranch cropped wmIt is going to be great fun watching all these youngsters learn to fly!!

Sad news however, the nest at Castle Junction has no activity.   It is my understanding that this nest has been active for many years…and a real tourist attraction for the visitors to Banff.   Hope they are back next year…

Rubbernecking on the highway…

One evening recently, I needed a photography fix…so was heading out to find a destination.  As I pulled onto Highway 22…I caught a glimpse of the top of a long narrow head in the pond on the west side….I was pretty sure it was a Blue Heron….so I pulled into the ditch, flipped on the flashers, grabbed my camera and “safely” ran across the highway!

It sure was…and for a brief moment I was out of its line of sight…able to snap a couple of photos…Blue Heron 22 cropped wmBlue Heron walking 22 cropped wmIt was a quick moment before he caught sight of me….and took off!  I was unprepared for action and missed the exit from the pond…everything in stages…hope to capture those long legs and enormous wings in flight next time!!

Baby boom…

This time of the year is awesome!  So many babies…

Baby deer in our backyard (twins)…hope to get a great shot of them together one day soon!!Fawn in backyard cropped wmLove watching them race around the woods!!

Baby Eastern Kingbirds…first sleeping…mom with lunch…and babies waiting…

Feeding time…

Baby eaglet still in the nest but with full adult feathers…Eagle cropped wmtBaby hawk venturing out of the nest…Baby Hawk out of the nestBaby blackbirds and mom bringing food…

…and Bluebirds and Meadowlark parents with food…

Great adventures these days!!

Checking out the local ponds…

I have discovered some great water in the area with lots of activity!

Coots – nesting, babies and check out those feet!!

Finally a blue heron…I have seen quite a few, but this was the first I was able to photograph…

Wilson’s Snipe out on Horse Creek Road…

Horned Grebes…

Dragonflies are everywhere right now…Dragonflies Lochend Lake cropped wm…and an Eastern Kingbird, Muskrat and Killdeer…

Lots more coming soon!!

Wild Cat Hills Delight…

On Tuesday, I decided I needed to get my camera out, so spent part of the evening on a drive NW of town.   Lots to see, but the highlight was the Great Grey Owl at Wild Cat…Great Grey Wild Cat Hills in shade cropped wmFirst spotted on a fence post in the shade…Great Grey Wild Cat Hills in Tree cropped wmThen, up into the trees for a better hunting spot…and great light!!Great Grey Wild Cat Hills in Tree stare down wm…checking me out…Great Grey Wild Cat Hills on fence post cropped square..a few misses in the tree, so down by the creek to see what it could find…Great Grey Wild Cat Hills on fence post lookng back cropped wm…check out those wings…massive tools and so quiet in flight…Great Grey Wild Cat Hills Fence post hunting cropped wm…spotted something, another miss…the grass was so long that it disappeared when it hit the ground…Great Grey Wild Cat Hills on Gate in shade cropped wm…back into the shade with a quick stop on the gate before heading off into the trees! I hope it found some supper!  What a treat to watch!! More Great Grey photos in the gallery

Upcoming Art Show

The “Nature in my Backyard” series of cards, prints and framed art will be displayed during the upcoming Art Walk at the Cochrane clubhouse!   Canvas framed in rustic wood, prints framed in various sizes and card collections are available for viewing/sale of the following:

Mountain bluebirds, owls, moose, coyotes, northern flickers, wild Alberta horses, big horn sheep,  osprey, baby wrens, golden eagle, finches and more..

This event will run on the second Saturday of each month (July, August, September and October) from 9:30 – 1:00 pm in conjunction with the Cochrane Farmers Market.   Come by, say hello and check out the new photography from my recent “Nature in My Backyard” adventures!!

Kananaskis country tour…

We had an amazing day on the camera club outing!  Many in the club had never hiked Grassi Lakes.  If you have never been…it is an amazing place to check out!

After the hike we started up the Smith – Dorrien Trail and before we even left the Grassi area we spotted a Big Horn Sheep with her lamb on the cliff side of the road…Big horn baby on rock ledge Grassi Lake cropped wmBig horn baby on sure footed rock ledge Grassi Lake cropped wmMom jumped the fence and climbed the cliff on the opposite side of the road…calling and coaxing her lamb to follow…Big Horn mom on rock wall waiting for baby cropped wmIt took some work as the little one couldn’t make it over the fence…but eventually figured it out and scampered across the rock face with amazing agility and speed!Big horn baby jumping across rock wall at Grassi cropped wmBig horn baby jumping over rocks Grassi cropped wm - CopyThe Smith Dorrien has some amazing spots for landscape photography…I was testing out the panorama function on my phone…not bad for a cell!Spray Lakes Panarama wmWe didn’t see much for wildlife on the trail but the scenery was incredible.   After lunch we decided we would head up to the Highwood Pass before heading home.  It was a great decision as we spotted a grizzly feasting on dandelions!

My favorite picture of the day…Grizzly Highway 40 with dandilion bouquet cropped wmWe made it to the Highwood Pass and it started to snow…always be prepared in the mountains…so it was time to head home…Highwood Pass cropped wm

My camera club friends inspired me to capture some of the amazing wild flowers on our journey!  Another great photography adventure!!

Action at the Osprey nests…

After 2 months, there is action at the Osprey nests…Osprey male on nest post cropped wmit was overcast this day…and after many attempts at trying to capture flights going in and out of the nest from both parents with no successful photos…the sun peaked out and dad settled in on the nest perch.  Check out those talons…no wonder they are so great at catching fish!!Osprey male on nest post wings up cropped wmThe next day, the sun came out and I had the opportunity to visit another nest closer to home…mom was sitting up so you could see her head above the nest edge…dad brought in a fish for her to eat…Osprey male bringing fish to female on nest cropped wm…then he left and came back with some nest building supplies…Osprey male bringing nest supplies cropped wm…then off to the river to get more food…Osprey in flight cropped wm…it was a busy day for dad!

Mountain adventure…

Last Sunday, I decided to take a tour out to Kananaskis country.  Part of the reason was to preview the area as I would be leading the camera club on the next outing to Grassi Lakes and Smith Dorrien Trail.  It is a great time of the year to head to the mountains…so many things to see!  In Canmore, a herd of elk was grazing in the hills along the Three Sisters Parkway…Elk at Three Sisters Canmore cropped wmThe Smith-Dorrien Trail is the “backdoor” access to Peter Lougheed provincial park from Canmore to Highway 40.   There is plenty of wildlife…it winds it’s way through moose habitat… and I was lucky to see a cow and her calf swimming across Goat Pond…

 

The road follows the eastern shore of Spray Lakes…

Spray Lakes wm

Spray Lakes

….with many places to photograph landscape and wildlife…

Gopher in the Rockies cropped wm

Engadine Meadow cropped wm

Engadine Meadow

You can view and hike the Kananaskis Lakes via the Kananaskis Lakes Trail…

Upper Kananaskis Panorama

Upper Kananaskis Lake

The way home is Highway 40.  This road is closed from December to June as this is a wildlife corridor in the Rockies.  Just north of the gates a Grizzly was in the ditch on the road side eating dandelions…Grizzly Highway 40 showing collar cropped wmSeeing a Grizzly is quite an amazing sight…however…this is a wild animal…and can be very dangerous.  The bear is tagged and collared for monitoring by the park staff.  I did stop and snap a few photos through the sunroof of my car.  This was the second time I have seen a bear in the wild.   Wildlife in the parks cause traffic jams because when one car is pulled over…so do many others.  I was part of a “bear jam” this Sunday afternoon. It was unfortunate what I witnessed…many people were getting out of their vehicles and standing along the guardrail with a wild Grizzly 50 feet away.   If this bear decided it had enough and attacked one of the bystanders…it would be the bear that would be put down, not the human.   I left with  mixed feelings…elated that I had the opportunity to see a bear in the wild…disappointed that people do not practice the guidelines for wildlife viewing to keep everyone…especially the animals…safe.

Grizzly Highway 40 tag removed cropped wm

Bear 152 (edited tag removed)

So much to see at the pond…

I have been busy hanging out at the pond.  I am amazed at the variety of birds!  A lesson my back yard adventures have taught me… slow down and pay attention to what’s around you!  Here is what I have witnessed over the past week…

There were ducks(Blue-winged Teals and Common Goldeneye) and their ducklings…

 

 

Four different types of sparrows (white crowned, house and house babies, clay-colored and Savannah)…

 

Robins, Warblers, Goldfinch, Grosbeaks and Waxwings …

 

Eastern Kingbirds…

Northern Flickers that you could hear load and clear, but were hard to find as they blended into the trees and another bird in the tree cavity that I have just not been able to identify yet…

 

Sandpipers…

Geese and there were goslings (but no more)…Gosling taking ride on the Bow River cropped wmThat is 17 different types of birds just a few steps away from my front door found in and around the Riviera pond….

…and there are definitely more…just not captured yet!  It was a great week of discovery!!

The reality of nature…still brings sadness

I visited the Eagles nest recently, and sadly the youngest eaglet is gone.  Bald Eaglet standing on edge of nestThis was the first time I witnessed both parents frequenting the nest…

….and the Eagle and hawk had a battle right over our heads…it was amazing to watch as the Eagle would soar around the trees gaining speed, flap to get to altitude calling a warning…then with talons out, attach the hawk in midair!

The battle was over in mere moments and both birds retreated out of sight!  Bald Eaglet flapping wingsThe oldest eaglet is growing quickly…already working on stretching out it wings!   It is hard to believe that 50% of eaglets do not survive the first year.  There will be many challenges still ahead for this young eaglet…

Chicks at Riviera Pond…

More babies at the pond…a Common Goldeneye with her brood of 9 arrived!Goldeneye mom and 9 babies Riviera Pond cropped wmThey swam to the middle of the pond and climbed up on the rock…Goldeneye mom and 9 babies Riviera pond on rock cropped wmGoldeneye mom and 9 babies under mom Riviera pond on rock cropped wm …all getting under mom for a little warmth after their first swim across the pond!  As the sun was setting, I snapped this photo of one of the duckling in amazing water color…The next day, I headed back to the pond to watch the brood…Goldeneye babies 5 cropped wm…sadly overnight the brood went from 9 to 5…but I guess that’s nature…Goldeneye mom keeping a watchful eye cropped wmMom watched as the ducklings learned to run away…Goldeneye babies learning to run awaylook for food…Goldeneye babies learning to look for food and dive…

 

So much fun to watch these cute little balls of feathers learn so quickly…Goldeneye baby cropped wm

Out of the Shadows…

I have talked about the elusive Great Grey Owls on Grand Valley Road…which many have had the pleasure of capturing…and I am finally part of that group!!   Great Grey Owl on stump first sighting cropped wmDriving down a back road off Grand Valley, a friend spotted something in the woods on a stump…we were both very excited when it turned around …and it was a Great Grey!!  We watched as it listened and looked around scanning…

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Wishes come true…just put it out there!

Our Community Association had a clean up day a few Saturdays ago.   I was working on cleaning up the Riviera Pond and spotted a Killdeer hanging out.   After our clean up…I went back to to the pond with my camera to see if it was still around..and it was!  Killdeer at Riviera PondI sat down on the concrete embankment at the top of the pond and thought to myself…wouldn’t it be nice if the Killdeer would come a little closer so I could capture a great shot!  Well…I got what I wished for!!  This little bird starting across the pond…Killdeer at Riviera Pond 2…then it was at the bottom of the embankment…Killdeer Riviera pond walking up concrete cropped wm…and kept walking towards me…I had to dial back the zoom…

 

I couldn’t believe it…the Killdeer came within 10 feet and sat down…basically beside me!!Killdeer Riviera pond sitting down cropped wmjpgWow…I didn’t want to move and scare it, so I sat quietly and watched but took a couple of close up shots as it stood up and sang a song…Killdeer head shot singingKilldeer head shot cropped wmThen, as quickly as it arrived…it decided it was time to go and walked down the embankment….Killdeer Riviera pond leaving the concrete..out across the reeds…Killdeer Riviera pond leaving the pondand flew away…Killdeer Riviera Pond flying away…and I went home with a huge smile on my face!!  Unbelievable experience with nature!!

Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation visit…

I had the pleasure of visiting the Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation with the camera club recently.  As stated on their website this is a “must-see” attraction….and it was an unforgettable wild experience.   The Foundation offers visitor information and interaction through the following exhibits…. hawk walk, flight demonstrations, wildlife interactions, aviaries and more…

Orphaned Great Horned Owlet BOPIn the lobby when we arrived, we were introduced to 4 orphaned Great Horned Owlets…

The staff explained the different areas and events at the Foundation and then it was off to check things out!

Rehabilitating and releasing injured birds of prey back to the wild is one of the Foundation missions.    Some birds, due to their injuries, become residents.   The staff provide information and interaction to teach visitors about the birds.

Our first stop was the Hawk Walk…which probably showcased every type of owl and raptor…here are just a few!!

The flight demonstration we attended was with a 6 year old Bald Eagle…amazing, informative and breathtaking…they run every 90 minutes during the day…