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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It's not safe for animals to be on the road, but this mule deer decided to take a chance. The snow was deep off the road and there was no traffic. I watched from a distance as he go on the road and then decided to walk for a while on it before get off the road.
Great Gray Owl can consume several voles per day, to do that they have a great ability to hear and locate the voles in thick grass and in the winter under the cover of snow. The facial disc helps the owl direct sounds to its ears. They have asymmetrical ear openings, the left ear opening is higher than the right ear opening. Which enables the owl more accurately decide where the prey is before attempting to ponce on it. If that was not amazing enough, it has been reported that one Great Gray Owl broke through the snow crust that could hold a 170 pound human. All that work for a tasty vole.
It was a cold afternoon and this male was doing lot of work moving snow aside to get at the dead grass. The dead grass does not have much value but during the winter there are not lot of options.
Before the snow arrived I was standing along the Bow River in the evening to take pictures of Castle Mountain. I always look for open water, I found this small pool of water, just what I needed to get the pictures I wanted. I took few variations of the picture being posted, moving slightly left and right, back and forth until getting what I felt was the best picture for me.
Few nights back the temperature was minus 30 degree celsius and the forecast was for the winds to pick up and take the temperature to minus 41. Perfect time for night photography. I put on as many layers as I could and then headed out. The plan was to take 16 thirty seconds consecutive exposures, then return home and combine them all together with the magic of software to create star trails. With first quarter of the moon out, not all the stars were going to be visible, which was what I wanted. What was a nice surprise were the low clouds, they add to the mood. After setting up the equipment and taking few test shots. I let the camera handle the rest while I did my best to stay warm by dancing in the dark. I should have called it a night after the last image, but I decided to play around more with few different locations and shots before heading home as the winds started to pick up.
Couple days ago with minus 30 degree Celsius, I got to see a sundogs. Thanks to the ice crystals in the air, sunlight gets refracted. Creating a halo and what looks like two smaller suns, one to the left and one to the right.
It's challenging trying to take pictures of the birds in the winter in the mountains, but its worth it. When they are not top of the trees singing, Pine Grosbeaks come down looking for food. And when they do, that's my time to take their pictures. The females have the yellow colour and the males the red. I know they have moved in when I start hearing them in later part of the fall and that's when I start spending some time taking their pictures.
Before the snow was back last week, it was fun coming across ice bubbles wherever there was solid clear ice. Here's one picture taken mid-morning, the small bubbles look like then bubbles one comes across in glass of champagne.
Bears do not hibernate, but they do go for a long deep sleep during the winter months. They go into what is called torpor state. During hibernation a animal will sleep through the winter, it will not wake up when there is loud noise or even when they are moved or touched. In torpor state the animal can wake up quickly and easily. Bears heart rate is very low like those animals hibernating, but unlike those in hibernation, bears body temperature is high. No matter if the animals go into hibernation or into torpor state, both need to store body fat in the fall, which will get used up while sleeping, thus saving the muscles. This big guy went to sleep toward the end of November or early December, but if anyone by mistake come across its den, it will quickly wake up and will not be happy. Kind of like when someone goes for my chocolate.
Nature never stops being amazing. In this case how this white-tailed deer blends in with its winter surroundings. Only way I was able to locate it quickly, I saw it cross the road and it was waiting for its young. It was surrounded by willow shrubs holding the fresh fallen snow.
Many parts of the Bow Valley open water has been covered with ice and due to lack of snow, I have been busy looking for ice bubbles to take pictures of. Checking to make sure the ice was safe enough to stand on and to walk on. Any where organic matter was decomposing releasing methane gas, bubbles were to be found. I found many places, but only few gave me the pictures I wanted.
Another Christmas Bird Count is behind us, many of us were out listening and looking for birds. The day started out cold, but it got warmer as the sun got higher. Same for coming across birds for the team I was part of, we kept seeing ravens but not much else until we got closer to the afternoon. Birding in the mountains in the winter will keep you humble. It's not uncommon to count 50, 60 or on a very lucky day even 70 different species while birding during spring and early summer. In the winter we are thrilled to come across 10 or more species in the area our team covered. Today we topped 10 and the bonus was coming across this beautiful Northern Pygmy Owl.
I did not think there was going to be a bright sunset. For most of the day the sky was clear, in the last couple of hours all that changed. I was outside all day, so instead of heading home, I decided to wait to see if the clouds would light up. I was getting cold, but it was worth the wait.