A Refreshing Walk in the Woods
It was a full day, starting with the last part of a church service (yes, I slept in), a committee meeting, a fashion show fundraiser at a local hospital where they let me take photos, then finally a trip to Elk Island National Park. Enjoyed the calm, the fresh air and feeling my body and mind relax. As you can see, there were times of overcast skies and bright sun.
The Oohs and Ah-hhhs of Sunset
There was a bright shining red ball lowering in the sky as my friend and I raced for the beach at Astotin Lake. People were in the way so I used them as impromptu models because the sun was sinking fast and I didn’t want to miss it.Yes, their heads are merged with the background islands but I felt there was so little precious time. We stuck around after the sun set to see the more sublte colours in the surrounding sky.
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.
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.
this cow and her two older calves were either running from the presence of my car or catching up to the herd.
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.
One of the old guys taking off.
young bull with his winter coat
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.
Let’s look at Nature in Her various Forms
I have been working shifts and not getting out much but I am taking the time today. First I will look back and post some shots that I like. i don’t want to take too much precious time so my apologies if I have some repeats here.
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.
I looked around and saw ice crystals in the air, or perhaps it was beginning to snow.
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.
Then I saw the reason for their flight and self-righteous anger welled up within me. Look below the stop sign.
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.
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.
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.
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.
These were the first ones we saw, actually three that ran and joined a few others.
When they are feeling safe, they always stop and look back at you.
This was part of a group on the opposite side of the road.
There was one ahead of us that was quite bold until we got closer.
He ran up the hill and joined his buddy, then they turned to check us out.
One 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.
Bison at Side of the Road
After being at a photo shoot all day last Saturday I drove home via Elk Island National Park. I just got inside the gates when I came upon a bison bull grazing . I still had my zoom lens on the camera and did not want to hang around too long and be annoying so took about 3 shots from the car and moved on. It was later in the day and the light was golden and the coat on this animal was thick and full. This is a woodlands Bison which is a little smaller than a plains Bison. They have more fur on top of their head and shaggy legs. Will get pictures of both soon for comparison’s sake. when the herds get full here groups are separated then shipped world- wide to populate parks all over the globe.
From Birds to Butterflies
I have been reading a lot of blogs that have mentioned, and seen for myself, the scarcity of sightings of our fine feathered friends. They are laying low, bringing up their young and perhaps molting. The festivals in the city with the noise and crowds seem to make the birds disappear, as least temporarily. I can’t blame them but I did notice as soon as the last festival ended and people were doing tear-down, the gulls arrived in hoards to take advantage of the pickings.
When the bird sighting numbers lower in July, I see a lot of my birding friends change their sights to the butterflies and flowers. I tend to focus on the butterflies more because they are so beautiful. It seems they perch on the flowers a little longer towards the latter part of the day. This one at Elk Island National Park was sighted about a week ago and stopped on the bench of a picnic table. I do not know the identity as I have not bought a bug book yet or borrowed one from the library-that will more than likely occur at some point in the future. Your expertise is welcome; if you know what it is, feel free to comment.
Hand-held at 300mm, 1/40 sec at f/5.6, ISO 200
Drove out to Elk Island National Park earlier this week and had a nasty storm but before that it was so calm and with the grasses and clouds just had to take pictures with the reflections. My friend and I took our cameras and I noticed that we both would stop shooting photos and sit quietly for a while and be present with all this beauty. It was the kind of day that feels so peaceful and fills one up with gratitude.
Great Horned Owlettes
After an invigorating conversation about sightings of wildlife, the park staff kindly alerted me to the location of two owlettes. I went to look for them and was thrilled to find them. Their eyes are so piercing and the white fluff is either down or the floating fluff that comes from the poplars at this time of year or a combination of both. I want to protect them from harassment so am not saying exactly where I saw them. The branches were in the way except when there was a strong gust of wind, apologies for the poor quality.
The Ever Elusive Sora
This is the second bird that i was talking about in my previous post. I caught a glimpse of one last week thanks to a dog who “pointed” at it. The shot I took was blurred. Today I could hear them but was wondering if it would be another ten years before I got to see one. I crossed the road from one marsh to another and was sneaking along the shoreline, peering through the bushes. There it was! I got a few shots although the image is obsured by some branches. Not good quality but I am so happy that I got to see a Sora today. My next goal is to get a good shot of one ! 🙂
Great Blue Heron
I went to Elk Island National Park today and saw two special birds. First the great Blue Heron. It was fishing on the shoreline of Astotin Lake and I tried three times in different spots to get close. It was very overcast and somewhat dark, I had my ISO up to 400 and sometimes used manual mode sometimes AV and some times TV-wanted to make sure that i got some photos.On some of the photos the colours were all grey and all the pixilation was concetrated in the middle of the hologram. That is ironic because I am studying about light and grey cards. Some are cropped some are not. Enjoy!
Skimming across the Waters
I heard the sound of rushing water first, in a sporadic burst, then quiet, then the rush repeated.I looked up and out in the lake were a group of ducks. One would fall behind a bit then almost “run” across the water and catch up to the group. Then one or another would fall back and the catch-up was repeated. I believe one female was in the group, maybe it was to gain her attention. fascinating to watch and had its comical aspects. I have witnessed this a couple of times now. Though it is a distant shot, the photo speaks for itself. After getting home I looked it up in the field guide and realised they are Red-breasted Mergansers, not the Common as I had first thought. Enjoy!
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!
Great Day! So many birds! Yay!
Yup had a good day in the park and had some surprises such as when these birds went flying by and I assumed it was the mergansers and when I got home and looked on the computer they were American Avocets. What else? Song sparrows, Common Mergansers, Franklins Gull, Common Tern, Red-winged Blackbird, Kildeer, Greater Yellowlegs, Red-tailed Hawk, Western PeeWee,Yellow-Rumped Warbler(Myrtle),Phoebe,Piliated Woodpecker, Buff;eheads, Horned Grebes, Rednecked Grebes, Ringed-billed Gulls, White-crowned Sparrow.
Here’s the Avocets and the Franklin Gulls and greater Yellowlegs plus phoebe-not necessarily in that order)And I spoke too soon, Juie-I am getting scads of email -think it is a glitch in WordPress. Just temporary, right WordPress?Now WP, don’t go answering me back 79 times, ok?
Taking a Risk – Saying Yes, Saying No
Interesting, as I examine my self-sabotage lately. My old job was coming to an end and a new one beginning- I missed the photo club’s due dates to enter the year-end competitions-not that I would win, but it got me involved in doing something that I love to do-taking pictures and growing in skill and as a person. Other duties were distractions from the club activities and I would have to drop the club anyway because the meetings and outtings and workshops did not fit with my new schedule at the new job. I was very disappointed in myself for missing the photo-entry deadlines ( I am being so polite with words-i was p****d off at me and the world).
The closing of the old place where I worked was a long process as residents were being re-located and few of the promises from other organizations were kept- the whole process was so emotionally draining and I had injured my knee and was stuffing all the wrong food and gaining even more weight on an already overweight body. Not good self care. I had another job lined up because when we lost ours we had two days to apply for this new one that was offered and it appeared to be what I wanted except that I had to leave two weeks earlier than originally planned but Ihave another job waiting, in fact I started the day after I finished the other one. Aren’t I lucky! (so everyone told me) My part was to just ” go with the flow” and stop being so resistant cause that makes it worse and “align myself with spirit”, and “think positive”,blah, blah, blah . These were the messages that I was telling myself, but WHY WAS I SO MISERABLE?
I followed other people’s suggestions to go ahead, that it would be good and I love them for their encouragement BUT I had a big nagging sensation that I was people-pleasing and not listening to my intuition. I remembered reading once that self sabotauge can be a good thing when we say no to something that may not be a good choice for us in the long run.
In retrospect, when I was offered the chance of a new job it was too fast of a decision and when told that I got the new job, it was not a yippee! moment and while sitting in training I wanted to get the hell out of there and knew I was going to be very busy with the new job and accountable for planning and implementing a recreation program and surrounded by alot of people – could see some positives but my dreams were disappearing…it had already been happening for the last few weeks as I had no energy left for persuing my on-line course in Photography.
I wanted to get back into focusing on what I really want and let it manifest rather than ignoring my heart and forcing myself into the flow of this company which is a good company but all-consuming. I called the supervisor over at a break yesterday during training and said that I had been resisting and struggling for weeks but the bottom line is that I felt it just wasn’t a good fit for me and as I answered her Why? and described some feelings that went with job duties, I heard myself saying that that would just drive me crazy-then it was more concrete for me and her and we agreed that I would not stay. What did I feel? RELIEF!
Yes, there is some fear. Less secure but to be truthful the new job was only 30 hours a week. It is like I believe in God again, trusting in this outcome more than when I was trying to “fit” my schedule and my personality into the job. I believe that as I focus on what I want I will bring this into my life, that working on “not resisting” was just counter-productive and way too draining; I was only attracting more of what I did NOT want.
Finally- after agonizing over this issue for weeks, I made a choice. I followed my intuition. I said no to the job and yes to my dreams.
So…photo for the day? Maybe not a bird…Hmmm…maybe this one…
While at Elk Island National Park the other Day, I was observing different activities and practising panning the camera as birds flew by. This black-ringed gull touched down quickly one, two, three times then flew up. I followed it and was happy to get the ripples left behind where it had touched down as well as its reflection. Taken with 300mm zoom. Also got a shot of a red-necked grebe in grebe bay at Astotin Lake, alittle difficult to capture in the afternoon glow where the light was harsh..