Not far from my home it can be easy to find good photo opportunities and this time of year with all the nesting birds to hunt it gets pretty intense. Intense and enjoyable. I do know how lucky I am to live where I do, ( the Canadian Rockies) and get the pictures I get. Thank you to all those great people involved deeper than I with all the great conservation efforts. Good to know that when I bring my grandchildren to these same spots the wildlife will be there. Words are not enough to properly thank Art Grunig for the many thousands of nest boxes he has built in his life time. Without Art’s efforts these photos would not be possible.
In live and wonder in the Canadian Rockies. That being said I am blessed with an abundance of wildlife all around me, if you know where to look. I’m also pretty lucky in that I don’t have to travel far in most cases to get the photos I want. Since early December I’ve been on a hunt to capture two big horn sheep butting heads. While I did get a shot it’s not a great one. In the process I did get some good photos of some of the sheep in the heard of nearly 60 animals. The rams challenging each other is hard to capture. Most of the time you hear it and don’t see it. Or in my case it was going on behind the trees. I have been on location several times this last month and hold the hope I will get the shot I want. I will post it when I get it, cross your fingers.
I had a good spring finding and staking out productive nesting sites. In the Canadian Rockies we are lucky to have an abundant wild bird population. Humans have taken up the responsibility of helping out the western blue birds by placing thousands of nest boxes on fence posts everywhere you look. I am lucky to call the main man involved a good friend of mine. With all those nest boxes it can be tough actually being in position to photograph the parents tending the nest. Most of the time I find myself 200 meters and five nest boxes too far away.
The same can be said for the northern flicker nests. There are hundreds of trees with holes in them but which one has a woodpecker nest in it and will I get the photo I’m looking for. I can tell you that it takes a lot of time and when you get the shot you want all the time and effort is worth it.
Over the weekend Susan and I made an effort to get some photos of Western Blue birds. Our good friend Art Gruenig is responsable for producing and placing thousands of nest boxes. They can be found all over western Canada on fence posts along countless road ways. The Blue Birds and the world will never be able to thank Art enough for his work. A wonderful man and a life long naturalist. The strong presence of the western Blue bird can be atrubuted to his efforts alone.
It didn’t take long to find a mating pair working their magic outside one of these mounted boxes. After looking a bit further we found about a dozen more going through their spring ritual. They were so busy paying attention to each other they didn’t care that we were standing only meters away.
Finally the local wildlife sanctuary is starting to stir. The lake has been clear of ice for more than a week now. Some days the temperature is over 15 c (60 f). The birds are busy securing mates and nesting sites. Some mornings the battles appear to be pretty intense but the outcomes produce few loss of feathers. The photos can be a little bland with all the vegetation still dry and colourless. But never the less the water fowl are as busy as they can be. Only a couple of weeks ago I watched the same birds sitting quietly waiting on small patches of open water. Now they are chasing each other all over the lake with what looks like endless energy.
We are still waiting for the majority of the population to return and by then Elizabeth Lake will be a hot bed of breeding activity. All the conditions appear to be in their favor and it’s only a few short weeks before we can expect to see small goslings swimming behind their parents in parade. This year should be a great year for Liz lake photogs.
When you live in the heart of the Rocky Mountains winter can hold on for a long time. If you have lived here long enough you know that winter will hold on as long as it can. The wildlife knows this too. Never the less when your following the animals with your camera you can only feel their pain and frustration while they wait too. Watching the Geese circle around looking for open water and the ducks waiting out yet another heavy snow fall or the swans resting on a raft of ice, they all just look so damn tired of winter. All they want is some peace so they can hook up with their mates and get the real spring activities started. The female mallard I photographed today just looked so piss off through the view finder. She was sharing a very small patch of open water with twenty others birds. One I assume was her hubby but all the others were just in her way and the heavy snow was just one more thing to nag at her frustration. First day of spring my ass….
A frozen landscape can be wonderful to look at with all the snow and ice creating artistic interpretations everywhere you look. It seems to get even more intense when the snow is still falling. Like photography, the snow is just a snap shot of the moment. Changing with every snow flake or ice droplet. As great as this can be to witness through the viewfinder it can be rather blah. Little contrast and very few highlights. This is when the true artistic eye inside has to take over. It is sure to be different for everyone. For me it’s a momentary thing. I either like what I see or I don’t. Panning with camera to face is the only way for me to tell if I like or I don’t. Kinda like I don’t trust my eyes with out a camera lens to filter what is really out there. Saturday was one of those days. No sun to help me just fresh snow and lots more coming down. Thanks to the woodpecker for saving my trek through the snow looking for a photo-op.
Winter alters the photo opportunies here where the weather can be a big problem for outdoor photographers. I still make several trips each week to favorite spots but often find the snow too deep or the ice too thin to get the shot I want. This last few weeks it has been mud and wind. Just weather, just winter. Not enough cold to get the ice and snow I’m looking for and shorter days cutting into the general time available. I guess because it is such a addiction of mine I still make every effort to photograph something.
Some photos I shoot don’t really have a great artistic value at first glance. Sometimes it takes a second look for me to see the real potential. Some need to be cropped while others need more or less light. truly great photographs are just that, great at first glance but some require a closer look into the details to bring out the real attraction. At least for me anyway. Nature and outdoor photography have one thing in common; the true beauty of nature.
Yes birds are easy to find in your viewfinder but not quite as easy to get the good clear shot you want. Like all wildlife photography it takes a commitment of time and planning. Plan to go where you think they are and plan to have the conditions you need. Set your self up for the best opportunity that you can and see what happens. Like lots of things in life it takes practice.