Bald Eagle

Before they started nesting, these two mating Bald Eagles were hanging out. They were perched along side the Bow River, calling out every now and then while watching other birds below them. The eagles mate for life, they will keep nesting in the same area at the same nest. They will protect their nest territory from other eagles when needed. Few weeks after they were on their nest.

Bald Eagle 180617 Amar Athwal.jpg

Black Bear

Black Bear claws are adapted for them to easily climb trees, cubs right out of the den they are ready and capable. Unlike the long claws of the grizzly bears, the black bears have sharp, shorter and curved claws, perfect for climbing trees to get away from predators, a place to sleep, rest or to find food. Two black bears can get into a fight on a tree, the advantage would be for the bear  below, the upper bear can't fight face to face and when bears do climb down, their bottom has to be facing the bottom. In the case of this picture, the cubs were sleeping on the tree while their mother was feeding below. She climbed up the tree and woke up her cubs, the sleepy heads one by one climbed down.

Black Bear 180615 Amar Athwal.jpg

Black Bear

Lots of food out there for the bears to feed on, this male was travelling through the valley, stopping to eat. I'm sure this large male like the other large males has matting on his mind. During this time of the season they do lots of travelling, hoping to find mates. It's probably the only time of the year when they are not sleeping, when eating becomes secondary.

Black Bear 180612 Amar Athwal.jpg


I have seen my share of wildlife, each time I come across wildlife it reminds me why I live in the mountains. Getting to live in an amazing place, where the more I explore the more I want to be out there. Seeing this beautiful grizzly helps me look forward to my next outing.

Grizzly 180610 Amar Athwal.jpg


 In the morning I came across half a dozen elk, among them a new born calf, staying close to its mother. On the other side of elk were friends who were returning from bird watching, all getting to see a 15 to 16 kg calf, covered with spots. The mother was still licking the calf, trying to remove all sent that would give away the calf’s location to the predators. The mother was locating a secure spot for the calf, until it was ready to be able to run away from danger. Around the calving season there are more bear sighting in the area, all looking for an opportunity to locate a defenceless calf. Other predators join in as well, just minutes before this picture was taken, a female coyote was in the area, sent running by the elk. Soon after the mother took the calf into think vegetation, where the calf could rest, be nursed and kept safe. 

Elk 180608 Amar Athwal.jpg

Bighorn Sheep

I came across this young ram bottom of the valley, licking minerals off the ground. With the warmer weather, they are losing their winter coat and gaining weight with green vegetation to eat. But even with al the food warm weather brings to this and other bighorn sheeps, they still need to find minerals to stay healthy.

Bighorn Sheep 180604 Amar Athwal.jpg

Black Bear

Early on morning I saw an adult back bear eating, no sign of any other bears. A tree near the bear had something different on it, on closer inspection with my camera I saw something small and black. soon to my amazement the female adult went up to wake up her cubs, who were sleeping on the tree. One by one they came down.

Black Bear 180603 Amar Athwal.jpg

Common Nighthawk

Since mid April I have been getting out at 6am, birding.  I was doing the same few mornings back, hoping to hear and or see something interesting. The birds were singing all around me off all sizes. Yellow,  Tennessee and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, American Redstart, Willow Flycatchers, Clay-coloured, White-crowned and Song Sparrow to name a few. I even got surprised with not one, but two Gray Catbirds, one of them was singing while the other looked for food. There was one bird song I did not recognise. It was too far for me to get a close look, as I  listened to its calls in the distance, out of the grass next to the trail flew out a bird. It was moving too fast for me to get a picture of, so instead I watched it and tried to ID it. To my surprise, it landed middle of the trail just ten meters from me. It was my first sighting of a Common Nighthawk. A threatened species as of 2010, due to habitat loss and agricultural development. This nocturnal bird was most likely roosting in the grass and by chance I got too close, as soon as I took the pictures, it flew off into the bushes.

Common Nighthawk 180601 Amar Athwal.jpg


The big griz got right down to the food, he was hungry. There was green grass and dandelions for him to eat.  Have to put on all the weight he lost during the winter and add more to his frame. He would have lost easily over 100 pounds during his deep winter sleep, waking up very hungry. Now is time to eat and eat and looking for a female to mate with for the next number of weeks.

Grizzly 180530 Amar Athwal.jpg

Mount Temple

The clouds were moving in, after several summer like days in may, it looked as if rain was on its way. I was in the Lake Louise area and saw the dramatic looking sky above Mount Temple. I knew the pictures I had in mind, went to the location where I would get the picture I wanted.

Mount Temple 180527 Amar Athwal.jpg

Mountain Goat

he goal for the evening was to hopefully watch mountain goats on the side of the mountains. There was one adult and it was slowly making its way toward a falls that only exists during the snow melt or when there's a major rainfall. Opportunity presented itself, to take a picture of the goat and the falls. I had to be somewhat quick, did not know how long the goat was going to be there for and how close it was going to get to the water. From the valley, I framed the picture I wanted and then waited for the goat to get into the position I hoped for.

Mountain Goat 180525 Amar Athwal.jpg

Wood Duck

Depending on where you go birding, there are common birds in that area, they're not so common birds and then there are the most rare. Wood Ducks fall somewhere in the middle in Banff. Every year I try to get one good picture of the Wood Duck, Particularly of the male. Why the male, well if you have seen it's colouring in the sunlight, you would know why. It's as if has gone through a Photoshop wash. I was coming from my walk when a male Wood Duck flew in the opposite direction over the Bow River, landing  about 200 meters from where I was. I back tracked part of that distance and watched it coming in my direction along river. I picked a spot where I hope it would reach to get the picture I wanted. Using the willow shrubs as a blind, I then followed the bird through the camera. Keeping it in focus and waiting for it to reach the spot where  the sun was  shining. It was within a body length of the spot, it stopped , realising I was near and deciding what to do. Watching the male through the camera and lens, making it 12 times closer, it was lit up as it started moving away, I took the picture. 

Wood Duck 180518 Amar Athwal.jpg

Northern-pygmy Owl

For many, this last winter was tough, same for wildlife. Number of owls did not survive the winter, high level of snow and the snow staying on the ground for a  longer period of time were the main factors. The smaller and the larger owls were not able to find the food they needed to survive, some were spotted around urban centres starving. Even those who were taken to wildlife centres, help was too late But one thing wildlife is good at, is bouncing back, as long as they have a place to call home they will do the rest.

Northern Pygmy Owl 180504 Amar Athwal.jpg


Still weeks before most, if not all the bears will be up from their deep sleep. It's all about food, if they had food year around they would be no reason to sleep the winter away. Since in the mountains there is little to no food from late fall to spring, then sleeping is a great adaptation for surviving the winter. The big males are the first one to get up, the female with cubs and young bears are the last, the rest spread out in the middle. This big male who looks to be near or just under 600 pounds, looked like could still use more sleep when I saw him recently.

Grizzly 180427  Amar Athwal.jpg