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White Tail Deer

I saw a lot of deer on my trip in May-it has been that long already? So here is a sampling of what I saw. There is still a lot of the winter hair evident, especially along the neck.The coat underneath will be much redder.

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A parting shot. I did not realize that there were deer here until I pulled off the road.It is evident how they got their name.

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We Will Remember You, Constable Daniel Woodall

This was a sad day.Today was the funeral and procession for Const Daniel Woodall who was killed in the line of duty on  Monday, June 8th. He and his partner Srgt Jason Harley were  shot down by a man while attempting to arrest him.Srgt Harley survived but Const Woodall succumbed to his wounds.Many police officers came from all over this continent as well as overseas. Thousands of blue ribbons and  Edmontonians lined the streets to pay tribute. Although I missed the front of the procession I caught a lot of it.

Today there was a march and bands played. As well, the parade of officers came to a standstill a number of times and the streets were silent.

It is hard to describe the fellings that arose in me…thoughts of Claire Woodall, their young children Gabe and Kalen, and Daniel’s parents David and Denice. This is when the grief gets tough, when everyone else gets back to their lives after the ceremony and you are left with a big void within. So my thoughts are with the family. Although I took photos I also stopped to be still and reflect, to be grateful for the service that these men and women give of themselves, to pray for their safety and healing. I don’t know these people but I felt like I got to know them as I heard the eulogies given by the chief of police and friends at the funeral service that was streamed on-line and at big screens in the city square.

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A sight that I saw that filled me with awe and touched my heart, was at the intersection before the Shaw Conference centre. Two fire trucks had ladders extended over the street  in an arc and from one hung a huge Canadian flag and from the other hung a huge British flag. Costable Woodall has lived here for a number of years but he started his service with the police in Manchester England. That display was beautiful and a class act from Edmonton firefighters.

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I listened a while to the funeral service before going to work. Ironically, on the way home tonight, I saw flashing lights at an intersection and two officers were directing traffic. I saw a car and on the other side of the car was a bicycle lying on the road. My heart sank. As well as with the Woodall family, my prayers are with the members of the Edmonton Police Service and first responders. Thank you.


Birding at a Lake in the City

I like going to this lake in the city because there are Red-necked Grebes here, but today there were a few surprises. The lake has a walkway around it and houses surround this, with a lot of the people putting up birdhouses and feeders in their yards which makes this a bird-friendly zone. It was a lovely day sunny and cloudy, but quite the glare off the water.

Another photographer and birder alerted me to this fledged magpie which is the first that I have seen. I think the term begins with “L”.

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I decided to walk around this small lake and saw many sights and many feathered families.

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Saw some brief displays, with the pair calling loudly , coming together and stretching their necks up with crests raised then swimming away.

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At one curve in the lake a pelican circled and landed. No time to check my settings, i tried panning as it landed.

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it happened too quick , there was nothing I could do about the sign but keep following.

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Happy about that, a short way further along the path I saw a large bird coming into view. Not id-ing it  yet, I tried to focus on it.

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A great Blue heron! What a treat! It landed near the pelican and stayed to fish.

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The damsel flies were prolific so got my first shot of the season.

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She is a beautiful blue. Speaking of blue, there were many blue ribbons on posts  all around the lake , paying tribute to fallen officer Const Daniel Woodall. His funeral is tomorrow, so I will be present at the procession.

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Just Say Aw-w-w…

Mallard Ducklings. Aren’t they sweet?pictures 045 pictures 047 pictures 023-2 pictures 025-2 pictures 033 pictures 034


Colour the Bridge Blue

I went to Ezio Faraone park tonight.This park is named after a slain police officer who died 25 years ago this month.My purpose was to take photos of the statue dedicated in his memory and to see the High level bridge lit in blue lights to honour Edmonton Police Service and Constable Daniel Woodall who was killed in duty here in Edmonton this past Monday night, June 8th. Another officer, Sgt. Jason Harley, was wounded but is in recovery. I saw blue ribbns tied around lamp posts and flowers were left at the statue. This is my way of expressing support and condolences to the Edmonton Police Service and the Woodall family.

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Welcome to the New Premier of Alberta

I wanted to be there for this historical moment and obviously so did a few other people. The public was invited this afternoon to the swearing-in of the new Premier of Alberta, Rachel Notley the leader of the New Democrat party. She also announced her new ministers. Amazingly, the ND party won a majority government after 42 years of governing by the Progressive Conservatives.I never dreamed that I would see this in my lifetime.It was exciting to be there, to hear the new ministers being announced and to hear the cheering from the crowd. Some are predicting doom and gloom and admittedly we have a couple of immature people in caucus but that isn’t the first time that has happened.Let us wait and see, especially in Education, Energy, Health and the Environment.

Some of the crowd of people that showed up to the event.

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The Honorable Rachel Notley, Premier of Alberta

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After the speeches, the applause, the fountain and the music started up

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Kootenay Plains

i explored further than Windy Point and stopped at Preachers Point and though I took a photo with my zoom lens, i recognized the mountains that I had shot in the winter a couple of years ago. Ironicly , my friends were  coming back from Vancouver and were in this same area the same day. We may have even passed each other!

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Here are the photos from the winter when i was here at sunrise, obviously with a wider -angle lens.

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I dropped into Two-O’Clock Creek, so named because the creekbed will flood with water from the run-off from the mountains in the afternoon. I noticed there are notices on the signs to submit ticks because Alberta health want to test them for evidence of Lyme disease. This is new to me so had me worried about more than bears. Thiss campground is a beautiful spot with an energy that draws me back ever since I first discovered it. i was thrilled to find a Western Tanager here although I apologise for the lousy shot.

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i did some walking and stopped to say hello to the campground managers. See why i like this place so much?

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The weather changed again and it FELT like snow was coming. up to then I was in a t-shirt and light jacket. The clouds rolled in and the mountains were almost covered completely. Time to go home.

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Day 3 Views from Windy Point

Two days in a row it was still and quiet at Windy point, except on the return the weather had changed to very windy and the clouds had socked in, with snow again. Three seasons in two days.But it was a mix of sun and cloud in the early part of the day and I used the polariser. I thought that it might be blah because I heard the water was at its low point, but the land had such a sculptural quality that intrigued me and the lake was a pretty turquoise. It was a whole new landscape from what I had experienced in the summer and fall in previous visits.

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The sheep were here again and I took more photos of them but with a wide angle lens rather than the zoom.I love the trees here, they show the wear and tear from the almost constant winds as you can see on the point.

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On the return trip I witnessed a herd of sheep pop up their heads as I drove off the highway to the Mount  Michener viewpoint. One little fellow popped over the guard rail and stared at me. Then he started running after the car and i backed up really fast. he hopped over the guard rail and looked over the hill , probably looking for his mates.

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I took one last shot of the lake  to show how much the  weather had changed.It got cold and turned rainy and snowy, so I headed back to home base to a nice warm cabin..

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Day 2 Abraham Lake-Windy Point

Luckily it cleared up after a nap so I headed to Abraham Lake. The first photo isn’t of the lake  but I was getting close and the  light was such that I couldn’t resist a stop.

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It was cloudy and made for great mood. I went to Windy Point which miraculously wasn’t windy at all. Often I have to brace myself against a rock and hang on to my equipment for dear life in fear of being blown away.All the ensuing photos were taken from this one area. The lake was a light turquoise which is a feature of this body of water (in the summer it becomes a bright turquoise) and the low levels at this time of year lent to some interesting shapes and textures of the exposed gravel and sand.Interesting knarled trees spot the landscape, there are a variety of subjects.

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After driving above the  the parking lot I realized that I wasn’t alone as I had thought. There were a few Rocky Mountain sheep below me. They all stopped and checked me out then resumed grazing but had probably been watching me some time before I realized their presence. Nothing like being aware of my surroundings, especially in bear country.

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There were small groups of White -crowned sparrows.pictures 260-2 pictures 261-3 pictures 267-2 pictures 193-2 pictures 199-2 pictures 201-2 pictures 204-2 pictures 206-2 pictures 207-2

I did not regret making this trip in the late afternoon, probably only drove 40km to get here. the first time here I missed the entrance because it is just before the highway goes through cutrock. Keep your eyes open for oncoming traffic.After ascending above the  parking lot I realized that I wasn’t alone as I had thought. There were a few Rocky Mountain sheep below staring up at me. They all stopped and checked me out then resumed grazing but had probably been watching me some time before I realized their presence. Nothing like being aware of my surroundings, especially in bear country. I love this country where the time goes by quickly because there is so much to see and it never gets boring. My preference was to stay close to the cabins  and spend time walking rather than be in the car most of the time. I returned to home base later in the day, with quick stops at Fish Lake and Goldeye Lake to see the changes, and the deer, which were plentiful and vowed to use the electric heat rather than the wood stove mostly because of my asthma.


Day 2 in the Mountains

It started to snow last night and we had a thin coating of the white stuff this morning. It felt  surreal but so was the news that the NDP won a majority in the provincial election. This province has stubbornly been Progressive Conservative for over 40 years. Wow! That message was loud and clear!

Here’s the cabin I stayed in. It had a satellite TV, microwave oven, BBQ on the porch, DVD’s, flannel sheets and a cozy bed.  I indulged in popcorn, TV and reading, and lighting the fire in the wood stove, important things when you are getting away from it all. When the fire died down it got smokey. The popcorn that I popped in the microwave tasted great but it stunk. The steak I cooked was smoking too.The fire alarm went off. i worried that I would be charged extra if I made the place smelly so I turned up the electric heater and opened the windows and turned on the fans until the air cleared.

The Raven

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I am a city gal. I am so glad that I brought my winter coats, hat and gloves and that I have procrastinated in replacing my snow tires with all-season ones.I forgot how swiftly the weather can change in the mountains. I decided I wanted to drive up the road to Mount Baldy to get a higher view of the world. It was snowing slightly  but as I got higher the snow got heavier and the road was very slippery. I slowed down and frankly thanked God for keeping me safe as I kept going upward , looking for a space wide enough to turn around. It was pretty but no thanks, I wanted to get back down.

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I got down the road safely then thought it would be interesting to see Fish Lake again, under different circumstances.

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After exploring here, I returned to the cabin for lunch and to see if it would clear up.It did, and I drove out to Abraham Lake, to be continued in the next post.


One Day at a Time in the Mountains – Day One

Although I started my little vacation on Monday of last week, visiting with friends in Lacombe, I did no shooting there, it was visiting only, which I really enjoyed. On Tuesday morning I set out west after picking up groceries and filling up my gas tank. I got to Nordegg in the early afternoon and stopped at the museum which was closed and being renovated for the tourist season which starts later this month. The May long weekend sees thousands head to campground and the back country so there was no homemade pie or bowl of soup at the Miner’s Cafe, but I will get back there later. I didn’t mind being ahead of the crowds.

I was too early for check-in time at Cheechacko Cabins where I was staying two nights so went a few miles down the road to Fish Lake. Previously called Shunda Lake this lake that has five loops of camping stalls, resident loons and an Osprey. As well as the visual treat it provides, I also like listening. I heard the loons calling, the coyotes yipping and the wolves howling. The song birds! There were so many songs, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.I was a big chicken which is a hindrance to hiking. I wasn’t sure of bear activity and although I would have loved to see one from the car, I didn’t want to run into one on the trail. I made noise as I walked  then stopped many times to be still and listen. So quiet and so relaxing.

The lake waters were calm and good reflections were to be had.

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The feel of the springy ground beneath my feet was so comforting.

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i looked at the larger views as  well as the smaller things. Getting Cloudy and a breeze is picking up.

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Evergreen

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Bark and  Moss

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Old Man’s Beard

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The birds were plentiful but elusive, always flying ahead of me. I spotted a large bird slowly winging through the tops of the trees- the Osprey? I managed to capture a couple of images.

.Savannah Sparrow

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Spotted Sandpiper

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Yellow Rumped Warblers

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After a few hours at the lake I back-tracked a few miles to Grouse Mountain Road just off of Shunda Creek Road north ofthe town of Nordegg and settled into my cabin, a spotless home with all the comforts. At the end of the first day, I took a quick shot of my surroundings., the trees in the yard and the sculptures on the trees, the Wood Spirits. It was just starting to snow.

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Almost a Wild Goose Chase

Went on the Snow Goose Chase yesterday. The migration was early this year and we were late, as the chase often is held in April. however we saw lots of species, 57 to be exact.

The group was enthusiastic and we were rewarded with a smaller remaining flock of snowgeese.We all roared with delight when someone yelled to the driver, “Stop! Stop! There they are!” We were treated to snacks and a warm buffet in Tofield plus there were  scopes, field guides and extra binoculars to share. A few companies sponsor this event but it is organized by the Edmonton Nature Club and we had spotters driving ahead of us and guides on the bus pointing out the various birds. it was a lot of fun. No lifers for me , but it was a thrill to see Black Backed Stilts and a Marbled Godwit through the provided scopes, unfortunately too far for my camera.

Here are some photos of some of the species-most are a distance away, to be expected on a bus tour. Kudos to the Edmonton Nature Club and its dedicated volunteers of expert birders. They will be having some walks in the upcoming season and I hope to join them.

Bonaparte’s Gulls

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Song Sparrow

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American White Pelicans

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Yellow-Headed Blackbird

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Mountain Bluebird -Male

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Mountain Bluebird – Female

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A Gaggle of Snow Geese

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Greater White- Fronted Goose

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American Avocet

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and a terrific sky that had me running back to the bus to change lens.

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Rest and Relaxation

I gave a month’s notice to my work and am taking a much-needed break for a week. We have been short-staffed and over-worked for a long time while making money for the company and I am tired. On Monday I will be heading for the hills, either Jasper National Park or David Thompson country. When I come back I will hopefully  have a whole bunch of new images. For today, I am resting, going to the advance polls to vote in the provincial election and researching options for accomodation in the days to come.Recharging batteries, figuratively and literally.

On Sunday I will still be in this area of Central Alberta but going on the Snow Goose Chase sponsored by the Nature Club. We will be bussing around the country spotting Snow geese on their migration north-a truly magnificent sight. Maybe we will see Bluebirds and owls, cranes…and huge flocks of Snow Geese.

Here are some images from the past as I think of which direction to go:

Medicine Lake, Jasper National Park

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Abraham Lake David Thompson Country

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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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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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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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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

Just Amazing! Great captures, Christopher!

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

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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  😉


A Ruckas in the Back Alley

It was quite noisy in the back alley this particular morning. The fighting between two couples was echoing off the buildings and was loud, attracting people’s attention from the surrounding apartments and condos.. I went out to investigate, taking my camera with me. Turns out that one couple is trying to set up house on the balcony of someone’s  apartment (the owners must be thrilled) and the other couple were loudly protesting from the parking area.below. At one point, one of the mates flew up to the balcony but bounced off the wall, not quite hitting the mark.In the last photo the couple  seem to be perplexed, maybe giving up. It has been eerily quiet since then  and I wonder whether someone took the matter into their hands in a lethal way.

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The Three Tenors

These three were very vocal in their expressions, now that they have come back to the province, always consider gulls a harbinger of spring.

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They were resplendent in their breeding plumage and their three part harmony astounding. Take a bow, gentlemen!pictures 083