Although Nuthatches are very common in Calgary I really haven’t encountered very many of them. They are very interesting birds that are known for their unique ability to face head-down while climbing. Most other birds use their tails to assist with balance while climbing, but nuthatches use only their legs and claws. They can often be seen walking straight down the trunk of a tree. This behavior seems very odd when you first recognize what they are doing, and only becomes more odd as you realize that very few birds do it.
The entire region surrounding Calgary has been blanketed by a heavy ice fog for a couple of weeks now and I really wanted to make some images to capture the look and feel. It has been very surreal and haunting, and downright scary at times with the fog being so thick. I had visions in my head of images that show off the thick snow and ice that was coating everything. I’m not entirely sure I succeeded in that goal with these images, but I am really happy about them anyway.
These are Long Exposure night shots from Centenary Park, which is just East of Downtown Calgary. This is the GC King Pedestrian Bridge that connects St. Patrick’s Island to Fort Calgary and downtown. I’ve wanted to shoot the bridge for a long time, but I never quite got around to doing it. It’s a beautiful old bridge and the glow of the city lights against the clouds and the frosty trees really made it pop. This bridge is due to be replaced by a new and fancy designer bridge at some point in the next couple of years, so I’m really glad that I was able to make these images.
The fall colors in the Calgary area are not typically very colorful, but very beautiful nonetheless! I was taking pictures of birds on the lake at Carburn Park when my camera chose to focus on this nearby leaf instead of the far away birds. I loved the golden hues and the creamy background in the scene, so I immediately made the image.
I was very excited to find a family of Great Horned Owls in Fish Creek Provincial Park, including two juveniles. The owlets were flapping their wings and hopping around from branch to branch. It appears that they can’t quite fly yet, but they’re definitely stretching their wings and getting ready to try!
Fish Creek Provincial Park is massive and there are birds and animals all over the park. From squirrels to coyotes, to White-tailed deer. Great Horned Owls are just one of the many very common birds in the park. There really are lots of them, and I hear reports about them all the time. Having said that, I’m always amazed when I do actually find one, and I have been extremely unsuccessful in the past. In fact I made over 9 trips to Shannon Terrace and Bebo Grove last spring searching for Northern Pygmy Owls, and I never saw even one. It became a running joke with my wife because every time she joined me one one of those trips it snowed. The visibility was usually so poor that we could have walked by a whole flock of owls and we wouldn’t have seen them.
But my luck is much better at the East end of the park near Sikome Lake and Hull’s Wood. I’ve seen owls in that area several times and so I’m not really surprised anymore when I do. Always excited, but not surprised!!
Here are a few more images of the young owlets perching and stretching their wings.
I was at Carburn Park for a walk with my family this morning and there were photographers and bird watchers all over the place. Many of the photographers were set up on the small pond watching a Grebe that was hanging out in the middle. Not wanting to disturb the birds (ie. scare them away from the other observers) we continued on our way around the park. When we got back to the pond I noticed that many of the photographers had bunched together to chat, and that the Grebe that they were watching was still way out in the middle of the pond.
But I also saw that a second bird had come to the surface around the corner from them, and that it very close to shore. I started walking towards it and then ran the rest of the way as soon as it dove back under the water. I wanted to be as close as possible to it, without scaring it away when it surfaced again. Fortunately it came back up in almost the same spot and I was able to make some really nice images!