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Highway 40 Loop

Highway 40 Loop

Another amazing trip out in Kananaskis Country, I took the entire Highwood loop heading south out of calgary. Shortly after going over the pass I spotted a young grizzly bear on the roadside (almost in the same place as on my previous trip), and spent quite a while photographing it before it wandered off into the trees. By the time I finished with the bear the weather which had started out pretty crappy had blown through, and it turned out to be an absolutely beautiful night.

Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
2013 Flood damage to Highway 40, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Canadian Moose in the mountains in summer, Kananaskis Country Alberta
Wild Canadian Moose in the mountains in summer, Kananaskis Country Alberta
Columbian ground squirrel in summer Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Columbian ground squirrel in summer Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic mountain views in the Summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Country

Not much to say, sometimes you just have a good day. I found this beauty on the side of Highway 40 and spent literally a couple of hours sitting back in the car watching. There was very little traffic and all the people that stopped to look were unusually respectful, turning off engines and staying in their cars. He/she never appeared to be even the slightest bit stressed out and had no reason to run off.

It was there on the roadside long enough that I eventually left it at one point, but when I ran into a group of Big-Horned Sheep a kilometre or so down the road, heading at a fast pace straight toward the bear I thought I would go back and see what happened. In the end it wasn’t all that exciting. The herd was trotting along down the middle of the road when suddenly all of them stopped in their tracks and looked up at the direction of the bear. There was a pause and then they all turned and ran back in the direction that they had come from. The bear didn’t even notice. In it’s defence I should point out that it was directly up wind of the sheep.

Of all the Bears I’ve seen this was definitely my best encounter to date, and one of the most beautiful example of an Eastern Slope Grizzly Bear I have ever seen.

Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in summertime, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Grizzly bear feeding on summer foliage, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Great Blue Heron perched in a pine tree
Great Blue Heron perched in a pine tree

 

Jasper Camping

Jasper Camping

Spent the weekend camping in Jasper National Park. Saw lots of Black Bears, but no grizzlies. The cubs in the tree would have been a definite highlight, if it wasn’t a total shooting gallery with about a dozen other photographers lined up there in the middle of the road. Weather was really good, which was somewhat unfortunate because it made for a lot of situations with really bad light, ie. the cubs in the tree, and the mother and cub down on the lakeshore. There was a bunch of elk in and around our campsite, and I saw my first baby Elk that still had spots, but wasn’t able to get a shot of it. Overall it was a pretty typical trip to Jasper with lots of driving and a bunch of bears and other wildlife to photograph.

Fairmont – British Columbia

Fairmont – British Columbia

I got a really good deal on a week long stay at a place by the Fairmont Hotsprings and headed out for some R&R. I spent the whole day driving out, through Kananaskis and Banff and Kootenay National Parks, stopping first at Gap lake to watch a variety of small songbirds. The weather was beautiful and I had great time exploring the shorelines at various points along the Bow and Kootenay rivers.

Once I got to Fairmont the weather turned rainy and overcast for the next few days, and I spent a lot of time relaxing around the hotel. That’s not to say I didn’t do much, I did a whole lot of driving all over the area. I explored the forestry roads in search of White Swan Lake. Photographed Colombia Lake at sunset. Drove a dirt track on the south side of the river valley halfway to Golden (and then continued on the rest of the way on the highway). Went hiking down to a old gold miners camp along a small creek. Walked around Canal flats where an old canal had been dug between Columbia Lake and the river which is in a different watershed.

I had really been hopeful that I would see some wildlife, but it was a bit of a letdown. The marshes and ponds were strangely devoid of waterfowl (despite it being the annual bird festival in the area). I did spot a black bear about 2 kilometres from the hotel after driving all the way to Golden and back without seeing anything. I had on my wide lens and after it crossed the road in front of my car I watched it from a stand up and scratch its back on a telephone pole while I was fumbling around with my camera, and of course it was gone by the time I got my long lens on.

I spent a lot of time driving up and down some sketchy forestry roads, but apart from a couple of deer and a huge flock of Coots in one of the mountain lakes it was entirely unproductive.

The highlight was an afternoon spent in the reed beds near Canal Flats, which was full of  of Great Blue Herons. The light was pretty crappy so I was excited to go back the next day, but the Heron’s were mostly all gone.

As far as photography goes the way there and back again through Banff and Kananaskis was likely more productive than all the time I spent in BC, but I read an entire book about Coastal Wolves and spent more than a few hours in the jacuzzi tub. So I guess it was a successful trip.

 

 

Banff National Park

Banff National Park

I went out to Banff for my annual February weekend at the timeshare. The weather was icy cold, despite the beautiful clear blue skies. We did a lot of driving around looking for wildlife. The first night there I spotted a bunch of Elk up on tunnel mountain drive and nearly died of hypothermia (ok not really) trying to photograph them. The light was on it’s way out so I had to get out of the car to use my tripod, although I think my shivering negated most of its effects. The next day we spotted a coyote walking down the railroad track off to the side of the Bow Valley Parkway. We made the usual stops at Vermilion Lakes and Castle Mountain. But it was too cold to really do a whole lot and we spent more time in the hot tub and lounging around the hotel than we did out taking pictures.

 

Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Wild Elk herd, Banff National Park Alberta Canada in winter
Snow covered winter mountain views, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Snow covered winter mountain views, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Coyote in a field of snow, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Coyote in a field of snow, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount Rundle and Vermillion lakes in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount Rundle and Vermillion lakes in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount Rundle and Vermillion lakes in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount Rundle and Vermillion lakes in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Bow river and Castle Mountain in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Bow river and Castle Mountain in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Sun setting over snow covered forest, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Sun setting over snow covered forest, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Bow river and Castle Mountain in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Bow river and Castle Mountain in winter, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Elk Island Nation Park

Elk Island Nation Park

After my experience at Elk Island National Park in September 2012 (http://photoboom.ca/wp/?p=4575) I had been wanting to go back for another visit, and more specifically was hoping to visit in the winter and photography some bison in the snow.

This trip was a fair bit less successful, while we did see the bison herd it was way off in the distance, on the other side of the lake. We saw, and heard a bunch of coyotes, but never really got close enough to get decent pictures.

We did however have an interesting and close up encounter with one bison. While driving around the back side of Astotin lake when we came around the corner to find a lone bison in the middle of the road. When he spotted us his behavior was, well amusing to say the least. He (I’m assuming it was a young male by it’s demeanour, but I really have no idea) was jumping around and dancing up and down the side of the road shaking his head around and throwing up snow with his horns. I think it was a bit of foreplay and he was seriously considering mounting our truck. Either that or he thought we were a dominant bull and was getting ready for a fight. Unfortunately we were in a bad position and I wasn’t able to photograph any of his antics, but eventually he calmed down and headed off across the lake.

 

Coyotes crossing a frozen lake, Alberta Canada
Coyotes crossing a frozen lake, Alberta Canada
Wild Plains Bison feeding on a frozen lakeshore, Elk Island National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Plains Bison feeding on a frozen lakeshore, Elk Island National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Plains Bison feeding on a frozen lakeshore, Elk Island National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Plains Bison feeding on a frozen lakeshore, Elk Island National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Plains Bison feeding on a frozen lakeshore, Elk Island National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Plains Bison feeding on a frozen lakeshore, Elk Island National Park Alberta Canada
Banff & Yoho National Park

Banff & Yoho National Park

I hadn’t really planned it, but after contemplating spending the weekend doing chores and cleaning the house I decided a weekend in the mountains was a far more appealing prospect. So I grabbed my gear packed a bag and headed west. My first stop was Bow Valley Provincial Park where I discovered an incredible view of Mount Yamnuska and sat basking in the sun on the shores of the Bow River for a long while, wishing that I had brought my fishing rod along and making a mental note to come back and try my luck on the river someday.

It had been late in the day when I left town and by the time I got to Banff I only had an hour or two of daylight left so I headed up to lake Minnewanka and then Mount Norquay for a look around before settling in to the hotel and a long soak in the hot tub.

Somewhere along the way I decided to give Yoho National Park a try. I think it was actually the hotel brochure that made me realize I had never been to Emerald Lake before, and although I have been to Takakkaw Falls I have never really photographed it.

Dawn’s light would have seen me racing west on the Trans-Canada, had there been any light coming through the heavy layers of overcast clouds that smothered the sunrise. I drove up the winding mountain road to the lake and wandered the shoreline for a little while. It really is a beautiful lake, but I found the effect slightly lessened by the hotel, and it’s residents out jogging around the lakeshore (despite the obscene hour) in bright neon clothes which really frustrated my picture taking. Still it would be worth another stop under better lighting conditions, although I would imagine it gets really crowded in the summer.

Apart from the people staying at the hotel I was the only person out on the road that early and spent a lot of time at the Natural Bridge area on the way back down, as well as chasing a couple of grouse up a tree and stopping in the middle of the road for a couple of wandering Elk.

Eventually I made it to Takakkaw Falls which made me very happy as I’ve been turned backed on a number of other occasions where they close the road for the winter, and I had no idea whether it would be open or not (turns out the road was scheduled to be closed the next day, so I just made it).

I spent a good hour or so crawling around on the rocks at the base of the falls. I had wanted to hike up a little ways, but the spray from the falls had coated all the rocks in a solid sheet of ice. So I had to settle with staying further down on the stream out of range of the spray. Which was probably good because it was plenty cold enough without having to face the falling water.

The weather was getting increasingly worse so I decided to head back a bit early, but couldn’t resist taking the long way up Spray Valley and back down Highway 40 in hopes of finding some wildlife, but apparently all the animals had already gone into hiding, and the drive was pretty uneventful.

Scenic Mount John Laurie Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount John Laurie Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount John Laurie Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mount John Laurie Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Banff Townsite in the Rocky Mountains Alberta Canada
Banff Townsite in the Rocky Mountains Alberta Canada
Canoe Dock, Emerald Lake in Autumn, Yoho National Park, BC
Canoe Dock, Emerald Lake in Autumn, Yoho National Park, BC
Canoe Dock, Emerald Lake in Autumn, Yoho National Park, BC
Canoe Dock, Emerald Lake in Autumn, Yoho National Park, BC
Scenic Kicking Horse River, Yoho National Park, BC
Scenic Kicking Horse River, Yoho National Park, BC
Wild juvenile Elk, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Wild juvenile Elk, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Spruce Grouse in Autumn, Yoho National Park
Spruce Grouse in Autumn, Yoho National Park
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Takakkaw Falls area Yoho National Park British Columbia Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Jura Canyon

Jura Canyon

Jura Canyon

  • Distance – Return – 6 km
  • Elevation Gain – 144 metres

I wasn’t overly sure I was feeling up to a hike when I parked my car in front of the cement plant on the side of Highway 1A. The wind was blowing so strong it slammed my car door closed on me as I was trying to get my pack ready, which is never a good sign. But I had been promised it was an easy hike, and that there would be Poutine at the end of it so off I went.

The hike was fairly straight forward following up a dry streambed to the top where it comes out through a narrow rock-walled canyon. Which is apparently a lot of fun in the summer when you can wade in the pools and climb all over the canyon. But in October it was mostly dry and what water there was was icy cold and half frozen. Still we had fun climbing around the canyon walls trying to avoid getting wet.

One of the more interesting parts of the hike was to see not only all of the damage caused by the recent floods, but also to see what they had done to deal with future flooding. The streambed we followed up to the canyon, despite now being completely dry, had apparently flooded quite severely and they had come in with graters and earthmovers and cut a massive channel down the mountainside that could probably hold the entire flow of the Bow River.

The weather had improved quite a lot by the time we got back the cars, so after the obligatory stop in Canmore for poutine I decided to make a quick, although not very productive trip up Highway 40.

Hiking views Jura Canyon, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Hiking views Jura Canyon, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Hiking views Jura Canyon, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Hiking views Jura Canyon, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Moose in a mountain meadow
Wild Moose in a mountain meadow

 

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Wilcox Pass – Jasper National Park

Wilcox Pass – Jasper National Park

Wilcox Pass – Jasper National Park

  • Distance – Return (Where we decided to turn around) – 8 km
  • Elevation Gain – 389 metres

The trailhead to Wilcox Pass is located on the side of the parkway only a few kilometres south of the Columbia Icefields visitor centre. Being a fairly easy hike its a big draw for all the tourist that visit the centre, making it one of the busiest hikes in Jasper National Park. Even on a cold day in September there was a lot of people on the trail, that and the fact that you can hear the cars on the highway below for most of the hike definitely brings down the enjoyment level, but the views of the mountains and the Icefields and the meadow make it well worth the effort.

The hike starts out climbing through a beautiful old-growth forest. Although only a moderately climb it was definitely made worse by the weight of my 500mm lens, and the fact that I had been driving for the previous four or five hours. Once out of the forest the trail opens up above the tree line with an incredible view of the Athabasca Glacier, the visitor centre, the highway, and all of the towering mountains that surround the area. Eventually the trail leads up into a massive wide open alpine plain that goes on for what looks like a couple of kilometres.

I’m not really sure where the actual trail goes or how far of a hike it’s supposed to be, there seems to be a few different descriptions online, although I did read somewhere that you can hike all the way to Tangle falls (another stopping point on the 93) but then you would need a ride back to the trailhead. On this occasion we basically just hiked up to the alpine plain and kept going until we decided to turn back.

One of the main draws to the pass is the Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep that frequent the area (hence me lugging my long, heavy lens up the mountain). We were not disappointed, and found a group of large healthy adult Big Horned Sheep feeding and drinking at a watering hole out in the open meadow. We stopped and photographed them for a quite a while (the whole time wishing I had dragged my tripod up along with the long lens) before heading back down the way we came.

Did I mention it was cold and extremely windy out in the open….

Overall a great hike, and well worth the effort, I look forward to going back when I have more time to spend exploring the area.

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Scenic Mountain Views, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Wilcox Pass, and views of the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Wilcox Pass, and views of the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada
Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park, Alberta Canada

 

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Pika at Rawson Lake

Pika at Rawson Lake

Rawson Lake 

  • 8 Kilometres Return
  • 280 Metre Elevation Gain

After my first trip to Rawson Lake back in 2011 (read my previous my more detailed post about the hike here.. http://photoboom.ca/wp/?p=3129), I’ve been wanting to go back for a number of reasons. The first of which was for the pikas. There is a huge talus field running along the south side the lake, and on my previous trip I could hear the high pitched whistles of the small rodents all over the mountain side. Although I know of a couple other places were pikas can be found (there’s a small colony on the way to Elbow Lake), but the one at Rawson Lake is far larger and more populated than most. The pikas are a small animal, and although I’ve been able to get close to some in the past, they are quite small and I was never able to get close enough with my 200 mm lens to satisfy me. So, armed with my 500 mm lens I was looking forward to getting some nice close up shots.

After lugging my heavy lens up to the lake we were not disappointed, they were literally all over place, running back and forth collecting foliage for their winter stores.

The second reason I wanted to go back there was to do some more fishing at such a beautiful mountain lake. That being said I ended up having so much fun photographing the pikas that I never really ended up doing much fishing.

I made two major mistakes on this trip up to the lake. The first was not bringing my tripod, it’s heavy and awkward, and I didn’t want to pack it the 280 metres of elevation up the mountainside to the lake. It would definitely have been worth the effort to bring it as they are fast moving little animals, and with the lake sinking into the shade of the mountain so early the extra stability in low light would have been helpful. The second mistake was to go so late in the day, Mount Sarrail towers so high and close to the west side of the lake that the sun slips behind it so early we didn’t have much time to enjoy the beautiful autumn day.

By the time we got back to the shores of Upper Kananaskis Lake, the sun was finally setting for real, and we were able to catch one of the most impressive mountain sunsets I’ve ever seen. Once again, I was left wishing I had brought my tripod.

Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild Pika feeding on grass in a talus field, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Mountain views, Rawson Lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Mountain views, Rawson Lake, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada
Mountain sunset over Kananaskis Lake, Alberta Canada

 

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Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Country

Another great drive down Highway 40 and Spray Lakes Trail in Kananaskis Country, with a rather cute Bighorn Sheep near Galatea trailhead, a Moose in the meadows by Mount Shark, and a somewhat ugly Cinnamon Black Bear feeding on berries near the shores of Spray Lake….

 

Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild moose feeding among bushes, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild moose feeding among bushes, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cinnamon coloured Black Bear feeding on berries, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Cranbrook, B.C.

Cranbrook, B.C.

We decided to take a weekend trip down to Cranbrook in British Columbia and although I’m not really sure why we decided to go there it seemed like a good idea at the time. I think the original destination was Kimberly, but when we got into town it was basically empty, so we decided to continue on to Cranbrook. The weekend turned out to be pretty uneventful and we didn’t end up doing a whole lot other than getting lost on some crappy forestry roads, and a really short hike that was supposed to go to a waterfall, but since the trail was washed out and neither of us wanted to get our feet wet, we never got within sight of the actual falls.

We also took a walk around a wetland on the edge of town, and photographed some Grebes and other waterfowl. Overall not very exciting, at least until we got back to Alberta, where we found a couple of young Osprey in a nest on top of a bridge at Castle Mountain in Banff. Although still juvenile they were nearly adult size, and we watched for a long time  while up on the nest, one of them tested out it’s wings, flapping away on the verge of becoming airborne, but never quite achieving liftoff. Further down the parkway we ran into a pair (mother and yearling or two year old cub I think) of Black Bears feeding on berries in front of a mob of people.

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Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on berries, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Juvenile Osprey on a nest learning to fly, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Scenic Castle Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Scenic Castle Mountain, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Scenic Mountain views of the Kootenay River, Kootenay National Park, BC Canada
Eared Grebe feeding young on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
Eared Grebe feeding young on a prairie lake, Alberta Canada
White-tailed deer alert to danger on the forests edge
White-tailed deer alert to danger on the forests edge
Eastern Kingbird perched on a reed over a prairie lake
Eastern Kingbird perched on a reed over a prairie lake
Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park, Montana

(Pictures are in reverse orders… and it’s far to much of a hassle to rearrange them)

I took a trip down across the border to Glacier National Park in Montana to go camping for the weekend. My original plan was to stay at Many Glaciers, but after a three hour wait at the border, by the time I got there the only site still available backed onto the parking lot for a hotel or grocery store or something like that, so I decided to continued on to glacier. After driving over Logan’s Pass I ended up at Avalanche Campground which turned out to be a really neat area. The campground is in a area of rainforest right next to a grove of large cedars with a boardwalk hiking trail where I spent my first evening wandering around the river and forest (see map below).

I got up stupidly early the next morning and drove back up to the top of the pass in hopes of shooting some pictures. As beautiful as Going to the Sun road is it’s not very photogenic from the road, especially in the early morning when sun hasn’t made it up above the mountains and half the range is still in shadow. I almost hit a Mountain Goat with my car coming around one of the really tight corners near the top of the pass, and was able to snap a picture of it on the way day but with its winter fur still being shed it wasn’t a very pretty one.

After failing to get any good pictures up on the pass I thought I would try going the other direction. I ended up doing a lot of driving allover the place following the river out of the park and doing my best to get lost on some terrible gravel roads. I had been told by someone that there was a lot of wildlife in the park, which was my main reason for going down there, but other than the goat on the pass and a Snowshoe Hare in a parking lot I didn’t see a single thing.

Eventually I made it back to camp and feeling a bit defeated decided I had enough driving for the day. The campground I was staying at was also the trailhead for a hike to Avalanche Lake so I thought I would give it a try.

The hike up to the lake was a really nice change from all of the time I had spent in the car over the last couple of days.

The hike is a basic forest trail climbing steadily over the 4 kilometres and gaining about 200 metres in elevation to the mountain lake. The lake was quite beautiful and I was really wishing I had my fishing rod with me as the fish were jumping and surface feeding all over the lake. I didn’t get to stay at the lake nearly as long as I would have liked, but it was evening when I started, and completely dark by the time I got back.

On the way back I decided to go through Waterton in hopes of seeing some wildlife. I was not disappointed. Within a kilometre or two  of crossing the border back into Canada I spotted a moose but didn’t have time to grab my camera, a couple kilometres after that a grizzly crossed the road in front of me, but was gone by the time I got there.

A bit further on I caught something moving out of the corner of my eye and pulled over to have a look. I spent a good ten minutes sitting in my car catching occasional glimpses of movement before I finally figured out what I was seeing. It was huge funny looking bird out in the tall grass, my first Sandhill Crane. Once I figured out it wasn’t a bear I climbed out of the car and went stalking through the grass and bushes to try and get a picture of it. It turned out there was actually two of them, and they move fast, seaming to disappear completely in one place and popping up in another a few moments later. I only manage to get one or two clear shots, but the sighting was enough to make me feel better about the previous lack of wildlife.

Once in the main part of Waterton I drove the Red Rock Canyon Parkway and spent ten minutes watching a cinnamon coloured black bear at a distance, then checked the flats looking for Elk but didn’t spot any. Leaving Waterton I opted for the slower route home through Glenwood so that I could make a quick stop at the windmill farms.

 

Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Windfarm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Wind farm in the scenic prairies, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Farm country in the foothills of the rocky mountains, Alberta Canada
Wild black bear, Waterton National Park, AB.
Wild black bear, Waterton National Park, AB.
Wild Sandhill Crane, Waterton National Park, Alberta Canada
Wild Sandhill Crane, Waterton National Park, Alberta Canada
Chief Mountain
Chief Mountain
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Many Glaciers National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park Montana USA

 

Hike to Avalanche Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana

  • Distance – Return (with some walking along the lakeshore) – 8.1 km
  • Elevation Gain – 227 metres

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Snowshoe Hare in summer colours feeding on grass
Snowshoe Hare in summer colours feeding on grass
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Mountain goat, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Mountain goat, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenicriver views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic river views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA
Scenic mountain views, Glacier National Park Montana USA

Rainforest Boardwalk, Glacier National Park, Montana

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Random Driving Tour around Glacier National Park and Home to Calgary

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Camping – Jasper National Park Alberta

Camping – Jasper National Park Alberta

What a great weekend… Karl and I headed out to Jasper on Friday morning making quick time (especially for us) up Highway 93. We stopped briefly for a Mountain Goat on the side of a cliff overlooking the highway, but other than that it was a pretty uneventful drive with cloudy overcast skies not worth photographing.

We made it to the campground relatively early, we had reserved a spot at Whistlers Campground, and on the way in we passed a bunch of Elk with cute little spotted fawns, but were too lazy to change lenses and decided to come back after setting up camp. Big big mistake, we never saw them again.

Later on we had some great success on the Malign Lake Road spotting a bunch of Black Bears, although with overcast skies the light was lacking and faded quickly, but the road was quite and we were able to spend some time photographing them.

The next morning we drove west to Mount Robson and encountered a grizzly on the side of Highway 16, but couldn’t really get into a decent position, until it crossed over the road in front of us. I managed to grab a couple of shots as we passed by on the busy highway, but it was so deep in the ditch that the angle made it almost impossible.

Back at the campground we met up with the Derkowski’s for lunch while they set up camp. After a bit more evening exploring and a ridiculously close encounter on foot with a black bear, we had spotted it from across the lake then parked and walked down to were it was heading and it popped up right in front of us, closer than we had expected.

After that it was dinner time and we feasted on some of the best ever Campfire Chili, and relaxed around the fire enjoying the all you can burn firewood that the campground offers.

The way back was slow with traffic. A washroom break was made amusing by the Parkway’s resident Ravens, and we spotted a beautiful bull Elk with velvet antlers on the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff.

 

Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Close up of a Grizzly Bear feeding on Dandelions, Jasper National Park  Alberta Canada
Close up of a Grizzly Bear feeding on Dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain goat  on a Cliff face, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Mountain goat on a Cliff face, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
American Black Bear (Ursus americanus)
Adult Grizzly Bear crossing a highway, Jasper National Park  Alberta Canada
Adult Grizzly Bear crossing a highway, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Bald Eagle perched in a dead tree, Jasper National Park Alberta
Bald Eagle perched in a dead tree, Jasper National Park Alberta
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Scenic mountain views, Maligne Lake Jasper National Park Alberta, Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear walking down a road, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Black Bear feeding on dandelions, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Large cast iron pot of spicy chili cooking over a campfire
Large cast iron pot of spicy chili cooking over a campfire
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Common Raven, Jasper National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Wild Bull Elk, Banff National Park Alberta Canada
Sibbald Meadows – Moose

Sibbald Meadows – Moose

Rule #1… Always have your camera ready…

I headed out to do some fishing at Sibbald meadows Pond, and shortly after turning off the highway I was thinking I should pull over and put my long lens on the camera when I spotted this big beautiful (if somewhat shaggy) moose standing knee deep in a marsh with a mouthful of grass staring straight at me… And my camera was still in the bag. It was easily the most iconic moose scene I’ve ever witnessed, and I totally missed it.  I stopped in the middle of the road and tried to gear up as quick as I could and got off a couple shots before it headed off away from the road. But it doesn’t really do justice to the original scene.

I don’t think I caught any fish on this particular evening, but a moose sighting, as well as some bluebirds I had been meaning to photograph (there’s a section of the road to the pond lined with nesting boxes), made for a nice evening out..

Wild North American Moose, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Wild North American Moose, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Male Mountain Bluebird on a barbed wire fence post
Male Mountain Bluebird on a barbed wire fence post
Osprey in a pine tree, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Osprey in a pine tree, Kananaskis Country Alberta Canada
Tree Swallow perched on a fence post
Tree Swallow perched on a fence post
Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan

Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan

I first read something about the endangered Sage Grouse in Grasslands NP a few years ago… and then I read about the Black Footed Ferrets which had become extinct in the wild, until recently when they were successfully reintroduced into Grasslands NP from captive populations. Then I read about the Golden Eagles that nest in areas of the park, and the Burrowing owls and Prairie Dogs (not to be confused with common ground squirrels) that make their home there. While all of these caught my interest, the truth is I had never been to Saskatchewan and I live too close to have never visited our neighboring province. At about 650 kilometres from Calgary it is a long drive to the park, and I couldn’t really justify the distance until I got a super-telephoto lens, as most of the wildlife in the park are birds or small mammals, and I figured it would pretty much be a waste of time with anything shorter than a 300 or 400mm lens.

Not only is it a long drive, but it’s an extremely uneventful one.  I only stopped once on the drive there, and that was 600 km in and I only stopped to get gas and dinner (knowing it was the last place to fill up the tank before the park). Toward the end of the drive I turned east onto a rather rundown and potholed but still somewhat paved farm road with ponds and sloughs along the ditches that where filled with ducks and waterfowl of all different kinds. I’ve never before seen such abundance, everywhere I looked there were birds in the ponds, and the skies, and the fields, on every tree branch and fence post, it was pretty unbelievable.

The motto of Saskatchewan is  “The land of living skies” I always thought that was in reference to the clouds and big blue wide open skies. But I was wrong, it’s the birds, and although my experience of the province in very limited, I can say its a very suitable motto.

The village at the edge of the park is tiny (there isn’t even a gas station), with little more than a visitor centre (which was closed) and a ‘hotel’ that was nothing more than a house with rooms to rent, and after a quick glance decided tenting in the park was a better option.

The park itself consists of little more than a gravel road running though the open grasslands with a treeless campground on a hilltop in the middle. There were free roaming bison wandering throughout, and the birds were so active that I was stopping every 10 metres to take pictures. I saw my first burrowing owls, the large prairie dog towns, a lone pronghorn, and young bison butting heads and chasing each other around, as well as more small bird than I could count or identify. kingbirds, and mourning doves, and meadowlarks, sparrows of all different design. I almost hit a harrier hawk with my car but it flew off before I could get a decent photo.

Eventually I made it to the campground just as darkness was setting in, and found it completely empty, to say it was a bit eerie is an understatement, but thankfully there was a box of firewood so at least I was able to have a fire.

I was really hoping to try taking some pictures of the night sky and saw the faint glow of northern lights dancing around overhead, but the stars never came out, thick fog and a light dusting of dry snow began to blanketed the campground so I headed off to bed.

I was woken in the middle of the night by the ear piercing yips and howls of coyotes coming from every direction there must have been at least a dozen of them and I was completely surrounded. They were so close that the volumn of there voices hurt my ears and I could hear their footsteps in the tall grass as they circled around my tent. Coyotes don’t frighten me much but it did occur to me that a large pack could become a serious problem. Then I had an idea, and hit the panic button on my car remote, and literally laughed to myself as I heard them scatter, their yips and noises moving quickly away over the side of the hill, before they joined together in a choirs of howls now at a distance.

I woke at sunrise and packed up camp quickly, not sure what my plan was I figured I shouldn’t leave my tent behind just in case. I drove back and forth all morning taking pictures hoping to spot a Sage Grouse or Ferret or Fox, but wasn’t that lucky.

I did spot what I later learned was an American Bittern feeding on insects in a roadside ditch and spent a half hour or so watching the funny looking bird.

Grasslands NP consists of two different areas and I was hoping to visit the second one as well. So when I found a road heading off in that direction I thought I would see where it led. The gravel road quickly turned to a dirt track, and then left the park behind, after a while I started to get nervous, but there was no where to turn around so I kept going, and going, and going.

Two hours later… yes… two extremely nerve-wrecking hours later I finally popped out onto a real gravel road with no idea were I was. Grabbing my gps out of the trunk I turned it on to find out I was literally in the middle of nowhere (If you look at the gps track at the bottom of the page you can see where I was when I turned it on… and how far I now was from the entrance in the southwest corner of the park and access to the campground). I briefly debated continuing on to the eastern park but it was still a long way and with no campground and no Idea what is actually there I was too tired and frustrated to keep exploring, and headed home instead.

Grasslands National Park is an amazing place. Although in all reality I was only in the park for about 12 or 13 hours much of it spent sleeping, I left with a feeling of awe at the place and can’t wait to go back. Next time I will definitely have to plan things a bit better, and probably go later in the year and not alone. Because frankly having an entire National Park to yourself may sound pretty cool (I didn’t see one single other person the whole time in the park), but in all reality it’s kind of creepy.

 

Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Barn Swallow Perched on a sign, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Barn Swallow Perched on a sign, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
White-tailed deer in open prairies at dawn, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
White-tailed deer in open prairies at dawn, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Baird's Sparrow, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Baird’s Sparrow, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Sharp-Taied Grouse, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Sharp-Tailed Grouse, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Eastern Kingbird, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Eastern Kingbird, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Western Meadowlark, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Western Meadowlark, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Black-tailed Prairie Dogs, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Plains Bison in Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada
Pronghorn Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Pronghorn Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Pronghorn Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Pronghorn Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Mourning Dove perched on a branch, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Mourning Dove perched on a branch, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Blue-winged Teal in a prairie pond, Alberta Canada
Blue-winged Teal in a prairie pond, Alberta Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Burrowing Owls, Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
American Bittern hunting among tall grass in a prairie wetland, Grasslands National Park Canada
View of the entrance of  Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
View of the entrance of Grasslands National Park Saskatchewan Canada
Large tree on the side of a country gravel road, Saskatchewan Canada
Large tree on the side of a country gravel road, Saskatchewan Canada
Large tree on the side of a country gravel road, Saskatchewan Canada
Large tree on the side of a country gravel road, Saskatchewan Canada

 

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Springtime in Kananaskis Country

Springtime in Kananaskis Country

I started out in the prairies, watching swallows (which are almost impossible to photography) working on their nest at one of the roadside birdhouses. After that I headed up through Jumpingpound spotting Buffleheads and Goldeneyes in one of the ponds along the way. Next it was a White-Crowned Sparrow (my first), when I stopped to use the washroom at Mount Lorette Ponds.

When I left town the weather was pretty crappy, windy and cloudy, and not very nice, but the further I got into mountains the nicer it got. By the time I made it to the Shark Mountain turn-off on Spray-Lakes trail it was a beautiful spring evening. While there was still snow higher-up, it was great to see the rivers and streams had already thawed and were flowing high with spring melt.

On the return trip I spotted a pair of Grizzlies (mother and cub), walking down highway 40 from what must have been at least a kilometre or two in the distance. Cutting the engine I coasted down the hill doing my best not to spook them, but a winters worth of gravel on the roadway grinding under my tires was enough to scare them off the road before I could get very close. Thankfully I had my long lens and 1.4X on and was able to get some great shots of them crossing the road and climbing over the guard rail.

After leaving the road they climbed down the embankment, and I spent a half hour or so before it got too dark watching them (from a really bad angle) while they fed on new spring growth.

There was an Elk on the hillside about 20 metres behind them, and neither the bear nor the Elk even blinked at the others presence, they just kept on grazing. I found this very interesting, because everyone knows bears are blood thirsty carnivorous that kill everything they see…

 

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

 

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)
Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Elk  (Cervus canadensis)
Elk (Cervus canadensis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear mother and Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear mother and Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Mother and Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep
Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Porcupine

Porcupine

I wanted to try some fishing down on the Bow River south of Carburn Park near Douglasdale and the Deerfoot Bridge. It was a beautiful day to be out on the river, and although the fish weren’t biting at all I had a run-in with a porcupine on the way back, although the light was pretty much gone I was able to get a few shots in, and get close enough to use my flash.

Wild Osprey in Flight, Alberta Canada North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) North American porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum)

Hinton South

Hinton South

After a mostly uneventful day in Jasper I thought that rather than trying to shoot ugly scenery under grey overcast skies I would spend the day exploring the unknown stretch of Highway 40 between Hinton and Rocky Mountain House (I’ve previously driven the stretch from Highway 1, to Rocky Mountain House, and from Highway 1 all the way south to Highway 3 in the Crowsnest Pass and the US border).

As expected it was a long day of driving, with more than a few rather sketchy sections with the highway winding around and in a few cases making use of what must have been little more than forestry logging roads.

The weather was such that there was very little opportunity for any kind of landscape photography, and for most of the day you could hardly see the mountains at all.

I did have a couple of run-ins with some large groups of both Big-Horned Sheep and Elk, which is always fun.

What I found really interesting was how much industry is going on up there, with coal mines and logging operations all over the place.

Overall it was another pretty uneventful day, but I could imagine the drive being a lot more interesting and enjoyable on a sunny summer day.

Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep Coal Mine Coal Mine Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep Elk  (Cervus canadensis) Elk  (Cervus canadensis) Elk  (Cervus canadensis) Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep

Jasper – Fox

Jasper – Fox

I thought I would go up to Jasper for the weekend and see how spring was progressing in the mountains. It wasn’t really progressing at all, in fact it was still totally winter for most of the drive up Highway 93. Jasper itself was at least mostly snow free, although all the lakes and ponds were still ice covered. The drive up was completely uneventful apart from the terrible driving conditions at the Columbia Icefields. I did catch a glimpse of a Black Bear but it was long gone into the forest before I could get the car stopped and the camera out.

I had completely given up for the night and was heading back from Maligne Lake when I spotted a fox sitting in the ditch on the side of the road by the turn-off to Maligne Canyon. The last bit of light was disappearing quickly and I did what I could to get a couple of shots in while it wandered along the roadside, stopping occasionally to mark its territory or pull  large disgusting lumps of grey winter fur from it’s tail and hindquarters. I stayed and watched until it was completely dark,  I even shot a few flash photos when it walked right up beside my car. This was the first fox I’ve ever had a chance to photograph, and although the light and scene was horrible and the fox was pretty awful looking because of it’s spring molting, It was a great experience to just watch it going about it’s business.

 

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