Elk About Town

On our last full day in Banff I decided to go exploring instead of skiing. I left our cabin in the morning shortly after my parents headed out to take my brothers skiing at Lake Louise. Banff is a touristy, nature- and outdoor-centric town, so there are many trails and natural spots in the town. The public transit system — The Roam Bus — makes getting around very easy, and signs are posted everywhere, so it’s very difficult to get lost in and around Banff.

I walked a few blocks from the bus stop to the Bow Falls Trail which borders the Bow River on the south side of Banff. My target birds for the walk — and the trip — were Boreal Chickadees and an American Dipper. 

IMG_0011

Taken with my iPhone 6

I took this photo from the small pedestrian bridge looking west to the Rocky Mountains,

There were Mountain Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and White-winged Crossbills in the spruce trees. I also saw my lifer Boreal Chickadee in the flock, but all the birds were too hidden in the trees so I didn’t get any photos. I walked along the river’s edge, but it was absent of Dipper life. Here’s my eBird checklist from my walk. I did get some good shots of the mammals on the trails.

DSC_1225

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/,200 ISO 1600, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Just off the path was this big bull Elk. Elk are a very common sight in the town of Banff and throughout the National Park as well. These big ungulates are very habituated to people, but that doesn’t mean people should go near them. They are large wild animals and capable of a lot of damage. If you find yourself around Elk or any other mammals, please give them space.

DSC_1239

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/,640 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

The only camera other than my iPhone that I used on the Banff trip was my Nikon D610 with the 200-500mm lens. Because of the very cold weather at home and not having extra time, this was the first time I’ve been able to use the camera and lens for any appreciable amount of time, and I really enjoyed using both. The lens isn’t appropriate for landscape use because of its close focus, but it’s perfect for close-ups of animals.

DSC_1257

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,600 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

There was a second bull Elk on the trail, this one was was feeding and raking his antlers on the small spruce trees,

 

DSC_1255

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,600 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

The ice formations on the river were very interesting,

DSC_1261

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/1,600 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

This photo was taken with my iPhone,IMG_0012

The American Red Squirrels were constantly scolding me, for what I don’t know. Occasionally one would pose long enough for a few photos,

DSC_1274

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/250 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

DSC_1277

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/250 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

DSC_1268

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/250 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

DSC_1272

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/250 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

DSC_1270

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/250 ISO 6400, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Please stay tuned for the afternoon part of my last day in Banff!

Gorgeous Grosbeaks!

Pine Grosbeaks are back in large numbers and were prevalent during our local CBC yesterday in all of the count circles. The Pine Grosbeaks is one of the largest finches and can be found on all over Alberta, all other Canadian Provinces, and the northern and central United States. Their robust size and their beautiful flute-like song is a wonderful addition to the Alberta winter landscape.

A map of the Pine Grosbeak’s map range, from Cornell,

PineGrosbeakCornell

All of the Pine Grosbeak photos in this post were taken at my grandparents’ yard yesterday during the local Christmas Bird Count. The most grosbeaks I counted at one time were 12, and three of them were adult males.

IMG_4574

A female or juvenile,

IMG_4548

IMG_4551

My grandparents filled this tray with sunflower seeds, which the grosbeaks really enjoy,

IMG_4579

The males are so beautiful, and when the sun hit them they were even prettier,

IMG_4576

IMG_4587

IMG_4594

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for Feathers on Friday, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I will add a link to my post.

This Merlin was sitting on a TV antenna in town on January 4. I was surprised to see it, because Merlins usually don’t stay through our winters,

Winter has arrived

The first snow of the season fell yesterday, we didn’t get very much but more snow will come shortly.  I went out this morning to look for some birds and to check the ice on our slough to see if the ice was good for skating. I didn’t see many birds but the ones I saw were quite nice. At the start of the walk I saw a Bald Eagle (I saw one yesterday too), five Horned Larks, and a flock of about 100 Snow Buntings.

Early morning,

A Chickadee at my new feeder,

Our dog Lady came with me,

A deer bed,

Coyote tracks on the ice,

Northern Harrier,