Red Fox

I’m pretty sure it was this red fox I came across during the summer season. Near a parking lot, eating something with people just meters away from it taking pictures. People meters away from wildlife are a national park is a red flag. I got closer in my car, popped out to have a look what it was eating, it was human food. Back in my car, got even closer made loud noise to scare off the fox. People were not happy with me, I then explained what human food can result in. Sharing the story about members of a wolf pack getting their first human  food meters from the spot. Becoming food conditioned, resulting in two wolves being  put down and the packs new litter of six not surviving the summer. The look on people’s faces became more understanding, as I picked up all the bread (a bag worth)crumbs left next to an electrical box. The fox is doing well, spotted it few times hunting for its natural food.

Red Fox 181214 Amar Athwal.jpg

Bow Lake

It did not look like there was going to be a bright sunrise, but as I was getting closer to Bow Lake, I could see the colours through my rear view mirror. I decided to pull into the lake’s parking lot and quickly made my way to the shore. It was November, I was able to find some open water, then started taking pictures.

Bow Lake 181210 Amar Athwal.jpg

Northern Pygmy Owl

Between December 14, 2018 through January 5, 2019 the 119th Christmas Bird Count  will be taking place this season. A great way for people to get together and see how our feathered friends are dealing with the winter. The results get sent to Audubon, who can compare this year results with the previous and look for trends. If you live in the Bow Valley or visiting the Bow Valley on Saturday December 14. 2018 and would like to play a role. Pop on to the WWW for contacts and further info. by heading over to the “bowvalleynaturalists.org” site. Not a site for those who enjoy nature au naturel, for sure not middle of December in Banff. But a  Bow Valley Group who deals with natural history and conservation, including where around the towns of Canmore and Banff this year CBC will be taking place.

Northern Pygmy Owl 181207 Amar Athwal.jpg

Grizzly

Had an early morning adventure, small hike after taking sunrise pictures. I was back in the Bow Valley, when I saw a large male grizzly on the edge of the forest. It was the famous Banff grizzly M122, who I have seen more toward the end of the season this year. Dispatch had been informed of M122 being in the area, soon after colleagues dealing with human-wildlife conflict arrived. Weekend mid-morning during the fall season tend to be quiet, but there were workers in the area and everyone wanted to make sure the grizzly passed them safely. The bear was given lots of space, he decided the pace he wanted to move at. And boy did he take his time, stopping to dig, moving in and out of the forest, crossing the road several times, he was not in a hurry. As if he was enjoying the VIP or should I say VIB treatment.

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Mistaya Canyon

Spent a quiet time at the Mistaya Canyon taking pictures. A popular place along 93 North, but during colder days not the case. There was enough ice and snow to give the area a winter look. After taking the pictures, I spent some time watching the water makes its way into the canyon and listen to the sound of rushing water.

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Bald Eagle and the Common Raven

Bald Eagle larger than most birds, with a wingspan of 2 meters, scavenges meals by harassing other birds and never says no to carrion or garbage. Most of the time they eat fish, but will hunt mammals and waterfowl. They are often spotted soaring high in the sky. The Common Raven is dwarfed by the much larger eagle, wingspan around 116 cm. One of the smartest birds, capable of learning and being a better talker than some parrots when raised by humans. Works with land predators, letting them know when a prey is near or seeking their help opening the tough hide of a carcass to access meat. Never a good idea leaving your bag of garbage outside, if you do where ravens reside, all will know the contents of your garbage. In the image it seems both are flying together, in reality the raven was protecting its territory by harassing the eagle away.

Bald Eagle and Common Raven 181123 Amar Athwal.jpg

Mount Rundle

Many who see me regularly, will see a pack on my back, does not matter if I'm working or on my days off. Does not matter if it's a cold day middle of the winter or the warm day in the summer, there's a pack on my back. Does not matter if it's raining or minus 30, snowing and wind howling, there's a pack on my back. It does not snow contain my lunch or full of chocolates. It's easier to get around without a pack, it's an easier hike with less weight on my back. But not wanting to miss an opportunity when a moment comes and I need the camera. Few weeks back giving myself lot of time  to get to work, with the camera in the pack, I was able to stop and enjoy the sunrise and take pictures.

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Grizzly

Few big male grizzlies are still walking around in the mountains. Relatively speaking the warmer temperatures has to be playing a role and if food is out there, the big grizzlies are going to find it and can easily fight other predators for it.

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Snowshoe Hare

When the snow is on the ground, I come across so many snowshoe hare tracks, but rarely see them. A few weeks back, I came across this little one, hiding under low branches. Taking its time changing from its summer colours to the its winter colours. Without its white winter coat, it would be easily spotted by its predators, giving it a short life.

Snowshoe Hare 181114 Amar Athwal.jpg

Moose

It was a cold morning, the sunrise was not what I was hoping for, so I decided to go for a walk along the river, going in and out of the forest next to it. With each hour it was getting warmer, I could hear the birds  every now and then going through the forest. Too high in the trees for pictures. I looked in the distance, something was looking toward me, a male moose. I started to move, it moved, and soon it was out of view. Ten minutes later I was on at a higher elevation, and could see another male moose, it was younger and eating plants from the river's bottom. This moose did not look toward me and soon left. As I was eating and now taking in the warmth from the sun, I could hear not too far from me something was moving to the left of me, first through the snow and then trough the river. The forest I was standing by was blocking my view. Soon after the first moose I saw that day or another moose of the same size was standing across the river, about 110 meters front of me, looking at me. It crossed the river and was still looking at me. I was ready to move away quickly if needed, it was the rut season and the bulls are not too happy around this time. The bull walked past the small trees into the open and was still looking toward me. Still safe distance, I moved out of the trees for the moose to have a good look at me. It stood still and looked at me for a minute and then started walking toward the river to the right of me. That's when I started taking pictures of the male. It did not look back, crossed the river and then faded into the forest.

Moose

Mount Rundle

We have been having some wonderful sunrises, I have been watching them along the Bow River and in this case from the Vermilion Lakes. Mount Rundle, one of the most photographed mountains in Banff National Park, centre of this photo. With the mild temperatures, the water is still wide open at the lakes, helping out with the reflection.

Mount Rundle 181105 Amar Athwal.jpg

Grizzly

It  was a cool evening and I was waiting in my vehicle for a large grizzly to come out in the open. He was still few hundred meters away and was taking his sweet time.  With the window down I could feel the cool breeze every now and then, looking out, listening and wondering if griz was going to come out before the dark. May of 2011 was the first time I saw this male, he was a skinny young male walking  along a road in a another national park. Two years later I saw him again, he was filling in nicely in terms of weight and his role in the mountains. In the last few years I have seen him several times, Banff NP is his main home, his range covers at least two more parks that I'm aware of. By chance last year I saw him with at least three females, for one female he covered 60 kms in two days to mate with. This fall from my eyes he looks to be easily over 600 pounds and is making the most of his size on the landscape. My waiting paid, he stayed on route and gave me a minute to see him before he was out of sight again. He should be close his time for deep sleep for the winter, if he isn't already. Hoping to see him again next spring.

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Elk

The rut season is over, the elk are taking advantage of the mild weather to gain weight. Particularly important for the dominant bulls. who lost 20 to 30 percent of their weight battling other bulls. The more weight the bulls gain, easier it will be getting through the winter.

Elk 181031 Amar Athwal.jpg

Golden-crowned Kinglet

During the fall as other seasons. I try to take pictures of wildlife surrounded by the background of the season that's taking place at that time.  I was hoping to come across bears with the fall colours surrounding them, no luck again. But I did have some luck with the  birds, it paid off carrying a lens to get close to the birds. I would hike through the larch trees and stopping  when a birds were heard. Seeing  which direction they were coming from and then wait for them to pass by me. There were always opportunities to get a picture, but not always a good picture. In this case I was hearing several kinglets and chickadees heading in my direction. I guessed where they would pass by as they went from tree to tree looking for food. This Golden-crowned Kinglet perched not too far from me, showing a bit of its golden crown, I focused on it and got the picture of it perched on a larch tree branch. Next year I'll have to persuade a kinglet to show me more of its golden crown, matching with the larch needles.

Golden-crowned Kinglet 181026 Amar Athwal.jpg