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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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What Caught My Eye

While I was photographing the birds, I kept seeing this fella, or gal, approaching the feeder from all directions, stopping , starting, up the trees, then down again, weaving it’s way along the trails and alternate routes. Sometimes it was hiding, other times he/she came into full view. Of course I got the inevitable scolding while it was perched safely on a high branch. I must give the red squirrel its due.

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Birds and Squirrels at the Feeders

I thought that I would try my hand at photographing the animals and birds in the city parks because I am finally seeing them more often. In August it was as if the birds disappeared. I did take shots at the feeders but am trying to get the birds on the branches that they perch on before they go to the feeder.

Some, like the nuthatches, are smart, always going to the back of the tree when they come to the feeder or when they depart. Some patience is needed until they get more trusting and I start to figure out where they are most likely to land.Either way, they are fast!

All these photos were taken in Aperture Priority at 400 ISO in low light due to trees around me on both sides of the trail.

Here I am getting scolded by a red squirrel.


You can see the colours of fall in the next one.






As you can observe , I have some practising to do. None are sharply focused and it was getting darker with the camera facing the sun. There were a couple of downy woodpeckers but they were very blurry and deleted. This is a project that I won’t mind taking on, because I get so much pleasure out of taking photos of these creatures and watching their behaviours.

Sleepy Squirrel

It pays to look through your camera. I was so caught up with this squirrel’s behaviour that I forgot to take a photo in the earlier seconds.They would have been priceless photos.

What happened:  I saw a squirrel on top of the bird feeder, nothing new, except this one ‘s head was drooped and was starting to lean forward as if he was “nodding off.”  I walked closer and saw that he was doing just that , then spoke to him and he jerked and sat up straight, then he stretched his front feet downward in a big stretch while giving a big yawn, pink tongue showing.

Those were the photos I missed but I like to affirm, or rationalize that I was living in “the moment”. I did click a few more which I will share here:

Second Nod-off

Nodding off again…

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aware that I am present…

So Sleepy

succumbing to sleep…

Squirrel Acknowledges Me a little more alert…

Wide Eyed and Awake

wide-eyed and awake. Now leave me alone!

A Visit to Elk Island

I had finished church and was going to join the others at a restaurant though I had made no plans to join anyone. I was almost there when I saw a road that leads to the highway. “That is it”, I said to myself, “yes, I want to go to Elk Island”. I  picked up coffee and a rice crispy square on the way and started to wonder what the weather report was, since I had no snow tires on but decided to be careful and drive a little slower. There was a nasty accident on my left where a truck had slid off the road and I slowed down to the 60 km speed limit as I passed the vehicles with the flashing lights. Another reminder to be careful.

When I turned off the highway to the National Park, I sighed and thought, “I feel like I have come home.” I felt all my tensions and worries slide off my shoulders.There was a bison herd on the left and thought that I would stop on the way back. Silly me, I know better, of course they were gone later. They just look like they will  lounge forever.

Continued on to the main picnic area and got out for a walk . The snow drifts around the parking lot were beautiful and I examined the shapes and lines.

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I looked around and saw ice crystals in the air, or perhaps it was beginning to snow.

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Down the road a truck had pulled up to the gates and there was a flurry of activity as deer scattered in different  directions  and I snapped a shot although they were in the distance.

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Then I saw the reason for their flight and self-righteous anger welled up within me. Look below the stop sign.

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Their dog was loose and running after the deer. This is a national park folks and harassment of wildlife brings a serious fine.

I looked around some more and in the other direction but not far away from the dog I saw a bison lying down. I took a photo from a long distance without getting closer because I chose not to disturb the animal or bring attention to its existence.This photo shows the example that there may be wildlife close by and if you slow down and look you will see what is not immediately apparent.

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As I drove away from this area I stopped to take a photo from the car of one of the deer that was hiding on a wooded hill. Enough stress, it was best to SNAP and move on.

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I travelled back toward the highway from where I had entered the park but saw no coyotes, elk, bison or birds that I could spot. I stopped in a parking lot at a trail head to look and walk  around and tried to take a photo of the snowflakes on my car.As well,  there were lines that fascinated me in the environment.

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Further on, I  stopped and pulled over to the shoulder of the road  but the slant was unnerving-bad idea- and I couldn’t move forward but quickly backed up to get out before I couldn’t. A passing truck slowed down , perhaps to see if I spotted something or to help out if I was stuck but moved on when I got back on the road. Not something I want to do without snow tires.

The sky was getting darker and threatening snow so  I decided to head home, having enjoyed the respite.

Yes Virginia, there are Elk in Elk Island National Park

This National park 45 minutes outside the city limits of  Edmonton Alberta is famous for its bison herds that are used to stock  herds worldwide. It is a bit of a joke about the elk because we locals often say where are they? They tend to be more shy and in the 30 years that I have lived in the area I have seen elk in this park twice.Usually the staff have a good idea where the animals and birds are and are willing to help you set out in the right direction, especially if you are willing to go a little ways off the beaten path. Once  I saw a herd when I was cross-country skiing on the trails off the roadway and the other day some were just beside the road  on both sides of the highway. That was pretty exciting and there were a lot of them..We also saw a couple of coyotes but my lens fogged up when I took the camera out of the bag and all I got was a reverse vignette effect. Ha Ha. It was still great to see the animals and we saw three bison with snow on their faces and  slowed down for a look but no stops were made as we were meeting others at a destination further down the road. It was worth getting up early in the morning with temperatures of minus 28.These photos are from three different groups.

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These were the first ones we saw, actually three that ran and joined a few others.

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When they are feeling safe, they always stop and look back at you.

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This was part of a group on the opposite side of the road.

pictures 351-2There was one ahead of us that was quite bold until we got closer.

pictures 356-3He ran up the hill and joined his buddy, then they turned to check us out.

pictures 359-4One last glance-and then there were three. They all would run away fro a few paces, then stop and look at us, before turning and going further afield. I hope you like the photos.

We spent at least a half hour spotting them, driving a short distance then seeing more and stopping to take more photos. It sure was fun, even forgot how cold it was.

Some of you seem to have disappeared – hope you come back for a visit, because I miss you and your posts. If I don’t get a chance tomorrow, I want to wish all of you a new year of  hope, peace and prosperity.

Sunny Surprise at the Feeders Today

Again another day that was very sunny and very cold. The minus 22 temperature with a slight breeze brought a couple of surprises to the bird feeders today. When it is cold the animals and birds need to eat and keep energy coming in because it burns off so quickly. I was shooting pictures of Red Polls, Grosbeaks, Magpies and Chickadees in the bushes because there were people feeding the birds just outside the trees. There was a lot of activity with the feathered creatures flying back and forth all around me. One bird flew in front of me to the bottom of the tree below me or I never would have seen it. It was a brown creeper, a bird that starts at the bottom of a tree then walks up the trunk, circling as it climbs, then flies to the bottom of another tree and starts over. I find these birds have interesting markings and managed a couple of shots.

Then later, luckily not at the same time, I spotted a weasel sneaking through the snow then it climbed the branches and was going for whatever seeds or treats were in the dish. It moved very quickly when it wasn’t  stopped to eat but I managed to get a few shots. I had my camera on TV and auto focus and a couple of times I got the focus on some rose bush branches in front of the weasel so the animal was out of focus and they would have been good poses but oh well. I am happy with what I got.

Brown Creeper

Going Up


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Just checking this out for the sake of seeing the size of the photo and it will be nothing too stimulating or inspirational. I am very listless today, may be the comfort of my apartment versus going outdoors. Once outside I am fine, I just don’t like the transition. I see a new feature: spell check, that is  a good thing. As soon as I post this blog I am going outside to see my friends, furry and otherwise.

I found it. I just had to close the media page. Duh! WordPress, I owe you an apology. I have no patience and was not in the mood to learn today-just wanted to post the blog.

Jane Chesebrough

 by Jane Chesebrough




Come Out and Play

Come Out and Play


© Jane Chesebrough

Some nice new features on WordPress as well as annoyances. It goes with the territory when you are learning new things. I tried to edit my image then couldn’t get back to the writing.What I have written previously will probably show up later as a post. At least I found out how to make my picture larger.I am going out after being very lethargic for two days! Yes, it is warm and cosy here but I am getting nothing done except for drinking coffee with eggnog, eating comfort food and spending too much time on the computer!.

I will go out into the brisk fresh air and breathe and get some exercise. Of course I will take photos. Then maybe I will come back and with renewed energy, pull out my decorations from the closet and welcome the Christmas season. Happy December, folks! Just think, soon the days will start to get longer!

Siberian Tiger

I took a picture of this tiger at the zoo through two chain-link  fences which was indeed tricky because of angles of my camera in relation to the fence.This is a female and her companion is a female as well. It was exciting to hear her growl and watch her go into the pond and comes out again, water dripping off of her fur and drops flying as she flicked the excess from her huge paws. Alas, these photos were blurred and discarded. Here are some that worked out to a point, i admit that there are distortions. My intent is to just share some of this experience with you because I think this is such a beautiful creature.

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

Back Home

I am all showered and shaved now- really discovered the parts about myself that I don’t like and the parts I do like brought on by the fear of bears and heat and exhaustion. The trip brought out the best and the worst in me with sleeping in strange surroundings,  the constant sound of rushing  water as some hostels were beside turbulent rivers which was energizing at times and annoying when I wanted to relax and sleep at other times. There were bear warnings in a few areas which made me very vigilant and never felt comfortable enough to camp in a tent but did stay in wilderness hostels and went on short hikes. sometimes my knees swelled and I slowed to a snail’s pace. On the first day of the trip my muffler detached from the bottom of my car and I tied it on using wire and on the last night I  locked  my keys in my vehicle so it wasn’t stress-free.  But no computers, no phones, just the occasional stop at a restaurant to recharge my batteries and quench my thirst really felt right and it was great to go to bed without street lights shining through the window or radios to distract me.

And photos! Oh boy…did I ever take a lot of photos. Some were well planned and others were expressions of my being snap-happy. A  friend  joined me on the first couple of days to shoot photos and I  joked with her that I didn’t want to run into a bear but would like to see one from the car. We were armed with our bear spray and more afraid of using that stuff than running into a bear but we did practise pulling the lock out and putting it back on so that we knew how to use it. At one point   we were in an area that had posted signs that stated it was grizzly country so we made some noise. I found myself humming then realised that the song  was “Teddy Bears Picnic.” Ha! How ironic!

I got my wish when I took a road tour in the early evening specifically to spot wildlife on my last night in Jasper National Park. I spotted a black bear, cinnamon coloured just walking through the woods. I drove into an adjacent parking lot keeping a good distance and shot a couple of manual photos, noticed how dark they were so switched to program mode. I wanted enough speed to capture movement and open aperture to capture light.I also upped my ISO to get more light. In the end the ones shot manually were the best and I managed to lighten them up in Lightroom.

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough




Pretty Scraggly but Good to see them Again.

Last fall I saw a cow moose nursing her calf  and took pictures but it was getting dark and none of them turned out. Needless to say, I was disappointed.

Driving out of the park today I saw the calf and safely pulled over to the side of the road and put on my hazard lights.No I was not so excited that I stopped dead in the middle of the road. Good thing, because there were people behind me. I was taking photos making sure that I had the right exposure and somewhat good composition from the car and Mom showed up. I should always know that where there is a young one, mother will be close by.It is always a good thing to take a 360 degree perusal of the scene so you know where everyone is. Like I said, they look scraggly but that will change soon unless it is parasites. They were in the same spot as last time I saw them so it is possible that I will spot them again. Enjoy! I sure did!

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

Bison at Elk Island Park

Since my annual pass is about to expire, I took advantage and went to Elk Island National Park this weekend, about 45 minutes east of Edmonton, Alberta. The name of the park is almost a misnomer because while there are elk here, I rarely see them.  The reason most people go here are to see the free-roaming bison. The best time to see them is in the morning or the evening when they come close to the road to feed. There is also a bison loop which will afford you a view of hundreds when they are not in the field across the road. Just before I took this picture I drove around the loop and saw three go through a gate and enter into another pasture where they broke into a full gallop. It awed me to see how fast they could move and was a reminder to be respectful and move on when I was closer because they do charge and have chased people and cars, sometimes doing great damage. The most dangerous times are in early spring when the cows are having calves and in the fall when the males are in rut. On the south of the highway are the Woodlands Bison and the north are the Plains Bison which you see here. I took these shots from my car with a zoom lens and stayed in first gear so I could stop for as brief a time as possible. The bull in the second picture he is making eye contact and moving forward as he is grazing  and I figured that was a good time to leave.

©Jane Chesebrough

©Jane Chesebrough

Wildlife of Jasper National Park

Well I made it! Was somewhat worried that the weather would hold me back, but I was determined and so glad I went to Jasper last weekend. Everything fell into place with travel, and accomodation and seeing some of the wildlife. And the weather was fantastic. Here are a few samples, including birds. i did see four bald eagles two outside of Edson and two in the park but due to circumstances could not get the photos. It was still a thrill to see them. Please click on photos to enlarge the slideshow.Mountains and scenery  tomorrow. 🙂

Pine Grosbeak

©Jane Chesebrough

While I was shooting photos of this bird, I noticed a lot of people going into the woods and I thought that they might scare the birds away. Little did I know that there was a barred owl in the bushes. But I was still happy to get a pic of this one and did get a shot of the owl.

Barred Owl

Away for the weekend and once back in the city went to the Park. I saw another photographer that  I knew and he told me that there was an owl in the bushes and showed me where. That was exciting- So nice of him to let me know!  So I want to share the moment with you as best as I can. Happy Spring! It comes here at 11 p.m. tonight.

©Jane Chesebrough