Wildlife! I love it!
As many of you know, I love wildlife. I love being outdoors, and photographing animals of all kinds. May long weekend presented itself with the normal outrageous fuel prices, but I never have let that stop me from venturing out into the mountains.
May 18 - I was up early and on the road at 6:30am. The goal was to hopefully see some Great Grey Owls on the Grand Valley Road NW of Cochrane, then to head down highway 11 (The David Thompson Highway) to Highway 93 and hopefully see my first bear(s) of 2013!
Well, on the way along the 1A west of Cochrane, there were quite a few hawks sitting on the top of the telegraph poles...a promising sign for wildlife for the day...hopefully lol! There were tons of hawks up GVR too! and I drove up, and down, and back up, Grand Valley Road, but unfortunately, no owls...at about 9am I gave up and started to head on the way to the Icefields Parkway. Heading north on hwy 22, North of Cochrane, there were hawks all over the place...about every mile there was one or two sitting on fence posts and such. Through Sundre, on the way to Caroline (luckily I beat their parade start so I was able to quickly get through town...), and onto a fuel stop at Rocky Mountain house. I was getting close to Nordegg where they recently had a very large, out of control, wildfire. Amazingly though, when passing Nordegg, I couldn't smell any smoke or see any burnt trees like a wildfire normally leaves. Although Nordegg was evacuated, it obviously didn't get "that" close, which is good.
Just west of Nordegg, there was a large lake and I could see about 5 helicopters flying around with buckets under them. One filled up the bucket so I got some great shots of that. Obviously there are still some hot spots so they're dousing those.
About 10 minutes East of the Banff National Park boundary, I saw a black bear at the side of the road. It was a big one, so the first thing I did was look for any young in case I was in between them...but there wasn't any around that I could see. I stopped and started taking photos. About 4 other vehicles briefly stopped, and over the 15-20 minutes I was there, I got some fantastic shots. The photo above is one of those.
I took off down the road, and about 1km down the road, there was another one. This one looked a little smaller, but just like the other one, just was content at eating dandylions. After about another 20 minutes of shooting away, I decided to keep going. When I got towards the Bow Summit on Highway 93, south of Saskatchewan crossing, I understood why I saw the bears where I saw them. There is a LOT of snow still south of Saskatchewan Crossing, so the bears are sticking to wear the food is, obviously.
What a great trip!!
May 19th - Sunday.
My photography friend Robin has wanted to come with me on a trip for quite some time. Unfortunately, she gave me heck for not telling her about my bear hunting trip yesterday.....so, I said let's go out and about today. So, since she knew an area where she had seen a Bald Eagle, and I want some good shots of a Baldie, finally, that was our main objective.
So, we headed to where she had seen it yesterday, and Friday, but on initial findings, we didn't see anything. A couple of hawks and such, but nothing "big". We headed down a bank into this gulley near the river, and we heard a rustle to our right. We both turned, and I instinctively looked through my lens...it was a Porcupine!!!! The first one I'd seen in the wild, in Calgary. I had seen a HUGE one when I was young, up near Redwater when I lived in Fort Saskatchewan, but wasn't a photographer at that time. This one was quite small...so maybe not so old. I'll have to do some research as to their average size and age...just to get a bit more information on it. By the time we got back onto the area we saw it, it was climbing a tree...what an amazing sight!! It was scratching itself on the hind area every now and then, and it was just a really cute animal....obviously can be quite painful with it's barbs, but cute all the same. :)
I took just over 400 photos of "Spike" (that's our name for it...) and we decided to head up the river bank to see if we could run into the Bald Eagle (or Baldie, as we call him/her...). Unfortunately, no Eagle...we headed back to see if Spike was still there, and he was...so Robin filled her card, and I took a bunch more. Still had a couple hundred shots left on the card as I headed out of the trees from where Spike was in his tree.
I looked up and the Bald Eagle was flying right over us, but I couldn't get my camera raised in time before it was gone...then, to my luck, it came back with something (what looked like a Rabbit or Gopher...) in it's talons. I watched to see where it sort of landed, and we went back down into the gulley to see if we could see anything, but no luck. On the path, I saw an object a ways away that just didn't "look" like it fit as part of a tree. Looking through my 500mm lens, I could see it was a Bald Eagle standing at it's nest!! We had found it!! I showed Robin where it was and we both snapped away....this is where an 800mm with a 2x converter would be just the perfect thing to have!! But, you have to work with what you have. :)
A fantastic afternoon....and so far, an amazing weekend!!
Now to post some photos of Spike and Baldie!! :)