While driving home the other day I noticed a very large bird perched on a power pole ahead of me. It was clearly larger than the hawks, falcons, and owls that I commonly see. As I got closer I realized that it was an adult Bald Eagle.
While Eagles are definitely not rare in the Calgary area, they also aren’t very common on the open prairie to the east of the city. In fact this is the first adult bird I’ve ever seen far away from the river. It was very impressive and of course I had to stop to get a few pictures.
The bird did not immediately launch when I approached and I was hoping to be able to watch it for awhile. Unfortunately it had other plans and took off after only a couple of minutes. I was lucky to get an interesting sequence of the bird showing its power while taking off.
One of my favorite places to look for birds and animals is right in the city (Calgary) near my home. Carburn Park is a man-made city park on the banks of the Bow River. Although it was developed to be very accessible to everyone, including a paved path all the way around the park, it also has large stretches of naturalized areas and has become home to thousands of birds and animals. It is a very beautiful park and it is a fantastic place to go birding in all seasons.
Although not as common as the deer that can always be found in the park, I have recently seen Coyotes several times. I had seen this animal earlier in the evening while it sauntered across the frozen lake. There were people walking all around the park and it really did nothing to avoid them. I eventually found it again a little further back in the woods.
The park is home to very large herd of White-tailed Deer. There were quite a few deer wandering around in the woods while I looked for the coyote, and they were very skittish when the coyote passed close by. They are very used to people and completely ignored me however.
I have seen the Deer in the park many times before, and I knew that the resident herd was quite large, but I really had no idea just how many live there were until I saw people feeding them just before sunset. A man whistled a couple of times and then dozens of deer came running from all over the park. They were obviously accustomed to being summoned for a free meal.
I don’t understand why these people think it is necessary to feed wild animals. I really doubt that they understand the danger they are putting these deer in. There were at least two coyotes skulking around in the park that night and I’m sure they would love to take advantage of some fat, grain-fed deer that weren’t paying attention to anything other than the easy meal in front of them.
The bigger question is what the deer will do when these people stop feeding them, as eventually they will. The animals have clearly become habituated to having their meals delivered to them, and they have completely lost their fear of people. If it gets so bad that they come to depend on the people to provide their food, then what will happen to them when the food wagon stops rolling in?
I love going to Carburn Park and I’m always excited to see the birds and animals that live there, but knowing what I know now about these deer, I am terribly conflicted about photographing them… I’d love to here what other people think about this issue?
While they aren’t always appreciated, these birds can be very pretty at times. I was enjoying a walk along the waterfront at Queen’s Quay in Toronto today and found a flock of gulls that clearly expected a handout. I didn’t oblige, but I did take advantage of the opportunity to take a few snaps while they posed very close to me.
I have updated my Panoramic Image Collection with a couple of images that I’ve made recently. The image above is Castle Mountain as seen from the Bow Valley Parkway. Castle is located halfway between Banff and Lake Louise on the Bow Valley Parkway, and is a popular mountain for hiking and climbing. I really liked the way the wispy clouds partially covered the golden rocks of the mountain, and the brilliant blue sky in the background just gave it some extra oomph! As soon as I saw the mountain I knew I had to make a panoramic image.
The next one is another view of Mount Rundle as seen from Vermillion lakes. I have wanted to get some good sunrise or sunset images from this location for a long time and I’m really happy with what I got from my recent visit.
The images in the Panoramic gallery look really great printed big! I’ve printed a few of these at 12″ x 36″ and they look fantastic. Unfortunately the print service in my online store will only print as big as 12″ x 24″, so if you want something bigger please contact me directly and I will make a custom print to your specifications. Note that while most of my panoramics are sized in a 1:3 aspect ratio, some are only 1:2. Each one may need to be cropped differently when printed…
There are lots of large animals that are easily found in the Rocky Mountains (and the foothills). One of the most beautiful, and one of my personal favorites, is the Bighorn Sheep. These animals are usually very easy to find in the same places over and over again, and so I’ve been able to observe them many times.
I recently took a drive west of Calgary along a route that I had never taken before. In two different places along the highway (near Exshaw) I saw large herds of sheep shortly after passing warning signs for sheep in the area. It’s funny how often you can see warning signs for animals but then never actually see any of animals. That is definitely not the case with Bighorn Sheep!
Although there was one memorable time when I was gently reminded by a rather large sheep that they really are wild animals, they are generally very passive and aren’t very concerned by human interaction. These two herds almost completely ignored me and they barely bothered to glance up while continuing to eat their morning meal.