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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.