Moon

Life would be different if there was no Moon. There would be no eclipses, well Venus does get between the Sun and Earth, but just not the same. The nights would be much darker, we would see more looking up in the night sky. The tides, would be very small with the Sun causing them. With no tides caused by the Moon, there would be no tidal friction, which would mean the Earth would rotate faster. That would provide us with much shorter days, 6 to 8 hours long. The Earth's axial tilt would change greatly, which in turn would have a major effect on weather. With these and other effects on the Earth without the Moon, life would evolve differently. But thankfully we do have the Moon looking after us and can enjoy chocolate on the only planet that it grows on, as far as we know. 
 

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Castle Mtn

It was the morning after a good amount of snow had fallen onto Banff National Park. I had the day off and I was out taking pictures of beautiful winter scenery. I have taken many pictures of Castle Mtn from the road, I never get tired of it. For a while it was just me on the road, the few times I stopped along the way to take pictures of the morning light.

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Elk

This bull elk is facing a few challenges throughout the winter, main ones deal with the winter season, the cold temperatures and the amount of fallen snow.  Using more energy  if it's colder and more energy to get at the low quality food through the fallen snow. This bull like other elk may lose 20 to 25 percent of their weight over a winter and if he loses more than 30 percent, very likely he  will not survive  the winter. The winter might take it or if it's so weak,  predators the  likes of  wolves or cougars will take it. It helps when the days start getting longer, it means shorter cold nights to deal with. Using the dense forest as cover, it can be few degrees warmer in the forest and protection from the wind. It may not make a difference for one day, but over a whole winter, every bit adds up. For wildlife it's the survival of the fittest, literally.

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Marble Canyon

I had popped into Kootenay National Park to look for Mountain Goats high up on the mountain side. I lucked out, spotting five goats, then I was off to Marble Canyon. There was lots of snow in Kootenay, in some areas hip deep. After looking around I decided I wanted to take picture of the mountains to the East. I did a quick ten meters walk in the deep snow so I could get the water in the foreground and took the picture.

Marble Canyon

Great Gray Owl

It's always a special moment when an owl is spotted. Which is hard since they blend in so nicely with their surroundings and most are not active during the day. I have been fortunate enough to come across in Banff, Great Horned Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Barred Owl, Boreal Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl and number of times have seen the  Great Gray Owl. Still hoping to see the owls that only pass through Banff, Long-eared Owl, with more luck to see Short-eared Owl and keeping all my fingers and toes crossed to see the beautiful Snowy Owl. There are lot of places outside  the mountains where these owls are spotted more often, but I enjoy the challenge of finding them in Banff National Park. 
 

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Northern Pygmy Owl

Northern Pygmy-Owls are found throughout the mountains and good for all of us who look for them, they are active during the day. It was late morning when I came across this one, perched high on a branch of a dead Douglas fir tree. Stayed in that spot for near an hour, grooming itself under the Sun before flying off to look for food.

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Castle Mtn

Castle Mountain is one of the more viewed mountain in Banff National Park. Millions of eyes gaze at it each year, while travelling on Trans-Canada Highway, Bow Valley Parkway and from few while travelling on the waters of the Bow River. Most of the pictures I have taken of it are from the east of the mountain, it has more character from that direction. Over the years I have taken pictures of it from several locations, but most of them along the Bow River. I still have other location in mind, just waiting for all the parts that make a good photo to come together. For this image I was back along the Bow River, finding a location where there was open water during a period of cold temperatures.

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Elk

Once the rut season is over, the male Elk will get together and stay together until the next rut season. Few larger bulls will stay alone, if they are weak from not having enough time to eat during the rut season, losing up to 30 percent of the weight. And if cold weather arrives right after the rut season, it can end larger bull's life. But if they can find enough food and get back some energy. Then there's a good chance they will survive the winter and hope to compete in the next rutting season.

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Mule Deer

This male mule deer was making its way through the forest, pauses long enough for me to get its picture. Still a few months to go before the snow melts from the valley and fresh green food starts growing. Always have to be on the move, being careful not to run into predators. Life can be little easier in the winter if he comes across one or two other males, always better to have more eyes looking out for danger.

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Red Fox

Red fox's body length  can be long as 90 cm, not including the long bushy tail, which can be as long as half a meter. The thick long red tail with the white tip helps with balance, it's used to communicate with other foxes and on cold days, like the one I saw this female on, it acts like a warm cover when napping. 
 

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Cascade Mountain

If you have some clouds and some clear sky, there is a good chance of an interesting sunrise. Its worth heading to the Vermilion Lakes for, setting up the camera equipment and waiting for the sun to rise. Did not get he reds or the oranges, but got some bright warm yellows, a nice contrast to the cool blue on the ground.

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Bohemian Waxwing

On a cold morning, about 100 Bohemian Waxwings were busy eating juniper berries. With cold temperatures they need to consume extra calories to maintain weight but also to have energy to stay warm and as well to survive the cold nights when they don't eat. Between consuming berries they were taking water breaks.

Bohemian Waxwing

Bow River

It was fun getting this picture. The sun was setting and the light and the colours were moving fast in the sky. The Bow River was getting close to freezing over, enough to walk on, but not to cross over. Walking with my ice cleats, slowly moving to find the spot where I was going to set my tripod. Once I noticed the ice bubbles, I decided they were going to be in the foreground of the image. But they were one third of the way into the river. Watching the light and checking the condition of the ice with each step, I made my way to the ice bubbles, got on my knees to get the bubbles in the frame and then quickly got the picture before the colours left the sky. 

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Sundogs

One of the reason I still venture outside on very cold days, is to see something I may not see other days. In this case it was seeing sundogs, I had been seeing them over number of days as the cold temperatures had settled in Banff. The day I got this picture, I went for a quick hike with the hopes of finding a spot where I could get a clear pictures of both sundogs. Once I got the picture, it was a quick walk back to the car before the cold air got to me. 

Sundogs

Cascade Mountain

When driving through the mountains I often comes across beautiful views from the road, I would tell myself I'll take that picture another time. I stop waiting for the next time and started taking those pictures as the opportunities come. I was returning on the Minnewanka Lake Road loop, Cascade Mtn and the surrounding looked great with the snow that fell the night before.

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Bighorn Sheep

How time flies, the 8th annual slideshow is coming up on Saturday, January 27. From 7 to 9 pm at the Cave and Basin NHS, for $4.90 per person.  Each year is different, the weather and the amount of visitors to the parks played a big role in 2017, creating different opportunities for landscape, flora and fauna photography. If you're able to, come join me as I  look back at some of the favourite moments from 2017 and the stories that go with them. 

Bighorn Sheep

Common Redpoll

I'm always amazed with birds, how they are able to survive in pretty harsh conditions. Take this small bird the Common Redpoll, during the winter it's found in the northern parts of Canada and we get to enjoy it in the mountains during the winter.

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Mount Rundle

With longer nights during winter, it does not mean I'll be sleeping that much longer each night. When the conditions are good I like to take advantage of it by going outside to take night pictures. It was a cold night, but it was clear and the wind was calm. I stayed out until it was too cold, come back with few good pictures.

 

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