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Welcome to My Heartsong!

My Heartsong came out of a desire to be true to myself and sing the song of my heart,to take the time to do the things that I love to do because I came to believe that to follow this call is to do the will of the Creator and it gives me great pleasure.(when one receives a gift,one must open it). An activity that feeds my soul is photography. I share with you my photos and a little bit about them. Enjoy!
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  • Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4180
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Gregascious Gulls

They do like to gather and at breeding time there is lots of gestures and noisy chatter but I do not know the males from the females. This group seem to be challenging each other and once in a while, the larger members of the group will chase one away. They do look great in their breeding plumage.

Ring-billed Gulls

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Two More New Arrivals

Oh! I am getting so excited! Love to see the birds coming back. These are two more new arrivals this season. I only saw the males and the light was getting low but will get the pairs soon. Shot at the full 300mm.

Lesser Scaup Male

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American Widgeon Male

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Mating Display of Male Goldeneye

All the ducks look fantastic with their feathers so brilliant and behaviour amusing as they “strut their stuff” for the females.One duck whom I will never tire of  is the Goldeneye. This one gave quite the performance in an urban pond after arriving this past week. He not only tipped back his head and gave a mighty “A-w-w-wK” he gave a kick at the end. Impressive!

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Long Shots of the first Arrivals I have seen this Year

Went for a drive to three locations today, two in the city and one at a provincial park  to see what may be arriving.It was a pleasant surprise. I did not get a shot, but rather a quick glimpse of a small group, maybe a dozen, of white birds with black wings, they may have been snow geese. (I was driving).These sightings made for a great day and it was hot and sunny to boot.Some of these photos are not the first I have seen this year, i.e. Ring-billed Gull and Canada Geese

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Canada Geese in Tandempictures 014-2

unmistakable pose of a displaying male Goldeneyepictures 095-2

Female Merlin

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A Pair of Northern Shovellers (sorry I couldn’t get the female in the photo)

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Female Mallard

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Male Mallard

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A Pair of Common Merganzerspictures 085-2

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Building the Lodge

I stated in yesterday’s blog about a stroke of luck. I had stopped my car beside a pond  and was focusing on some crows to see if I could capture them in flight, when I sensed a movement beside me.The crow shots didn’t work out, but I think these ones did. I will let the pictures tell the story.

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The Bison of Elk Island National Park

This national park, located 45 minutes east of the city of Edmonton, Alberta is Canada’s first wildlife sanctuary and the only fully fenced-in park Elk island manages conservation recovery herds for plains and wood bison which are sent from here to nature reserves and other parks all around the world.

When I went here yesterday I was lucky to see quite a few, some along the road, and some in pastures and others in the bison loop a loop where you can drive through and stop in pull-off areas.

The ones pictured  here are plains Bison, Wood Bison are on the south side of the highway. Most ponds and lakes are starting to open and I found the crows, Canada geese, hawks, beaver, muskrats. The elk are usually found in the back trails, although can be seen from the main road early in the morning. The bison are best seen in the morning or at dusk but today they were everywhere and can be seen while hiking on the various trails.

This is a cow in the bison loop.

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Same cow, different angle.pictures 010-2

this cow and her two older calves were either running from the presence of my car or catching up to the herd.pictures 115-2

I often see these three bulls on the road, alone, called the grumpy old men because they will chase cars , so I give them lots of respect and a wide berth.

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One of the old guys taking off.pictures 106-2

young bull with his winter coat

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If you have ever seen them break into a full gallop , they are fast and can go from 0-30 km within seconds. They can rip a grill off the front of a car or side off a trailer so don’t fence them in  when you stop at the side of the road. I have seen families with very young children get out of their cars and stand in a group only ten feet away taking photos. I stay in my car, unless I am on the trails hiking and use my long lens. I take a couple of photos , then leave.

So come and see them,  and enjoy them and the birds and other creatures on the trails, on the waters. You can camp here for the day or stay a few days. The parks are for the animals and the people to enjoy. It is exciting to see these wild animals, just watch your enthusiasm and keep a safe distance.

Wait until the next post to see the beaver that I saw.It was a stroke of luck.

Northern Lights in Bragg Creek

My Heartsong:

Just Amazing! Great captures, Christopher!

Originally posted on Christopher Martin Photography:

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4180

After the Great gray owl and I parted ways it was very dark which helped me to notice a slight glow to the north.  I drove to a field where I could get a better view of the sky and found the Aurora Borealis was just starting to brighten off the horizon.  The lights rippled and stretched above valley for more than an hour.

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4153

As they began to wane, I went to nearby Wild Rose Lake and was able to catch the Aurora’s reflection in the water.  As well as its glow mixing with the city light from Calgary.  This was an unexpected, but gratefully welcomed, surprise and end to an already great night photographing out in the country.

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4262

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4201

Aurora over Bragg Creek - © Christopher Martin-4220

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Looking and Seeing

I often look, but don’t see what I am looking at, even with my camera in hand. I like to remind myself to slow down and explore different angles, shoot from worm’s eye or bird’s eye view, shoot into the light so my subjects are backlit.So often I rush to capture a bird before it flies away but when I slow down and think of different viewpoints from which to shoot, I can surprise myself with the results.

I think it is good to practise, to exercise my creativity  with anything that is in front of me, not just what I usually take photos of. There are endless ways to do this, probably why I have not tired of photography.The practice of looking and slowing down helps me see the regular objects around me in a slightly different way.

There are other benefits, such as being in the moment, relaxing, and the feeling of gratitude.

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Outdoors with the Birds

I went out a couple of times during the Easter weekend to shoot the birds with my Canon.Here is what I saw , including one “lifer.” Getting outdoors makes me feel complete and I am so grateful to be able to take photos, smell the fresh air and watch and listen to the birds and wildlife.

Did I tell you that I booked a seat on  the “Wild Goose Chase” tour? We will be going to see the snow geese migration, possibly owls, cranes, bluebirds.. I haven’t done this in years so am looking forward to it. The trip is on May 3rd and of course I will be taking photos and posting them!

But back to the birds, etc. from this past weekend…

It is always a sign of spring to see the gulls return. Here is a resident Ring-billed gull.

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I got a kick out of the Canada Geese lined up at the open side of the pond.pictures 044-2

The House Finches are back in the neighbourhood. I like their songs, although my neighbour hates them since they nest right outside his window.pictures 002-3

Here is a shot of a Handsome  Canada Goose gander.pictures 011-2

And you know who had to make an appearance, always helping himself to the spoils at the bird feeder.pictures 221-2

I had been trying a number of self -portraits when this beauty showed up. I quickly grabbed the camera off the tripod and changed my settings from timer to bursts. pictures 127-2

Both the male and female Downy Woodpeckers showed up This is the male.

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This is the female Downy Woodpecker.pictures 009-2The Black-capped Chickadees.pictures 155-2

Red-Breasted Nuthatches.pictures 158-2

The White-breasted Nuthatchpictures 206

And my “lifer” the American Tree Sparrow. Yay!

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Happy Easter!

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After a few tentative steps into my old church starting last Christmas, I have been slowly immersing myself into the culture and worship and indeed feel like I have “come home”. It has been, for the most part, busy at work at the store, and I have been taking time to  experience the journey through Lent  including this Holy week via prayer, meditation and  spiritual practise sessions, services for Good Friday, a vigil on Saturday,  and finally , a celebration of the living Christ today. Life is good.

Some things never change as I am not a morning type, so dragging my butt after getting up for the sunrise service this morning and a “little” wired on coffee.

Going out to shoot some birds, soon. Of course I will be using my Canon.

Jane  ;)

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