Flickers of Chance: Wild Creature Sights

Throughout Cyclewrite, I’ve featured magnificent deer, elk, bighorn sheep, eagles and blue herons. Most  photo gems taken by myself and Jack, were simply random opportunities where each of us did not plan to stalk the creatures.

Muskrat swimming in forest pond. North Calgary, AB 2017. Photo by J.Chong

Serendipitous Benefits and Outdoor Activities
Over the years, serendiptous wildlife sightings are just another benefit of spending lots of time outdoors on bike or on foot a lot where there are parks, mountains, water bodies and natural habitats in large swaths of Canada.

Elk on foggy winter day. Banff National Park, Alberta 2013. On town walk to restaurant for my birthday.

We see these magnificent animals while hiking, cycling, snowshoeing or driving by.  They just flew, trampled or scampered near our path, line of vision for Nature enjoyment.  Sometimes I’m just waiting around  –like I did for Jack by Lake Minnewaka in Banff National Park.  Then a chipmunk scrambled onto a rock and froze for a few minutes.

Alert chipmunk. Lake Minnewaka, Banff National Park. Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong
Muskrat eating after its swim. North Calgary AB 2017. Photo by J.Chong

Not Dedicated Animal Stalkers
Neither of us would ever claim to be animal photographers. Neither of us are birders who faithfully consult bird breed manuals and haul binoculars around. I don’t really have patience of a still blue heron, to hunker down for hours to wait for photo flickers of  wildlife loping around. My patience is when I’m thinking and creating stuff for many hours.

Barn swallow subspecies bird : H. r. erythrogaster. Lake Minnewaka, Banff National Park, Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong

I’ve been fortunate to live areas of Canada where bald eagle, deer, beaver, muskrat and wild rabbits do occasionally hang out in the city parks.  In Calgary, occasionally  large wild rabbit or two, bolt across a busy car traffic road in downtown, not far from a  local river park.  A bewildered moose stumbled into a  local shopping mall parking lot just 10 km. north of home.  A rare, but real concern to shoppers.

Waiting for boat cruise. Lake Minnewaka, Banff National Park, Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong
Lake Minnewaka, Banff National Park, Alberta 2017.

Wild Park Preserves Near Home
Just less than 100 km., from home, there are national and provincial parks.  Places where big and small wild creatures put Canada on the world map as a tourist destination especially for Europeans and Asians where their large wildlife is either gone or very rare.

We even forget that not everywhere in the world there squirrels.

Red-wing Blackbirds were plentiful in area but hard to photo-shoot. North Calgary, AB 2017. Photo by J.Chong
Richardson’s Ground Squirrel -commonly known as prairie dogs, prairie gophers. They shrill whistle to each other. Medicine Hat, Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong. Common across prairie provinces.
Lark sparrow. Lethbridge, Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong

There are certain animals I miss seeing while living in western Canada.  In southern Ontario where I lived for 4 decades,  I used to see red cardinal  and blue jay birds. I guess the prairies just have less trees for these lovely bright birds.

Blue Jay bird. Calgary AB 2016. Photo by J.Chong. Yes, there is a professional baseball team, the Blue Jays.
Blue Jay with its distinct crested blue head. Calgary, Alberta 2016. Photo by J.Chong. Common bird I saw in Ontario and less in British Columbia.

Meanwhile other times, I simply didn’t have a camera.  Once while biking home from work, in fall twilight there was a snow owl crouched in a tree by a river above a small crowd of admirers.  Earlier this spring, I just didn’t stop flying by on my bike to work. I heard “whoo-whoo” and a walker stopped to look.  That was the sound of an owl.

Female spruce grouse. By Tram Line hiking-snowshoeing trail. On our way to Lake Louise. Banff National Park, Alberta 2017. Photo by J.Chong
Female spruce grouse, Tram Line hiking trail. Lake Louise, Banff National Park 2017. Photo by J.Chong. Notice its sturdy feet.
Elk. Vermillion Lake, Banff National Park, Alberta 2015. Photo by J.Chong
Herd of female mule deer. Banff National Park, Alberta 2016. Photo by J. Becker.
Elk. Banff National Park, Alberta 2016. Photo by J. Becker

Don’t be in too much of hurry all the time nor be engrossed in your iPhone while waiting.   Sometimes creatures big and small, will just reveal themselves for just   few tiny minutes or seconds.  Just a flicker, eye wink in time.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/calgary-birds-skills-wildlife-1.3563666

Wild hare frequently seen in our river park and by bike paths nearly weekly when cycling to work. Calgary AB 2017. Photo by J.Chong
Beaver swimming in Bow River, not far from downtown Calgary 2016. Photo by J.Chong

 

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28 Comments Add yours

  1. Pit says:

    Great pictures, Jean! 🙂 Thanks for sharing. In a way you’re like me: I also don’t have the patiende to wait for a good shot of animals. But in another way you’re different: when you get them, you have the way better pictures!
    Have a wonderful Sunday,
    Pit

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Honest, Pit I don’t consider myself a wildlife photographer. It’s spending lots of time outdoors and being around at the right time, right place –with a camera in hand. Thx for your warm wishes. Are you far from the flood affected area?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Pit says:

        Hi Jean,
        My “wildlife photography” is basically limited to taking pictures and videos of the White-Tailed Deer in our yard. [http://tinyurl.com/gmyuqso] They are there every day and I enjoy watching them – a lot.
        Thanks for asking about the effects of hurricane Harvey on us. Luckily, Fredericksburg is far enough away from the coast, so there was no damage at all here. We weren’t here, btw, but on a road trip to see the Solar Eclipse in Casper/WY, and to do some bicucling on our way back. [I’ll be blogging in detail about that soon. A few preliminary posts are up already.] We must have had some wind here, though, as we found some dead branches blown off our trees. But just dead branches – so no actual damage. And we had 2.6 inches of rain in our rain gauge. That was highly welcome with the drought conditions hereabouts. We would even have wished for more. But then, as they say, “Be careful what you wish for!”
        Have a wonderful week,
        Pit

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Peter Klopp says:

    Having lived in Calgary many years ago, I remember our excursions to Rocky Mountains and the Banff National Park. The wildlife photos are superb and bring back fond memories . Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      British Columbia also offers wonderful chance opportunities for wildlife.

      Like

  3. Lovely what anmals you can see when bicycling. In Finland I spotted sometimes also some elks from time to time. Here in North Germany there is nothing like that. Basically all I can see when riding my bike are cows on the fields!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Jean says:

      Ah, yes CCF that Germany no longer has large wildlife like we do here in Canadian forests. When we go vacationing in Rocky Mountains several times annually, we do hear alot/meet enough German tourists. They loooove the mountains, wildlife and hectares of pristine wilderness in our national parks.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In Finland it was also great fun to do some bicycle tours around my parents cottage as there is also a lot of wildlife (Elks and Bears are the ones you don’t want to meet)

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nola Wilken says:

    Thank you. Beautiful!

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Thx for your visit and kind remarks.

      Like

  5. What a gorgeous natural gallery, Jean. I’ve been lucky to see quite a few great animals and birds too, mostly in California and New England. But not always able to shoot their portrait. So thank you for sharing yours. My regret: I’ve never seen a moose, despite spending so much time in Maine and driving pass all these signs that beg for our attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Like you Evelyne, we were in New Hampshire a long time ago and even got up early in morning, hoping to see moose along our drive. Nope. Wild creatures have their own habits and favourite times.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You make me feel better, Jean 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sue Slaght says:

    Jean for folks who don’t consider themselves animal photographers these are amazing. I especially love the beaver. We saw one just the other evening.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Hi Sue –When there was a beaver dam right by the Peace Bridge just a few years ago, I was cycling slowly by to work. There was a beaver sitting on its hind legs on the river bank..and I didn’t even take a photo. I actually had a camera in my pannier. Must have been clueless and stunned. A lost opportunity.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Jean, I love these photos. For someone from another country these are even more special. I agree with Sue’s comment about. Louise

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Thx for dropping by. What country are you based in?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m in Melbourne Australia.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jean says:

          If you haven’t already, you must have showcased some wildlife unique to Aussieland in your blog.

          Like

          1. AH yes well.. I have tried to keep my blog exclusively about trekking to Everest Base Camp to protect the google search rate. But I am debating a second blog. I’ve been thinking about this for a while. procrastinating even. I will do that…

            Like

            1. Jean says:

              Climbing Everest is just 1 journey. There are other equally arduous journeys in life….ask any parent of several children. Tell your unique stories..your loved ones will appreciate it.

              People get to my blog for different reasons and interests…latter being quite contrasting. Like yourself: you’re probably more attracted to outdoor / travel stories.

              Liked by 1 person

  8. Mabel Kwong says:

    Amazing shot of the wildlife in Canada, Jean. I think you are very humble when you say you aren’t a wildlife photogpapher. The photos of the swallow and chipmunk are just incredible close ups. I too am not a fan of stalking our animals but when they do pop up, it is nice to try to get shots of them. One times I hung out at a park and there was a pond withe many birds – they were flying all over the place and I wasn’t able to get as close like you did in these shots.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Frankly, the barn swallow, blue heron and bald eagle in earlier blog posts, are the only bird species I’ve managed to have terrific zoom-in shots. I consider duck, geese bird photos nice but very common birds in our area of the world. I don’t have an add-on zoom lens on my pocket digital camera. I’m sure you have a full-on SLR digital camera with zoom/telephoto lens –based on the terrific concert photos you’ve featured on your blog, Mabel. Usually birds are such speedy creatures!

      Like

      1. Mabel Kwong says:

        You are right. Birds are speedy creatures, and blink you will miss them fly right pass you. Sometimes the way they soar and take flight comes across as so elegant and majestic that all you can do is stop and stare.

        I actually don’t own a SLR or a zoom or telephoto lens. To date, all of the photos on my blog are taken with a point-and-shoot, which I have changed over the years 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Jean says:

          Great that you get such good photos with a point ‘n shoot for concerts!

          Like

          1. Mabel Kwong says:

            Haha, my point and shoot costs double than some SLRs out there. Sometimes you pay the price 😦 😀

            Like

  9. Wow! Wonderful photos.

    Like

    1. Jean says:

      Good to see you, JBW.

      Like

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