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!

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

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.

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!

 

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!!

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!

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!!

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!!

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

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!!

A bird watching paradise…

I traveled to Frank Lake on an outing with the Camera Club.  We only had a short time to spend there, but what an amazing paradise for birds and bird watchers!!  Ducks, terns, blackbirds, geese and more…

Blackbird Yellow headed Frank Lake singing cropped wm

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Ruddy Duck Frank Lake flapping cropped wm

Ruddy Duck

Our short visit was a walk from the parking lot across the bridge to the blind…

Although this is slightly outside my one hour range that I consider my backyard (it’s an hour and 15 minutes to Frank Lake from Cochrane)…I know I will visit again soon!!

Unexpected surprise…

A photographer friend from the camera club is an avid birder and shared some amazing facts and a location to check out the Red-necked Grebes.  I spotted a pair at Lochend a few weeks ago for the first time…but what I didn’t know is they create a floating nest!!Red necked Grebe on floating nest cropped wm jpgThe female was building the nest, and occasionally settling in to see how it felt…Red necked Grebe on floating nest settling cropped wmThe male would dive down and bring up weeds to add to the nest…Red necked Grebe on pair building floating nest cropped w,The female started flapping her wings so I snapped a couple photos….but with the nest being out in the middle of the pond, quite far away, I decided I would come back another day when I had more time to check out different vantage points…

What I didn’t know (until I got home and took a look at the photos)…and why I had to share my story was my surprise….Red necked Grebe laying eggShe was laying on egg…Red necked Grebe laying egg 2My friend warned me that when you start birding you can get addicted…and she was right!  It has been so amazing to watch and learn about the huge variety we have right here in my backyard!

New Sightings…

Bird photography and learning about birds has become a bit of an addiction!  When I see and capture something new, I have to come home to research what I have discovered in my backyard!  Last week, there were 2 new birds to add….

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Female Ruby-crowned Kinglet

The first, out by Winchell Lake near Water Valley…after all my research, I think this is a female Kinglet (the males have a ruby crown) due to the olive green color (if I am mistaken, I would appreciate the guidance and correction)

The second, found at Bow Ridge in Cochrane, a Yellow-rumped Warbler…Warbler Yellow rumped Bow Ridge 2 cropped wmThere were so many of these warblers, they were everywhere along the trees on the river!  Amazing, beautiful to watch and listen too!Warbler Yellow rumped Bow Ridge 3 singing cropped wmBoth of these little birds were active, quick moving and in the trees!  So much fun to watch!

Sanctuary, a little piece of heaven!

This past Saturday, the Cochrane Camera Club outing was to the area of Inglewood in Calgary.  I have been reading about the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and was excited to have this as the first stop on the Inglewood tour!  What a beautiful space, located in the middle of the city, for wildlife to flourish!   We were not the only one’s enjoying this little piece of heaven…there were bird watching groups, families and many photographers!!     With the beginning of the spring birds returning, this area must come alive over the next few months!  Here is what we saw…

I  look forward to returning to the Sanctuary…and will be on the look out for water birds, eagles, herons and more…

I captured the serenity of the Bird Sanctuary in my photo below…”Reflection”…it was a special day with like minded friends, enjoying nature at its finest!!Tree Reflection Inglewood Sanctuary cropped wm

Thank you to our local papers!

I would like to say thank you to the Cochrane Times!   The “Times” is very supportive in featuring local artists, like myself, (this link is to the article written by Patrick Price) providing great exposure to our community on what we have to offer.   Each year, the “Times”publishes an annual calendar, which is another way for photographers to submit their work and have it viewed by the public.   I was fortunate to have one of my photos selected this year for the Cochrane Calendar.     The photo is called “bringing in lunch” taken at our local osprey nest in the Cochrane Toyota Dealership lot…and one of my favorite moments last year!

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Osprey bringing in lunch

My first blog was about this osprey family and represented the launch of my Photo Solutions website…

Both local papers were represented at the Seniors on the Bow Art Show that took place on January 14th this year.   I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with Warren Harbeck, who does a local column in the Cochrane Eagle.  He took this great photo of me as I started on my adventure sharing “Nature in my Backyard”!   Thank you Warren for allowing me to share this photo!!

As an emerging nature photographer, capturing special moments in our town, it is great to have this support!

Wild Horse in Waiparous Valley

At the beginning of  November, we were expecting a beautiful weekend! My husband asked me to take him on one of my adventures, so we headed northwest on Highway 579.  I though we might see some elk or moose in the reserve.  We got out of the car to hike up a ridge line.   We didn’t see any wildlife, but we did hear a lot of guns going off …it was hunting season.  We decided it wasn’t a great day to be walking out in the woods…  We got back in the car and I saw something large and dark in the trees off in the distance.  I set up the camera and positioned it at the end of the bluff anticipating to see the large animal come out in the clearing.   It appeared and I snapped a photo …to my surprise …it was a horse…  There was livestock roaming free so we thought it was just someone’s horse roaming around the reserve.horse-in-the-distance-wmWhen we got to Highway 40 we ventured into the Waiparous Valley via Waiparous Valley Rd.  There were lots of folks camping…it was pretty chilly to be in a tent, but they looked like they were having fun.  Again, something was moving  in the woods, so out of the car I jump, make my way up the hill and again ….horses.   This herd was pretty skittish and they were deep in the woods, but there was a moment of sunshine streaming through the trees that brought this beauty into focus.

wild-horse-waiparous-valley-wm-whiteWe decided it was time to head home, so back onto Highway 40 to Cochrane.  Just south of Waiparous Rd, we saw another herd of horses in the Ghost Airstrip Group camping area. This time they were out in the open.  We hiked in to take a closer look!   One of the herd stood solo as we approached.wild-horse-solo-wmThe Stallion was magnificent!   There were 8 in the herd.  The stallion started to move them along into the trees.   He did pose for us on the way …

What a terrific day … to see the famous wild horses of Alberta!  It was truly an unexpected surprise and made our day!!   More herd photos

Kananaskis Loop Adventure

It was such a beautiful weekend, we needed to get outdoors to enjoy it!  Highway 40 south off the Trans Canada, is am amazing drive that ends at Longview.  The 160 km drive is always an adventure!  There are many places to stop along the way for a picnic, hike or just to take in the amazing views of the Rocky Mountains.    kananaskis-lakes-turnoff-view

Just a note…this highway closes a at the Kananaskis Lakes turnoff from December 1st to June 15th each year.  There are 2 reasons for the closure, first – it is a winding road and can be quite treacherous in bad weather and secondly, it gives our wildlife neighbors some quiet time in their natural environment.

 

At the Kananaskis Lakes Turnoff, this guy was on the side of the road taking a drink!big-horn-taking-a-drink-wm

He had a look up at the few of  us that stopped to take in the moment of his majestic presence and then he turned and ran off into the meadow. More photos in the Gallery.

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A few weeks ago, we took a drive to Upper Kananaskis Lakes.  On our way home, we stopped at the Peter Lougheed Discovery & Information Centre.  If you have never been here, it is worth the trip!    The Centre has a sitting area with floor to ceiling windows that looks out over a meadow lined with forest.  You will often see Grizzly’s digging in the meadow for food.  The day we stopped, the Centre was closed (so make sure you check the website for hours before you go).   The parking lot was posted letting us know there was bear activity in the area … and as we drove around the parking lot to exit we spotted a Grizzly mother and her cub digging for roots in the meadow.  This  photo was from the parking lot, through the trees and out the sunroof of the car…a safe distance with a large zoom lens!!

grizzly-at-peter-lougheed

Back to the current trip… the sun was shining and the mountains were beaming!  You really do need to pay attention if you are the driver as the scenery can be quite distracting. We are so fortunate to have this amazing place in our backyard.   We drove up through Highwood Pass, the temperature dropped 10 degrees and there was snow everywhere. I can see why this road gets closed for the winter.  Coming down  the other side,  we had to stop for a herd of Bighorn sheep crossing the road.

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Another great day of adventures … capturing Nature in my Backyard!  More photos in the Gallery.