We are very fortunate here in the foothills of the Alberta Rocky Mountains. Wildlife abound in the forest that surrounds us. You can visit our wild animal photo page to see the diversity of the animals that live here. But the most impressive animals of all are the big hoofed creatures (ungulates), the bears and cougars. The latter are very reclusive and I haven’t been able to capture them on video, but I have had more luck with moose and deer. I’ve also captured several birds, notably a barred and great grey owl. They are pretty reclusive as well, but when they’re hunting food they don’t let a little thing like a man with a camera get in their way.
Moose on the Deck
It’s late October. Most of the leaves have fallen and it’s slim pickings for the moose and deer. I noticed some movement through the patio door and the dog started barking frantically. There, a few feet from my window was a moose – on my deck – happily munching on the leaves of the mountain ash tree that grows through the deck.
Another moose – early winter
Here in the foothills of the Rockies on the border with Kananaskis, we see a fair amount of wildlife. Deer cougars, bear and moose live in or pass through the area. The moose in this video lives in a several kilometre square area in West Bragg Creek. They visit our house several times a year as they browse for food. They often arrive in late fall to trim my bushes. Here a mother and yearling calf pay a mid-winter visit.
Deer in winter
Although deer visit the yard daily, they can be difficult to capture on video as they are often more active at dusk. That said, I have been able to get some fairly good video as they are here frequently. Our enclave of several houses on 5-acre properties provide a protective zone where only our dogs trouble them and they have learned to deal with them. They often appear after the dogs have done their business. They run so fast the dogs never get close and they often remain motionless and go undetected by dogs. Cougars are another thing. They take a lot of deer, maybe not as many as cars, but they are awesome hunters. I awoke one morning to a white blanket of snow covered in brilliant scarlet blood, a few tufts of fur, entrails and not much else. I assume the carcas was hauled off into the forest where it could be consumed at leisure.
Boys will be Boys
Two male whitetail deer spar for dominance during the rut.- November 2009. The scrap didn’t last very long and I couldn’t tell who won, but they settled the score and went on about their business.
I caught this owl in full daylight. Usually they are heard at night calling out their familliar refrain that sounds like “Who, who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” This one was so intent on hunting he paid only cursory attention to me, providing an opportunity to approach quite close as it dropped to the ground to capture the mouse moving under the snow. He returned to the tree to slurp down the mouse, much like we slup down oysters. He later did the same with a squirrel. This video also shows a great grey owl hunting in summer. These are impressive raptors.
I found an extraordinary collection of owl photos on photographer Christopher Martin’s web site here:
Flicker in the fireplace
I heard some some thumping and bumping coming from my chimney. When I opened the flue a rather large (30 – 35 cm) bird dropped down into the fireplace. It was gorgeous – brilliant red/orange feathers and a dramatic red handlebar moustache spiralling out from its beak. I managed to get it into a garbage bin and outdoors where it flew away. Note: the bird sustained a slight injury during the rescue.
Ruffed grouse and a Northern Saw Whet Owl
The grouse is named for the collar of black feathers that stand up around the males’ neck during courtship. They are often heard if not seen when the male beats his wings, slowly at first then faster and faster, finally fading away. This video shows a female grouse strutting through the yard and another male mounted above the fireplace with wings outstreched. Beside him is a Saw Whet owl mounted on a weathered branch.