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.
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.
Just Say Aw-w-w…
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!
Here are the photos from the winter when i was here at sunrise, obviously with a wider -angle lens.
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.
i did some walking and stopped to say hello to the campground managers. See why i like this place so much?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.
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.
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.
There were small groups of White -crowned sparrows.
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.
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.
I got down the road safely then thought it would be interesting to see Fish Lake again, under different circumstances.
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.
The feel of the springy ground beneath my feet was so comforting.
i looked at the larger views as well as the smaller things. Getting Cloudy and a breeze is picking up.
Bark and Moss
Old Man’s Beard
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.
Yellow Rumped Warblers
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.
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.
American White Pelicans
Mountain Bluebird -Male
Mountain Bluebird – Female
A Gaggle of Snow Geese
Greater White- Fronted Goose
and a terrific sky that had me running back to the bus to change lens.
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.
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.
I got a kick out of the Canada Geese lined up at the open side of the pond.
The House Finches are back in the neighbourhood. I like their songs, although my neighbour hates them since they nest right outside his window.
Here is a shot of a Handsome Canada Goose gander.
And you know who had to make an appearance, always helping himself to the spoils at the bird feeder.
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.
Both the male and female Downy Woodpeckers showed up This is the male.
This is the female Downy Woodpecker.The Black-capped Chickadees.
And my “lifer” the American Tree Sparrow. Yay!
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.
They were resplendent in their breeding plumage and their three part harmony astounding. Take a bow, gentlemen!
Views of Spring
The weather changes a lot all the time here in Alberta but in spring the changes from cold to warm, warm to cold ,make for interesting photo opportunities. This is what I saw on my walk the other day, mostly a larger view. Next post will feature more intimate views.
Last night while out walking, I saw two hares, almost pure white, but with brown patches, nibbling on the new sprouts of grass, aware of me but too engrossed with their meal to make a run for it.
And today, as usual, we had snow for the first day of spring which arrived here sometime after 4:oo p.m. I believe it will turn green once again – Happy Spring!
Touches of Spring- a Little Teaser
Some things that I have looked at in my journeys during the last week when I am not focused on birds. Although this is March, when we could get big dumps of snow, there has also been signs of spring weather with high temperatures in the teens , the arrival of flocks of geese, melting snow and big puddles.
My Header and profile picture are those of the colder months but for now I am leaving them “as is” because it could go that way again before the real spring arrives. There is a sign outside of a local business, “Think Spring. Think Harder.” I get it.
Looking back at Warm Weather-Vicious Fighting and Striving for Love
These male Red-Necked Grebes weren’t messing around- this fight lasted about 20 minutes, Probably too many pairs on one small pond in the city, thus fights for territory.
This male Red-winged Blackbird wants to be a lover, not a fighter.This Song Sparrow sings non stop.
This is a busy time of year for me because there is so much in the bird kingdom to observe in displaying behaviours.Lots of time outdoors shooting photos.
Took this during a walk when it was drizzling outside. The Wild Rose is the provincial flower of the Province of Alberta.They are blooming now or like this one, about to bloom.
Ellis Bird Farm
This farm is a bird sanctuary originally for bluebirds but this farm land and its many birdhouses have become home to a thriving colony of purple martins, house wrens, Robins, Cedar Waxwings, tree swallows, barn swallows, and American Goldfinches.We arrived to the sound of hammers pounding while a school groupmade bird boxes. There is a tea house here that tantalised us with delicious home made Rhubarb pie and ice cream and a bottomless cup of coffee, also delicious.We sat out on the patio then were jumping out of our seats to capture images of birds that would come to visit at one of the many feeders.
Bluebirds require a large territory and were the main thrust of the farm originally run by Winnie and John Ellis, now supported partially by the huge Union Carbide plant across the road. The bluebirds are off site but 350 boxes are maintained by the farm staff on a nest box trail in 100 square miles surrounding the farm. The population was decimated during a heavy snowstorm in April of 2008 but is slowly building up again.
There were two Great Horned Owls that hung around the wood lot but one was killed and the other moved off. There were rumours of anew resident but it is no longer here.This is the place where the Purple Martins are loaded with radios that record their flights from Alberta to the Amazon rainforest and back.
Other than eat pie and ice cream we roamed the gardens for hours and took lots of photos of the birds that we did see.
One of many of the Purple Martin houses on the property with two male residents.
A gazebo built by Union Carbide Ltd. where many Barn Swallows nest.
A busy Bee pollinating the Lilac bushes beside the Tea Room patio.
I found a female Goldfinch at the feeder beside the store.
The male American Goldfinch came for a visit at tea time.
There are a few Cedar Waxwings hanging around.
The air is full of the songs of House Wrens singing. They nest in the blue bird boxes on display around the yard.
The Tree swallows also nest in the bird boxes in the yard.Flowers have been planted everywhere, attracting butterflies and birds, including hummingbirds.Here are a few examples:
Ellis Bird Farm is on the net, http://www.ellisbirdfarm.ca and located south east of the City of Lacombe, Alberta. This is an educational and fun place to visit . I always plan to visit for the whole day, and have come back for more than one visit.Will post more photos from here tomorrow.
Had a brief but refreshing respite from the city and enjoyed the company of a friend as we went on a photo-shooting and birding binge. Here are some of the things that we found in Central Alberta on our first rainy day.
Alberta Rose-the flower of the province of Alberta
Wolf Willow Bushes
Osprey Tending to Her Young
Male Yellow Warbler
Catbird Feeding the Other-fledgling perhaps?
Rainy Green Reflections
A Call to Cull
Ah, back again. I needed to take pause to pay respect to the events of yesterday’s funeral after the violence against the police resulting in their deaths and injuries. Hope lies in its midst, as a community of heart assembles to support one another in caring, healing and recovering.
My computer is full and since I cannot afford a new one, some images have got to go. It is enjoyable to revisit much of what I have forgotten, sometimes making me pause in reflection, sometimes making me groan with “What was I thinking?” or just plain laughing out loud. I like this one from April of last year, so am keeping it for now.
1/15 sec @f/6.3, ISO 100, 170 mm
Big and Little
You would think that a red-winged blackbird is a fairly good size of bird. But when it is close to a Crow it is so much smaller. Size is relative. See for yourself.
Spring was a little late this year, the leaves were holding back as were the birds until one weekend a couple of weeks ago and everything burst into bloom and song. Everyone and their dogs were out enjoying the weather and celebrating the change. Here is a walk near the river valley.
What is that Call? What is that Bird?
I went on a bender of birding visits to local ponds and truly enjoyed my time. Now I am broke and staying put until the next pay check.Though the visits were not always successful in the way that I wanted, there was always something to discover. At one point, I heard a call that I knew was somewhat familiar, a kind of “witcha-witcha-witcha, whitcha” and I kept trying to spot whatever it was. The sound came from the thickets surrounding the marsh. This is what I captured-can anyone help me to ID it? I live in central Alberta, Canada. Not a great shot and not sure that the sound belongs to this particular bird. Any suggestions?
First Ruddy Duck this Year!
As I approached the pond , there were two photographers shooting away at something. Slowing down so I would not disturb them or their subject, I waited and watched for what they were focusing on. Oh yay, it was a Ruddy Duck! Aimed my lens and took a couple of shots-oh no, things in the way. Aim again. Better!
Checking the results later, the first couple were out of focus. My heart dropped. Then there were some more that were in focus. It sure gives me a lift to spot and capture the first images of this duck every year. Some of you may remember this was the duck that got me hooked on birding and I regularly went out with a friend, now passed, searching for our first look every spring.
He is a small duck but more than makes up for it with his machismo. When he got close to the Coot, his tail rose and he sputtered, which shook his whole body. At this pond there seems to be no mate but maybe she is nesting out of sight.
Shot in the late afternoon with a hand held camera.With so many patterns it is easy for the camera to go out of focus.
Scoot the Coot
I was minding my business, scanning the waters when all of a sudden there was a chase. Didn’t catch all of it but will share for the sake of the sequence. Got to hand it to those American Coots. They provide me with plenty of entertainment.They are aggressive, territorial, caring as parents, and have a myriad of vocalizations to listen to.
Aperture Priority at 1/1024 sec. f/8 130 mm, ISO 400