Ingham Nature Photography Inc.: Blog https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog en-us (C) Ingham Nature Photography Inc. (Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) Sun, 16 Jun 2024 17:36:00 GMT Sun, 16 Jun 2024 17:36:00 GMT https://www.inaturephoto.com/img/s/v-12/u812883816-o112298866-50.jpg Ingham Nature Photography Inc.: Blog https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog 120 91 "I'M NOT PUDGY!" - Wilson's Snipe https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-im-not-pudgy---wilson-s-snipe "I'M NOT PUDGY!"

Wilson's Snipe - 5 Photos

 

 

From my brief research on the Wilson's Snipe, I discovered this description (from a reliable birding source, I may add) - "medium-sized, pudgy shorebirds with short, stocky legs". 

 

Medium, shorebird, short stocky legs are all accurate descriptive terms but honestly "pudgy"? :)  The Sora, on the other hand, is described (same source) only as a little secretive bird. The Snipe appears to be somewhat smaller & heavier than the Sora but only slightly. 

 

So on behalf of all Wilson's Snipes out there, here is photo proof that you are not pudgy, which by definition is "slightly fat". The photos below are of a Wilson's Snipe that decided to perch on some very dead grasses/marsh reeds (basically weightless) and although the wind, at the time, was fairly gusty, you can see that there is not a hint of the perch collapsing or even bending under the weight of a "little" Snipe. :)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-im-not-pudgy---wilson-s-snipe Sun, 16 Jun 2024 17:24:07 GMT
"ROCKY ROAD" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-rocky-road---mink-north-american "ROCKY ROAD"

Mink (North American) - 7 Photos

 

Rocky Road is a favourite ice cream of many and this mink is definitely one of my favourite minks.

 

Because of his extreme length of body and tail, I'm definitely leaning towards a male rather than a female. Perhaps it's just his way of moving & stretching out over the rocks, but this mink certainly covers the terrain both literally and figuratively.

 

Thanks to a potential abundance of fish in the area, there were a lot of rocky roads to cover which resulted in an ever so slightly slower and longer hunting technique. That result can go a long way when trying to photo capture a mink completely in his element.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-rocky-road---mink-north-american Thu, 13 Jun 2024 16:52:10 GMT
"ONE FISH, TWO FISH, THREE FISH" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-one-fish-two-fish-three-fish---mink-north-american "ONE FISH, TWO FISH, THREE FISH"

Mink (North American) - 7 Photos

 

This is a follow-up to the previous blog, "WHERE THE TREE LINE ENDS, CATTAILS GROW"

 

There probably was a good reason that this mink returned to the same hunting grounds twice within a relatively short period. Having scouted the rocks in that rapid & erratic mink manner mid-morning, the mink finally came up with a good size Prussian Carp (Photo #5)

 

And then on the afternoon visit, the completion of a further reconnaissance of the rocks resulted in not one but two more fish (Photo #6 & Photo #7)

 

So that would make, "One fish, two fish, three fish". 

 

And as all fish caught were "Prussian Carp, an invasive fish species in Alberta, thanks little mink. You are indeed a super hero! 

 

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PHOTO #5 - And yes, a mink can fly!

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-one-fish-two-fish-three-fish---mink-north-american Mon, 10 Jun 2024 15:19:05 GMT
"TURBULENT WATERS" - Prussian Carp & Raven https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-turbulent-waters---prussian-carp-raven "TURBULENT WATERS"

Prussian Carp & Raven - 11 Photos

 

Had been sitting by a small narrow creek, which is fed by a storm pond, late afternoon when I heard loud splashing coming from upstream. 

 

I thought, at first, that I had hit the jackpot & it was a mink fishing but when I looked down, there was no mink to be seen but a great deal of turbulent water. A few minutes passed and still no mink but then moving downstream I saw them. I am no fish expert but these are so distinguishable - Prussian Carp and there were dozens of them. There were so many and their activity so intense, that the creek water, for lack of a better term, was boiling (Photo #1 through to Photo #6). The fish below the surface have almost an eel like appearance, because of the lighting & positioning. 

 

Prussian Carp are an invasive fish species in Alberta and Saskatchewan and unfortunately, this school was spawning, hence the frantic behaviour. What started with so much "enthusiasm", gradually tapered off after almost an hour. And unlike salmon, who die after they spawn, Prussian Carp do not. Once spawning was complete, the fish completely disappeared.  According to my brief research, they can live 5 to 10 years and spawn several times a year. And a female Prussian Carp does not need the sperm of a male Prussian Carp to reproduce, although in this instance, there appeared to be an abundance of both sexes. They can reproduce asexually by exploiting the sperm of other fish species, to activate egg development & giving rise to basically female clones. 

 

Another frightening discovery that has appeared in some research is that it now appears some Prussian Carp eggs can survive going through Mallard Duck digestive systems. This might be another reason why these fish can seem to jump from one isolated storm pond to another. 

 

The good news is that herons, pelicans, birds and mammals like the mink all have a voracious appetite for the invader. If I had had the equivalent of the "Bat Signal" for a mink, I definitely would have lit it up in the hopes of bringing in a mink for an unbelievable feast.:) 

 

Alas, no mink but there were a few Ravens who had been attracted in by the disturbance & noise in the water. And as you will see from Photo #7 through Photo #11 , this particular Raven wasn't picking up dead fish (because there weren't any), it was fishing & plucking them out of the water. And they weren't small goldfish size by any means.

 

I am only an amateur naturalist but a suggestion might be to bring back another native predator to Calgary to assist in controlling carp populations in the Bow River, the much larger cousin to the mink, the river otter. The river otter is a native Alberta species and does live in other parts of Alberta, including Lethbridge. They are seen in Calgary but it's on rare occasions. Unfortunately, they were eliminated through trapping, etc. in the first part of the 20th century from the Bow River in Calgary. 

 

Their introduction would certainly be a great benefit to our eco-system in this and other ways as well.  Unfortunately, I believe this re-introduction will not happen do to the kick-back from some old school sport fishermen. I have heard, over the years, complaints from some fishermen about those damn pelicans (American White Pelicans) eating the fishing stock during the summer in the Bow. "Why are they here and why don't they stay where they belong???" is a common remark. And that's enough of my "soap box" commentary.

 

Let's give a huge thank you to all the wildlife super heroes out there, doing their part to reduce the number of Prussian Carp in our Alberta waterways. And that includes you, Raven!

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-turbulent-waters---prussian-carp-raven Thu, 06 Jun 2024 18:49:03 GMT
"WHERE THE TREE LINE ENDS, CATTAILS GROW" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-where-the-tree-line-ends-cattails-grow---mink-north-american "WHERE THE TREE LINE ENDS, CATTAILS GROW"

Mink (North American) - 7 Photos

 

"You can find me down where the tree line ends and the cattails grow" is a line from the chorus of the song "Old Dirt Roads" sung by Owen Riegling and I thought what a great description of the hunting/fishing grounds of a mink.

 

Because of their appetite for fish, birds, bird eggs, etc., they generally can be found near bodies of waters, such as creeks, ponds, rivers and areas in and around marshes, hence the title.

 

This is the first of two blogs featuring this one particular mink, who made at least two trips to the same area in one day (one mid morning, the second - later in the afternoon).  As you will see from the photos below, this is a large & very healthy mink. I'm not certain whether he/she is still shedding a winter coat but I'm particularly fascinated by the thickness and length of his/her tail.

 

Anytime I can photograph a mink even for a few short minutes, is a gift but to have two opportunities for a longer period is extreme good fortune.

 

MID MORNING VISIT

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LATE AFTERNOON VISIT

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-where-the-tree-line-ends-cattails-grow---mink-north-american Tue, 04 Jun 2024 16:04:42 GMT
"WHILE PARENTS ARE STILL SLEEPING" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-while-parents-are-still-sleeping---beaver-north-american "WHILE PARENTS ARE STILL SLEEPING"

Beaver (North American) - 5 Photos

 

The photos that follow are of one of two younger beavers, probably 2 years old by now and probably the youngest in the family, depending upon any recent arrivals.

 

So like all youngsters, they probably like to stay out late or in this case, go out early during the last of daylight hours, before their parents get up to start the night's work. I guess with beavers, the timing is reversed. They don't go out late evening and come home early morning. Young beavers, perhaps, like to go out late in the day and come home early evening.

 

And, of course, like all teenagers - food, i.e. munchies, is a priority.

 

So this young beaver, having surfaced from out of the lodge took the swim across the pond, to partake of the new green grasses. And then it was a quick trip back down the slope, back to the lodge and hopefully made it home before Mum & Dad woke up. :)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-while-parents-are-still-sleeping---beaver-north-american Mon, 03 Jun 2024 16:42:20 GMT
"EARNING OUR WINGS" - Great Horned Owlet https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-earning-our-wings---great-horned-owlet "EARNING OUR WINGS"

Great Horned Owlet - 9 Photos

 

Now that this owlet has fledged, it will be a few more months before he/she has acquired all the necessary flying skills to enable it to successfully navigate the surroundings woods & master hunting for prey.

 

But until then, here are some photos of "baby's first steps" as the owlet managed the climb from the nest to working those all important wings and achieving the strength & dexterity that will be required in the months ahead.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/6/-earning-our-wings---great-horned-owlet Sun, 02 Jun 2024 03:04:16 GMT
"BLUE GREEN COLOUR PALETTE" - Great Blue Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-blue-green-colour-palette---great-blue-heron "BLUE GREEN COLOUR PALETTE"

Great Blue Heron - 9 Photos

 

One Great Blue Heron, one blue green pond and one green meadow.

 

Spring truly has sprung now that the Great Blue Herons have arrived in Alberta. 

 

This one was looking to forage along the pond edges and into the meadows beyond. It was a few turns around the pond, some grooming and a wander through the grasses before taking flight to other venues.

 

So for now, due to the water depth of the pond, some of the best fish may be out of the heron's reach and for all those muskrats who inhabit this area, "beware" and stay in the deeper depths less you become a heron's next meal. Herons do like a varied diet, dining on not only fish & small frogs, etc. but the odd rodent as well.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-blue-green-colour-palette---great-blue-heron Sun, 26 May 2024 17:17:48 GMT
"A WOODLAND FAMILY" - Great Horned Owls https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-a-woodland-family---great-horned-owls "A WOODLAND FAMILY"

Great Horned Owl (Owl & Owlet) - 8 Photos

 

It appears to be another successful Spring for this Great Horned Owl family. 

 

With fledging now complete, the adults should now be moving onto the next steps in their raising, i.e. protection, teaching & of course, still maintaining a steady food supply.

 

The photos that follow were taken a few weeks ago, just a day or two before this owlet completely fledged to the surrounding trees. He/she had actually made it out of the nest and although Mother Owl had flown in with a newly caught meal, his/her attention was more on testing out wings and checking out surroundings (Photo #8).

 

But before presenting those photos in a future blog, here are some tender moments between a young owlet and mother. Although we may think that as humans, we have the monopoly on a mother's love and tenderness, wildlife proves again and again, that this concept is truly flawed.

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-a-woodland-family---great-horned-owls Sun, 26 May 2024 16:54:43 GMT
"BLUE LAGOON" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-blue-lagoon---beaver-north-american "BLUE LAGOON"

Beaver (North American) - 5 Photos

 

Two beavers eventually swam out from the lodge, late in the evening. 

 

From their size & activities, I think they may have been the two younger members of the family of six seen last year. At this point, I don't know if there are any new kits born over the course of this past Winter.

 

They ventured out looking for some new fresh vegetation, which allowed for a few close-ups. It's only recently that I've noticed that beavers actually have fur on their large noses. Totally makes sense as it's all about maintaining warmth, particularly when swimming in cold water. 

 

Photo #5 is the young beaver, who repeatedly swam back & forth across the beaver pond, towing a branch. There didn't seem to be any particular destination or eating involved. Perhaps he/she was just practicing or doing the beaver equivalent of "bench pressing" to build up endurance for carrying/swimming future building material back to the lodge. :)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-blue-lagoon---beaver-north-american Thu, 23 May 2024 21:52:11 GMT
"IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY MONTH!" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-its-your-birthday-month---coyote "IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY MONTH!!"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

It's your birthday month, young Coyote! Or perhaps it's your belated birthday month, depending on whether you were born in April or May of last year. And you are officially one year old. Congratulations! :)

 

I haven't seen this coyote for some months now. Hunting patterns change depending upon the seasons and new responsibilities. With age comes maturity. This coyote, who is quite distinguishable with her red markings, has probably grown into a new stage in her family life. No longer a "newbie" and with the potential arrival of new pups in the family, she may now be expected to provide food, together with her other family members, for her younger siblings.

 

When first spotted, I wasn't certain which one of the three youngsters born last year, this was. I was still unsure as she made her way slowly down from the creek and then she paused & sat. This particular coyote, who I believe is the youngest of the three, has a habit of pausing in the middle of hunting & just sitting for a short period. The first time I saw her do this, I thought she was just taking a rest. However, having seen her do this action on a number of occasions and the fact that she has no trouble covering the landscape at speed, I believe she is actually taking a time-out to think about her next course of action. And from what I've seen her chase & catch, she is an amazing hunter.

 

So this is Foxy, so named because of her colourings which re-confirmed her identity when I downloaded the photos. And Happy Birthday, Foxy & may you have many more!

 

The colours in the photos are somewhat vibrant as the photography was done late evening just after a Spring shower (which explains too why the coyote looks somewhat wet). 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-its-your-birthday-month---coyote Thu, 23 May 2024 21:30:52 GMT
"THEY REALLY HAVE LANDED" - Sora https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-they-really-have-landed---sora "THEY REALLY HAVE LANDED"

Sora - 9 Photos

 

It's almost hard to believe that this small bird can migrate from southern regions of the United States & Mexico, etc. to its breeding grounds much farther north, including Alberta, Canada & beyond. In fact, I've rarely seen it fly and even catching a glimpse is a treasured experience as the Sora leans towards secrecy often staying hidden in dense vegetation. Usually, they are more often heard rather than seen.

 

So it was with a little trepidation that I reached for the camera, having spotted a Sora making its way through the vegetation close to the creek bank, where I was sitting. I believe it may have run out of cover of the marsh grasses and decided to backtrack (Photo #1). It then took a quick swim across the creek where it continued its foraging, searching for seeds and aquatic insects (Photo # 2). And yes, there was success with at least one insect (Photo # 4)

 

It was then back to more searching of the marsh vegetation (Photo #5 through Photo #9) before disappearing up the bank and into the grass. 

 

So they really have landed here for another breeding season and with those almost alien looking toes & feet, perhaps "they do walk among us". 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-they-really-have-landed---sora Mon, 20 May 2024 19:49:05 GMT
"PORCUPINE WALK ABOUT" - Porcupine https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-porcupine-walk-about---porcupine "PORCUPINE WALK ABOUT"

Porcupine (North American) - 6 Photos

 

 

While foraging, porcupines can cover a great deal of ground in their territories at quite a good pace. And, of course, because of their wonderful camouflage they blend into the meadow grasses & shrubbery while travelling. Should the need arise, there is usually at least one or two fallen trees with hollows to climb into for safety and evasion from predators.

 

Here are some photos to document one porcupine's trip from his/her descent from the tree, a walk across a log and finally reaching a grassy meadow. 

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-porcupine-walk-about---porcupine Sat, 18 May 2024 01:18:25 GMT
"DRESSED TO QUILL" - Porcupine (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-dressed-to-quill---porcupine-north-american "DRESSED TO QUILL"

Porcupine (North American) - 7 Photos

 

It was a bright Spring morning and the porcupine, depicted in the photos that follow, was originally catching some rays while napping in a tree.

 

And then shortly before noon, he quickly made his descent to the ground and found a secure but slightly exposed log den where he slept for the rest of the afternoon. It wasn't until early evening that he began to rouse, tend to some grooming and then make his way above the log pile, presumably ready for the evening's ground foraging.

 

My primary goal in photographing wildlife is to be as unobtrusive as possible which means being silent with minimal movement & being solitary (much like a porcupine, I guess) and of course, always from a safe distance. The welfare of the wildlife is paramount. 

 

I say "solitary" but of course, even in somewhat isolated areas, you are surrounded by bird & mammal activity and the air is full of bird song, particularly in the warmer months. And there are always the snacks I bring for myself to help pass the time and sorry wildlife this doesn't include you, no exceptions.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-dressed-to-quill---porcupine-north-american Wed, 15 May 2024 16:24:46 GMT
"SO WHY ARE WE HERE??" - American White Pelican https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-so-why-are-we-here---american-white-pelican "SO WHY ARE WE HERE??"

American White Pelican - 9 Photos

 

So it's May in Calgary, Alberta, CA. It's been cold & snowy. Now that's changed to extremely windy & rainy, with temperatures still below seasonal.

 

The photos below are a group or pod of American White Pelicans, probably only recently arrived from places well south of the Canadian border. All were pure white with bumps on their bills, showing they are all breeding adults.

 

To say they did not look happy would be an understatement, particularly when they were all huddled together, heads down trying to minimize the impact of the cold wind.

 

One can only imagine, the conversations between birds, "Why are we here? and "Whose bright idea was it to migrate this far north?"

 

Don't worry, pelicans, the weather is supposed to warm up significantly later this week and there are plenty of fish in the river.

 

And I believe it is their breeding finery, but I love the stark white colouring of the pelicans, topped off literally with their spiky feather headdresses. They almost have an egret appearance.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-so-why-are-we-here---american-white-pelican Wed, 08 May 2024 15:41:17 GMT
"IT'S RAINING, IT'S POURING" - Porcupine https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-its-raining-it-s-pouring---porcupine "IT'S RAINING, IT'S POURING"

Porcupine (North American) - 6 Photos

 

To paraphrase that children's nursery rhyme:  "It's raining, it's pouring, the porcupine is motoring".

 

Having spent a few hours watching & photographing a porcupine napping and munching on fresh tree buds, with some scratching, the weather had begun to turn from a mixture of sun & cloud, to an occasional light shower. 

 

Although there were several false starts by the porcupine to climb down from the tree but whether it was just a re-positioning to remain out of the wind or a change of mind because the rain had stopped, it just didn't happen.

 

That all changed when the heavens opened and there was a huge downpour of rain mixed with snow. 

 

There may be some that believe porcupines, like their beaver cousins, are slow moving large rodents. However, when the moment or need arises, porcupines can be very fleet of foot. With those long sharp claws on all four feet, the descent was rapid and straight down the tree, with no side to side positioning (Photo #1)

 

Once I realized the porcupine was actually going "to ground", I waited to see which direction he was going to take to ensure safety for both of us.   And yes, towards me was the answer. So I stood back out of the way and let the porcupine motor on by, Then there was the hasty departure from the woods (Photo #2 through Photo #4), across a series of fallen tree branches (Photo #5 through Photo #7),  followed by a run across a flat meadow to an undetermined but safe shelter, out of the rain.

 

I say "undetermined" because at the point the porcupine exited the woods, I did not follow. First and foremost, was the welfare of the porcupine, avoiding any additional stress to an already anxious mammal. Second, the only photographs you can achieve with such an exercise, are the south end of a porcupine going north. And third, believe it or not, you cannot outrun a porcupine. :)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/5/-its-raining-it-s-pouring---porcupine Tue, 07 May 2024 03:07:23 GMT
"COLOURFUL PAIRING" - Wood Ducks https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-colourful-pairing---wood-ducks "COLOURFUL PAIRING"

Wood Ducks (Male & Female) - 9 Photos

 

This pairing of Wood Ducks repeatedly flew out and in of a small creek, presumably taking a respite from house or rather nest cavity hunting. 

 

Perhaps because they were a pair & could keep an eye on each other and predators while grooming and eating, they were relatively relaxed.

 

Although the female is not as colourful as her partner, she definitely has lovely colours in her feathers & a lovely yellow circle around each eye for contrast.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-colourful-pairing---wood-ducks Tue, 30 Apr 2024 21:58:49 GMT
"BEST TWO OUT OF THREE" - Yellow-Headed Blackbird https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-best-two-out-of-three---yellow-headed-blackbird "BEST TWO OUT OF THREE"

Yellow-Headed Blackbird - 6 Photos

 

So I have this unscientific theory that fits most bird species. As with most "rules", there are, of course, exceptions.

 

When Nature was giving out her gifts to the birds, the birds were given the choice of two out of the following three choices:

1. Flight/Swimming Ability

2. Beauty

3. Song

 

Take the little House Wren, for example. At a quick glance a tiny relatively plain brown bird that does have the gift of flight but oh my goodness, what a song this little bird can sing.

 

Then there is the Great Blue Heron - a stately looking bird with graceful flight and a huge wingspan. And then the heron opens its bill to speak and all that is heard is a loud squawk. :)

 

And onto the Yellow-Headed Blackbird. Like the House Wren, it has good flight and is a stunning beauty with that deep yellow contrast against the black feathers. And then the song, it's been described as a heavy door swinging on a very rusty metal hinge.

 

So here's another contender for the best of two out of three:

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-best-two-out-of-three---yellow-headed-blackbird Tue, 30 Apr 2024 01:21:23 GMT
"I AM PORCUPINE" - Porcupine https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-i-am-porcupine---porcupine "I AM PORCUPINE"

Porcupine - 9 Photos

 

 

As North American wildlife goes, porcupines are fairly distinctive in appearance, with their brown furry faces & quill covered body & tail.

 

However, in trees, for example, when stretched out along a branch, they can sometimes remind me of enormous caterpillars, particularly if their quills are sticking up along their bodies much like the hairs on a caterpillar.

 

Then there is that "monkey" look, when porcupines are standing tall between branches and definitely when they are climbing down trees.

 

And then sometimes, with that band of quills surrounding their necks, they take on an almost male lion appearance with a golden mane. Or perhaps, in just the right pose & light, we are in the presence of a Silky Terrier dog.

 

But no matter what the look, "I Am Porcupine".

 

 

PHOTO #1

 

PHOTO #2

 

PHOTO #3

 

PHOTO #4

 

PHOTO #5

 

PHOTO #6

 

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

 

PHOTO #9

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-i-am-porcupine---porcupine Mon, 29 Apr 2024 02:03:21 GMT
"THE BACHELOR" - Wood Duck (Male) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-the-bachelor---wood-duck-male "THE BACHELOR"

Wood Duck (Male) - 7 Photos

 

The male Wood Duck depicted in the following photos is consistently in an area also frequented by a pair of Wood Ducks, presumably in a partnership. Unfortunately, this handsome fellow, whom I have seen on several occasions now, appears to be alone without a mate & extremely wary.

 

Unlike the pair, he is constantly on the move (which explains the difference of lighting & background in the photos) and is in one area for only short periods. Perhaps, he is off to other venues hoping to find a mate in time to join up & then find a suitable nesting site for egg laying.

 

One thing is for certain, it's certainly not "looks" that could be holding him back.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-the-bachelor---wood-duck-male Thu, 25 Apr 2024 22:41:39 GMT
"IT WAS A LONG DAY AGAIN" - Porcupine (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-it-was-a-long-day-again---porcupine-north-american "IT WAS A LONG DAY AGAIN"

Porcupine (North American) - 5 Photos

 

Contrary to what some individuals believe, porcupines do not sleep soundly without interruption, while napping in trees.

 

They often change position, sometimes taking time to scratch to remove old fur, particularly in the Spring to remove an old winter coat (Photo #1 through Photo #3).  

 

Having climbed the tree the night before and after a day of foraging the trees for Spring buds, ascending or descending to another area of the tree when branches became to hard to reach at the current level, it's time to return to napping but not before a yawn or two (Photo #4 and Photo #5)

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-it-was-a-long-day-again---porcupine-north-american Tue, 23 Apr 2024 04:41:26 GMT
"ALL IN A DAY'S WORK" - Porcupine (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-all-in-a-days-work---porcupine-north-american "ALL IN A DAY'S WORK"

Porcupine (North American) - 5 Photos

 

 

The popular trees are now in bud (commonly referred to as "sticky buds), with the formation of leaves not far behind. 

 

And it's also a time for "celebration" for porcupines. Having wintered on a diet of bark & dried vegetation, porcupines are heading into the trees for some succulent feasting while buds are plentiful. That sweet sap contained in the buds must be a great calorie replenishment and the taste must be like candy after a rather bland diet for the past few months.

 

But when the wind picks up, it's time to move floors to a location somewhat lower on the tree and more secure from the elements.

 

Some porcupines descend slowly down a tree, moving from side to side, gauging each foothold much like a rock climber making his/her descent.  This particular porcupine took a more direct approach. Once a side was chosen, it kept to the same path making short work of the climb down to a lower branch.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-all-in-a-days-work---porcupine-north-american Tue, 23 Apr 2024 04:23:42 GMT
"ROYAL IS MY NAME" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-royal-is-my-name---coyote "ROYAL IS MY NAME"

Coyote - 6 Photos

 

Over the course of the last few months, I have been fortunate to have multiple sightings of one particular coyote family, particularly three siblings born Spring 2023 and have grown accustomed to a certain size and body type of this species of canid (Photo #5), i.e. less bulk & more leg length. 

 

Have seen the two adults on only two occasions and always from a distance. The sixth family member is most likely a youngster born in 2022 (Photo #6). Believe her to be female as she has been accompanying her younger siblings on various hunts, probably there to act as a mentor. Male pups generally leave the family between six and nine months to create a family of their own.

 

This particular day, having only seen a coyote or two from a great distance during the day, I started my drive home when I spotted the coyote shown in Photo #1 through Photo #4, in a residential area close to the Provincial Park. 

 

Found a safe parking spot, crossed the road & managed a few shots before he/she moved along at that deliberate coyote walk, disappearing into the surroundings. 

 

I thought, at the time, the coyote was rather large but when downloading the photos, I was blown away by his/her height & bulk. This was, indeed, a full sized very mature adult. 

 

 

Gender, of course, cannot be determined from the photos but due to the depth & thickness of the coyote's neck ruff, I'm leaning towards male. Whether male or female, this coyote is truly royal.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

 

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

 

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-royal-is-my-name---coyote Wed, 17 Apr 2024 22:52:42 GMT
"HOUSE HUNTING" - Wood Ducks https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-house-hunting---wood-ducks "HOUSE HUNTING"

Wood Ducks (Male & Female) - 9 Photos

 

House hunting in Calgary, Alberta is currently experiencing an intense market but finding just the right nesting habitat for the Wood Ducks could be somewhat challenging as well, as they search for the best location with close proximity to water but a secure nest in a suitable tree cavity.

 

The male Wood Duck stood by as his partner checked out various possible sites, both going from tree to tree but never landing that far apart. And there was a low vocalization from the female, as she called to her mate. 

 

Both eventually flew from the area and across to another section of woods, to resume their house hunting.

 

Photo #4 was taken at one of the first potential sites, which appeared not to satisfy the female's criteria. 

 

WOOD DUCK (FEMALE)

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

 

WOOD DUCK (MALE)

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-house-hunting---wood-ducks Tue, 16 Apr 2024 22:55:10 GMT
"WE ARE ALL SENTIENT" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-we-are-all-sentient---beaver-north-american "WE ARE ALL SENTIENT"

Beaver (North American) - 7 Photos

 

The Miriam-Webster definition of sentient: Capable of sensing or feeling. Conscious of or responsive to the sensations of seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting or smelling. 

 

So sentience is the simplest form of cognition. So then how, as a species, can we deny other species the attribute of being sentient when, in fact, it has already been proven that many species other than humans, express even the most complex feelings, such as joy and grief (elephants come immediately to mind).

 

Having witnessed beavers at play, expressing pure joy in executing what can only be called a beaver dance where a male & female beaver embraced each other while spinning in the water, and having seen a few "tiffs" or minor arguments, for me there is no denying that beavers like many other animals are indeed sentient. 

 

Take a moment to look into the eyes & faces of the beavers in the following photos and see what they can tell you. 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-we-are-all-sentient---beaver-north-american Mon, 15 Apr 2024 21:38:16 GMT
"MORE FOR ME" - Pileated Woodpecker https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-more-for-me---pileated-woodpecker "MORE FOR ME"

Pileated Woodpecker (Male & Female) - 7 Photos

 

It was just one of those magical moments when all the camera "ducks were in a row", i.e. camera settings were suitable, lens was at the maximum length for a close up & timing was just right.

 

I try to remember to shoot head shots on wildlife if I'm near enough to the subject to get in close with the lens. The male Pileated Woodpecker was determined to dig out whatever was in this tree so I had an opportunity to focus in while he was pre-occupied.

 

I wasn't expecting to see anything other than wood chips after his excavation but what he pulled out of the hole explained his determination (Photo #1 through Photo #3)

 

I'm not familiar with insect identification, let alone larvae so I went off to some reliable sources. The consensus was that this was the larvae of a longhorn (woodborer) beetle, which can get up to over 8 inches long. The length of the larvae can be estimated by the size of the Pileated's bill.

 

So having downed this large meal, Mr. flew off to join Mrs. for a brief period before flying on (Photo #4). He was probably so happy that as offspring have not yet arrived (let alone even laid), he didn't have to share. :) 

 

Having caught the male Pileated Woodpecker on camera, it was time to photograph the female, who was equally cooperative but not so fortunate in her drilling (Photo #5 through Photo #7)

 

 

PILEATED WOODPECKER (MALE)

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

 


PILEATED WOODPECKER (FEMALE)

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-more-for-me---pileated-woodpecker Mon, 08 Apr 2024 19:23:19 GMT
"WHITE WATER BEAVERS" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-white-water-beavers---beaver-north-american "WHITE WATER BEAVERS"

Beaver (North American) - 7 Photos

 

There were so many titles that could have been used for this blog: -

1. Beavers Just Want To Have Fun (Sometimes)

2. White Water Kayaking Beaver

3. Beaver Body Surfing

4. Over The Falls, etc.

 

Due to the melting ice, there was a major breach in one of the beaver dams in one of the ponds where a beaver family resides. I had gone out late one evening hoping to catch beavers coming ashore to sample the vegetation but was shocked at the volume of water cascading down into the channel below.

 

This system of ponds & channels is used by the beavers to navigate the course of waterways safely & with minimum exposure to predators. I don't what what it had been like before the thaw, when it might have been a gentle stream but now it resembled a miniature Niagara Falls, with white water pounding down into the water below.

 

It took some time for beavers to arrive. First one showed up, followed by another and eventually there were five and one lone muskrat. 

 

Each beaver surveyed the damage, brought over some repair material and re-entered the calm water above the dam. The repair work was minimal, perhaps due to lack of available material or the need to replenish those calories lost over the winter months. Then one by one, the beavers swam back & forth before proceeding down into the "falls". Perhaps, they were contemplating the best way down or maybe it was to pluck up some courage before navigating the white water. 

 

For humans, white water kayaking requires developing paddle & boat handling skills to negotiate the eddy line, break in and out, ferry glide to cross the water, defensive paddling, brace strokes, and assisted & self rescue techniques. 

 

Beavers, of course, have the equipment built in and with the ability to hold their breath under water for at least 15 minutes, it becomes a matter of just navigating the area, mostly under the white water, avoiding any potential dangers such as rocks or branches that may be encountered. So paddles & boat handling skills are redundant and with their strong swimming skills & webbed back feet, ferrying, defensive paddling & brace strokes are innate. 

 

And with regard to the assisted & self rescue techniques, am certain beavers have that covered. On the other hand, there were a few seconds of amusement for the photographer when the muskrat ventured too close to the dam breach & was pulled towards the rushing water. It was a quick turn around, a flip of the muskrat's tail to act as a rudder and a frantic swim back to much calmer water. This muskrat obviously didn't want to be the first muskrat over the falls without a barrel. :) :)

 

I don't think the muskrat would have had too much difficulty in going in and through the white water but it definitely would have been an extremely quick trip. They too can hold their breath for at least 15 minutes and the entire trip was only seconds but muskrats probably aren't adrenaline junkies like these beavers. 

 

I now have a whole new appreciation for beavers & their white water skills but also for photographers who capture humans white water kayaking. It's somewhat challenging to follow a kayaker/beaver as they go under water and come out the other side and still have the shot in focus. There were certainly a number of photos taken where all I had was white water and no beaver in the frame.

 

And yes, no beavers were injured during this adventure. All eventually turned up in the quiet pool below and swam on to sample willows, etc. to replenish much needed calories.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-white-water-beavers---beaver-north-american Wed, 03 Apr 2024 21:06:50 GMT
"WALKING IN THE CLOUDS" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-walking-in-the-clouds---coyote "WALKING IN THE CLOUDS"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

Flat light, particularly on a snowy day, can sometimes prove to be challenging. For one thing, it's more difficult to put one foot in front of the other while trying to distinguish definition in snow covered terrain, where everything appears white with no depth.

 

Or in conjunction with a pure white landscape, it can provide a pure clean background to highlight a majestic coyote going about its coyote business in pursuit of food (Photo #1 & Photo #2)

 

With only drifts of snow to break up the white landscape, the mounds seem to take on an almost cloudlike look but from a perspective of looking down, not looking up into the sky.

 

So here we have a coyote walking in the clouds and leaving behind only a few tracks & maybe a hint of a shadow cast by the sun above (Photo #3 through Photo #6).

 

And to bring everything back to earth, there is Photo #7, coyote complete with shrubbery & grasses pushing their way through the snow. 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

 

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/4/-walking-in-the-clouds---coyote Tue, 02 Apr 2024 03:14:49 GMT
"THE CROSSING" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-the-crossing---coyote "THE CROSSING"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

Coyotes are so fleet of foot that because of their easy gaits & ability to cover distances with such ease, they can seemingly appear & disappear at will.

 

Having quickly recovered from the realization that the coyote was actually going to attempt to cross a narrow beaver dam bridging a small creek, I was somewhat amazed (and to some degree amused), at his/her caution in the approach.

 

Now the dam's make-up of branches, logs & mud covered in deep snow, situated above partially frozen water would definitely have been a "no go" for me, even without camera equipment. I'm not the nimblest and sure of foot navigator of deep snow and when proceeding into unbroken snow, I am very cautious in evaluating each foot fall, being wary of what may lie beneath, particularly in flat light conditions.

 

So it was with some amusement (and admiration) to see this coyote proceed in a somewhat similar manner, stretching out each leg and foot to test the terrain. The drop to the ice/water below was not much but with the potential of wet paws and legs that could freeze in the below zero temperatures, a slip in footing could have had somewhat serious consequences. And yes, with those cold temperatures there was a steady snowfall.

 

Although the entire crossing probably took no more than a minute, it did allow adequate time to grab some shots of the coyote's progress which ended in a successful result with the coyote back onto more solid ground (although deep snow covered) and resuming hunting pursuits.

 

Thanks, Coyote, for not making me feel completely inadequate when navigating snow & icy conditions. Even the most agile & sure footed, proceeds with caution when it comes to the unknown path.

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-the-crossing---coyote Tue, 26 Mar 2024 16:05:22 GMT
"A BEAVER'S DAY IN THE SUN" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-a-beavers-day-in-the-sun---beaver-north-american "A BEAVER'S DAY IN THE SUN"

Beaver - North American (5 Photos)

 

The following photos were taken in full sunlight approximately an hour before sunset.

 

Figuratively, to have "a day in the sun" can mean having a heyday or you have reached the highest possible level of success. This family of beavers, through their hard work, have made a series of wet ponds into a connected eco-system where wildlife not only survives, but thrives. In Spring & Summer, many bird species including shorebirds & ducks, visit these ponds, some even nesting. And, of course, with an ample source water, even during the hottest months and ample food sources, there are mammals such as deer, coyotes & even minks.

 

So, in my book, the beavers have reached the highest possible level of success by creating a viable home for not only their species but many others as well.

 

One beaver swam over to the pond's edge and did some mud dredging which he/she left on the remaining ice of the shoreline (Photo #1).  I believe there is a small lodge (or bolt hole) dug into the bank close by and the mud is probably for some future use. 

 

Having done some of the "heavy lifting", it was time for some sun & grooming before proceeding onto other matters such as dam repairs (Photo #2 through Photo #5).

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-a-beavers-day-in-the-sun---beaver-north-american Mon, 25 Mar 2024 16:41:02 GMT
"SPRING CLEANING" - Porcupine https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-spring-cleaning---porcupine "SPRING CLEANING"

Porcupine - 8 Photos

 

Spring has arrived and in Calgary, Alberta, per normal, so has the snow.

 

The photos that follow were taken just over a week ago, when the sky was pure blue & the temperatures much warmer. And warmer temperatures & sunny skies can entice porcupines to climb trees after a night of foraging and bask in the sunshine during daylight hours. 

 

It was too early for the buds to appear on the tree branches, probably much to the disappointment of the porcupine. These sweet buds must be like candy to a porcupine and a much needed source of calories & refreshment after a Winter diet of bark & old vegetation. However, along with soaking up the sun's rays, there was another matter that needed attention. And that would be removing the excess hair/fur of the now shedding Winter coat from under that armor of quills (Photo #1 through to Photo #5)

 

So there was a great deal of scratching & itching involved, which involved alternative front & back feet, great for those hard to reach places. That would also include some side posturing to ensure an overall belly rub (Photo #6)

 

Grooming having been temporarily put on hold, it was time for a break (Photo #7) and finally a well deserved nap (Photo #8)

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-spring-cleaning---porcupine Wed, 20 Mar 2024 23:19:54 GMT
"WHAT WE'VE GOT HERE IS A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE" - Bald Eagle & Black-billed Magpie https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-what-weve-got-here-is-a-failure-to-communicate---bald-eagle-black-billed-magpie "WHAT WE'VE GOT HERE IS FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE"

Bald Eagle & Black-billed Magpie - 6 Photos

 

It's that infamous line from the 1967 film, "Cool Hand Luke".

 

Continuing on from the post, "Parent Potential", eventually the male adult Bald Eagle took flight, leaving his female partner preening on her branch of the tree. Not long after, arrived the inevitable Black-billed Magpies  but only one appeared to have the courage (or something) to come in close to the eagle (Photo #1).

 

Adult Bald Eagles appear more likely to stand their ground (or branch) in this case. They know who is in charge, while the immature eagles seem to take more of a defensive approach.

 

Am not certain if this magpie was just interested in the preening activities of the eagle of its magnificent feathers or whether it was just waiting for the right moment to be the most annoying. In either case, this female just did not care. 

 

And I can relate to Photo #4, particularly when I am in wildlife photographer mode. 

 

Photo #5 has been captioned, "Twins" which is a movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger & Danny DiVito as two fraternal twins who are re-united as adults. A Bald Eagle & a Black-billed Magpie - who knew??? :)

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2 - "WHAT WE'VE GOT HERE IS FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE"

PHOTO #3

 

PHOTO #4 - Isn't it annoying when you are enjoying the serenity of your surroundings & a complete stranger comes along, sits beside you & won't stop chattering! :) 

PHOTO #5 - AVIAN VERSION OF THE MOVIE "TWINS"

PHOTO #6 - Finally, solitude & peace is restored.

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-what-weve-got-here-is-a-failure-to-communicate---bald-eagle-black-billed-magpie Mon, 18 Mar 2024 02:46:44 GMT
"COYOTE BIDS THE SUN GOOD NIGHT" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-coyote-bids-the-sun-good-night---coyote "COYOTE BIDS THE SUN GOOD NIGHT"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

It may have been an end to the day, but for the coyote it's probably only the beginning of another shift of hunting.

 

And although there may have been some "negotiations" between two coyotes as to which direction to take, eventually the second coyote won the debate and the first (and larger) one followed back into the meadow from which it came.

 

A coyote's coat in colouring & thickness can change between Winter & Summer. However, I have observed from the photos that depending upon the type of light whether it be from direct sunlight or cloudy days, during the same season the coat colouring can appear different. For example at sunset, the coyote's coat is truly golden (Photo #1 through 6)

 

I have included a photo of a coyote taken on January 16, 2024, on an overcast & snowy day, late afternoon. And now the coyote takes on an almost ghostlike appearance, with only some highlights of brown (Photo #7)

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5


PHOTO #

PHOTO #7 - Taken on January 16, 2024

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-coyote-bids-the-sun-good-night---coyote Wed, 13 Mar 2024 16:15:00 GMT
"PARENT POTENTIAL" - Bald Eagle https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-parent-potential---bald-eagle "PARENT POTENTIAL"

Bald Eagle - 9 Photos

 

Courtship now complete (or at the very least a re-affirming of the partnership), it will be back to nest building for preparation of egg laying & eventually the arrival of chicks later in the Spring, hopefully.

 

This probably won't be the first go-round for this pair and potentially not the last. In fact, in the process of these two flying in and landing on opposite branches of the same tree, a third immature Bald Eagle came in but continued on, but not without a lot of eagle chatter.

 

And with the genes from this pair, their offspring can only be awe-inspiring.

 

MALE BALD EAGLE

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

 

FEMALE BALD EAGLE

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

 

 

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-parent-potential---bald-eagle Mon, 11 Mar 2024 21:15:16 GMT
"FIELD OF DREAMS" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-field-of-dreams---coyote "FIELD OF DREAMS"

Coyote - 6 Photos

 

So in the movie "Field of Dreams" a team of baseball players seemed to appear and then magically disappear into a cornfield. Well this is a grassy meadow not a cornfield, but a coyote with its camouflage colouring can seem to appear & disappear into the grasses and shrubbery.

 

And as for the field of dreams, I suppose the coyote is hoping to uncover rodents under the snow blanket and have a meal. As for me, I dream of achieving that perfect capture of coyote, particularly against a wintery background. You can never have too many photos of a coyote in its element.

 

 

PHOTO #1

 

PHOTO #2

 

PHOTO #3

 

PHOTO #4

 

PHOTO #5

 

PHOTO #6

 

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-field-of-dreams---coyote Mon, 11 Mar 2024 02:01:50 GMT
"DEMISE OF A SQUIRREL" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-demise-of-a-squirrel---coyote "DEMISE OF A SQUIRREL"

Coyote - 12 Photos

 

The photos that follow might be discomforting to some. However, in all things Nature, there exists two camps - prey & predator, bearing in mind that predator can also become prey and prey - predator. For example, muskrats are a favourite food source for herons, bobcats, coyotes, etc. but I have been witness to a muskrat catching a large Prussian Carp fish & devouring it. Here, the prey became a predator.

 

And one important criteria should be remembered. Wildlife must eat to survive and there are no easy visits to grocery stores or fast food restaurants to replenish calories. 

 

This young coyote has already demonstrated her prowess as a hunter, with small & large quarry. I could be mistaken but she appears to be a thinker, often pausing and even sitting for a very short period before travelling on. At first, I believed that because she is the smallest of three siblings, this was due perhaps to less stamina but then seeing how she keeps up with the other two & can go from stop to full out speed to chase a deer, this is probably not the case. She seems to be figuring out her next move during these intervals.

 

So case in point, the coyote had disappeared into the woods only to re-appear sometime later to scout the edge of a small creek. She paused (Photo #1), looked left and then walked on going right, paused again and then went down into the grasses that line the bank. And then up she popped with something, that at first I couldn't make out (Photo #2). There was some vigorous shaking from side to side and then I could make out her catch, it appeared to be a black Eastern Gray Squirrel?

 

Because the bank is lined with shrubs & grasses over a foot high & no clear photos could be taken, I made a slow move around to where I could face the coyote head on but from a safe and higher viewing point. Thankfully, she was so involved with the squirrel, that she took no notice and in fact turned around, facing in my direction. 

 

And that's when the Photo #3 through Photo #10 were taken.

 

As you will see from the photos, there were periods where she paused and looked right, into the direction of the woods (Photo #3). In fact, at one point she actually sat for a few seconds, Photo #10 (there's that sitting posture again), but with her ears up and listening. I assume she was listening for and possibly hearing her older sibling who was probably close by. These two are never that far apart from each other. I couldn't hear any vocalizations but there are sounds emitted from animals that are well beyond human hearing.

 

Having finished her meal, she skirted around the wooded area, paused along the bank (Photo #12), turned and headed down the hill. By the time, I had covered the distance, there was no sign of her. Another coyote making one of their amazing disappearing acts.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

 

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

 

PHOTO #5

 

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

 

PHOTO #9

PHOTO #10

PHOTO #11

PHOTO #12

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-demise-of-a-squirrel---coyote Mon, 04 Mar 2024 16:23:32 GMT
"I REALLY AM RUGGEDLY HANDSOME, AREN'T I!" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-i-really-am-ruggedly-handsome-arent-i---coyote "I REALLY AM RUGGEDLY HANDSOME, AREN'T I?" 

Coyote - 6 Photos

 

Following on from the blog "SHADOW WORK" (February 24th, 2024), Photo #2, the following photos were taken on different days over the course of the past few months. 

 

As mentioned in that previous blog, the title is a line spoken by Nathan Fillion as his writer character, in an episode from the series, Castle.

 

I won't debate the "for" and "against" in respect of the truth of that statement in relation to the actor but for me, without doubt, coyotes (like their cousins) are truly ruggedly handsome, whether they be female or male and particularly when they are out decked out in their winter finery.

 

Photo #4 shows how the coyote is not only one good looking canid but a master of disguise as well. Although the coyote's head & facial expression are clearly visible, the remainder of his/her body appears to fade, almost disappear into the grasses.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/3/-i-really-am-ruggedly-handsome-arent-i---coyote Sat, 02 Mar 2024 03:05:35 GMT
"CANID CANDIDS" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-canid-candids---coyote "CANID CANDIDS"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

Just a few words under this blog but basically, I will let the photos that follow (or more so, the subject), speak for themselves.

 

The scientific name for the coyote is "Canis latrans" or barking dog in Latin, so named for its vocalizations. The coyote has many other names, such as prairie wolf, brush wolf, little wolf and American jackal. 

 

A coyote by any other name is still as stunning, amazing and awe inspiring. 

 

Note: All photos were taken from a safe distance & location.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

 

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-canid-candids---coyote Mon, 26 Feb 2024 22:55:35 GMT
"SHADOW WORK" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-shadow-work---coyote "SHADOW WORK"

Coyote - 5 Photos

 

Take a sunny day and a coyote working its way across the snow and sometimes you get "a two for one".

 

These photos were taken on different days and at different times of the day, but each one has a coyote complete with its shadow counterpart. No wall in a dark room or human hands required, just Nature providing the lighting, the background and a beautiful subject. 

 

And other than the reflection by the sun on the ice in Photo #5, all the shadows do appear remarkably similar to those that can be created on walls in your own house, with the right conditions, for and even by children. 

 

Nothing, however, beats the real thing! :) 

 

Photo #2's caption, "I Really Am Ruggedly Handsome, Aren't I?" is a line said by actor Nathan Fillion, as his writer character, in an episode of the series, Castle and is a lead into a future blog.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2 - "I really am ruggedly handsome, aren't I?" 

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5 - Because of the ice, a reflection in colour.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-shadow-work---coyote Sat, 24 Feb 2024 20:00:33 GMT
"JUST BE CAREFUL OUT THERE" - Red Squirrel https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-just-be-careful-out-there---red-squirrel "JUST BE CAREFUL OUT THERE"

Red Squirrel - 7 Photos

 

A little intermission from coyote blogs, although "coyote" will turn up in this blog.

 

I hadn't seen this little red squirrel for a week or so. It visits a very large fir tree, near where I like to sit & watch for wildlife. The tree has an extremely large bottom bough which covers a large circular area with soft earth, protected for the most part from snow and is a favourite place for the squirrel to use as a pantry for winter stores.

 

On my most recent visits, I have seen squirrel tracks around the outside of the tree bough where a thin layer of snow had settled. In and on top of the squirrel tracks, were coyote tracks and indeed there was a path from the tree into the woods, which the coyote had used (going by its tracks).

 

So one would start to wonder. At this point, I would like to go on record that I do not choose "sides" in the natural world. I am not on "Team Squirrel" nor am I on "Team Coyote" and remain completely neutral in how things play out in Nature. Every animal has to eat to survive whether it be prey or predator. And it depends on the day and the skills of mammal/bird what the outcome will be.

 

But then along came Red, who obviously needed to seriously use some of its hidden stores. And because the squirrel was so involved in eating (what I believe to be pine cones), it made multiple trips to the tree. It would then sit for longer periods on tree branches happily munching away. 

 

This allowed for some opportunities to capture this adorable little red rodent, who I may add has a gorgeous thick coat & appears very healthy. Although, having reviewed the photos, there is one shot where if the subject was a person, you may think might be demonstrating a somewhat rude gesture (Photo #7 ). Perhaps, I and the camera had worn out our welcome! :)

 

My last words to this little Red Squirrel is "just be careful out there". You're not the only one checking the pantry but I am sure you already know that.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7 - Could this be a squirrel giving "the paw"! :)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-just-be-careful-out-there---red-squirrel Wed, 21 Feb 2024 17:18:11 GMT
"MARCO POLO" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-marco-polo---coyote "MARCO POLO!"

Coyote - 6 Photos

 

So hopefully no one is weary of reading blogs about coyotes & seeing their photographs. But my philosophy in wildlife photography has always been, while the sightings are good, go with the flow. :) And I admit I have always loved to photograph coyotes in the wild but these last few months have allowed more of an insight into their family interactions & how integral they are to the balance of Nature's eco-systems.

 

Now I had two other options for a title for this particular set of photos. For example:

1. Coyotes Singing Hallelujah

2. Coyotes Howling Hallelujah

 

So why did I go with "Marco Polo", the game played by children usually in a swimming pool. For those not familiar with the rules:

One person is chosen to be "it" he/she closes his/her eyes and gets on one end of the swimming pool. He/she counts to 10 and shouts "Marco" and all the others in the pool shout "Polo". The one that shouts "Marco" has to try and catch one of the persons who shouts "Polo". It can be shouted as much as possible. Once he/she catches a person, then that person is now "it". 

 

In this instance, the following changes apply:

1. Substitute "Coyote" for "Person";

2. Substitute "Meadow" for "Swimming Pool"; and

3. Eliminate the physical "counting to 10", perhaps :)

 

I saw two of the three sibling coyotes running down from the ridge and across the meadow. Then somewhere between the meadow & the woods, they became separated and the smaller one disappeared from sight. The larger of the two crossed the frozen pond, came up the bank and began "singing" profusely, which is when I managed to capture the action.

 

This coyote then proceeded to walk towards a creek and out from the other side of the woods, dashed the smaller coyote. Am not certain if there had been a response from the second coyote. There are, of course, vocalizations from wildlife that are beyond a person's hearing. However, it was a very quick reunion & then both literally ran for the hills and out of sight. You just have to love these two siblings. The youngest/smallest is definitely a female & having examined some of the photographs, I'm tending to lean towards the second one is too. So hopefully they will have at least another year together, each watching out for the other.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-marco-polo---coyote Thu, 15 Feb 2024 17:22:18 GMT
"SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-splendor-in-the-grass---coyote "SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS"

Coyote - 8 Photos

 

Probably most dog owners have seen their pet nibble on some vegetation such as grass, either as a supplement to their diet or perhaps to alleviate an upset stomach.

 

I don't know what and when this coyote had been eating as during the time I had been watching, no hunt was successful. However, having traversed the meadow, he/she turned its attention to a small grove of trees surrounded by tall wild grasses. After a quick perusal of the area for rodents, etc., he/she turned to the dried grasses and began eating some of the vegetation. With the grasses being so tall, there was no need for any bending or stooping, just reach over & grab a few blades (Photo #1 through Photo #5)

 

Then the coyote turned, took a quick reading by sniffing the air (Photo #6 & Photo #7) and then it was a 180 degree turn and back to the main meadow (Photo #8)

 

 

PHOTO #1

 

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

 

PHOTO #5

 

PHOTO #6

 

PHOTO #7

 

PHOTO #8

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-splendor-in-the-grass---coyote Tue, 13 Feb 2024 00:40:22 GMT
"WHERE IS MOXY?" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-where-is-moxy---coyote "WHERE IS MOXY"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

It was Jane Goodall, during her chimpanzee studies in the 1960's in Gombe, who gave actual names to the individual chimps in her research, much to the chagrin of academics. She was accused of anthropomorphism or giving human qualities to wildlife & setting them apart as individuals.

 

Hopefully, we have come a long way from denying individuality to Nature's creatures & have a better understanding of how each mammal, bird, etc. has traits & behaviours specific to its own individual make-up. As for giving human qualities to wildlife, who are we to attribute feelings of joy or grief or the need for play to only people when one only has to observe the natural world to see so many examples. 

 

Humans do not have the sole proprietorship to emotion.

 

I have had in the past few months, opportunities to observe three sibling coyotes, belonging to a family group of six. These three appear the most frequently together, with the two youngest generally paired. I began calling the second one of the two, Foxy, because of her coloring which resembles a fox. Her brother/sister, I named, Moxy & discovered how appropriate that name was when this young coyote took chase to a large Mule Deer doe and was subsequently chased back by the deer. Fortunately, it was a learning lesson & no harm done. Moxy definitely has "moxy" or courageous spirit & nerve. 

 

So if you have Moxy & Foxy, what are you going to call the oldest & most wary of the three - Roxy. :) Have only managed to photograph Roxy from afar, generally when he/she is napping with the other two siblings on a ridge.

 

This particular morning, Foxy had followed Moxy out of the woods, having unsuccessfully tried to stalk a deer. (See Blog of January 29, 2024 - "A Run Through the Woods") She appeared out of the shrubbery and then walked out and down the footpath, obviously hoping to meet up with Moxy. Foxy then turned, walked back and looked into the other wooded area where Moxy had disappeared & was obviously still there from her reaction (Photo #1 through Photo #3). And she waited & waited and eventually what do you do when your companion is late & you're tired of waiting, well you sit down or in this case, lie down & relax (Photo #4 through Photo #6).

 

Some minutes later, Moxy reappeared with a dash through the woods to the footpath & both took off at terrific speed to continue in their hunting pursuits.

 

Included as Photo #7, is a photo of Moxy, taken upon his/her return to the same general location. And its snap a shot while you can, because Moxy isn't one generally to linger. And yes, shortly thereafter appeared Foxy. (Other photos of Foxy appear in Blog of January 29, 2024 - "Somewhat Close Encounters of the Canid Kind"). 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/2/-where-is-moxy---coyote Sat, 03 Feb 2024 01:23:57 GMT
"SOMEWHAT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CANID KIND" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-somewhat-close-encounters-of-the-canid-kind---coyote "SOMEWHAT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE CANID KIND"

Coyote - 5 Photos

 

The advantage of a lens with long range ability is that one can achieve an appearance of closeness with a minimal risk to the photographer but with a maximum of respect to wildlife. That being said, Nature has her own rules & one should never be complacent when photographing any animal at any distance.

 

Just like people, each one is an individual with a unique personality & history. And again, just like people, they can have bad days & good days, depending upon food sources, encounters with rivals or even day to day offspring rearing.

 

Sometimes opportunities can arise where you can obtain glimpses into the daily routine of wildlife, which might seem mundane in the human world but in the natural world, because those moments occur generally without a  witness, can be a window into wildlife's private lives.

 

And if you look closely at the coyote's left front paw (right of screen) (Photo #3 & 4), there appears to be a small injury to the top of the foot. I did notice some intermittent limping as she crossed the snow, not too serious though. It looks as if the injury is around a toe or nail and not to the actual pad of the foot. Nature's natural healing powers are amazing & hopefully this will soon heal. In the interim, she definitely had no difficulty in trotting or even running through the snow. 

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-somewhat-close-encounters-of-the-canid-kind---coyote Tue, 30 Jan 2024 03:25:27 GMT
"A RUN THROUGH THE WOODS" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-a-run-through-the-woods---coyote "A RUN THROUGH THE WOODS"

Coyote - 5 Photos

 

It was a morning of sitting for almost 2 hours, with an occasional sighting of a coyote, but from a distance. That all changed when what I thought, at first, was a coyote cruising through the woods which turned out to be a large female Mule Deer but quickly followed by the coyote in stalking mode.

 

And then a second coyote appeared shadowing the first. Even with two coyotes, this was a bold endeavor. Perhaps, they were hoping to push the deer into a panic mode, with the potential of the deer injuring itself running through the fallen trees & shrubbery.

 

For whatever reason, the plan was quickly discarded with the first coyote making a dash through the woods, across and into the neighbouring woods.

 

I didn't have a chance to catch the first coyote in action but quickly made a path to the area directly across from where that coyote had emerged from the shrubbery and waited. Sure enough, within a minute the second coyote appeared, a little hesitant at first and then trotted out into the open meadow. 

 

No I'm not clairvoyant, just a little knowledgeable with this pair. They are two of three young siblings, these two being the youngest and usually if you see one, the other is usually not far behind. And where the older one goes, the youngest is sure to follow.

 

And that short run (and trot) through the woods was short in duration. Once this second coyote reached a snowy path, it turned, trotted back and paused. And that is another story. 

 

So here is "Foxy", the youngest of the three so named because of her contrasting red colouring. And I have heard other individuals comment on that colouring having seen this coyote, "You mean the one that looks like a gigantic fox?" :) 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-a-run-through-the-woods---coyote Mon, 29 Jan 2024 22:08:20 GMT
"THE ARBORIST" - Mule Deer (Male) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-the-arborist---mule-deer-male "THE ARBORIST"

Mule Deer (Male) - 6 Photos

 

Having trouble reaching those top branches of your trees?

Don't really feel steady on tall ladders?

Find using those long pruners or cutters back wrenching work?

 

Maybe, it's time to call in Nature's "top" arborist - a male Mule Deer, still adorned with antlers. A handsome fellow providing tree trimming (particularly for those hard to reach places). The ultimate composting of cuttings is included in the service, free of charge, of course.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-the-arborist---mule-deer-male Tue, 23 Jan 2024 02:57:16 GMT
"IF YOU TRULY LOVE YOUR DOG" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-if-you-truly-love-your-dog---coyote "IF YOU TRULY LOVE YOUR DOG, ....."

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

Had heard the rallying cry of a coyote upon arrival so I knew the coyotes were nearby. This area has a resident family comprised of what I believe to be three youngsters, one much older sibling (probably female) & the two elders (male & female), six in total. (I have seen all six in a tight grouping twice now.)

 

Having walked into an area where I have had success in the past finding them, I was surprised to see all three of the smaller siblings already half way up one side of a hill, relaxing & napping in the morning sun. Photo #1 is a shot of the three sleeping on a hill. One fact is certain, coyotes are extremely fleet of foot. These often hunt together with the two smallest often paired.

 

So I found a relatively comfortable log to sit and watch the coyotes from across the meadow. It is amazing what one can learn by just observing & of course, hoping at least one would venture down into the meadow for some potential camera shots.

 

Probably an hour had passed and then from one end of a footpath, came a young woman with her rather rotund chihuahua initially on a lead. Once she reached the meadow, she removed the leash & proceeded to play chase with her dog, with the little chihuahua running very large circles at great speed around her and making headway into the open meadow. Even to me, this little dog had all the appearance of a rabbit skirting the snow.

 

I was somewhat annoyed as Alberta Provincial Parks require dogs to be leashed at all times but as I was sitting across a creek from the path, thought no more of it. So I returned my attention to the coyotes. Much to my surprise, all three were no longer napping & lying flat out but instead, were sitting up, alert & looking directly towards the unleashed dog. And then as I scoped the ridge, I saw a fourth coyote coming out of a thicket and heading directly down the hill and quickly approaching the meadow. This was most likely the older sibling (by at least one year), female and frequently acts as leader for the other three. If she made it to the flat area, she would have been no more than 50 metres behind the dog. I have named this much larger & older coyote, "Big Sis".

 

And as the woman approached from the other side of the creek with her unleashed dog, I called out to her & politely suggested that she leash her dog but before I could get any further words out, she was most apologetic & put the little one back on its lead. My response, "It's not me I'm worried about. There are three coyotes up on that hill taking great interest in your unleashed pet and one is coming in from behind your dog."

 

Now for one of the most fascinating events I have seen and I have not exaggerated the coyotes' responses, in any way. Immediately, that dog was leashed, the three coyotes resumed their reclining positions & proceeded to relax. And as for "Big Sis", well she stopped her approach and took up a sitting position halfway down the hill, still watching but not with the intenseness she had previously demonstrated.

 

I pointed out all the coyotes to the young woman. Am not certain she could make out the grouping of three but she definitely could see "Big Sis" not far away. She thanked me, apologized again & headed back to the main park.

 

And not another 20 minutes later, another dog walker appeared on the same footpath with a Yorkshire Terrier on a leash but with the leash left to drag on the ground. Periodically, the owner would step on the slack to "leash" the dog. Same scenario, the three sat up and "Big Sis" changed her line of sight back to the path and the dog. Again, as the gentleman walked past, I pointed out the four coyotes. He looked, brought the dog to his side and then began to recount other wildlife sightings he had had in the park that morning (amazing what some people will say). Fortunately, he quickly exited with the dog safely, back to the more travelled route.

 

Once again, the three went back to sleep & Big Sis, determining there was nothing much of interest, headed back up the hill. Eventually she left with two of the three, moving along the ridge. And yes, after over 2 hours, one coyote headed into the meadow where I managed to capture this youngster with the camera (Photo #2 through Photo #6)

 

To happen once, might have been a coincidence but to happen twice - a lesson to remember for all "visitors" to parks where dogs are required to be on leash. It is not only for your safety but your dog's as well (and for other people too). This coyote family seemingly knew to avoid dog walkers with leashed dogs. Dogs off leash, particularly acting like prey might be fair game. If you truly love your dog, please keep it leashed where stipulated. We are after all only visitors to Provincial Parks. For wildlife, this is their home.

 

I have included the one photo I have managed to catch of Big Sis, at the end of December. She was coming up one side of a small hill & I was coming from the other side, on the diagonal, when she appeared briefly above me. Before I could think "coyote", she trotted down the hill away from me and across a creek. But before she made her way into the woods and disappeared, she turned and paused for that one moment that enabled me to snap one shot. And she is a true beauty, much larger than the other three, bulkier and for the moment, it appears, without any scarring (Photo #7).

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3 - "NO WORRIES, THIS WAS ONLY A YAWN" :) 

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7 - "BIG SIS"

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-if-you-truly-love-your-dog---coyote Thu, 18 Jan 2024 23:43:09 GMT
"THE SNOW WALKER" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-the-snow-walker---coyote "THE SNOW WALKER"

Coyote - 9 Photos

 

 

With temperatures having finally warmed up to a balmy -6 degrees Celsius, I decided to head out in the afternoon, hopeful that an increase of more than 20 degrees C in air temperature might draw out more wildlife.

 

Just like people, all wildlife needs to eat but in severe cold, it must be a fine balancing act between searching for food and expending valuable calories & trying to limit searches in order to find food. And if prey such as voles, mice & rabbits, etc. have hunkered down, it makes it that much more difficult for predators to locate a meal.

 

There I was ever optimistic even though it had already begun to snow, much earlier than predicted. It wasn't the heavy kind but the light and steady fall, with an overcast sky.

 

So I opted to continue and was fortunate early on to spot some Mule Deer grazing on top of a hill. It was a small group, with a large buck/stag and a younger male and two does & two offspring.  So I stayed and took advantage of a few mock battles between the two males against the winter scenery. Eventually the herd moved up and out of sight and I decided to pack it in but thought I would take the long way around "just in case".

 

And then way up on a hill but making its way down rapidly was a coyote. I lost track of it as I made my way through the snow (I do like to remain upright in slippery conditions, particularly with camera equipment) but once I had made it to the clearing, I searched the area below the hill which is covered with trees & thicket.

 

And then it was a waiting game. As I had not kept the coyote in my line of sight, it could have already left under the cover of the trees. But then after 15 minutes, I spotted it through the grasses & shrubbery, when it made its way out of into the clearing and headed across the meadow to the creek across from which I was standing (Photo #1 & Photo #2).

 

The following photos hopefully capture this beautiful coyote in its thick winter coat in its pursuit of rodents, etc., against a pure white background, with an overcast sky & falling snow (Photo #3 & Photo #4).  There seems to be a methodic approach to the coyote's covering of the landscape. It has purpose but not speed as it thoroughly investigates any potential noise or scent (Photo #5 through Photo 8)

 

And then there was the pause & look back before moving on and walking into the woods (Photo #9)

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-the-snow-walker---coyote Thu, 18 Jan 2024 02:54:31 GMT
"BOYS, BOYS, BOYS!" - Mule Deer (Male) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-boys-boys-boys---mule-deer-male "BOYS, BOYS, BOYS!"

Mule Deer (Male) - 7 Photos

 

Walking along a path, I had seen two bucks lying side by side in the woods. One buck, probably 2 to 3 years old, I have frequently seen with a much younger male, who is at the very most a year old, both ages going by the size of their antlers.

 

Having settled in on a favourite log, I began to scout the surrounding areas for coyotes when out of the woods, came these two mule deer males, the youngest first, followed by the second and then followed by a third, who had virtually the same size antlers as the oldest.

 

They crossed the meadow and then headed up the hill to graze. And then the two oldest began engaging in what I would call "mock battles". Although antlers came in close contact on both sides and there was some serious pushing up and down the hill by both parties, as mating season has long passed and the biggest stags are no where to be seen, I assume this is play fighting. 

 

I have seen the two "buddies" engage in this before (See blog of November 29th, 2023, "While You Were Sleeping"), but it appears the oldest has found a new sparring partner. Because of their almost identical body mass & antler size, they could almost be twins or perhaps just two members of the herd born the same year. 

 

And as they were taking time to graze side by side during the "time out" intervals, I assume these sparring matches were a means to gain experience and technique without too much risk of serious injury for years ahead.

 

At one point, a small doe Mule Deer did wander by. The two bucks stopped looked at her & then returned immediately to another head to head. Well too little, too late, boys. The doe's reaction was just to keep on walking right by to where better grazing was to be had. Not the right time or the right buck. Boys will be boys!

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-boys-boys-boys---mule-deer-male Mon, 15 Jan 2024 02:40:40 GMT
"THE CHASE" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-the-chase---coyote "THE CHASE"

Coyote -  6 Photos

 

I had been photographing this young coyote earlier. It eventually made its way into the woods and disappeared.

 

Then shortly thereafter, out from the wooded area exploded a rather large female Mule Deer. It traversed the bank at great speed and headed across the meadow. And from a previous experience, I learned when you see a deer hitting top speed, watch out for what is coming behind because deer do not expend calories like that for no reason.

 

Yep, only seconds later came the coyote at full speed trying to make up the distance to the deer and up the hill they raced. Once the deer had hit a plateau, it turned, waited for the coyote to somewhat catch up and then down the hill it went chasing the coyote back down the hill into another wooded grove. Once the deer had reached the beginning of the trees and seeing that the coyote had reached the creek, it turned and went back up and across the ridge. So that would be Deer - 1, Coyote - 0.

 

Am not certain whether this was just a learning exercise for the coyote. It definitely was a learning experience. "Before taking on prey much larger than yourself or at least as fleet as foot, always have back-up, i.e. the rest of your pack" before attempting such a chase and using up energy. 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-the-chase---coyote Sun, 07 Jan 2024 23:48:17 GMT
"OUT WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-out-where-the-wild-things-are---coyote "OUT WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE"

Coyote - 5 Photos

 

Appearances can be deceiving. 

 

The photos that follow are actually of a young coyote, the middle youngster of three, if one is going by size. It generally hangs out with the smallest or youngest of the three & if you see one of the pair, the other isn't far away. As we are now almost two weeks into Winter, the coyotes have grown their thick winter coats which not only provide warmth but add depth to their appearance.

 

And the intensity of those eyes is not an aggressive gesture. It is due to the sharpness and non blinking nature of those yellow coyote eyes. I was some distance away and a creek between us. Looking through the lens, the look albeit brief, was more of curiosity before the coyote continued on its walk away from me.

 

And for a true comparison of how close-ups can change appearances, you might want to check out the photos in the previous blog of January 2, 2024, "Sometimes Even Coyotes Just Want To Have Fun". This coyote is the first of the two, heading across the pond, in Photo #3 through Photo #7.

 

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PHOTO #2

 

PHOTO #3

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PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-out-where-the-wild-things-are---coyote Sat, 06 Jan 2024 04:02:23 GMT
"SOMETIMES EVEN COYOTES JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-sometimes-even-coyotes-just-want-to-have-fun---coyote "SOMETIMES EVEN COYOTES JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

The following photos were taken just after a "pack meeting" of this particular family of six coyotes.

 

From the sightings & observations I have had over the course of the past months, it appears there are two adults (Mum & Dad), who I have seen very rarely & probably hunt during the dusk to dawn period. Then there are three younger siblings (the triplets) who generally hunt as a mini pack but usually the two youngest are most likely to be seen together. The oldest of the three (and I'm going by size & attitude) is more aloof, confident & "more worldly" in coyote matters :). 

 

There is one other, very much larger with a small amount of face scarring that I have seen often accompanying the three siblings. She (and I'm assuming it's a female as she is much older than the youngsters & larger & is not the alpha female) often initiates the "singing" to gather the youngsters together for hunting. I don't envy her job of instructing this younger generation. Sometimes it appears to be like "herding cats" with each of the three being distracted by different scents, sounds & even play.

 

And yes, the number "six" appears to ring true as I have seen all six together in a tight band on at least two occasions now.

 

As for the two youngest, on this particular occasion they broke from the pack and crossed a frozen pond to initiate some play on the other side (Photo #1 & Photo #2). They returned after short interlude of play, using the same route (Photo #3 through to Photo #7). And that open mouth & baring of teeth seen in Photo #3 shouldn't be alarming. It's just some rough housing between siblings letting off some youthful exuberance. 

 

They returned to the main pack shortly thereafter. Then there was the call from one of the adults to gather and the pack headed off to find an evening meal.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-sometimes-even-coyotes-just-want-to-have-fun---coyote Wed, 03 Jan 2024 03:15:16 GMT
"A LITTLE SNOW NEVER STOPPED A CANADIAN" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-a-little-snow-never-stopped-a-canadian---beaver-north-american "A LITTLE SNOW NEVER STOPPED A CANADIAN"

Beaver (North American) - 11 Photos

 

 

Canadians pride themselves on never letting a little snow get in the way of working, driving to the local shops or even enjoying the great outdoors.

 

And what symbol could be more Canadian than the North American beaver and what could even be more Canadian than a beaver working away in the snow. 

 

But before a beaver can hit the woods, he/she must make the trip from its lodge. The beaver could always go overland but that can not only be slow going, considering the drag from behind i.e. one beaver tail and dangerous or it could take the shortest path between two points. That would entail some underwater swimming in a pond covered by ice to a small opening where the beaver can surface & climb out into a frozen landscape (Photo #1 through Photo #3)

 

And sometimes an older beaver can be accompanied by a younger sibling, perhaps testing the waters and its swimming under ice technique or maybe for morale support (Photo #4).  

 

Then it's a short jaunt over to the local shop; sorry - woods, to choose the appropriate edibles to re-stock the beaver's pantry (Photo #5 through Photo #7).  Some harvesting is, of course, required (Photo #8 through Photo #10) and then the travelling is done in reverse but this time with the goods literally in tow (Photo #11).

 

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PHOTO #11

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2024/1/-a-little-snow-never-stopped-a-canadian---beaver-north-american Wed, 03 Jan 2024 02:38:12 GMT
"WHY, WHY, WHY?" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/12/-why-why-why---coyote "WHY, WHY, WHY?"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

Anyone reviewing this past week's news in Alberta, has probably seen the story reported in the media of the young lady who was attacked and bitten by a coyote while at a rest stop along the Trans-Canada Highway in Southern Alberta, where her parents had stopped for a break from driving. They were not responsible for this unprovoked attack in any way. Unfortunately, they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

 

I am not going to go into any details here other than my thoughts go out to this young person & her parents who underwent such a physical & mental traumatic experience. Am certain no one out there would wish to be undergoing the medical treatment that lies ahead, such as shots for rabies, etc. 

 

Feeding of said coyote by people in general was alluded to in initial reports. The popularity of a rest stop would involve multiple visitors, food and ignorance of wildlife behaviour by some, i.e. feeding predators such as coyotes either by throwing food or leaving food behind is a dangerous practice.

 

Now for the "Why's":

 

1. Why do some individuals continue to believe that giving wildlife (particularly predators) food is a kindness?

 

In fact, they are most likely handing out an execution order. Not only is this practice dangerous to a wild animal but also to other people. Predators such as coyotes, having been fed by people, can potentially turn to the next person who comes along for another hand-out & if it is not forthcoming, attacks may ensue.

 

Education could be one answer and what better way than to educate the future, i.e. the young people attending schools. Educate the young and hopefully they can educate other generations. There are teachers out there already doing exactly this. 

 

2. Why does the news media insist on dwelling on only the attack. Why are they not investigating/researching into the reasons for the attack. As mentioned in the news release, Alberta Fish & Wildlife is taking this seriously due to the rare nature of a coyote attack as aggressive as this one. One thing is for certain - if and when this coyote is located, it will be euthanized and a necropsy performed. If no medical reasons are uncovered, (rabies, poor condition, etc.), the mystery of the attack will remain unsolved. 

 

This is not the first time the news media has not, in my opinion, asked pertinent questions. This past September, 13 hikers were "followed" by a mother Grizzly Bear & her large cub for 20 minutes on a path near Moraine Lake in Banff. First, this bear and her youngster were most likely using the same path to get from Point A to Point B and couldn't get by. Why didn't the hikers, as a group, move away from the path and let the bears pass.  Why was the guide the only individual carrying bear spray??? Surely at least every second person should have been carrying a can. And no, more cans do not mean all carriers spray at once. Every second person carrying a can of spray means he/she could defend themselves as well as a "buddy" against a bear attack".  And why didn't mainstream news media ask these questions?

 

3. Why don't the Authorities do more to enforce the "Do Not Feed the Wildlife" rule in Provincial & Municipal parks? I realise that the natural areas involved are vast and officers can't be in all places at all times but there must be certain areas where humans & wildlife are more likely to interact, eg. campgrounds, picnic areas, etc. And when fines are handed out, they should be substantial. If fines are meaningful, the message will be distributed by "word of mouth".

 

In closing, in all my years photographing wildlife, I have not had a close encounter of the unwanted kind. (Hopefully, I am not jinxing myself here.) I use a long lens for photography & try to always be aware of my surroundings. I do carry a small pepper spray attached to my the front of my backpack, ready to use. However, this spray was purchased not for wildlife but because of an encounter I had last Winter with a 40 pound Pitbull which was off leash illegally in a provincial park. Its owner was less than 20 feet away when the dog ran towards me, got half way and then did a "bluff charge". It then proceeded to cover the distance to where I was sitting and jumped up behind me on the log where I was sitting. And then as I scrambled to protect myself & camera equipment, it put its paws on my back & wanted to play! And what did the owner do? Absolutely nothing but waited until the dog eventually ran back to him, when he put on the leash and slunk out of the park.

 

And now for some photos of one of favourite subjects, Canis latrans or more commonly known, the coyote. I would add in closing, the only attention, that I experienced from these canids, is "avoidance". (To reiterate, these photos were taken in a provincial park and are not of the coyote involved in the above mentioned attack.)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/12/-why-why-why---coyote Sat, 30 Dec 2023 02:29:43 GMT
"GHOST POND" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/12/-ghost-pond---coyote "GHOST POND"

Coyote - 5 Photos

 

For some ghost like appearances, combine the following three ingredients:

 

1. A foggy Winter morning

2. A flat frozen pond covered with crisp snow

3. One young coyote

 

The day had started with thick fog which slowly dispersed over the morning hours with the sun eventually breaking through. A slight haze remained in the air.

 

And then entered the coyote, who made his/her way through the meadow, finally climbing down onto the pond.

 

The shortest distance between two points is, of course, a straight line and what better way to traverse an area but across a frozen pond, with a flat surface & no obstacles. And with all wildlife, the less calories spent, the better. 

 

The end result - one coyote apparition making its way across a frozen landscape. 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/12/-ghost-pond---coyote Mon, 18 Dec 2023 23:14:24 GMT
'SHAKE IT ALL OUT" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/12/shake-it-all-out---beaver-north-american "SHAKE IT ALL OUT"

Beaver (North American) - 4 Photos

 

Most of us have probably seen dogs do it - that shake or oscillation of their bodies to shed water droplets after a bath or a swim. Bears do it as well and I have been fortunate to see a mink do the "water shed".

 

I've now seen beavers shed the water from their fur as they exit a pond or stream, particularly since the colder weather has arrived. And finally, the camera has captured those brief few seconds (Photo #1 through Photo #4)

 

A beaver's fur consists of short fine hairs for warmth & longer hairs for waterproofing. They need to groom their fur daily with the oily secretion from their castor gland to keep it waterproof. All that waterproofing may explain why their "water shed" is so quick. 

 

This young beaver had followed its older sibling under the ice shelf from the lodge to re-surface into open water. First it removed that excess water with the "shake, rattle & roll" before continuing on to more pressing beaver business, such as assisting in the harvesting of some fresh branches & trees.

 

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PHOTO #4

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/12/shake-it-all-out---beaver-north-american Mon, 18 Dec 2023 02:27:03 GMT
"WINTER FINERY" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/12/-winter-finery---coyote "WINTER FINERY"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

Just a few days later from when the last blog was posted, it snowed quite heavily in Calgary, AB and the meadows & woods changed from their late Autumn attire to Winter finery. 

 

And it made for a great background to highlight the coyotes who had already changed into their thicker warm coats.

 

Watching them as they easily traverse through the meadows and woods, sometimes at an easy trot, sometimes almost prancing across the deeper snow, makes me envious of their abilities to deal with Winter conditions. There I am trudging along, making slow progress through the snow while the coyotes with their adapted feet and pads seem to just sail across the drifts. 

 

If one ever felt inadequate at how as a species we can be so behind wildlife in their abilities to live in the natural world, this would be the time.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/12/-winter-finery---coyote Wed, 13 Dec 2023 17:51:19 GMT
"OUT WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/12/-out-where-the-wild-things-are---coyote "OUT WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE"

Coyote - 8 Photos

 

If one is overwhelmed by the increasing growth of "reality" shows out there, to achieve a reality check - go out to where the wild things are, i.e. the natural world.

 

And one such visit gifted me a wonderful sighting of a coyote pack/family. I had seen the three younger coyotes the day before but this time, the three youngsters (I believe they were born Spring 2022, full grown but a little on the inexperienced side) were accompanied by an adult. Am not certain of the gender of the adult but there was no mistaking this as an older coyote because of its bulkiness & visible scars (Photo #7)

 

And yes, it was an ideal situation with the coyotes positioned across a creek and me safely on the other side. Yes, one or more could have crossed the creek but with an experienced adult to keep the "children" in line, the youngsters were more pre-occupied in the hilly terrain and the possibility of finding food and having the odd scratch (Photo #1 through Photo #3)

 

And in the end, the adult moved along the creek & then up the hill to cross over to the other side of the woods. That coyote was eventually followed by the other three, who took a more direct route moving along the ridge, most likely to meet up all together for a full day/night of hunting.

 

The youngsters have already proven their hunting abilities, catching rodents in the meadows, but hopefully now with some parental guidance they will fine tune their existing skills, tempered with a wariness of people.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/12/-out-where-the-wild-things-are---coyote Thu, 07 Dec 2023 04:19:13 GMT
"WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING" - Mule Deer https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-while-you-were-sleeping---mule-deer "WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING"

Mule Deer - 7 Photos

 

It appears that mating season for Mule Deer is at its end. 

 

The does have now gone back to relaxed grazing & the large stags have disappeared or at the very least, have retired to the woods for some rest, relaxation & building up on calories to see them through the Winter.

 

But for the younger bucks, there is still some mock fighting or jousting to be had - ahh youth! On this particular morning, both a two year old (Photo #1) and a three year old (Photo #2 & Photo #3) (ages approximate from their antler size), thought they would try to entice a resting stag into some engagement but to give this wonderful stag his due, he just couldn't be bothered or was just too tired to stand to meet the challenge. So he just pushed back in a resting position and then retired for the morning (Photo #4)

 

So when the adults won't play silly games, let's have some play fighting between the younger generations (Photo #5, Photo #6, Photo #7)

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-while-you-were-sleeping---mule-deer Wed, 29 Nov 2023 22:50:17 GMT
"IT'S NOT ALL JUST A WALK IN THE PARK" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-its-not-all-just-a-walk-in-the-park---coyote "IT'S NOT ALL JUST A WALK IN THE PARK"

Coyote - 8 Photos

 

It's never just a walk in the park for me but for this coyote what started out as a romp down the hill to the meadow below, ended in a flat out chase and in this instance, the coyote wasn't the pursuer.

 

First we have the descent down the hill with a brief stop for a much needed scratch (Photo #1).

 

Then there was the walk along the meadow's edge (Photo #2 through to Photo #4)

 

Finally, well I didn't think it was the best decision this coyote could have made but then again I'm not a coyote. Rather than make it back up the hill and take the path along the ridge and then descend again and into the woods some distance along, the coyote decided to take the most direct route which was unfortunately through a herd of mule deer does.

 

There was that moment when coyote stare met mule deer stare. Then the flag went down and the largest mule deer doe headed straight for the coyote in a flat out run with the other six following in hot pursuit. It was a heart stopping moment for me as the photos show, that alpha doe came so close to making full on contact with the coyote (Photo #5 through to Photo #7)

 

Wildlife mothers are, of course, extremely defensive of their young so the response was totally understandable but in this instance I was cheering for the "underdog". I have seen this particular coyote on its own on several occasions now and I believe it be a youngster probably born in Spring 2022. Hopefully, it's a lesson well earned for the coyote not to approach, on its own, prey animals as large as deer even if it is purely out of curiosity or the shortest route to where it's going.

 

And one might ask where were the male mule deer, particularly the larger stags, when this event was unfolding. Well after the coyote had been chased up to the very top of the ridge where it disappeared and the does went back to peacefully grazing, one lone stag appeared out of the woods with that "What's Up?" attitude (Photo #8).

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-its-not-all-just-a-walk-in-the-park---coyote Tue, 28 Nov 2023 03:50:01 GMT
"UP CLOSE & PERSONAL " - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-up-close-personal---beaver-north-american "UP CLOSE & PERSONAL"

Beaver (North American) - 9 Photos

 

Just a recap of the past couple of months of one of my two favourite rodents, the other one being, of course, the porcupine. :)

 

It's hard to believe that the photos below were taken in late October & November 2023. Yes, the leaves had turned colour and had fallen from the trees but the weather remained relatively mild which probably explains why the beavers were still hard at harvesting & building. Like us, they were taking advantage of the mild Autumn weather before the colder weather & Winter settles in.

 

We are now in the last weeks of November and the beavers' pond has now almost completely iced over. There are still small openings which I'm certain the beavers are using to surface from and access the wooded areas to top up their food supplies. They appear to have now changed their routines to a more nightly routine or at least under darkness. So less photo opportunities during daylight hours. 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-up-close-personal---beaver-north-american Tue, 28 Nov 2023 01:56:13 GMT
"BEST IN SHOW" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-best-in-show---coyote "BEST IN SHOW"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

It may be slightly unusual to utilize a dog show term for wildlife but there was one particular moment when this coyote paused and took a stance not dissimilar from that seen in the finals where the lone undefeated dog at the end of the conformation event is named "Best in Show" (Photo #7).

 

And this coyote, not only being a skillful hunter, is a gorgeous representative of its species. Like all stars, he/she is extremely photogenic and luckily enough, there were some opportunities where the coyote slowed down its movements long enough to capture this canid in its pursuit of a potential meal.

 

PHOTO #1

CoyoteCoyote"COYOTE CLOSE UP #2"

 

PHOTO #2

CoyoteCoyote"A PAWS IN TIME"

 

PHOTO #3

CoyoteCoyote"ASSESSING THE SURROUNDINGS"

 

PHOTO #4

CoyoteCoyote"FROM OUT OF THE GRASSES"

 

PHOTO #5

CoyoteCoyote"COMING UP FROM THE CREEK BED"

 

PHOTO #6

CoyoteCoyote"ACROSS THE CREEK"

 

PHOTO #7

 

CoyoteCoyote"BEST IN SHOW"

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-best-in-show---coyote Tue, 28 Nov 2023 01:55:54 GMT
"JUMPIN JACK FLASH" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-jumpin-jack-flash---coyote "JUMPIN JACK FLASH"

Coyote - 8 Photos

 

Not certain if this is a "Jack" or a "Jackie" but it definitely is a coyote with great jumping skills & dexterity.

 

Taken just a few weeks ago when deep snow covered the meadow grasses, the conditions warranted making a few gymnastic manoeuvres necessary to navigate the landscape & locate prospective prey.

 

And like the Red Fox, an aerial approach is sometimes the best way to get through to the tunnels and rodents under the snow. And if you don't succeed at first, it's on to other venues to try again.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-jumpin-jack-flash---coyote Tue, 21 Nov 2023 21:49:43 GMT
"IN PURSUIT ON HAPPINESS OR SOMETHING" - Mule Deer https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-in-pursuit-on-happiness-or-something---mule-deer "IN PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS OR SOMETHING"

Mule Deer - 7 Photos

 

 

 

It's that time of year again when a male Mule Deer's thoughts turn to things other than grazing & sleeping. And yes there certainly is a variety in ages & racks but unfortunately for the younger males they will most likely have to wait a few more years before they actually become contenders.

 

That being said, I did witness one very large bulky male confronting a second almost its equal but while these two were in the process of a stand-off, a much younger male moved in to try his chances with the doe in contention. I guess one should always keep your eye on the "prize".  The doe was not having any of it, though, ran off and decided to wait for the outcome of Nature's reality show.

 

And if you are ever in the vicinity of male deer stand-offs, keep a close watch on where all the participants are heading. Even with a huge area with varying terrain, the speed at which mule deer can chase after one another (other rivals or does), is incredible and the darting & dashing can bring a hulking male deer suddenly too close for comfort. A grouping of large trees adjacent to each other can make for a safe viewing platform. :) 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-in-pursuit-on-happiness-or-something---mule-deer Tue, 21 Nov 2023 21:02:02 GMT
"UP THE CREEK" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-up-the-creek---mink-north-american "UP THE CREEK"

Mink (North American) - 7 Photos

 

During the last vestiges of daylight, a mink turned up looking for a quick fish meal. 

 

Although the conditions appeared to be almost perfect, after several attempts the mink left empty handed, probably for a more lucrative area.

 

So unfortunately, I guess the mink was literally and figuratively "up the creek" and in this instance, without a fish. :) 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-up-the-creek---mink-north-american Thu, 16 Nov 2023 01:50:48 GMT
"COYOTES CAN FLY" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-coyotes-can-fly---coyote "COYOTES CAN FLY!"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

Coyotes appear in folklore & indigenous culture. In some stories, he has the power of creation. In others he is a culture hero, battling supernatural enemies. And sometimes, he appears as a messenger.

 

Now I know coyotes can't really fly but if you can manage to catch a coyote on camera at the precise moment when it is running, you can capture that moment when all four legs are off the ground (like a thoroughbred racehorse). The coyote can appear to be then truly flying (Photo # 6)

 

So coyotes can't fly but there is definitely something magical about them, particularly as they can seemingly appear and then disappear into the landscape. 

 

 

PHOTO #1

CoyoteCoyote"COYOTES CAN FLY #5"

PHOTO #2

CoyoteCoyote"COYOTES CAN FLY #1"

PHOTO #3

CoyoteCoyote"COYOTES CAN FLY #3"

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CoyoteCoyote"COYOTES CAN FLY #2"

PHOTO #5

CoyoteCoyote"COYOTES CAN FLY #4"

PHOTO #6

CoyoteCoyote"COYOTES CAN FLY #6"
PHOTO #7  CoyoteCoyote"DID YOU CATCH THAT???"

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-coyotes-can-fly---coyote Tue, 14 Nov 2023 22:39:02 GMT
"THE GENERATIONS" - Mule Deer https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-the-generations---mule-deer "THE GENERATIONS"

Mule Deer - 11 Photos

 

 

With November half way through and the Winter months looming ahead, the deer herds have been in close proximity to each other with eligible & non-eligible males mingling with the does & youngsters.

 

Unfortunately, I have not been witness to any major battles but there certainly appears to be a great variety of male mule deer now in their full Autumn adornment. Antlers have grown to their full size depending on the age of the male stag and bulking up in weight is another sure sign of prowess.

 

And there are certainly pursuits of does, who are urinating frequently, no doubt to signal an interested stag as to who is is available.

 

Due to the serious bulking of the male deer who appear to change appearance almost daily, I have lost track of who's who, but you will definitely ascertain from the photos, which ones are in the top contention for the fair ladies. 

 

And I have included as the last photo, a youngster most likely born this Spring. Who can resist a fresh face? I don't know whether it is male or female but you just have to love those ears!

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

 

PHOTO #9

PHOTO #10

PHOTO #11

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-the-generations---mule-deer Tue, 14 Nov 2023 22:21:53 GMT
"SUNRISE, SUNSET" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-sunrise-sunset---beaver-north-american "SUNRISE, SUNSET"

Beaver (North American) - 7 Photos

 

Have started with the sunset photos and as the cooler temperatures had remained during the day, the pond remained partially frozen around the beavers' lodge.

 

Photo #1 is a beaver sitting just at the edge of the ice shelf assessing the distance to shore.

 

Photo #2 is an appearance of the beaver just after there was a loud crack in the ice and up it popped through the hole. You can see a small sliver of the ice that he/she broke through just resting on its back. And part of the beaver still remained under the ice shelf as it just "hovered", eating away.

 

Photo #3 is a the close-up as it rested just above the ice happily munching.

 

And yes there are still greens to be had, as the beaver managed to find its way through the ice (a true Canadian icebreaker) and up the bank to partake of the remaining grass on shore (Photo #4).

 

The sunrise photos were taken just after sunrise with the diffused sunlight shining into the creek and the beaver (Photo #5 through to Photo #7).

 

SUNSET - AS THE EVENING WAS DRAWING IN

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

SUNRISE - EARLY MORNING LIGHT

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-sunrise-sunset---beaver-north-american Tue, 14 Nov 2023 17:08:56 GMT
"THE ONE THAT ALMOST GOT AWAY" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-the-one-that-almost-got-away---coyote "THE ONE THAT ALMOST GOT AWAY"

Coyote - 9 Photos

 

Picking up from the blog of October 30th, 2023, "The Coyote in Winter", here is the narrative & photos of the coyote's "doggedness" in its pursuit of a meal.

 

First there was a lot of stop, look & listen before this coyote settled on one particular burrow hidden in the snow. Then came a lot of digging, stuffing its head into the hole, retreating and repeating that process again and again and again (Photo #1)

 

In fact, that intensity went on for at least 15 minutes and all the while I was thinking, "There is something worth pursuing down there for a coyote to be so determined to spend all that time on one spot". 

 

And then came success and a large vole appeared in the coyote's mouth which it promptly carried away from the hole (Photo #2 through Photo #4 ). The coyote laid down and dropped its well deserved meal into the snow  (Photo #5), but yikes!

 

Of course, I couldn't see into the snow but from the coyote's reaction, the prey had been caught but there was still enough life in the vole to try to make a get away. So then it was a matter of quickly re-catching it before our dine became a dine & dash (Photo #6 & Photo #7)

 

There was no second mistake and one big vole became a well deserved meal (Photo #8)

 

Obviously, I do not know the exact age of this coyote but from its demeanor and hunting habits, although full grown, it was most likely born Spring 2022 and just needs some experience to temper that youthful exuberance. An older coyote would probably not have made that error in judgement. And what a prolific hunter maturity will produce.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

 


 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-the-one-that-almost-got-away---coyote Wed, 08 Nov 2023 03:24:14 GMT
"STOP, DROP & ROLL" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-stop-drop-roll---coyote "STOP, DROP & ROLL"

Coyote - 8 photos

 

 

The title does have other connotations but I have seen that look of "oh no" when someone's dog gets a ground scent, stops, checks it out, drops & then proceeds to roll in it with great enthusiasm.

 

And no, this activity isn't a learned behaviour, it's inherited with that "canid" or canine gene so it's not restricted to domestic dogs.

 

Firstly, the coyote in the following photos, is actually in a state of total bliss & is not in anyway, injured. It put its nose to the ground, picked up a scent of some kind, did an about face and sniffed again. Then came the stop, drop & roll. And then it stood up and continued on with that all important pursuit of mice and voles hidden deep in the snow & matted prairie grasses. 

 

This coyote has some quite dark red colouring on its ears, legs and tail and can appear almost fox like (other than its size). I've included a a close up to demonstrate what a stunning example of its species this coyote truly is (Photo #8).


 

PHOTO #1

CoyoteCoyote"BEST IN SHOW"

 

PHOTO #2

CoyoteCoyote"CATCHING A SCENT"

 

PHOTO #3

CoyoteCoyote"CAUGHT THE SCENT"

 

PHOTO #4

CoyoteCoyote"READY TO ROLL"

 

PHOTO #5

CoyoteCoyote"ROLLING - PART 1"

 

PHOTO #6

CoyoteCoyote"ROLLING - PART 2"

 

PHOTO #7

CoyoteCoyote"ROLLING - PART 3"

 

PHOTO #8

 

CoyoteCoyote"PROFILE"

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-stop-drop-roll---coyote Tue, 07 Nov 2023 02:24:31 GMT
"CLOUDY DAYS" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-cloudy-days---coyote "CLOUDY DAYS"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

Not everyone enjoys cloudy days for photography but I have found that on those days when you can have the light source behind you & your subject, the light softly filters through the cloud cover. It provides a more diffuse & softer effect. The overall lighting quality is even & it generates no shadows.

 

Snow can also intensify that muted light source so higher ISO settings are not required.

 

And then enter one beautiful coyote and the mood & setting are ethereal or otherworldly.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/11/-cloudy-days---coyote Thu, 02 Nov 2023 22:50:59 GMT
"THE COYOTE IN WINTER" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-the-coyote-in-winter---coyote "THE COYOTE IN WINTER"

Coyote - 7 Photos

 

I am one of the last people to rush the seasons and I do realize that Winter officially is over a month away.

 

But from appearances, in Calgary, Alberta, the seasons went from Autumn to Winter in less than one week. And with colder temperatures, came snow and an accumulation that covered the grasses & shrubs in a deep cover.

 

But with those huge pads, a thick warm coat & an acute sense of hearing, the coyote is very adept at uncovering food under that snow cover. I envy the coyote's ease of traversing the snowy fields and it's only when it encounters a steeper incline that a leap into the white stuff is necessary.

 

And that sparkle on the snow is courtesy of Nature & her lighting skills.

 

With regard to Photo #6, the coyote after a solid 10 minutes of digging (and persistence), managed to uncover a large vole (I believe it was a vole) and after a couple of near escapes by the vole, the coyote laid down to finish off its meal. But that will be another blog.

 

The coyote is sometimes referred to as the "North American Jackal" because of its colouring & looks (Photo #7) although in its thick wintery coat, the coyote does have a resemblance to its cousin, the wolf. In fact, from its positioning & back-end shape, in this photo it almost looks like another member of the canid family, the African Hyena. 

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4


PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-the-coyote-in-winter---coyote Mon, 30 Oct 2023 22:46:04 GMT
"AND JUST THE VERY NEXT WEEK" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-and-just-the-very-next-week---coyote "AND JUST THE VERY NEXT WEEK"

Coyote - 9 Photos

 

There are other places in North America where weather & seasons can change rapidly but Southern Alberta certainly has its share of dramatic transitions. Case in point, last Friday and this past Friday. Temperatures went from the high 20 degrees Celsius to -15 degrees Celsius (at night) with highs of the lower single digits during the day.

 

And with those lower temperatures came snow and quite a lot. In fact, there was enough to flatten the prairie grasses & shrubbery and encase the woods in a thick white covering.

 

Unlike the Long-Tailed Weasel who changes its Summer tawny/cream coat to a white one for the Winter (someone must be very happy, as two weeks ago this little mustelid would have been easy to spot against the Autumn browns), the coyote's coat has a more subtle change from lighter to slightly darker in the colder months.

 

And even with a quick change in weather & environment, the coyote still retains its crown as a master of disguise, blending into its surroundings and seemingly disappearing into the landscape. It can then reappear some distance from where it was originally. Usually it is only the coyote's movement that gives it away.

 

And then comes a magnificent sunny day when the coyote is drawn into a snowy grassland where potentially there are hidden mice & voles, close to the surface looking for some warming. 

 

And if you wish to experience the contrast between two weeks, check out the "Prairie Grasslands" blog of October 23, 2023.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-and-just-the-very-next-week---coyote Sun, 29 Oct 2023 00:56:51 GMT
"ARNOLD VS ELVIS" - Mule Deer (Male) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-arnold-vs-elvis---mule-deer-male "ARNOLD VS ELVIS"

Mule Deer (Males) - 10 Photos

 

I first saw "Elvis" a few weeks ago exiting a woods, following one of the does in his harem. Then I spotted him again this weekend with exactly the same doe & youngster grouping (Photo #6 through to Photo #10).

 

The next day I spotted a stag in the same area but this time there were only two does & youngsters. At first I thought it was Elvis (so named because of his consistent "lip curl") and I hadn't spotted all the herd members. But then he stood up - oh my!

 

There was no way within 24 hours, could a stag size up to this level. Arnold (and one might guess why I named this particular stag, "Arnold"), is certainly a bruiser size wise. He basically has no neck and an even more impressive rack of antlers. Perhaps there were more members in his herd but out of sight. However, with that casual sauntering demeanor, Arnold did not appear to be concerned over the immediate lack of ladies (Photo #1 through to Photo #5). 

 

With Autumn generally comes a battle of the mature male deer. Perhaps, he doesn't have youth on his side but if I was a betting person, I would be putting my money on Arnold. When it comes to the pushing & shoving of two stags, that bulk and strength will definitely put Arnold ahead of the game and a strong contender for all the ladies.

 

ARNOLD

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

ELVIS

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

PHOTO #10

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-arnold-vs-elvis---mule-deer-male Mon, 23 Oct 2023 22:04:37 GMT
"PRAIRIE GRASSLANDS" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-prairie-grasslands---coyote "PRAIRIE GRASSLANDS"

Coyote - 9 Photos

 

Not certain of the age of this coyote but it was hunting with a partner, who subsequently disappeared at a far off distance. 

 

However, this one continued its hunting along the top of the ridge until finally making its way down through the grass where it eventually ended up across from the creek where I was seated.

 

It definitely was on a hunting mission, periodically stopping to stop, jump & pounce for hidden rodents, albeit a relaxed & non-aggressive meander and that's when it took a "time out" where it just sat and took in the scenery (Photo #5).

 

Coyotes should always be treated with great respect and viewed from a safe distance. That having been said, normally I don't have an opportunity to lift the camera and have it focused before the coyote removes itself from the area. I do carry a small repellant spray for coyotes & domestic dogs but in all the years, I have been photographing wildlife the only issues I have had are with dogs who have been left off-lead (illegally) and the owners not taking any responsibility. Last Winter I had an unnerving experience with a pit bull when it ran up and sat behind me on the log where I was sitting and proceeded to try to play (and only play thank goodness) by climbing onto my back. The owner did absolutely nothing although he was less than 30 feet away. Eventually the dog returned to its "dog walker" where the two crept off on an alternative path. I purchased the spray the next day.

 

Now this coyote was looking for rodents that had been disturbed by removal of some debris by the creek, earlier in the week. It was on one side of the creek and I was on the other side. When the coyote appeared to direct its attention to my side of the creek, I enacted the "tsch" sound and it jumped back and trotted down the creek where it crossed much further down. And I did see it enter the woods, merrily jumping & pouncing on potential mice, etc. and finally disappeared as it moved out of the vicinity.

 

Coyotes naturally have a healthy respect for humans unless they have pups in a den close by, where they are on the defensive or they have been subject to feeding by people, a crime for which coyotes pay dearly. When will we, humans, understand that wildlife does well enough on its own and interference by us only results in its termination.

 

Thanks to this gorgeous coyote, I have a moment committed to memory & the photographs to remind me of the coyote's walk on the wild side.

 

PHOTO #1

CoyoteCoyote"HIDDEN SECRETS"

PHOTO #2

CoyoteCoyote"LOOKING BACK"

PHOTO #3

CoyoteCoyote"STOP & LOOK"

 

PHOTO #4

CoyoteCoyote"NOSE TO THE GROUND"

PHOTO #5

CoyoteCoyote"JUST SITTING PRETTY"

PHOTO #6

CoyoteCoyote"SITTING PRETTY" - #2

PHOTO #7

CoyoteCoyote"SITTING PRETTY" - #3

PHOTO #8

CoyoteCoyote"SITTING PRETTY" - #4

PHOTO #9

CoyoteCoyote"ONLY A PAUSE BEFORE MOVING ON"

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-prairie-grasslands---coyote Mon, 23 Oct 2023 17:16:50 GMT
"LOG-GRRR-HEADS" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-log-grrr-heads---mink-north-american "LOG-GRRR-HEADS"

Mink (North American) - 7 Photos

 

So the definition of "loggerheads" is to be in disagreement with someone and believe it or not, "grrr" is used to express annoyance. 

 

So put the two together & include the "logs" that the mink was utilizing as cover. Then one can accurately describe a long session waiting, watching for and periodically having a mink put in brief & erratic appearances, some of which are under water chasing fish.

 

Then add in some lighting challenges, as it goes from partly cloudy to full bright sunshine, with the sun not in the most ideal position bearing down from left of the mink and eventually in direct line to the front of the lens. 

 

So it was a lot of "grrr" and some wishful thinking for longer mink pop-ups and better positioning but in the end, you always work with Nature and you can obtain those enchanting captures.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-log-grrr-heads---mink-north-american Fri, 20 Oct 2023 00:13:40 GMT
"LOOKING FOR LOVE" - Mule Deer (Male) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-looking-for-love---mule-deer-male "LOOKING FOR LOVE"

Mule Deer (Male) - 7 Photos

 

Was hoping to have another encounter with a small grouping of Mule Deer does & youngsters, when I found a couple of does and their offspring at the end of a meadow next to a small grove or copse of trees.

 

I set up and started taking photos when there was some rustling in the fallen leaves surrounding the woods.

 

So I looked right and there was another doe just making her exit into the meadow but close behind her was another deer, head bent. And then it straightened its neck and those magnificent antlers appeared.

 

As you can see from Photo #1 & Photo #2, the stag was executing the lip curl, which is formally called the Flehmen response, having detected the doe's pheromones. Unfortunately, for this handsome fellow, neither this doe or the other two were interested in his attention and they quickly made their way up the hill and into more cover.

 

But I guess the Autumn is young and there still remains time for this male deer to have more encounters with does, as well as potentially meeting up with other contenders for the "fair does". So it was back to sampling Nature's greenery for this stag (Photo # 3 through to Photo #7).  

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7


 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-looking-for-love---mule-deer-male Mon, 16 Oct 2023 01:27:21 GMT
"MUSTELID MISCHIEF" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-mustelid-mischief---mink-north-american "MUSTELID MISCHIEF"

Mink (North American) - 6 Photos

 

Minks may be small in size but huge in energy.

 

The lighting in the first three photos differs from the last three because of a quick change in positioning from north to south by this mink. You never know where a mink is going to pop up (and it's not only weasels that go "pop") and for how long. Sometimes the camera doesn't have the opportunity to re-focus and that doesn't take into account a change in lens length. Mink do have that annoying habit , albeit endearing, of being some distance away, disappearing and then reappearing right in front of you, within spitting distance.

 

So for all those times that a mink has taken sufficient time to pause the action so that a clear photograph can be taken, I say "thank you"! :) 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-mustelid-mischief---mink-north-american Wed, 11 Oct 2023 22:23:24 GMT
"NOT SO MULISH" - Mule Deer https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-not-so-mulish---mule-deer "NOT SO MULISH"

Mule Deer - 5 Photos

 

Mule deer which are native to Western North America are so named because of their ears, which resemble, yes you guessed it, a mule.

 

And that would be where the similarity ends, particularly when agility comes into play. They can "prong" right up there with the Pronghorn, covering great distances with their bouncing. 

 

These photos were taken over the course of a couple of days & show a more relaxed mule deer doe & this year's offspring. 

 

But you just have to love those big ears! :) 

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-not-so-mulish---mule-deer Tue, 10 Oct 2023 22:24:24 GMT
"CATCH ME WHILE YOU CAN" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-catch-me-while-you-can---mink-north-american "CATCH ME WHILE YOU CAN"

Mink (North American) - 5 Photos

 

The best time to catch minks with photography generally is when they are pre-occupied with fishing, in my experience. 

 

They can pop up from hidden spaces, then disappear & reappear some distance away.

 

This mink, obviously, had an appointment with a favourite fishing hole so having popped up from a log pile, it dashed off to places far, far away. :)

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-catch-me-while-you-can---mink-north-american Tue, 10 Oct 2023 22:15:39 GMT
"WHAT IS IT?" - Muskrat https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-what-is-it---muskrat "WHAT IS IT?"

Muskrat - 7 Photos

 

Saw this little mammal swimming towards a small peninsula in the pond. At first I thought it was a muskrat, then well maybe a mink and then it was back to a muskrat again.

 

Once it came out onto land, I could see it was a muskrat but a very very wet muskrat, with some pond sediment probably mixed into its fur, which probably accounts for its dark colouring. The pond shoreline has some low spots where the muskrat was swimming.

 

It then spent the next 45 minutes, grooming with intermittent breaks for eating and nibbling and then back to grooming again. From its size (and cuteness), I believe it to be a youngster. It's actually the first muskrat I have seen at this particular pond in some time.

 

From the sequence of the following photographs, you can see the transition from "gremlin" to "hedgehog" and then the final transformation to the traditional muskrat.

 

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-what-is-it---muskrat Tue, 10 Oct 2023 16:35:45 GMT
"THE BEAVER PORTRAIT STUDIO" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-the-beaver-portrait-studio---beaver-north-american "THE BEAVER PORTRAIT STUDIO"

 Beaver (North American) - 9 Photos

 

One may question why you would have a portrait studio for a rodent but how could you not love that gorgeous beaver face with those relatively small ears and huge nose. And if you look closely, you can see that beavers actually have fur/hair on their noses, particularly the older ones (hmmmm)! 

 

Beavers are amazing engineers, having been beaver home schooled under their parents' tutelage, are unbelievably hard working & very family orientated. Even the youngsters born the year before, look after (i.e. babysit) their much younger siblings. And although like most families they have their little disagreements, they live, work & play together as a family unit. 

 

I guess you have to be, seeing that they are huddled up, sharing the same living space in a lodge for five to six months of the year.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6


PHO

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-the-beaver-portrait-studio---beaver-north-american Tue, 10 Oct 2023 16:12:21 GMT
"IT'S NOT ALL WORK" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-its-not-all-work---beaver-north-american "IT'S NOT ALL WORK"

Beaver (North American) - 9 Photos

 

The two beavers in the following photos are two siblings in a family of at least six beavers. There are two more younger ones, born the following year. Although each beaver has its own set of tasks, the two sets of siblings do appear to hang out as pairs at various times.

 

I spotted one of the two heading down towards the water channel, when suddenly the second one quickly appeared running through the grass to catch up to its sibling. And there they were, nose to tail, heading into the water, off on another harvesting mission for material to winterize their lodge (Photo #1 to Photo #3).

 

And it was another busy day of transporting branches & logs from the trees fallen by the adults. 

 

As the afternoon drew to a close, the only two beavers who remained above water were these two older siblings, nibbling at the branches that rested above water, next to the lodge.

 

A quick snack and then the wrestling match began, all in fun, of course. Nothing violent but it had all the appearance of two teenagers having a friendly tussle on the living room sofa (Photo #4 through to Photo #9)

 

After a few minutes, one dived under and then the other, most likely to join the rest of the family at the lodge.

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

 

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7


PHOTO #8 

PHOTO #9

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-its-not-all-work---beaver-north-american Thu, 05 Oct 2023 02:59:45 GMT
"THE ARTFUL DODGER" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-the-artful-dodger---mink-north-american "THE ARTFUL DODGER"

Mink (North American) - 6 Photos

 

I thought what a great nickname for this agile & expert escape artist, namely the North American Mink.

 

It's usually a "now you see me, now you don't" type of scenario, particularly if the mink is not pre-occupied with fishing. Add in that body type & camouflage and it seems to disappear completely from view.  And quite often, like its weasel cousin, it can pop up much further away or even more frustrating right next to you, too close for the camera lens to adjust.

 

So times like this, when there is a slight pause in the action, are to be cherished and appreciated. So fish on, little mink and feel free to stop by any time (and if you can, please stay a little longer). 

 

PHOTO #1

 

PHOTO #2

 

PHOTO #3

 

PHOTO #4

 

PHOTO #5

 

PHOTO #6

 

 

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-the-artful-dodger---mink-north-american Thu, 05 Oct 2023 00:33:46 GMT
"I'M A LUMBERJACK & I'M OKAY" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-im-a-lumberjack-i-m-okay---beaver-north-american "I'M A LUMBERJACK & I'M OKAY"

Beaver (North American) - 7 Photos

 

To quote that famous line of the Monty Python "Lumberjack Song" -

"I'm a lumberjack, and I'm okay

I sleep all night and work all day"

 

I don't know about the "sleep all night and work all day" part for this beaver, although he/she was out during the latter part of an afternoon doing beaver work, harvesting trees for lodge renovation.

 

I have been fortunate to watch beavers, chew down trees before and drag them across flat terrain, to reach water where they ferry them across ponds, etc. to their destination but this was a real show stopper.

 

Having floated this felled tree through a water channel near the tree grove, the beaver had hauled it uphill to the dam where the log got wedged in between some branches in the dam's make-up. So what's a beaver to do? After some major tugging & twisting, the beaver went to the other side of the dam where the terrain is flat and then disappears into the pond and took a very short break (Photo #2).

 

And then comes the amazing feat (and feet). :)  The beaver stood on its hind legs, reached up & grabbed the log with its two front paws, pulled it down, dug its back feet into the mud and dragged it across walking along on its back feet, until it could pull it into the water (Photo #3 through to Photo #7). From there, it was only a matter of steering (well, for a beaver I guess it's much easier), until it reached the lodge where the log was deposited.

 

Perhaps I'm not the most nimble of individuals, but I would say most people would be hard pressed to lift a heavy freshly harvested tree (and heavy) onto their shoulders, walk through muddy & wet terrain and then swim across a deep pond. And that's for a two legged mammal but the beaver normally travels on all four of its feet and rarely stands on two, except for very short periods usually to sniff the air for an "all clear".

 

If ever there was a "Beaver Olympics", this beaver is definitely a contender for the "Gold"!

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-im-a-lumberjack-i-m-okay---beaver-north-american Thu, 05 Oct 2023 00:13:55 GMT
"A CLOSED MOUTH DOESN'T CATCH FLIES" - Eastern Phoebe https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-a-closed-mouth-doesnt-catch-flies---eastern-phoebe "A CLOSED MOUTH DOESN'T CATCH FLIES"

Eastern Phoebe - 5 Photos

 

Many of us have probably been told by someone (maybe even our mothers) to "close your mouth or you'll catch flies!

 

Well in this instance, for the Eastern Phoebe, it is an adage to live by and an action that is required to "live".

 

I was just watching the comings and goings of the regulars at the creek when I noticed a small bird dashing across the water. As it dashed, it grazed the water and then alighted on a low branch, much like a small raptor "hawking" its prey.

 

I am not the most knowledgeable when it comes to identifying smaller birds but this little one appeared somewhat different from the "regulars".

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/10/-a-closed-mouth-doesnt-catch-flies---eastern-phoebe Wed, 04 Oct 2023 23:23:05 GMT
"DAY 2 - MUDDING OR THE LABOURS OF HERCULEAN BEAVERS" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-day-2---mudding-or-the-labours-of-herculean-beavers---beaver-north-american "DAY 2 - MUDDING OR THE LABOURS OF HERCULEAN BEAVERS"

Beaver (North American) - 11 Photos

 

Beavers use logs, twigs & branches, stones & mud to build their lodges and it's that combination that makes for a strong reinforced beaver home. The mud is used similar to the cement utilized in human construction. It goes on wet and then solidifies, reinforcing the structure.

 

However, unlike human construction, beavers only have the tools literally at hand (or foot or tail) to collect the material, transport it to the building site and then make their way up to the top levels to complete the tasks.

 

Obviously, the transportation is probably the easiest step, literally ferrying the logs & branches across the pond but there are no chainsaws, cranes or heavy equipment to assist in the harvesting or the moving of heavy boulders & rocks up to the top of the lodge. 

 

And I can say as a meager human, it would not be possible for me to carry a log or a huge boulder up a slippery muddy slope, having extracted oneself out of deep water. And then, of course, there is the matter of a four legged mammal balancing itself on two legs and walking, let alone climbing to the top of a beaver lodge with a heavy load.  Extreme human athletes should take note.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-day-2---mudding-or-the-labours-of-herculean-beavers---beaver-north-american Sat, 30 Sep 2023 19:54:34 GMT
"DAY 1 - HARVESTING TIMBER" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-day-1---harvesting-timber---beaver-north-american "DAY 1 - HARVESTING TIMBER"

Beaver (North American) - 9 Photos

 

Question: Do the beavers know something we or our meteorologists don't know? (Perhaps, Winter will soon be upon us?)

 

This family of beavers was hard at it, late afternoon and well before sunset, doing major lodge work, presumably in preparation of Winter. The lodge, itself, is an already well established one but obviously the beavers know it will need more insulation & build-up, as well as pantry stocking prior to the freeze up of the pond.

 

And in typical beaver fashion, all family members had a job, with the two adults (Mum & Dad) doing the cutting down & hauling of trees & branches into the pond. The two oldest youngsters appeared to be the ones taking the smaller leaf covered branches down under and into the lodge, while the youngest two were fetching and carrying small greenery for the beavers' pantries (Photo #7 through Photo #9).

 

Dad is one massive beaver, as you can see just by the size of his head (Photo #4 though to Photo 6). It was an unbelievable opportunity to see a beaver in broad daylight, tackle huge trees, chewing them down and then hauling them through brush to the pond and welcoming water (Photo #1 through to Photo #3). And just the pure determination and purpose, just endears you to this amazing mammal.

 

The next blog will be "Day 2 - Mudding (Or The Labours Of Herculean Beavers)"

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-day-1---harvesting-timber---beaver-north-american Wed, 27 Sep 2023 16:40:31 GMT
"ENRAPTURED BY A RAPTOR" - Bald Eagle https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-enraptured-by-a-raptor---bald-eagle "ENRAPTURED BY A RAPTOR"

Bald Eagle (Adult) -11 Photos

 

How could you not admire a mature Bald Eagle hanging out on a branch overlooking the river.

 

After some manoeuvering to obtain an unobstructed view, I managed to find a sweet spot for shooting albeit half sitting, half lying down and shooting up. It was good to be relatively comfortable as this amazing bird remained on this one branch for over 40 minutes, just surveying its surroundings and grooming (Photo #1 through Photo #7)

 

Well that was the case until the magpie mob showed up, followed shortly thereafter by the raven rabble. You have to give the magpies their due, in particular, as they are truly bold as brass but somehow they know that the eagle will not retaliate for fear of any type of feather damage (Photo #8 & Photo #9).

 

But this time, the eagle had the last laugh (Photo #10 & Photo #11).  It didn't actually fly off to another location, it dropped down to a lower location on the tree, with its back up against thick leaf covered branches (so no sneak attacks from behind) and a frontal attack that would entail trying to fly directly into the sun. It took me some time to locate its new location as it was totally in shadows and a direct line of sight into bright sunlight.

 

So it was off to other venues for me and when I returned, the eagle had gone, probably flown back to join its mate and the entourage had left, no doubt to find other raptors to bully.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-enraptured-by-a-raptor---bald-eagle Sun, 24 Sep 2023 01:24:29 GMT
"HECK I CAN'T EVEN MANAGE CHOPSTICKS" - Great Blue Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-heck-i-cant-even-manage-chopsticks---great-blue-heron "HECK, I CAN'T EVEN MANAGE CHOPSTICKS!"

Great Blue Heron - 9 Photos

 

Photo #1 documents one of the "antics" of the Great Blue Heron I've named "Goofy". It is usually seen with another Great Blue Heron in a location nearby and sometimes they fly in together so I'm not sure if it's a partner or a youngster. 

 

I have noticed on several occasions that this particular heron would look upward and quickly snap open & close its bill, while fishing and at first I thought it might be clearing something from its mouth, like a small piece of food. While it was fishing this time, I took a shot as it was standing on a beaver lodge and it happened to be at exactly the same time this snapping motion occurred.

 

It wasn't until I got home and downloaded the photos from the camera, that I realized that "Goofy" had successfully caught a large blue dragonfly, which he/she quickly ate. Nothing like a little appetizer before the main course. Photo #2 is an enlargement of Photo #1 with a text marker showing the dragonfly's location.

 

I don't know if all Great Blue Herons try to grab large insects from the air but talk about dexterity. I can't even manage a pair of chopsticks! :) For me, this is one for the books.

 

The remaining photos (Photo #3 through Photo #9) are of a more stately "Goofy", with its magnificence feathers and tall elegant heron status.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-heck-i-cant-even-manage-chopsticks---great-blue-heron Wed, 20 Sep 2023 15:41:45 GMT
"PIKA AT SUNSET" - Pika https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-pika-at-sunset---pika "PIKA AT SUNSET"

Pika - 5 Photos

Kananaskis, Alberta, CA

 

Taken almost at sunset as the sun slowly dipped just below the shelf where this Pika had moved to munch on greenery and have a good scratch.

 

The Pika had approached me but I backed up and grabbed the photos some distance away, a great advantage to a lens with a long focal length. I was somewhat appalled when the day before I had witnessed a photographer attempting to take photos of a pika by placing his camera lens almost into one of the rock tunnels, where I assume a pika had entered. What he achieved I do not know as we just continued on looking for more wildlife in a less intrusive atmosphere.

 

Caught in this subtle lighting, the rabbit appearance certainly becomes apparent, particularly when you can see the bottom of its feet (Photo #3 through to Photo #5), although perhaps not quite Peter Cottontail.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-pika-at-sunset---pika Tue, 19 Sep 2023 02:45:27 GMT
"ROCK RABBITS ROCK" - Pika https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-rock-rabbits-rock---pika "ROCK RABBITS ROCK!"

Pika - 7 Photos

Kananaskis, Alberta, CA

 

With Autumn almost here, the Pikas must be in the last stages of harvesting whatever grasses & flowers remain to see them through another mountain winter. Pikas do not hibernate. They travel through the tunnels under the rocks & snow during the winter months, surviving on the plant material they have stored during the warmer weather.

 

The following photos were taken an hour before sunset and although there didn't appear to be many about, those that were, were busy grabbing whatever vegetation was around. And there was some disappearing into small caves and exiting with food. Hopefully, this was actual harvesting and not raiding another pika's pantry! :)

 

PHOTO #1

PikaPika"PIK-A-BOO"
(Kananaskis, Alberta, CA)

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PikaPika"ROMEO OR JULIET"
(Kananaskis, Alberta, CA)

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PikaPika"FROM THE BALCONY"
(Kananaskis, Alberta, CA)

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PikaPika"HUNKERED DOWN"
(Kananaskis, Alberta, CA)

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PikaPika"PIKA ON THE ROCKS"
(Kananaskis, Alberta, CA)

PHOTO #6

PikaPika"POISED"
(Kananaskis, Alberta, CA)

PHOTO #7

PikaPika"FOOD SATISFACTION"
(Kananaskis, Alberta, CA)

 


 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-rock-rabbits-rock---pika Mon, 18 Sep 2023 19:42:05 GMT
"BETWEEN A ROCK & A HARD PLACE" - Rocky Mountain Sheep https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-between-a-rock-a-hard-place---rocky-mountain-sheep "BETWEEN A ROCK & A HARD PLACE"

Rocky Mountain Sheep (Immature) - 7 Photos

Kananaskis, Alberta, CA

 

It's that time of the year when the mothers and their offspring in the Rocky Mountain Sheep herds break off into nursery groups, while the mature rams battle it out for breeding rights at the higher elevations.

 

This group was originally on a high cliff shelf but eventually all members made their way down to take in some refreshment at the river. And then each little grouping of a Mum & a youngster(s) returned to their original plateau, most likely for the evening and safe from predators. There was at least one set of twins (Photo #7), double the fun & double the trouble.

 

At this early age with assistance from genetics & the right "footwear", you have to admire their skill at manoeuvring the uneven boulders with the river rushing below. And it's so effortless, with no looking down.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-between-a-rock-a-hard-place---rocky-mountain-sheep Mon, 18 Sep 2023 01:47:05 GMT
"A NIGHT'S JOURNEY" - Black-Crowned Night Heron (Immature) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-a-nights-journey---black-crowned-night-heron-immature "A NIGHT'S JOURNEY"

Black-Crowned Night Heron (Immature) - 7 Photos

 

According to some research, immature Black-Crowned Night Herons take approximately 2 years to obtain their adult plumage. They can fly at about 6 weeks of age and this youngster has passed that period and milestone. 

 

It is now only a matter of building flight muscle and ability before it begins its first journey of its migration for southern climates to live during the colder months.

 

I have to admit that like the immature Bald Eagles, I find the plumage of the young Black-Crowned Night Herons striking, particularly in flight (Photo #4 through to Photo #7). And, of course, they are so well camouflaged in the marsh areas against the wetland vegetation (Photo #1 through to Photo #3).

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-a-nights-journey---black-crowned-night-heron-immature Mon, 04 Sep 2023 20:39:52 GMT
"HERE'S GOOFY" - Great Blue Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-heres-goofy---great-blue-heron "HERE'S GOOFY"

Great Blue Heron - 7 Photos

 

Am not certain if this is a somewhat young heron or a fully mature & breeding adult but because it has frequently ignored "human" presence and maintained its position, I am suspecting that is a younger heron. I have had encounters with another larger heron that has taken to flight immediately it has sensed an approach.

 

I named it "Goofy" partly because of its looks at times but mainly because of its activities.

 

I have caught it actually bathing in a large pond and by bathing I mean submerging its entire body into the water up to almost its back (another blog to come). In fact, at one point it actually was floating in the water like a duck. In my past experience, Great Blue Herons generally don't like to get their belly feathers wet & try to extract themselves from situations where this may occur.

 

At one point during the day, "Goofy" flew onto a pathway & proceeded to walk along the path, until it decided to take flight, only to return eventually to the same pond.

 

Afternoon became early evening and after some hours of successful fishing,  it took to the grassy verge along the wall, walked along and then took position on the wall to do some grooming.

 

And as the sun became lower in the sky, it provided some wonderful soft lighting, accenting "Goofy" and the magnificence of its feathers and colouring. My apologies, "Goofy", that nickname was given more out of affection & admiration than malice! :)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/9/-heres-goofy---great-blue-heron Mon, 04 Sep 2023 02:04:06 GMT
"POND PATROL" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-pond-patrol---beaver-north-american "POND PATROL"

Beaver (North American) - 3 Photos

 

 

This is a sequel to the previous blog, "BABY ON BOARD", August 28th, 2023.

 

So the next morning I headed out to where I had spotted the mink the day before, hoping to have more mink sightings. 

 

Before I had had a chance to sit down, there was the unmistakable sound of a beaver slapping its tail against the water. And then once I had settled in, there was another slap. Yes, there definitely was a beaver in the pond and close by.

 

I have seen beavers out at this time of the year (around 9:00 a.m.) but generally they are on their way home to their main lodge from a night/early morning of dam repairing, eating, etc. This beaver was actively patrolling, travelling the full extent of this particular pond including the individual water channels and the area near the small disused beaver lodge where the mink had disappeared the day before. 

 

Occasionally it took a break in a shaded area to groom and at several points, it almost appeared to be napping, taking that beaver position of sitting, with its stomach protruding. This time, however, its head was low to its chest and eyes closed. Have never actually seen a beaver nap! :)

 

There were at least four complete patrols and they lasted until 11:30 a.m. (No wonder this poor beaver was tired. It was well passed its bedtime.)

 

On one of those last patrols, the beaver swam around to where I was sitting (next to the little lodge) and popped up (Photo #1 through to Photo #3) and looked directly at me before diving back down.

 

It then swam across to the wooded area, where it exited the pond and walked down a little dirt path through the trees. I believe this path leads into a water meadow where the beaver could then cross one of its dams and head home.

 

And no, there was not a mink to be seen. In fact, there was no sign of a mink all day. Lots of fish breaking the surface, though.

 

These beavers do patrol the full extent of the pond network on a nightly basis. However, I have not seen a beaver in this pond since very early Spring and generally it's the youngsters in the early evening. Because of the minimal rainfall this Summer, this area has been somewhat difficult for the beavers to traverse from their lodge. Was it coincidental that only the day before, a mother mink had taken up residence in the small beaver lodge and a beaver was sent out to check out the area?

 

Unlike muskrats, mink are not welcome visitors to beaver lodges and definitely not welcome as lodgers. Mink can easily prey on baby beavers so any intrusion would result in a beaver defense and friends in the past have witnessed a beaver taking on a mink on top of a lodge.

 

So if this was a reconnaissance mission, who was the CI (Confidential Informant)??? Was it the scent of the mink alone? Mustelids have a very strong distinct odour. Or was it one of the Mallard Ducks who inhabit the pond? :) :)  I know they were very vocal in quacking the times the mink appeared in the water the day before, which had alerted me. And why did that beaver swim over and give me the once over! :) :) :) 

 

Only Nature knows the truth of what happens out there. 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-pond-patrol---beaver-north-american Tue, 29 Aug 2023 18:01:13 GMT
"BABY ON BOARD" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-baby-on-board---mink-north-american "BABY ON BOARD"

Mink (North American) - 9 Photos

 

So there I was checking out a pond where I have seen beavers in the early Spring but not much else in the way of mammals. There was, however, some bird & duck activity which I was monitoring but then just off to my left, came what I thought was a muskrat. And then quickly changed my mind, it was a mink. It dived underwater & then briefly thereafter popped up in front and then disappeared under an unused beaver lodge (Photo #1 & Photo #2).

And then a few minutes later, it popped up again, went back into the water & swam across onto a nearby shore, where it disappeared (Photo #3 through to Photo #5). A short while later it came out, swam directly back to where I was sitting, dived under again and went off to what I thought would be fishing.

 

And then sometime later it re-appeared & repeated the same process. This time I managed to catch some shots of what it had in its mouth as it approached my side of the shoreline. "That's some strange looking fish?" and then "Why would it be bringing fish back & forth." Mink generally eat fish in-situ other than mother minks who bring back freshly caught fish to their offspring. And then it's only one trip, not repeated trips in succession from dry land.

 

I had had an opportunity to review the photos initially on camera & because of this mink's narrowed head size & more delicate features, I thought it might be a female mink.

 

And then reviewing the "catch", I realized this was no fish but a young mink. Mother minks, like weasels, have been known to move their little ones from one den to another to ensure they are not discovered by predators. This was probably one of those moves & Momma had decided that a disused beaver lodge was the perfect location. It was close by to the original den, could be reached by water, with an abundance of fresh fish just on the doorstep. And they carry them across, by the scruff of the neck, much like a mother cat with her kittens (Photo #6 through Photo #9).  

 

That first swim to & from was probably the first, if not the second trip, the mother had made and I had caught her with the camera bringing over the last of her offspring.

 

After this last trip, no more sightings and I assume everyone was all tucked up in their new abode.

 

And there is a sequel to this story, which happened the following morning. It will appear in the next blog, "Pond Patrol".

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-baby-on-board---mink-north-american Mon, 28 Aug 2023 22:27:04 GMT
"OUT OF THE BLUE, INTO THE GREEN" - Great Blue Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-out-of-the-blue-into-the-green---great-blue-heron "OUT OF THE BLUE, INTO THE GREEN"

Great Blue Heron - 5 Photos

 

The Great Blue Heron had been fishing in one of the ponds, probably having some success as it had been there quite awhile.

 

Eventually, it took to the air but this time, instead of going directly north it made a complete circle around the pond, which not only allowed for some flight photography but an opportunity to photograph the same bird in flight not only against the blue sky but the also the backdrop of the dark green foliage of trees & shrubbery.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-out-of-the-blue-into-the-green---great-blue-heron Tue, 22 Aug 2023 21:40:44 GMT
"SPOTTED AGAIN" - White-Tailed Deer https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-spotted-again---white-tailed-deer "SPOTTED AGAIN"

White-Tailed Deer (Doe & Fawns) - 8 Photos

 

It's been almost two months since I first spotted this doe with her two fawns in the ponds. And there they were in the same body of water as before. 

 

The fawns still have all their spots but they are much taller & bolder and if possible, even more adorable. With the water a little deeper than it was, although a little hesitant about crossing the small channel, once in they boldly ventured into the water and onto dry land. 

 

Just a few minutes previously I saw a handsome buck with a set of already impressive antlers heading into the same water meadow. He was seen again later in the afternoon. I'm assuming with his presence being so close to the little family, he actually sired at least one of the fawns. From some of the material I have researched, one or more bucks can mate with one doe, producing two or more offspring with different fathers. Perhaps, with mating season just a few months away, he is keeping an eye on the doe.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-spotted-again---white-tailed-deer Mon, 21 Aug 2023 21:32:21 GMT
"NIGHT IS DRAWING IN" - Black-Crowned Night Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-night-is-drawing-in---black-crowned-night-heron "NIGHT IS DRAWING IN"

Black-Crowned Night Heron (Adult) - 7 Photos

 

"Night is drawing in" can mean so many things. It can be that the days are getting shorter or it can have a more personal note as drawing someone into a conversation, for example.

 

In this instance, this might have been one of the last opportunities I have of photographing an adult Black-Crowned Night Heron prior to its migration south from the Calgary area.

 

This, I believe, is one of a pair who actually nested and produced one offspring, which probably explains so much activity in the late Spring. (See Blog "The Night is Still Young - July 20, 2023.) One can only hope that they return next year to repeat the same chain of events.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-night-is-drawing-in---black-crowned-night-heron Thu, 17 Aug 2023 16:36:13 GMT
"BIRD'S EYE VIEW" - Great Blue Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-birds-eye-view---great-blue-heron "BIRD'S EYE VIEW"

Great Blue Heron - 5 Photos

 

There's nothing quite like catching something out of the corner of your eye, spotting a Great Blue Heron flying in low and then it suddenly landing on top of an old fir tree.

 

It wasn't there long but probably just long enough for the heron to take in the surrounding wetland from a "bird's eye view", making a decision as to where to fish and then flying onto its destination.

 

And once it has landed in among the dense bulrushes, the heron can fish undisturbed without being seen. It may, however, have somewhat like company. Black-Crowned Night Herons have been spotted heading in the same general vicinity.

 

 

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-birds-eye-view---great-blue-heron Tue, 15 Aug 2023 19:57:58 GMT
"GOT ONE!" - Pied-Billed Grebe (Immature) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-got-one---pied-billed-grebe-immature "GOT ONE!"

Pied-Billed Grebe (Immature) - 5 Photos

 

Have been trying to capture Momma Pied-Billed Grebe with a fish. Unfortunately, she has been too quick on the dive, resurface & off to feed her four youngsters.

 

But now that the little Grebes are now fishing for themselves, this opportunity presented itself.

 

And unlike Mom, immature Pied-Billed Grebes are a little slower in their uptake of swallowing the fish. In fact, it took at least a minute for this youngster to position the fish into a devouring position. It does seem a little self-satisfied with its catch or perhaps, it was a case of "can't believe I caught one". :)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-got-one---pied-billed-grebe-immature Tue, 15 Aug 2023 19:23:52 GMT
"BIRD WARS" - Belted Kingfisher, Merlin, Grackle https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-bird-wars---belted-kingfisher-merlin-grackle "BIRD WARS"

Belted Kingfisher, Merlin, Grackle - 8 Photos

 

So the youngsters born this Spring have fledged and although their parents appear still to be in the picture, they have become quite self-sufficient, including superb flying & hunting abilities. 

 

The young Belted Kingfishers are very successful in diving for small fish & the Merlins excel in catching dragonflies in mid-air. 

 

But, of course, there is always sibling rivalry between families and different species.

 

Photo #1 & Photo #2 are of an encounter between the Belted Kingfisher & Merlin. Believe the Merlin, was actually looking to land on the next tree but was just taking the shortest route which was, of course, past the Kingfisher. And yes, the reason I managed the capture was that I was shooting the Kingfisher, saw it became agitated, kept shooting and into the frame appeared the Merlin.

 

Photo #3 through Photo #6 are of the two Merlin siblings. There are three but the oldest now only makes brief visits to this particular tree. As with all siblings, sometimes they are quite happy to be next to each other or on nearby branches. And then other times, there is a lot of "he/she is touching me" or a fight over the same top branch. 

 

Photo #7 & Photo #8 are of an encounter between the Belted Kingfisher & the Grackle. With this first incident, the Kingfisher gave way and took flight to avoid the Grackle. Once the Grackle had left the tree, the Kingfisher took its original perch, dived & got a fish. The Grackle re-appeared some time later, tried to bully again but this time the Kingfisher held its perch.

 

The Grackle did try the same tactic on the Merlins but you can imagine what their attitude was. "Really, you want to make this tree an issue." Grackles do know their limits. 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-bird-wars---belted-kingfisher-merlin-grackle Mon, 14 Aug 2023 18:48:43 GMT
"MERLINS FEEL THE NEED FOR SPEED" - Merlin https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-merlins-feel-the-need-for-speed---merlin "MERLINS FEEL THE NEED FOR SPEED"

Merlins - 9 Photos

 

The following photos were taken over a period of a few days and times, hence the change in lighting.

 

It appears these are three young Merlins hanging out together in a wetland area with the occasional oversight of one or both parents. And yes, they do seem to get along but like all siblings there is a lot of "he's/she's touching me" or no sharing & whining.

 

One thing is for certain. Merlins are incredible flyers even at such a young age. They have the agility, speed & manoeuvrability of jet fighters. On more than one occasion I was hazed by a Merlin, having spotted its target and flying overhead.

 

And what are they targeting? Believe it or not it's dragonflies. They catch them in mid-flight, sometimes inverting, flying upside down and grabbing the insect with their talons, just like a jet fighter doing a roll. Heck, I can't even capture a dragonfly with the camera while it is pausing in flight. Included, as Photo #9, is a close-up of the successful hunter with its prize. I normally don't include photos where a bird is resting on a wire but this young Merlin just seemed to cry out to have a photo with its trophy. That shiny look near its beak is a dragonfly wing. Merlins seem to devour dragonflies like people eat lobsters, pulling off certain appendages first.

 

So young Merlins, good luck in all your endeavours and have a successful southern migration in the next month or so. But if you could, please leave some dragonflies to combat those mosquitoes! :)

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-merlins-feel-the-need-for-speed---merlin Wed, 09 Aug 2023 23:08:17 GMT
"TREE TOPPINGS" - Great Blue Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-tree-toppings---great-blue-heron "TREE TOPPINGS"

Great Blue Heron - 7 Photos

 

What with intense sunlight, humidity and smoke, Nature's lighting this Summer has been interesting and challenging at times. In fact, the day prior I had a similar opportunity to capture a Great Blue Heron (may even have been the same heron) on the same tree close to the same time of day.

 

Because the heron had been so gracious with its time, I had had ample opportunity to check and even experiment with the settings on the camera. However, when I downloaded the photos, although sharp, they weren't what I was expecting.

 

The next day the heron returned to the same tree & although, the lighting was slightly subdued with light cloud around, the clarity had definitely improved and the sky was almost magical with subtle tones of blue & pink. 

 

That background brought out definition & sharpness in the heron and its feathers giving it this surreal appearance. And what could be better than to find at the top of an old fir tree, a Great Blue Heron.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-tree-toppings---great-blue-heron Wed, 09 Aug 2023 02:17:32 GMT
"NIGHTY NIGHT - HERON" - Black-Crowned Night Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-nighty-night---heron---black-crowned-night-heron "NIGHTY NIGHT - HERON"

Black-Crowned Night Heron - 5 Photos

 

Because of the hot sunny weather Southern Alberta has been currently experiencing, I decided to try an early evening reconnaissance in the wetland area. Wildlife has tons of common sense. It knows not to expend energy unnecessarily in the dry heat and use up valuable energy and resources. So I thought there might be more wildlife sightings as the evening temperatures began to cool.

 

At first it was relatively quiet. There were a few ducks swimming and of course, the muskrats were out doing their pond patrol. Then a pair of Merlins showed up, diving for dragonflies. They were persistently pursued by magpies who I assume were trying to steal their catches.

 

A couple of beavers swam into the pond but as their food sources are now plentiful in & close to the water, they just swam through to the next body of water.

 

And then this Black-Crowned Night Heron showed up & flew onto a dead fir tree.

 

At first, I thought it was just there for a brief rest before going on to join its partner or fishing but no, there it sat, preening, resting & ignoring the scuffles going on around it.

 

And it was still there perched on the tree when I left at sunset. 

 

The lighting in the photos below show the passage of time, as it goes from soft evening light to sunset. And as the daylight faded, so it appeared did the Night Heron. Perhaps this was its night perch, a safe oasis with a gentle breeze. 

 

And perhaps, another "bird fact" fades into the sunset as well. A Black-Crowned Night Heron that sleeps at night & is active during the day. :)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/8/-nighty-night---heron---black-crowned-night-heron Thu, 03 Aug 2023 02:52:49 GMT
"ALL IN THE FAMILY" - Black-Crowned Night Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-all-in-the-family---black-crowned-night-heron "ALL IN THE FAMILY"

Black-Crowned Night Heron (Mature & Immature) - 3 Photos

 

Rain was now moving in, so made the decision to head back. Just as I approached the edge of a pond, I looked across & down and there huddled up was this young Black-Crowned Night Heron (Photo #1).

 

So quietly moved in, took some shots & then as I increased my range, I spotted the adult (Mum/Dad) sitting in the willows just a short distance away (Photo #2).

 

Just couldn't resist and I pulled back the lens and got the two together sitting so still (Photo #3).  I looked down to drop my water bottle and when I looked up, they had both disappeared into the willows.

 

I thought they might creep back in so I waited but a short time later two adults & the youngster flew out of the wetland, landed in the nearby trees and then flew off again into the middle of the marshes.

 

Earlier this Spring, I was fortunate to capture this pair of Black-Crowned Night Herons on a number of occasions but have noticed in the last month or so, their range has increased & is further into the ponds. At first I thought they were trying to avoid the bullying of the Red-Winged Blackbirds (which might be one reason). However, having captured this youngster on its own ("The Night is Still Young" blog - July 20/2023), coming out of the middle of the marsh where the adults had frequented earlier, I believe they had nested and raised at least one offspring. Now that "junior" has earned its wings & can fish on its own, there is no longer a need for this family to stay in one spot. 

 

And so now they can travel across the wetland network as a family, allowing the young heron ample opportunity to increase its flight skills & endurance in time for the migration south.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-all-in-the-family---black-crowned-night-heron Sun, 30 Jul 2023 17:37:44 GMT
"AHHH - YOUTH" - Pileated Woodpecker https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-ahhh---youth---pileated-woodpecker "AHHH - YOUTH"

Pileated Woodpecker (Immature) - 7 Photos

 

Was off to track down a Great Blue Heron (GBH) that from all appearances had landed in a nearby pond when passing a small wooded area, I spotted that distinctive red headdress peaking out from behind a tree trunk. 

 

It then flew to a fallen tree and began scooping up ants with its tongue.

 

A few minutes later it flew deeper into the trees and I continued my GBH search. It wasn't until I downloaded the photos that I could ascertain that this was probably a youngster born earlier this year. Now having fully fledged, it was out on its own in pursuit of woodpecker goodies and what better way to start a meal than with some easy to find appetizers. :) 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-ahhh---youth---pileated-woodpecker Sun, 30 Jul 2023 04:31:53 GMT
"DEEP DIVE" - Double-Crested Cormorant https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-deep-dive---double-crested-cormorant "DEEP DIVE"

Double-Crested Cormorant - 7 Photos

 

 

Once in a while, Nature does give do-overs.

 

Had missed a dive & resurface of a Double-Crested Cormorant the day before. When it came up, there was something hanging from its bill. The "something" disappeared down the cormorant's throat so quickly I thought it was some weedy substance from the bottom of the pond.

 

Fast forward to the following morning. In swam a cormorant which dived & resurfaced, again directly in front of me. This time I was ready and could see that it was indeed a fish.

 

And together with that do-over, all the stars were aligned (or perhaps birds) and the cormorant, the camera focus & the photographer all worked as one. :)

 

I rarely hold down the shutter button for a long period but this was one for the books. No sooner had the cormorant resurfaced with the fish, then it swallowed and down the throat it went. Time can appear to slow and having rechecked the playback of the camera sometime later, the entire episode took less than 3 seconds.

 

Because of the size of the fish, I reached out to Fish Tales Fly Shop in Calgary, Alberta for an identification. If you ever want to know what type of fish, reach out to a source that specializes in fishing & fishing equipment. It was identified as a White Sucker, a native & common species in Alberta and a bottom feeder. So it's a shout out to David & Courtney for their rapid response & assistance. Very much appreciated!

 

After a few less successful dives, the cormorant swam back into the larger pond and then took off to new fishing destinations.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-deep-dive---double-crested-cormorant Tue, 25 Jul 2023 03:30:40 GMT
"CLOSE TO THE END OF THE RAINBOW" - White-Faced Ibis https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-close-to-the-end-of-the-rainbow---white-faced-ibis "CLOSE TO THE END OF THE RAINBOW"

White-Faced Ibis - 11 Photos

 

Although with the very hot weather continuing in Alberta, it is difficult to believe that Summer officially ends in September but before that the White-Faced Ibises will begin their migration south. It should be noted that White-Faced Ibises are only found in the Americas.

 

It has been a celebration in colour with the iridescent feathers of this "rainbow" bird.  Now if only the camera could consistently focus on this erratically moving metallic ibis. It may seem to the naked eye, focusing on such a colourful creature would be an easy task but I have also encountered this issue with Wood Ducks in among grasses & shrubbery. What appears to us to be a "stand-out" is actually a masterful disguise. The dark metallic colours of both birds are a distraction to the camera & in attempting to keep up with the bird's walk, the camera's focus can be caught up in the background.

 

So we might be close to seeing the end of the appearance of the "rainbow" but for now we aren't quite there yet.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-close-to-the-end-of-the-rainbow---white-faced-ibis Sun, 23 Jul 2023 00:24:27 GMT
"THE NIGHT IS STILL YOUNG" - Black-Crowned Night Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-the-night-is-still-young---black-crowned-night-heron "THE NIGHT IS STILL YOUNG"

Black-Crowned Night Heron (Immature) - 9 Photos

 

 

Apologies - I just couldn't help myself with the title of this one.

 

The following photos are of an immature Black-Crowned Night Heron. I find the colour transition of immature birds to mature totally fascinating. That includes the gradual change of the young Bald Eagle into its mature white head & tail feathers.

 

Just chilling out by a pond, waiting for some bird to fly in or a mammal to swim in when I looked up and saw a bird standing behind a Mallard Duck but definitely much taller. "Where did you come from??" It just seemed to magically appear. One moment it wasn't there & the next, there it was.

 

And then keeping it in sight, I realized it would crouch and walk down a small gully in the bulrushes out of sight and then repeat the process sometime later & up it would suddenly pop again. 

 

It would catch a few fish just while standing with the ducks and then would retreat into the shade of the marsh grasses for some time, probably to take advantage of the shade and potentially more fishing opportunities.

 

And although the heron appeared to be a little nervous manoeuvring around the Mallard Ducks, it seemed to take some comfort from their company, birds of a feather and all that, I suppose.

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-the-night-is-still-young---black-crowned-night-heron Fri, 21 Jul 2023 02:56:35 GMT
"THE MUD STALKER" - Black-Crowned Night Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-the-mud-stalker---black-crowned-night-heron "THE MUD STALKER"

Black-Crowned Night Heron - 6 Photos

 

 

According to The National History Museum, "birds evolved from a group of meat-eating dinosaurs called theropods. That's the same group that Tyrannosaurus rex belonged to, although birds evolved from small theropods, not huge ones like T. Rex".

 

The Black-Crowned Night Heron although small in stature, stalks shallow creeks & ponds and their shorelines for fish & small prey, including young muskrats. Watching the heron in its hunting mode, creeping along the edges like a cheetah consistently in stealth mode, makes one thankful for its small size & less ferocity than the Velociraptor. But on my, those ruby red eyes!

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-the-mud-stalker---black-crowned-night-heron Mon, 17 Jul 2023 18:42:26 GMT
"SNIPPETS" - Wilson's Snipe https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-snippets---wilsons-snipe "SNIPPETS"

Wilson's Snipe - 4 Photos

 

This little bird was making so much vocalization from a clump of reed grasses, I just had to wait and see if it would make an appearance into a non-obstructed area.

 

And then it walked across to the little beaver dam and there was Wilson - sorry Wilson's Snipe.

 

It took a few minutes to view the surroundings and then off it flew. 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-snippets---wilsons-snipe Mon, 17 Jul 2023 16:41:47 GMT
"NIGHT TIME, DAY TIME" - Black-Crowned Night Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-night-time-day-time---black-crowned-night-heron "NIGHT TIME, DAY TIME"

Black-Crowned Night Heron - 8 Photos

 

There is something so special of spending some day time with a Black-Crowned Night Heron, particularly one that has found sanctuary in a more remote part of a pond, safe from the harassment of Red-Winged Blackbirds. 

 

I can relate, having been hazed by a few of those Red-Winged bullies  while walking along a path far from a wetland area and/or potential nesting spots. They can be intimidating despite their size but unlike herons who appear to cower (both Great Blue & Black-Crowned Night), a few defensive swipes from my hands generally sends them packing. Those moves aren't to make any contact but only to state my case. "I'm no where near your territories so go back to where you came from!"

 

Because of the rocky sections of this part of the creek, the Night Heron was camouflaged by the environment and therefore, could spend hours fishing & grooming, without interruption from annoying low flyers. And yes, there were Red-Winged Blackbirds in the vicinity, just totally oblivious to a little heron minding its own business. 

 

And woe to a heron who ventured out of its "safe zone" - Photo #8

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-night-time-day-time---black-crowned-night-heron Sun, 16 Jul 2023 03:53:42 GMT
"MOUNT MUSK-ARAT" - Muskrat https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-mount-musk-arat---muskrat "MOUNT MUSK-ARAT"

Muskrat - 7 Photos

 

I'm not certain why this muskrat repeatedly made a beeline to this small mound created by a fallen reed.

 

From its size and appearance, it is most likely a young muskrat, maybe even born earlier this year. 

 

It had to divert from its regular swimming path to make its ascent. The muskrat could easily have swam around it or avoided it entirely, but several times that afternoon, it climbed up, walked a step or two across and then went back down the other side. The photos below document that ascent of "Mount Musk-arat" and include some of the tiny flying inhabitants of the pond. Every athlete deserves its own cheering section.

 

Being young perhaps it was the challenge or just enjoyment. Or maybe it is a young muskrat's way of strengthening its core to be better prepared to confront any potential adversaries, maybe even take on the odd Great Gray Heron or two! :)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-mount-musk-arat---muskrat Fri, 14 Jul 2023 02:22:34 GMT
"NATURE'S SPLASH POOL" - White-Tailed Deer https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-natures-splash-pool---white-tailed-deer "NATURE'S SPLASH POOL"

White-Tailed Deer (Doe & Fawns) - 5 Photos

 

Another hot sunny day in Calgary, Alberta and like all mothers out there, this doe was trying to keep her twin youngsters hydrated and cool in the outdoors. 

 

And what better place, than one of Nature's splash parks, i.e. a shallow creek. 

 

This one comes with not only cooling waters to walk in but a convenient snack bar close-by. And, of course, another sibling to share playtime (Photo #5)

 


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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-natures-splash-pool---white-tailed-deer Mon, 10 Jul 2023 23:02:51 GMT
"FINDING NEVERLAND" - Sora https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-finding-neverland---sora "FINDING NEVERLAND"

Sora - 6 Photos

 

So what are the chances of this happening twice??

 

The Sora is not a rare bird but it is a very shy one so to catch it twice open areas within the space of a month or so, is quite the gift. Hence, the title "Finding Neverland". Neverland is, of course, that fictional island featured in the literary works of J.M. Barrie, and home to Peter Pan.

 

It's not an is-land but the Sora does live in wet-lands, which provide food, shelter & nesting area potentials.

 

The Sora is also known as the "meadow chicken", probably due to the way it "hen pecks" in its pursuit of food in the muddy marshlands but that does seem so unfair a description for such a unique looking little bird, with its almost zebra like camouflage feathering. 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-finding-neverland---sora Sat, 08 Jul 2023 04:43:13 GMT
"BIG BLUE" - Great Blue Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-big-blue---great-blue-heron "BIG BLUE"

Great Blue Heron - 8 Photos

 

Great Blue Herons can be as tall as one metre with their necks outstretched so it's somewhat amusing to see them harassed, terrorized & even bullied by Red-Winged Blackbirds (Photo #6)  - yes, that's a black bird sitting on the back of the heron who is trying to hide in the rushes. And not only is it from the air but from "sea" as well, i.e. the local pond dweller, the Muskrat.

 

In fact, this past weekend I was witness to Muskrat/Great Blue Heron encounter. The heron was hugging the pond shoreline where I was sitting, unfortunately for me partly obscured by marsh grasses & reeds. So I thought I would wait it out and hopefully the heron would make its way around & out for a great close-up shot. And then the large male muskrat showed up on its regular patrol.

 

It was heading across the pond when it saw the heron standing close to where the muskrats have a small bank den. It immediately made a detour & beelined straight to the heron. It moved in close to the heron, turned its back towards the heron & gave one mighty slap with its tail. Needless to say, the heron flew off from a standing position to parts unknown. Really Heron? What's the muskrat going to do? Bite your toes! :)

 

But here are some photos of a more relaxed heron, stalking out fish & occasionally catching a meal. And then there is always the resulting shake-out of feathers after a quick head splash (Photo #1)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/7/-big-blue---great-blue-heron Tue, 04 Jul 2023 23:29:21 GMT
"BEAVER REFLECTIONS" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-beaver-reflections---beaver-north-american "BEAVER REFLECTIONS"

Beaver (North American) - 8 Photos

 

After a brief summer rain shower, it was back to the pond to see what new arrivals had appeared. 

 

Mother Mallard was back with her now eight ducklings (there had been nine - uh-oh) and of course, there was the muskrat patrol. And then out of the rushes, swam a beaver, the first time I had seen one so close since Spring.

 

Now that the pond superhighway is open, allowing for complete access to the entire pond areas, there are ample food & supplies for the beaver family, without having to make treks out of the safety of the water. If a beaver did decide to take to ground for some grooming or dam repairs, the marsh reeds & grasses are so tall now they would be well hidden from sight.

 

Three more beavers eventually swam through, each exiting in the same direction but one particular beaver turned, swam back and did a swim by and appeared to be checking out the "strange object" on the shore. I believe these four beavers to be the offspring of various ages of the two adults, as they had not yet reached their full potential size wise (Photo #5 through Photo #8).

 

As I spend some hours just sitting at the edge of ponds, waiting & watching for wildlife and potential photographic opportunities, the regular inhabitants, I believe, have come to view me as just part of the background of pond life as long as I maintain a low profile. Sometimes, however, that profile may be a bit too low key. I have on a number of occasions had to duck for low flying Yellow-headed Blackbird youngsters acting out sibling rivalry.

 

So as this one beaver swam by, I caught him/her in a blink or was that perhaps a wink between pond inhabitant & pond visitor?? :) :) (Photo #1 through Photo #4) And that blink was highlighted by a ring of white fur circling each eye! 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-beaver-reflections---beaver-north-american Wed, 28 Jun 2023 01:27:50 GMT
"TRUE COLOURS" - White-Faced Ibis https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-true-colours---white-faced-ibis "TRUE COLOURS"

White-Faced Ibis - 8 Photos

 

Perhaps the metallic bird would be a more apt description for the White-Faced Ibis.

 

And I know that it is only a physical characteristic of its bill, but it always appears to be smiling. Maybe it's a little knowing smile of a secret being shared, i.e. it's true beauty. :) 

 

These ibises were secure enough in their surroundings to allow for some close-ups, including grooming (Photo #1 through to Photo #4). Then it was time for some stand-up stretches & shakes (Photo #5 & Photo #6).

 

And then there was a stretch of wings, which I assume included some sun bathing, which, once again, showed off those magnificent colours (Photo # 7)

 

A final shot is a close up of the second ibis to show off those ruby red eyes. (Photo #8)

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-true-colours---white-faced-ibis Mon, 26 Jun 2023 02:14:52 GMT
"JUST ANOTHER SWIM IN THE POND" - Muskrat https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-just-another-swim-in-the-pond---muskrat "JUST ANOTHER SWIM IN THE POND"

Muskrat - 6 Photos

 

 

Light, weather conditions, time of day & location are all factors that can influence photography. And what better way to demonstrate the variables than with cute muskrats on various patrols in their home ponds.

 

Two muskrats whom I believe to be male & female, have given me ample opportunity to view the comings & goings of the beaver's little cousin. They have a vast system of ponds that they utilize & I have come to realize they visit the same area of a pond on a set schedule. You can't set your watch by their timing, but they definitely have a particular routine. 

 

They are also most likely the same pair that were featured in the June 1, 2023 blog, "Make Love - Not War". It was only a week ago, that they appeared to be back at the business of making more little muskrats. This time, though, they chose a reed bed thick with bull rushes & marsh grasses. In fact, one particular Yellow-Headed Blackbird family have nested on the platform so that particular afternoon, there was a lot of muskrat squeaking & bubbling, accompanied by that distinctive rusty gate vocalization of the blackbirds.  But this day, all was discreet with the muskrats except for the arrivals & departures at the "green room" (Photo #1 through Photo #3).

 

Muskrats can have two to three litters a year and within a month, the kits are independent, being able to swim & feed themselves. Unfortunately, some of the youngsters make the mistake of taking refuge in the shallow reed edges along the water where herons like to wade looking for a meal & it's not only fish that will satisfy a heron's hunger!

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-just-another-swim-in-the-pond---muskrat Wed, 21 Jun 2023 16:08:49 GMT
"FLY BY NIGHT" - Black-Crowned Night Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-fly-by-night---black-crowned-night-heron "FLY BY NIGHT"

Black-Crowned Night Heron - 9 Photos

 

So these are a "fly by night heron" during the day. 

 

I have included, as the last photo, a stationary Black-Crowned Night Heron to demonstrate how this small heron changes its appearance purely by different actions.

 

And it always helps in achieving "fly-bys" to have a few Red-Winged Blackbirds scaring up & chasing herons. 

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-fly-by-night---black-crowned-night-heron Tue, 20 Jun 2023 16:49:01 GMT
"ENCHANTMENT IN THE WETLANDS" - White-Faced Ibis https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-enchantment-in-the-wetlands---white-faced-ibis "ENCHANTMENT IN THE WETLANDS"

White-Faced Ibis - 10 Photos

 

Just having the White-Faced Ibis summering in Calgary, Alberta's wetlands is magical. It is such an exotic looking bird and gives that tropical feeling on a hot summer day.

 

But like most animals, depending on the circumstance they can appear to change their appearance into different shapes & sometimes, other creatures.

 

For example:

 

PHOTO #1 - "A GIGANTIC HUMMINGBIRD" :) 

PHOTO #2 - "THAT SALON HAIR STYLE"

PHOTO #3 - "LOOK OUT - INCOMING VULTURE"

PHOTO #4 - "A BIRD THAT CAN APPEAR TO WALK ON WATER"

PHOTO #5 - "A MYTHICAL CREATURE - PERHAPS A MODE OF TRANSPORTATION FOR ELVES OR FAIRIES"

PHOTO #6 - "FLYING OUT OF MIDDLE EARTH (LORD OF THE RINGS)"

PHOTO #7 - "LOOK UP IN THE SKY, IT'S A BIRD - IT'S SUPER IBIS!"

"PHOTO #8 - "DOUBLE VISION - PART 1"

PHOTO #9 - "DOUBLE VISION - PART 2"

PHOTO #10 - "DOUBLE VISION - PART 3"

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-enchantment-in-the-wetlands---white-faced-ibis Mon, 19 Jun 2023 16:02:43 GMT
"A WHINNY IN THE WILDERNESS" - Sora https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-a-whinny-in-the-wilderness---sora "A WHINNY IN THE WILDERNESS"

Sora - 7 Photos

 

So maybe it's actually a whinny in the marshlands but have heard that distinctive "whinny" for some years now and have known what it was but have never had visual contact.

 

And then it happened and I finally had a sighting while waiting for other marsh dwellers to put in an appearance (Photo #6 & Photo #7 ).

 

Fast forward to the following hot afternoon and I had taken refuge for shade in among some tall grasses pond side. Again, I was watching the goings on of the various wildlife when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. As this edge is frequented by Yellow Headed Blackbirds, I thought it was just another forage when through the grasses I spotted the Sora making its way out of the grassy clump into the water's edge.

 

I had the camera already in hand ready to shoot but not wanting to spook the little bird, I held my breath & waited those few seconds, while it took a path directly across my camera line and into a clear view (Photo #1 through to Photo #5). It then took a turn to my right and disappeared back into that massive thicket of marsh grasses & rushes.

 

So now I can put a "face" to that mournful whinny when I next hear it.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-a-whinny-in-the-wilderness---sora Tue, 13 Jun 2023 16:16:49 GMT
"WHEN NIGHT TURNS INTO DAY" - Black-Crowned Night Heron https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-when-night-turns-into-day---black-crowned-night-heron "WHEN NIGHT TURNS INTO DAY"

Black-Crowned Night Heron - 9 Photos

 

I occasionally wonder how birds are given their common names. In this instance, I suppose, 1 out of 3 isn't bad in the description department.

 

First - The crown of the Black-Crowned Night Heron isn't black. It's dark navy blue.

Second - For a bird that's described as a "night heron", it certainly appears in the daytime regularly, including in and around noon time.

 

So that leaves us with "heron". That part's right. A much smaller compatriot to the Great Blue Heron, it too enjoys the same prey such as fish, small crustaceans and the odd small muskrat. :)

 

So here are some photos of the "Black-Crowned Night Heron". And depending on its positioning & activity, it can change appearance quite dramatically.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-when-night-turns-into-day---black-crowned-night-heron Mon, 12 Jun 2023 02:22:16 GMT
"VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-variety-is-the-spice-of-life---beaver-north-american "VARIETY IS THE SPICE OF LIFE"

Beaver (North American) - 7 Photos

 

They may be rodents but life is never boring. It can involve family, eating and food gathering to name just a few pastimes (and work times). 

 

Have added captions to the photos below as they seemed to cry out for some comments. :) 

 

With regard to Photo #6, I reached out to Dr. Emily Fairfax who is an Assistant Professor at a California university & beaver (dam) enthusiast & asked if the adult beaver was cleaning or grooming its youngster. Her reply was, "The adult is probably grooming the baby. They get waterproofing from their castor glands so the adult may be accessing to use it as it grooms the baby, rather than "cleaning" the glands." (Thanks, again, Dr. Fairfax!)

 

 

PHOTO #1 - "STAND TALL"

PHOTO #2 - "AN INTIMATE MOMENT BETWEEN ADULT & YOUNGSTER"

PHOTO #3 - "UP CLOSE & PERSONAL"

PHOTO #4 - "DOOR DASH FOR BEAVERS???"

PHOTO #5 - "GOLDEN BEAVER (RETRIEVER)?"

PHOTO #6 - "ADULT GROOMING YOUNGSTER USING THE OILS FROM ITS CASTOR GLAND"

PHOTO #7 - "WHAT A SHOOT!" (The beaver put all its weight onto its back legs to pull out this behemoth.) 

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-variety-is-the-spice-of-life---beaver-north-american Thu, 08 Jun 2023 15:31:06 GMT
"FLYING PRISMS" - White-Faced Ibis https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-flying-prisms---white-faced-ibis "FLYING PRISMS"

White-Faced Ibis - 6 Photos

 

As the term "Flying Rainbow" bird has already been taken, (it refers to the Rainbow Lorikeet), I thought perhaps "Flying Prism" bird might be an apt description for the White-Faced Ibis.

 

It may look entirely black from certain perspectives, but looks can be deceiving. And although it is continually pursued by Red-Winged Blackbirds, perceiving it to be a bird of prey that will feed upon their eggs & young, again it is a case of mistaken identity.

 

The White-Faced Ibis's diet consists mainly of insects, snails, crayfish & small fish. Birds' eggs do not appear to be on the menu. Perhaps it's that "vulture pose" as it comes in for landings that have led blackbirds, etc. astray.

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-flying-prisms---white-faced-ibis Mon, 05 Jun 2023 02:02:42 GMT
"MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR" - Muskrat https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-make-love-not-war---muskrat "MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR"

Muskrat - 11 Photos

 

The following two sets of photos were taken over 2 days in a period of approximately one week.

 

And in reverse order, let's start with the "war" part. A smaller muskrat entered a small cove in the pond where a large muskrat was eating. It was greeted with what I believe was aggression and chased into the open water. As you can see from Photo #1 to Photo #4 , teeth were bared by both parties, there was paw to paw contact and eventually the larger muskrat literally put the smaller one on its back in the water. This large muskrat then did a somewhat partial submerged victory swim, with the defeated quickly swimming to the far end of the pond.

 

I thought this might be a younger, less mature muskrat (perhaps even an offspring), trying to push its way into an adult's food source, particularly with the ensuing battle.

 

Now for the "make love" part. The very large muskrat was enjoying basking, scratching & feeding in a small inlet on this warm Spring evening several days later (Photo #5 & Photo #6). It suddenly stopped, sniffed the air (Photo #7), turned and in swam a smaller muskrat.

 

This time events were entirely different. They swam around each other in a mutual greeting and then well, I'll let Photo #8 through to Photo #10 tell the story. And yes, they did "get a room", that being the little sunlit inlet.

 

After a brief encounter where the male groomed the female, they swam briefly together (Photo #11) and then separated harmoniously, one going north, the other going south.

 

I can't say for certain that the first set of events was or wasn't an adult putting a youngster in its place or whether it was a show of unwanted mating but there was no doubt what the intention was in the latter. And hopefully, within the next month, there will be the pitter patter of little muskrat feet in the beaver lodge.

 

"WAR?"

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

 

"MAKE LOVE"

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

PHOTO #10

PHOTO #11

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/6/-make-love-not-war---muskrat Thu, 01 Jun 2023 15:23:14 GMT
"THE NEXT GENERATION" - Great Horned Owlet https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-the-next-generation---great-horned-owlet "THE NEXT GENERATION"

Great Horned Owlet - 5 Photos

 

Another successful fledging by a Great Horned Owlet. 

 

Let's hope it's one giant leap for a long & productive life for this little Great Horned Owl. Wildlife has a steep learning curve. The length of time spent with parent(s) differs between species but when all is said and done, the survival of offspring depends mostly upon how well it has learnt those all important life lessons from the adults. And in most cases, there is no moving back into the parents' domain if things don't work out! :) 

 

Wishing all the very best to this young owlet on its journey into the great domain of Nature.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-the-next-generation---great-horned-owlet Tue, 30 May 2023 15:01:42 GMT
"LITTLE RED" - Squirrel (Red) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-little-red---squirrel-red "LITTLE RED"

Red Squirrel - 6 Photos

 

This "Little Red" is not the "Riding Hood" kind. It's Alberta's native Red Squirrel.

 

It had appeared in the same area of woods the day before when the weather was wet and damp. And then the next day when sunshine & warmer temperatures re-emerged, so did the squirrel.

 

"Little Red" hung out perusing the logs & trees, looking for food and grabbing a quick "squirrelly" nap ever so often, basking in the sun. And then it was gone but not before giving some great poses for the camera.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-little-red---squirrel-red Mon, 29 May 2023 02:27:54 GMT
"COLOUR MY WORLD" - White-Faced Ibis https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-colour-my-world---white-faced-ibis "COLOUR MY WORLD"

White-Faced Ibis - 5 Photos

 

I have a fanciful theory that most birds were given the opportunity to choose two out of the three following gifts from Nature:

1. Flight

2. Beauty

3. Song

 

For example, the little House Wren can fly and flit about. Although very plain, its song is lyrical. The Bald Eagle has magnificent looks and incredible flight abilities but song or voice - not so much. Of course, then there is the Emperor Penguin. I suppose if you substituted swimming ability for flight, you still end up with two out of three, the second being beauty.

 

And now we come to the White-faced Ibis. It definitely has great flight and the ability to hop small distances. It definitely didn't choose "voice" as its vocalisation is like a witch's cackle. And seeing this bird from afar or in flight, it can look somewhat like a black vulture. But then here comes the magic - iridescence. In sunlight, the true beauty of the ibis appears, in vibrant greens and maroons. 

 

And add to that mix, a very generous White-faced Ibis who chose a bed of last year's rushes to hunt for food, making the contrast so complete.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-colour-my-world---white-faced-ibis Thu, 25 May 2023 02:13:37 GMT
"MINKED-IN" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-minked-in---mink-north-american "MINKED-IN"

Mink (North American) - 5 Photos

 

LinkedIn is marketed as the "world's largest professional network on the internet". One can utilize it to locate the right job, for example.

 

So what is "MinkedIn"? How about using it to locate the right mink! :) :)

 

And this little mink is a definite candidate. I believe from its body & head sizes, it's female. Although minks are not a very big mustelid, the male mink is much larger than its female counterpart. Having seen two different males last year, it was quite shocking to see the size difference between the sexes. Male minks are much bulkier & have a "devil may care" attitude, probably due to the fact that the only interaction they have with females is during mating & there is no worry about little minks to provide for at the den.

 

So here is one adorable mink, cute as its button nose but of course, looks can be deceiving. :)

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4


PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-minked-in---mink-north-american Tue, 23 May 2023 01:12:10 GMT
"MIND YOUR P's & Q's" - Porcupine (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-mind-your-ps-q-s---porcupine-north-american "MIND YOUR P's & Q's"

Porcupine (North American) - 8 Photos

 

That, of course, would be Porcupines & Quills.

 

No worries about a porcupine throwing its quills but this large male decided to make its way down to ground level during a busy time onto a potentially dangerous path. No danger from any wildlife, only the two-legged kind, including bicycles.

 

I don't know how it knew there was a lull in the action other than a porcupine's acute sense of hearing but having watched it for several hours from a safe & hidden location, I moved in to ensure it moved into another nearby tree and not an attempt to cross the path. This may have been its original intention because it climbed up a new tree and immediately slumped into a position totally out of the sun & the wind (Photo #8). Porcupines know best!

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-mind-your-ps-q-s---porcupine-north-american Tue, 16 May 2023 16:12:44 GMT
"THE CATWALK" - Ring Necked Pheasant https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-the-catwalk---ring-necked-pheasant "THE CATWALK"

Ring Necked Pheasant - 7 Photos

 

In this instance, I suppose "catwalk" isn't the best terminology for a Ring Necked Pheasant walking back & forth along a log. Perhaps "birdwalk" would be better??

 

Believe it or not, this male pheasant flew in and landed on a downed tree trunk while I was watching a porcupine. I was amazed that having struggled to stand up having sat for so long & reset the camera settings, that the pheasant continued its birdwalk, without interruption, along the fallen tree. Just like a model, it strutted from one end of the tree to the other and then repeated the manoeuvre. 

 

It paused twice to perform the "crow" announcing to all of its presence (Photo #5 & Photo #6). 

 

I have a particular preference for Photo #3 , which I believe is an unusual frontal view of a male Ring Necked Pheasant. Unfortunately, because of its head feathers sticking out from each side of the head & the demarcation of its head colouring, I have a desire to break out into a chorus of "M-I-C-K-E-Y MOUSE"! :) 

 

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-the-catwalk---ring-necked-pheasant Mon, 15 May 2023 15:20:38 GMT
"COME ON IN - THE WATER'S FINE" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-come-on-in---the-waters-fine---mink-north-american "COME ON IN - THE WATER'S FINE!"

Mink (North American) - 7 Photos

 

A bright sunny afternoon and the mink was out fishing. That blue colour of the water is actually the reflection of the clear blue sky in the still pools.

 

And no, a mink can't walk on water (Photo #3 & Photo #4).  It's the fallen marsh reeds creating a bed under the water that the mink is prowling along. It actually swam under the reed bed looking for fish with some success but scampered quickly away with its small catch before you could say "mustelid".

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

 

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 


 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-come-on-in---the-waters-fine---mink-north-american Tue, 09 May 2023 02:24:07 GMT
"LOOK MA, NO HANDS!" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-look-ma-no-hands---beaver-north-american "LOOK MA, NO HANDS"

Beaver (North American) - 5 Photos

 

Beavers are clever. Other than people, perhaps no other species can modify its surroundings for its own purposes. They are ecosystem engineers and current research is uncovering how they help fight drought and even be instrumental in reversing climate change. 

 

They have been called a "keystone species", which is a unique organism that supports the entire biological community. Wow - that's a big legacy for all those young beavers to live up to! :) 

 

They are very dexterous with their hands but can also use their mouths to carry even large branches. So who needs a hand or two?

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5 - "Well maybe, when eating." :) 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-look-ma-no-hands---beaver-north-american Fri, 05 May 2023 07:39:00 GMT
"A LONG WAY DOWN" - Porcupine (North America) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-a-long-way-down---porcupine-north-america "A LONG WAY DOWN"

Porcupine (North American) - 5 Photos

 

 

It isn't often that I see a porcupine descend (or even ascend) a tree but every time is as exciting & nail biting as the first.

 

Any noise (and that can include the click from the camera shutter) or slight movement can send a porcupine back up the tree. They don't see very well but their hearing and sense of smell are both acute. And that can mean a very long silent wait for another potential descent.

 

Then if you add in early evening light (and not dusk) and a clear view of the tree & the climber, it doesn't get more perfect to document the event.

 

PHOTO #1

Porcupine - North AmericanPorcupine - North American"STEP BY STEP, PAW BY PAW, CLAW BY CLAW"

PHOTO #2

Porcupine - North AmericanPorcupine - North American"LONG WAY DOWN"

PHOTO #3

Porcupine - North AmericanPorcupine - North American"DON'T LOOK DOWN, DON'T LOOK DOWN"

 

PHOTO #4

Porcupine - North AmericanPorcupine - North American"CHECKING FOR AN ALL CLEAR"

PHOTO #5

Porcupine - North AmericanPorcupine - North American"HOMEWARD BOUND"

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-a-long-way-down---porcupine-north-america Thu, 04 May 2023 07:30:00 GMT
"A MINK SPA DAY" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-a-mink-spa-day---mink-north-american "A MINK SPA DAY"

Mink (North American) - 7 Photos

 

As a starter, this mink is not in distress, no matter what it may look like from some of the photos.

 

It's Spring and I think it was a combination of cleaning out that Winter coat and a re-oiling process of its fur after swimming and fishing.

 

And what better way to get those unreachable places but to rub both topside & underside along an accommodating log, particularly when you have such short legs like the mink. From some of those expressions, I think it was a combination of feelings of relief and jubilation.

 

And those looks can range from "cuteness" to "look out - predator on the loose"!

 

PHOTO #1

Mink - North AmericanMink - North American"ABSOLUTE BLISS"

PHOTO #2

Mink - North AmericanMink - North American"GETTING ALL THOSE ITCHY SPOTS"

PHOTO #3

Mink - North AmericanMink - North American"SOMETIMES THOSE MINK ARMS JUST AREN'T LONG ENOUGH TO GET TO THOSE ITCHY PLACES"

PHOTO #4

Mink - North AmericanMink - North American"HOW TO GET TO THOSE UNDERBELLY PLACES"

PHOTO #5

Mink - North AmericanMink - North American"LYING DOWN ON THE JOB"

PHOTO #6

Mink - North AmericanMink - North American"A QUICK RESPITE"

PHOTO #7

Mink - North AmericanMink - North American"MINK SELF- MASSAGE FEELS SO GOOD!"

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/5/-a-mink-spa-day---mink-north-american Tue, 02 May 2023 20:17:28 GMT
"TO THE VICTOR GOES THE SPOILS" - Bald Eagles https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-to-the-victor-goes-the-spoils---bald-eagles "TO THE VICTOR GOES THE SPOILS"

Bald Eagles (Adult & Immature) - 11 Photos

 

 

It was one of those non-Spring days in April with intermittent snow squalls. The lighting did, however, provide some wonderful contrast for eagle flights. And yes those white spots that appear on the eagles' wings are actually snow falling.

 

The immature Bald Eagle (probably 3 years old) was spotted first (Photo #1 & Photo #2).  He/she made a couple of flights down onto the ice but before I could get there, the gulls had chased it off and then it was back to a nearby tree.

 

And then the adult Bald Eagle flew in. Obviously it was not willing to share its territory or any food with this youngster and an aerial chase ensued with the young eagle making a hasty departure (Photo #3 and #4).

 

Then it was back to the same tree as a look-out for the adult, with intermittent fly overs to check out gull positioning and potential left-overs (Photo #5 through to Photo #9).

 

It appeared that the gulls were scavenging dead fish that had appeared just under the melting ice on the pond. They were patrolling the ice edge, pulling out the fish and feasting on the remains (Photo #10). The eagle was looking for that moment when a piece became available as gulls squabbled among themselves for who got the meal.

 

What was surprising was how cautious the Bald Eagle was. Considering its beak and talon size, you would think there would be no worries about taking on a gull or two but this was not the case. It was willing to wait for that opening when it thought it could swoop down and make off with a fish carcass but unwilling to take a stand (or flight) against the gulls. I suppose in an eagle's world, any potential injury is worth avoiding as no matter how slight, it could seriously impact its ability to hunt.

 

In the end, however, while the gulls fought it out within their group, the eagle swooped in, grabbed a piece of fish and flew off. And yes, that is a Mallard Duck ahead of the eagle making a quick get-away (Photo #11).

 

PHOTO #1

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PHOTO #3

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PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

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PHOTO #9

 

PHOTO #10

PHOTO #11

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-to-the-victor-goes-the-spoils---bald-eagles Wed, 26 Apr 2023 16:08:45 GMT
"TRUST ME - I COULDN'T MAKE THESE UP!" - Porcupine (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-trust-me---i-couldnt-make-these-up---porcupine-north-american "TRUST ME - I COULDN'T MAKE THESE UP!"

Porcupine (North American) - 7 Photos

 

 

When photographing porcupines, I try to find the most optimal location from which to shoot (location, light, etc.) & wherever possible, blend into the landscape. This minimizes the stress on the porcupine & doesn't cause undue attention to my subject. I've been exposed too many times where wildlife has been subjected to mobbing by onlookers. This may seem selfish but I do believe that the welfare of the animal is paramount and unfortunately, not everyone adheres to that code. 

 

When conditions are right, porcupines like to "hang out" during the day in trees, particularly deciduous ones, to catch some warm sunny rays (particularly in the Winter) and occasionally munch on the bark of branches. They also love buds just before they come into leaf. Those sap filled buds must be porcupine candy. 

 

Porcupines are more active than one would think, while they are in those lofty branches. Their movements can be frequent but for very short periods, usually just seconds. So I usually subscribe to some "porcupine meditation" where one gets comfortable for the long haul, lying on the ground and just hanging out in the shrubbery. 

 

Being hidden from passersby, leads to some occasional overhearing of commentary about porcupines. These are just four that I heard one afternoon.

 

1. "I didn't know they climbed trees!"

Now I don't know where these individuals are seeing porcupines on the ground & if it is that frequent, I would  like to know the locations.

 

2. "I've never seen a porcupine in a tree before. It must be injured and has gone up a tree to die."

This one hit me directly in the heart. I normally do not correct individuals but in this instance, I had to inform the gentleman that this was, indeed, a regular & normal occurrence and it was a very healthy & active porcupine.

 

3. "Be careful if you walk under that tree. You don't want to have any quills falling on you."

Okay, I think the general population now knows that porcupines do not throw their quills but this has to be a new one for the books. Probably the worst that could happen, is to be hit by falling porcupine poop. And no worries, it's very hard (because of the porcupine diet), about 1 inch long and 3/8 inch wide. 

 

4. "Oh my that's a beaver! I didn't know beavers climbed trees."

At first, I thought I had misheard but no, this statement was repeated to the fellow's wife & two additional walkers. I just couldn't bring myself to make any comments.

 

And now for some photos of one of those tree climbing porcupines, North America's second largest rodents, the largest being the beaver who, of course, does not climb trees :) :) ! Yes, beavers can stand upright but the only trees they can climb on are the horizontal kind. (Photo #7)

 

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PHOTO #4

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PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-trust-me---i-couldnt-make-these-up---porcupine-north-american Tue, 25 Apr 2023 01:47:46 GMT
"BEAUTIFUL BEAVER" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-beautiful-beaver---beaver-north-american "BEAUTIFUL BEAVER"

Beaver (North American) - 11 Photos

 

 

Slightly modifying two lines of the song by John Lennon, "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)":

 

Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful

Beautiful Beaver

 

The dam work having been completed, I suppose it was a night of relaxation and eating for the beavers, at least during the remaining hours of daylight.

 

Upon arrival at the pond, I spotted one smaller beaver sitting on a small reed island, munching away (Photo # 7).  It then disappeared onto the other side out of sight but I could still hear munching and tail slapping by at least two.

 

Then eventually a much larger beaver swam into the area, came out of the water, retrieved a branch and returned to the shoreline. This beaver was extremely large and a lovely ginger colouring, obviously coming into its Spring/Summer coat. There were comings and goings of several more beavers after, including a smaller one who remained with the adult who I believe to be last year's kit from its size and attachment to the adult.

 

Eventually all the beavers disappeared into their network of ponds, probably looking for other places to forage. There is something so relaxing about sitting with beavers hearing their quiet munching sounds. And that soft "mewing", vocalized particularly by the youngsters communicating with the adults that just touches my heart.

 

They may be rodents but I think you will agree, beautiful. And what better mammal could we have as a national symbol than the beaver. They are hard working, community minded, family orientated and phenomenal eco-engineers.

 

ADULT BEAVER

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

 

JUNIOR BEAVER

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

PHOTO #10

PHOTO #11

 

 

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-beautiful-beaver---beaver-north-american Thu, 20 Apr 2023 15:55:34 GMT
"IT'S NOT ALL WORK" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-its-not-all-work---beaver-north-american "IT'S NOT ALL WORK"

Beaver (North American) - 9 Photos

 

Although there is some dam repair to complete, believe the beavers are waiting for some serious thaw of snow/ice to soften up the earth & material that lies beneath. And then it will probably be all "hands" on deck.

 

While waiting that out, the beaver family took some time to have a family "picnic" in one particular area of the creek to enjoy some refreshments & grooming.

 

One of the two adults, believe it to be Dad, decided to come ashore quite close in to attend to some fur maintenance, hence the close-ups.

 

 

PHOTO #1

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PHOTO #9

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-its-not-all-work---beaver-north-american Mon, 17 Apr 2023 19:30:48 GMT
"SASQUATCH?" - Porcupine (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-sasquatch---porcupine-north-american "SASQUATCH??"

Porcupine (North American) - 7 Photos

 

Of course, another name for Sasquatch is "Bigfoot" and this porcupine certainly qualifies.

 

And it also appears he (from its size & location), still has not shed his Winter under coat. He definitely has hairy  (and large) feet! :) 

 

I've heard people express surprise at seeing porcupines in trees, making the comment, "I didn't know they could climb." Like the mythological sasquatch, porcupines like the solitude & safety of tree top cover, generally saving walk about moments for after dusk. 

 

 

PHOTO #1

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PHOTO #7

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-sasquatch---porcupine-north-american Thu, 13 Apr 2023 15:19:15 GMT
"THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER NAME!" - Muskrat https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-there-has-to-be-a-better-name---muskrat "THERE HAS TO BE A BETTER NAME"

Muskrat - 7 Photos

 

I've often thought that the name "muskrat" for this smaller cousin of the beaver is not the most complimentary term. 

 

This little rodent who frequently co-habitates with its beaver cousin, will make repairs to their lodges and often appears in open water just before beavers make their presence known. Perhaps, the muskrat acts as a semi-scout, checking out for an "all clear".

 

Unlike beavers, however, muskrats are not solely vegetarian and will also eat small fish, snails, clams, etc. when the need arises. I have included a photo that I took in March 2022 of a muskrat with its catch (Photo #7)

 

So how about a name change? As you can see from the photos below, they have similar harvesting habits as beavers and this particular muskrat seems to be particularly pleased with its choice (Photo #2 & Photo #3).

 

My suggestions in no particular order:

1. Muskbeaver

2. Lesser Beaver

3. Micro or Mini Beaver

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-there-has-to-be-a-better-name---muskrat Wed, 12 Apr 2023 20:28:26 GMT
"LIKE A KID IN A CANDY STORE" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store---beaver-north-american "LIKE A KID IN A CANDY STORE"

Beaver (North American) - 7 Photos

 

 

Having watched this beaver in its Winter/Spring Wonderland, I came to the conclusion that there is at least one more mammal more clumsy going through the snow than a photographer, and that's the Castor canadenis or the North American beaver.

 

But the lure of willow on a small island was like a trip to the candy store. So many choices. It just had to be the right one. And maybe it's just wishful thinking, but I swear this beaver is smiling (Photo #1 through Photo #3). He/she certainly has bright eyes.

 

Having chosen the perfect candidate (Photo #4), it was off through the snow (Photo #5) and back to the water to enjoy Nature's bounty.

 

Having enjoyed a great meal, what better time than to take some time out for a quick shake & a groom (Photo #6 & Photo #7). 

 

PHOTO #1

Beaver - North AmericanBeaver - North American"SO MANY CHOICES"

PHOTO #2

Beaver - North AmericanBeaver - North American"ON MY WAY TO THE CANDY COUNTER"

PHOTO #3

Beaver - North AmericanBeaver - North American"ONE OF THESE, PLEASE"

PHOTO #4 - "I'm In Love"

Beaver - North AmericanBeaver - North American"I'M IN LOVE"

PHOTO #5

Beaver - North AmericanBeaver - North American"CARRY OUT"

PHOTO #6

Beaver - North AmericanBeaver - North American"A GOOD SHAKE"

PHOTO #7

Beaver - North AmericanBeaver - North American"HAVING HAD A GOOD MEAL, TIME FOR A GOOD GROOM"

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/4/-like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store---beaver-north-american Tue, 04 Apr 2023 15:08:53 GMT
"IS THIS THE ARCTIC?" - Beaver (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-is-this-the-arctic---beaver-north-american "IS THIS THE ARCTIC??"

Beaver (North American) - 11 Photos

 

"Is this the Arctic?" No Beaver, just a Spring day in Calgary, Alberta! :)

 

Firstly, I would like to say that these beavers have more secrets than Area 51.  :)

And that  leaves us with the following four questions and answers:

 

PHOTO #2 - "Is This A Polar Bear?"

PHOTO #3 - "No - It's A Beaver!"

 

PHOTO #4 - "Is This An Arctic Seal?"

PHOTO #5 - "No - It's A Beaver!"

 

PHOTO #6 - "Is This A Snowman?"

PHOTO #7 - "No - It's A Beaver!"

 

PHOTO #8 - "Is This The Creature From The Icy Lagoon?"

PHOTO #9 - "No - It's A Beaver!"

 

PHOTO #10 - "It's Really A Beaver!"

PHOTO #11 - "Yep - It's Definitely A Beaver!"

 

 


 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-is-this-the-arctic---beaver-north-american Fri, 31 Mar 2023 07:30:00 GMT
"SPRING HAS SPRUNG" - Weasel (Long-Tailed) & Northern Flicker https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-spring-has-sprung---weasel-long-tailed-northern-flicker "SPRING HAS SPRUNG"

Weasel (Long-Tailed) & Northern Flicker - 5 Photos

 

Spring has sprung, the weasel has "riz". I wonder where the birds is!

 

Unfortunately, I didn't manage to capture the pair of Northern Flickers on the tree where they were checking out potential nesting cavities. Needless to say, they were extremely agitated and flew off the tree as soon as they saw the weasel climbing up. But I did capture them later on in the nearby woods, performing their courtship ritual (male at top, female at bottom), which was so endearing (Photos #3, 4 & 5).

 

The chickadees had quickly joined in to the bird alarms. Then after a quick inspection of the tree hole (no nothing yet), the weasel descended the tree (Photo #1 & Photo #2) and onto more "grounding" matters.

 

It may seem cruel to some, but Nature just "is". Without predators, even small ones like this weasel, prey species would overrun the environment, damaging & disrupting Nature's delicate balance. And unlike predators whose successful hunts are at best 1 in 4 or even less, prey species such as herbivores (or even small birds) generally have a constant source of food without as much effort.

 

If this pair of Northern Flickers are aware of their surroundings & have the potential to be great parents, they will most likely choose a better venue to lay their eggs and raise their offspring. :)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-spring-has-sprung---weasel-long-tailed-northern-flicker Mon, 27 Mar 2023 17:00:32 GMT
"ON A WING & A PRAYER" - Barrow's Goldeneye https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-on-a-wing-a-prayer---barrows-goldeneye "ON A WING & A PRAYER"

Barrow's Goldeneye - 7 Photos

 

It was a fairly quiet day beside the river, a few Common Goldeneyes & Mallards & an occasional sighting of a muskrat when in flew a male & female Goldeneye. 

 

Because they were relatively close as they flew by and lit by the sun, I thought I saw some "not so usual" markings. I knew they were Goldeneyes but once they had landed, I spotted the telltale white crescent marking on the male Barrow's Goldeneye.

 

Not so often sighted during the Winter months in Calgary, they can sometimes be seen in among the Common Goldeneye groupings. And even though, this male had brought his mate with him, he was still being chased off by the Common Goldeneyes as the courtship water wars continue.

 

So it was on a wing or four for the Barrow's Goldeneyes & a prayer to Nature from me that I had indeed spotted a "not so common" Goldeneye. :)

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6 - Male Barrow's Goldeneye (foreground) & Female Barrow's Goldeneye (background)

PHOTO #7 - Barrow's Goldeneye (left of photo) & Common Goldeneye (right of photo)

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-on-a-wing-a-prayer---barrows-goldeneye Wed, 22 Mar 2023 16:43:31 GMT
"STOP! - Coyote Working" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-stop---coyote-working---coyote "STOP! - Coyote Working"

Coyote - 8 Photos

 

Am almost certain that this has happened to other photographers out there. You know the scenario. You have a great day of shooting, come home download from the camera onto the computer & then choose the very best images to develop.

 

And then somehow, that second tier never receive the attention that they deserve. Well this happened to me with a coyote session that I recently went back to, to review the photos. All I can think is that I must have had a spectacular day to have left this set unattended. 

 

It goes without saying the coyote is an exceptional representative of its species but I hope readers will agree that this set of photos deserved highlighting.

 

And yes, "shhh - coyote at work"! :) 

 

 

PHOTO #1

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PHOTO #8

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-stop---coyote-working---coyote Mon, 20 Mar 2023 16:48:17 GMT
"SEMAPHORE" - Bald Eagle https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-semaphore---bald-eagle "SEMAPHORE"

Bald Eagle (Mature) - 9 Photos

 

Semaphore: A system of sending messages by holding the arms or two flags or poles in certain positions according to an alphabetical code.

 

Perhaps we could add "wings" to the above definition after "or poles". Does anyone know eagle semaphore?? (Photo #1 to Photo #5 )

 

Of course, this isn't an eagle signaling (but it certainly looks like it) but one shaking out the water from its feathers. In the past, I have managed to capture this action with ospreys but never with an eagle. It would be great in video to get the full effect but the length of time it took, was less than 5 seconds.

 

And then, of course, came the preening (Photo #6 to Photo #7 ). A bird's feathers are its life, particularly a bird of prey that needs that all important flight to hunt. 

 

And then it is close to mating time so maybe there is another side to this scenario - looking our best! (Photo #8 & Photo #9)

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

 

PHOTO #9

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-semaphore---bald-eagle Mon, 13 Mar 2023 02:28:22 GMT
"MUST BE SOME PROUD PARENTS OUT THERE" - Bald Eagle (Immature) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-must-be-some-proud-parents-out-there---bald-eagle-immature "MUST BE SOME PROUD PARENTS OUT THERE"

Bald Eagle (Immature) - 5 Photos

 

I had managed to make it to the shoreline, just in time to get some clear shots of this immature Bald Eagle as it flew across the river. 

 

From its appearance, definitely hatched last year and as we are now in March, it has almost made that magical milestone of one year. Hopefully, it will continue to mature over the next few years and develop into a fully mature eagle.

 

But currently adorned in its mottled brown feathers and brown beak, this young eagle is a stunner & a magnificent flyer. Only time will tell if its hunting skills can keep up with its growth.

 

 

PHOTO #1

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PHOTO #5

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-must-be-some-proud-parents-out-there---bald-eagle-immature Mon, 13 Mar 2023 02:23:15 GMT
"TROUBLE IN PARADISE" - Swans (Trumpeter) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-trouble-in-paradise---swans-trumpeter "TROUBLE IN PARADISE"

Trumpeter Swans (Adult) - 9 Photos

 

Swans appear to have this angelic or seraphic quality, maybe because of their pure white colour (in the adults) & their grace in flight (Photo #1). However, this gracefulness doesn't transpose when it comes to their movement on land, which brings us to the dialogue & photos below.

 

These two swans from their closeness & familiarity with each other were obviously a pair & being Trumpeter Swans, life mates. Having managed to climb onto an icy shoreline from the river, appeared quite content to groom & nap.

 

And then the largest of the two (the male) and the furthest from the water, decided it was time for a drink. Rather than try to navigate the icy platform by slipping & sliding its way round its mate, one of a swans' ungainly movements, the quickest way was to push "Mrs." out of the way.

 

Subtlety isn't perhaps a swan's strongest suit. Much better to bite its mate to facilitate a move (Photo #2 to Photo #7). And, of course, its mate relinquished and moved back into the water (Photo #8).

 

And then that allowed the male to partake of some cold river water (Photo #9).

 

Amusingly, for some time after, the two remained apart but eventually all appeared to be forgiven and they were back on the ice, side by side.

 

So it appears that bird pairings have their little spats too. The disagreements don't appear to last too long though.

 

PHOTO #1

PHOTO #2

PHOTO #3

PHOTO #4

PHOTO #5

PHOTO #6

PHOTO #7

PHOTO #8

PHOTO #9

 

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-trouble-in-paradise---swans-trumpeter Mon, 13 Mar 2023 01:55:21 GMT
"A MINK'S FAMILY TREE" - Mink (North American) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-a-minks-family-tree---mink-north-american "A MINK'S FAMILY TREE" - A Throwback Thursday Blog

Mink (North American) - 11 Photos

 

 

Having accumulated quite a number of photos of related minks over the past few years, I felt it time to put this family tree down, with a bit of their history.

 

My very first encounter with a mink was just over five years ago and eventually I came to know that this mink was a female (Photo #1 & Photo #2).  I repeatedly caught her fishing in a creek but it wasn't until I saw her with an enormous Prussian Carp (an invasive fish species) that I truly clued in to her gender (Photo #3). Having caught an amazing meal, she disappeared into a rock crevice & didn't materialize until 45 minutes later. (And yes, there I waited knowing, "one way in, one way out".) I expected to see only a mink exiting, having gorged itself on the fish but no, she slowly crept out, fish in mouth, and entered the creek. Then it dawned on me, the fish was for her entire family, her youngsters and herself.

 

A month or so later, I saw her entering & exiting her usual fishing spot & then close behind her, were two smaller minks (Photo #4 & Photo #5). From their size & appearance, I thought the larger one to be male (who I named Big Boy) and the smaller, a female (Little Girl or LG for short). Big Boy definitely had a much larger & flatter head. They followed their mother up a bank and to a much larger pond where I assumed they would be instructed in the art of fishing.

 

I never saw the young male again but on several occasions later in the month, I would see the mother first running along the creek, followed a minute or so later by the little female.

 

The following Spring, there was a "new" mink in town, a slightly smaller mink with a narrow face (Photo #6).  It was LG (Little Girl). As she had taken over her mother's fishing spots & wild mink live only 3 to 4 years,  I assumed that sadly her mother had passed and she had inherited her mother's territory. Again I would repeatedly see her fishing in the same fishing spots. Her approach & tactics were, however, completely different - another clue that this was not the same mink.

 

And again, that Spring whenever she caught a fish, it was back downstream with her catch, never pausing to take even a bite. Yep, a month or so later, I caught her running along the creek bed. Some fifteen minutes later, appeared not one, not two but three little minks in small, medium & larger sizes. And so they were named, Mini (for Mini Me because she looked like a smaller version of her mother), George & Sparky (Photo #7, Photo #8 & Photo #9). Sparky's name will become apparent. 

 

I went back to the same area the following day, hoping to spot at least one mink being that there were now four known minks in the area. After a period of waiting, the three youngsters appeared one at a time. The two smallest hit the rock pools looking for fish, the larger one went immediately to where his mother fished & not ten minutes later pulled out a whopper (Photo #10). Oh, Grandmother Mink would be so proud. So that's how Sparky got his name. He certainly "sparkled" when he appeared with that fish. (I wonder if he was allowed to keep it for himself or was forced to share when he got home?)

 

Last year, I scoured the same area for months & no minks. Being that Spring had come & gone, it didn't look good as this is when baby mink are born. And then on a hot day in very late July as I was having a quick snack by the creek, a mink suddenly appeared. My first thought was "that is one huge mink". It then proceeded to hunt in the grasses for rodents & fish in the creek. And shortly upon its arrival, up it popped with a sizeable fish. It could only be "Sparky", the oldest male (Photo #11).  

 

I had never encountered a full grown male mink before and I was amazed at its size & the "don't give a darn attitude". I saw Sparky a couple of times after that but I assume being a "fearless" male, his favourite fishing areas were the much larger ponds and of course the nearby river, particularly in the winter months.

 

I don't know what will happen this year. Hopefully, Sparky will meet up with a female & there will be more mink antics this Spring. One can only sit & wait! :)

 

PHOTO #1 - Grandmother Mink

Mink (North American)Mink (North American)"YO - DOWN HERE!"

PHOTO #2 - Grandmother Mink (grooming on a log)

PHOTO #3 - Grandmother Mink with her amazing catch

Mink (North American)Mink (North American)'ON OUR WAY OUT"

PHOTO #4 - Little Girl (or LG)

PHOTO #5 - Big Boy 

PHOTO #6 - LG (or Little Girl) now Mom,  the following year

Mink (North American)Mink (North American)"SLIDE OUT"
(Female - Adult) - LG or Little Girl (Mum)

PHOTO #7 - Mini Me (or Mini for short), the young female youngster

Mink (North American)Mink (North American)"PEEK A BOO"
(Female - Juvenile) - Minnie Me

PHOTO #8 - Curious George (the smaller male youngster)

PHOTO #9 - Sparky (the oldest male)

Mink (North American)Mink (North American)"A GIANT LEAP FOR MINK KIND"
(Male -Juvenile) - Sparky

PHOTO #10 - Sparky (his first year) with his catch

Mink (North American) - JuvenileMink (North American) - Juvenile"FLY"

PHOTO #11 - Sparky, the following year. (It's all in the genes.)

 

 

 

 

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(Ingham Nature Photography Inc.) https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-a-minks-family-tree---mink-north-american Thu, 09 Mar 2023 03:40:34 GMT
"OLD MAN COYOTE" - Coyote https://www.inaturephoto.com/blog/2023/3/-old-man-coyote---coyote "OLD MAN COYOTE"

Coyote - 4 Photos

 

In some legends of Indigenous peoples, "Old Man Coyote" created people, animals, plants and the earth.

 

Upon close examination of the photos below, you can see that this healthy coyote's teeth are yellowish & relatively well worn which leads me to believe that this is an older canid, probably male from its size. Hence, the name, in this instance, of "Old Man Coyote".

 

Spotted him, merrily making his way down a snowy path at that easy coyote trot , heading directly in my direction. I tried to remain out of sight but unfortunately, with that sharp coyote eyesight to no avail. It was a quick stage right, down a small bank then along a frozen pond, where ever so often a head and a partial body appeared above the top of the bank, as he loped along.

 

I caught sight of him as