The red fox had found something to eat, a frozen bird that looked to be hit by a vehicle few days ago. It was covered with dirt and snow, not much of a meal, but a start to the morning meal. Normally I just see the tracks of the fox, hunting near and away from the road. This cold morning the fox was where I was passing through, the warm morning light was starting to streak through the forest. With each hour the temperature would go up, requiring less energy to stay warm. For this fox like any other wildlife, it’s all about instinct in deciding how much food is needed. If they eat too less, it makes it harder to survive and harder to catch their prey. If they eat too much, they then become too slow to get away from the predators. Most of us humans have stopped paying attention to our bodies, even after a big meal we’ll somehow will find space for that slice of chocolate cake.
Unlike human, wildlife always has to be at their peak. They are always being challenged by the environment, by members of their own species for food, territory and for mates. Competition from other species for food and territory and depending on where they fall on the food chain, they always have to be two steps ahead of becoming someone’s meal. Unless they are on the top part of the food chain, they can't over eat and became an easy prey. When it gets dark, the species that stay active, it's even more important to stay healthy. That leads me to this American marten I came across with a damaged left eye that has turned green and is shrinking. Being out there middle of the wilderness, every day it survives with one eye, it's overcoming extreme odds against nature.
How time flies, it's that time of the year again. On Saturday, February the 2nd I'll be doing a slideshow presentation at the Cave and Basin NHS. Going over some of my favourite nature pictures from 2018 and the stories that go along with them. For $4.90 come spend couple of warm hours, from 7 to 9pm, sitting back and looking at flora, fauna and landscapes photos from the past year.
This is M122, his reputation seems to gets exaggerated more and more each year and other large grizzlies or even a large black bear often gets confused for him. By reading what’s out there on social media, you would think he’s the only large grizzly in the Bow Valley, if not in Banff NP. In the Bow Valley there are four large dominant male grizzlies, M122, M126, M134 and M136. M134 was not been seen last year, or at least no records of him being spotted. He might have decided to go to another valley at the start of the season and then stayed there. For a number of years M134 has always been the bigger male and this year M126 and M136 look to be the same size as the famous M122, if not slightly larger. For M122, it was never just about the size, it was also about his attitude toward other bears. M134 would run away from him, twice within few days M136 gave way to M122 this last fall. M122 may no longer be as dominant as he was the last number of years, this last summer he was showing some pretty big scars, on his shoulder and on his face. The larger males always get tested for mating and for food. If we were to shave one like a sheep, we would be amazed to see all the scars on their body from the various battles and some from trying to mate. M122 is 18 to 19 years of age now, I hope he’ll be around for several more years. He will become less and less dominant, but will always be an important grizzly on the landscape.
This pack of three, coyotes had quite the morning, most likely they were working on a carcass that was in the area for the previous 5 days. With no bears and wolves in the area, they had the carcass all to them. But the morning this picture was taken, all that changed. First a larger grizzly passed through, most likely with not much to chew on, the grizzly could only imagine what might have been. Then soon after a wolf pack walked through the area, the coyotes would have been smart to give them lots of space, the wolves are not a fan of coyotes. After some time passed another large grizzly passed through the area. The coyotes howled/barked at him. He was walking ahead of this pack by about few hundred meters, who I got to see bit later. Never a boring day out there.
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.
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.