Canadian Nature Photographers

Chain Link Fence

I thought I would share some links to some of the great Canadian Nature Photographers that I follow. There are a lot of really fantastic photographers out there and this list is by no means exhaustive; these are just a few photographers that I follow on a regular basis.

  • Ethan Meleg: Ethan is a fantastic shooter and naturalist from Ontario. He is currently on a 1 year expedition traveling around North America visiting all of the great birding hotspots. He’s a pretty fantastic landscape photographer as well, and he’s posted some amazing images from some amazing places. Check out his shots of Harbor Seals and Seascapes from Point, Lobos in California.
  • Rob McKay: Rob is another photographer from the Calgary area. He posts regularly about the birds and animals that he sees in his travels. He recently posted some really great shots of some Wood Ducks in flight that are definitely worth checking out!
  • Paul Burwell: Paul is a photographer and photography educator based out of Edmonton, Alberta. He not only posts amazing images and great instructional articles on his website, but he is also a regular contributor to Outdoor Photography Canada magazine. My favorite article from his site is a writeup on how he created some amazing images of red foxes pups playing outside their den.

Black-capped Chickadees at Weaselhead

We went for a walk at Weaselhead Provincial Park today and found several groups of very friendly Chickadees. These inquisitive birds are always curious and quick to make an appearance when walkers pass by. They are used to getting handouts from park visitors and as a result they are easily enticed to land on an outstretched hand. One of them even briefly landed on my camera before it realized there was no food there…

Black-capped Chickadee at Weaselhead

Black-capped Chickadee at Weaselhead

Black-capped Chickadee at Weaselhead

Black-capped Chickadee at Weaselhead

Bluebird Butts

Bluebird Butts

Sometimes you make the image you plan to make. Sometimes you get the butt…

NOTE – these birds were found while visitng my parents home in Winfield (near Kelowna, BC), not in Alberta. I had an interesting request for information from Jocelyn Hudon (Curator of Ornithology at the Royal Alberta Museum, and the Chair of the Alberta Bird Record Committee) wondering whether I had found these in Alberta. That would have been a much more exciting find since, according to Jocelyn, there have been fewer than 15 such discoveries in Alberta. This was not quite so exciting as that, but still interesting for me!

Check the Official List of the Birds of Alberta at

Bird Photography with my Dad

I’m visiting with my family in Kelowna for a week and while I’m here I want to get in a few photography outings with my Dad. The weather here is at least 3 weeks further into the spring that it is at home in Calgary, and the migrating birds are much more plentiful. I read several reports on that lots of waterfowl have been seen at Robert Lake recently, including sightings of over 600 Northern Pintails.

We made plans to be at the lake shortly after sunrise in order to be there in time to make some nice images in the soft morning light. Unfortunately when we arrived we found that the lake was practically deserted. Other than a few geese the only birds we saw were a few Red-winged Blackbirds near the parking lot. We watched them for a few minutes before moving on.

Male Red-winged Blackbird at Robert Lake in Kelowna

We decided to make our way over to the Kelowna Airport which is a known hotspot for Hawks, Eagles, and Owls. Instead of driving directly there we took a meandering route through the scenic countryside. The Kelowna area is littered with Orchards and other beautiful agricultural property which is home to many species of birds and animals. Without really even looking for them we managed to find plenty of California Quail, Blackbirds, and Northern Flickers. While we were stopped to watch a large covey of Quail, we could hear the very distinctive call of a Pheasant down the road and it was being repeatedly answered by another bird in the woods behind us. We slowly made our way towards the sound and quickly found it near the side of the road. It launched and flew off to the edge of the adjacent orchard, and I only managed to make a few images from the truck. Dad was driving and didn’t get out in time before it wandered into the trees…

Ring-necked Pheasant

We continued on towards the airport and had a very cool visit with a Yellow-bellied Marmot. While we were driving I looked over into a farmyard and saw several large furry critters scurrying off of a woodpile beside the road. Although most of them disappeared, we found this animal sunning itself on the woodpile.

Yellow-bellied Marmot

The Marmot was actually very close to a tall wooden fence beside the road and I was able to shoot through a crack in the fence to make some close-up portraits.

Yellow-bellied Marmot

There are Hawks all over the place near the Kelowna Airport. We were actually watching a Red-tailed Hawk that landed on a power pole beside this Rough-legged Hawk. I have always found Red-tails to be very skittish and this one was no exception. It launched as soon as we got close. The Roughie didn’t seem to mind us very much and it sat on the pole until we got quite close. It eventually launched as well, but it just did a slow fly-by past us before landing on the next power pole up the road.

Rough-legged Hawk

We continued on our way looking for Hawks. Although there were lots of them, none were really close enough to make good images of. I was quite surprised to find a pair of Great Blue Herons in a farm field. I’ve never seen them in that sort of environment and in my experience they are more likely to be in a swamp or a slough than in a wide open field. Dad tells me that he sees them in a nearby field all the time so I’m sure it must be quite common. One of the birds flew off almost immediately after we stopped but the other one ignored us and continued to hunt in the field. I’m not sure what it was hunting but I saw it stab its beak into the ground several times.

Great Blue Heron hunting in a farm field

Huge thanks to my Dad for being a great companion, and especially for driving the truck while I got all the great shots!

Bill Phillips

Merlin Falcon

I had a lot on my mind today and so I took a short break this afternoon to go for a drive in the country East of Calgary. It was quite cloudy and very bright, which can sometimes make it hard to see birds and animals against the snowy landscape (they tend to look black against a white horizon), but it turned out to be a great day for birding. It was a very welcome diversion from my thoughts.

The Canada Geese are in the full swing of their spring migration and I saw thousands of them. There were huge flocks of them in every farm field and there were swarms of them flying in formation in the skies above as well. I also saw Common Mergansers, Goldeneyes, and Mallards in the sloughs and on the irrigation canals. There were European Starlings in every slough and puddle, and there were also quite a few raptors perched high in trees and on power transmission lines.

Merlin Falcon perched on a Fencepost

The highlight of the day for me was a finding a Merlin perched on a fencepost! Although these tiny falcons are considered to be year round residents of the Calgary area, I haven’t seen any of them all winter. I was very excited when I saw the distinct shape of the bird as it flew by, and then when it actually landed on a nearby post I was ecstatic!

Merlin Falcon perched on a Fencepost

I also saw I saw a beautiful pheasant on the side of the road and pulled over immediately. It flushed as soon as I stopped, but it quickly landed on the shoulder of the road just a short distance away. I slowly approached it hoping to get a few closeup shots, but it took off again. This was the only image I managed to make.

Ring-necked Pheasant in flight