This bird is a new find for me! I had heard several reports of Horned Larks having been seen in the area recently, which many take to be a good sign of spring approaching. So I was very excited when I actually saw this one perched on a post. It was singing away and at first I mistook it for a Western Meadowlark. Although the two species are very similar at first glance, the tufts on the head of the Horned Lark are a sure giveaway and make them very easy to tell apart.
The clouds have settled in over the foothills at sunset pretty well every day for the last week. The resulting glow of the sunset over the Rockies lighting up the haze has been incredible. I’ve stopped a couple of times to try to capture the its essence in an image. Sometimes that’s a lot harder than it seems like it should be. In this case I really wanted to capture the expanse of the Rockies silhouetted on the horizon. I love how the layers are so distinct and the colors are almost magical.
Every month there is one day, usually a day or two after the full moon, where the moon sets just as the sun rises. If you time it just right, and if it isn’t too hazy or cloudy outside, then you can see the moon looking huge as it drops below the horizon. With the sun coming up on the opposite horizon the moon will glow very brightly in a beautiful shade of orange or pink.
I was out for an early morning birding trip yesterday and I had hoped to be able to make some nice pastoral images of the moon dropping behind the Rocky Mountains with the open fields of the foothills in the foreground. While I did see the sunrise, unfortunately the moon dropped into a cloudbank on the western horizon long before it was low enough for the pictures I has in my minds eye.
Before going to bed last night I told my wife that if our son, who has been sleeping very poorly lately, was awake before 6:30 AM then I would get up and take him with me for another attempt at my moon shot. Of course he woke up right at 6:30, which barely gave me enough time to get get both of us dressed and out the door, get all my gear into the car, and then find a nice location to shoot from… Fortunately we live near a ridge with a good view of the Rockies to the west, and so I went straight there. I had only 5 minutes from the time I parked the car to the time that the moon had fully dropped below the horizon. I managed to make a few images, and this one is one of my favorites of the bunch.
This image isn’t quite the pastoral scene that I had hoped make, but I like it anyway, and sometimes that’s how it goes. You can plan all you want, but if life gives you oranges instead of apples then you might have to make orange juice instead of apple pie! This is only the second time in the last year that everything came together perfectly for me to get my shot, and I have honestly been trying almost every month!
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.