Friendly Wildlife

Some animals don’t require much of a telephoto lens. The chickadees at Elk Island (and almost everywhere else too) are a lot of fun to photograph, and are quite brave. They will come very close, even sit on you (briefly) if you stay perfectly still or if they think you have food. They’re also very acrobatic in the air, so it’s fun to try to catch them in flight.

This was taken with my slow-focusing and not very telephoto 150mm macro.

Moose Encounters

While hiking in Elk Island this week, I happened across this suspicious fellow. There were actually a pair of them, and of course the trail went right in between them. Between two moose didn’t seem like the safest place to be, so I stopped before I got too close. The one on the right ran off out of view, but I could still see the one on the left. It stopped, sniffed, eyed me, and the stalemate began. I stayed completely still, waiting for the moose to make its move. On the right, I saw some ears appear over the alders, and then disappear just as silently. I had no idea moose could be so sneaky in thick brush.

After about five minutes, the moose on the left started to move—tentatively at first, and then more confidently, chewing on a few available twigs. As it stepped out on the trail it looked me over and then moved off to do moose-type things. I was very happy with this development. Although moose are not generally agressive, the moose was very close, and I was very alone. And though I like to think that if I don’t bother animals, they won’t bother me, this only holds true until the first time it doesn’t. And that’s a little scary.

Porcupine Dance

Here’s a cute porcupine I spent some time with yesterday in Elk Island National Park. He seemed quite curious about me, and not too worried. He was way up in a tiny little tree where I couldn’t reach him. Although I did hear some coyotes that sounded awfully close. It did look like someone tried to get him pretty recently though. He had a big patch on his rear where all the quills were missing. That must have been painful for some hungry coyote.

Disappearing Bison

(For full effect, please read in the voice of David Attenborough)

In the plains and woodlands of central Alberta, a most curious animal dwells. This animal swims through frozen water, easily powering its impressive bulk forward. At over 1 metric ton, it is ironically scared of most other animals, preferring either to be alone or to be in groups of its own kind. Behold the bisonshark. While almost impossible to detect when submerged, the bisonshark rises from the snow to move more quickly.

Taken yesterday in Elk Island National Park. The bison were only sometimes completely submerged, usually showing most of their top half. But yes, we do have a LOT of snow.

Great Grey Owl

Aparently, besides showing photos from my Banff trip, I’m a little focused on birds, thanks to my class. Here’s a Great Grey Owl I spent some time with a while ago. In the last photo, if you look closely at his bill, you can see he’s recently had a meal (if you’re squeamish don’t look too close). Right around his bill (especially on the first photo) you can see his “rictal bristles” which help him feel his food while he’s eating, a little like a cat’s whiskers.

If you’re wondering why I’m using all these terms, no, I’m not trying to seem smart. I’m trying to do whatever I can to remember it all, and blogging about it should help.

Palm Warbler in the Forest

I took my first Wildlife Biodiversity and Ecology class last night and it was fascinating. It was a three hour class on Ornithology (birds) and it seemed way too short. It’s always awesome to see a whole new world open up before you, that you vaguely knew was there, but had no idea what it involved. I hope I have the time and motivation to follow up on this brief introduction (although I suspect I’m going to hope the same thing for every other class). John Acorn is a very interesting prof, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of this class.

I thought I’d post a bird photo in honor of the class, but ironically I wasn’t able to identify it. I obviously need more classes and/or experience. So I suspect this is some sort of warbler (maybe a Palm Warbler? edit – yup, it’s a Palm Warbler — Dendroica palmarum). I found it in a poplar forest in northern Saskatchewan.

Columbian Ground Squirrel

I found this cute columbian ground squirrel in Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park. They’re super tame in the parks, which is cool for taking pictures, but a little disturbing too. I think it was looking for a handout.

You can’t see it very well in this picture, but this guy has some serious claws. I’ll just happily continue assuming they’re for digging.

Cool Moose

Elk Island is packed with wildlife. Most of it is pretty skittish. The whitetail deer bound off before you notice them so all you see is a their tail waving at you. The wood buffalo keep a wary eye on you and stay far away (unless you’re driving of course). The moose though are a different story. The moose are calm, cool, and collected. They’re like “S’up? I’m busy eating. You want me to pose? Sure. How ’bout I turn this way? Mmmm, tasty twigs on this side.”