Spring

Blackbird
Blackbird in the Rain: ISO 800, 210mm, f/9.0 1/320

Another photo from my hike in the rain along Airdrie's Nose Creek Park. A blackbird watching over the water during a light rain.

Duck and Heron
Nose Creek Great Blue Heron and Duck: ISO 800, 210mm, f/7.1, 1/250

It has been awhile since I posted anything to my photo blog. Spring has come early to Airdrie, Alberta. The vegetation is turning green early. We have been in need of rain and it has finally fallen this past weekend and today.

I had to take a walk today and thought I would do some exploring along the banks of the Nose Creek. The waterfowl are out as well as this Great Blue Heron.

Baby Mountain Sheep with Mom Tall Calgary Alberta
Mothers Day: ISO 200, 70mm, f/4.6, 1/800

Happy Mother’s Day Weekend! This image shows the special relationship between mother and child.

This is also proof that spring is finally here. A mother mountain sheep keeping her infant close by at the Calgary Zoo. The baby sheep is showing off her leaping abilities by leaping as high she can. If the baby sheep could talk she would probably being saying to her mom, “Watch This! Watch This!”

IMG_0046
Playful Waxwing: ISO 400, 140mm, f/8, 1/4000

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Air Brakes: ISO 400, 400mm, f/8, 1/1600

IMG_0193
Crows: ISO 400, 110mm, f/6.3, 1/500

I believe that spring might finally have arrived in Red Deer, Alberta! The snow is almost gone and the temperatures are finally starting to rise. It was a nice sunny day yesterday but there was still a nip of cold that you needed a jacket.

My camera has been collecting dust the last few months. I felt I needed to take it out for a walk and shake the cobwebs from the camera and the creative side of my brain.

I thought the best place for it was the Kerry Wood Nature Centre which is just a few paces from our backyard. I knew some of the migrating waterfowl should be there for a rest or, in the case of the grebes, their final destination.

As the afternoon went on, I started practicing my panning skills. Panning is trying to freeze a subject by following it with your camera. As I was using a long telephoto zoom this turned out to be quite difficult. If you zoomed in too close it was card to keep the fast moving birds in sight. Also a long zoom lens tends to be quite big and heavy. Yesterday afternoon turned out to be a workout both mentally and physically.

Red Deer Bunny copy
Red Deer Easter Bunny: ISO 200, 24mm, f/5.6 1/400

The weather in Red Deer is finally warming up and starting to feel like spring. I took a walk yesterday to enjoy the sunshine.

With Easter around the corner I decided to walk by the Red Deer Public Transit terminal to take a shot of the Brick Bunny. As you can see he is trying to warm up from the long, cold winter. The snow should melt off his body in the next few days which would be in time for him to hide the Easter Eggs.

Ant Peony Macro Ladybug nature
Ladybug and Ant: ISO 800, 35mm, f/7.1, 1/100

As promised another ladybug image to share.

This ladybug is sharing a peony bud with an ant. The ladybug was sitting perfectly still while the ant was probing this large creature with her antenna.

Ladybug Lupin Time Warp illusion backyard nature
Ladybug on Lupin (Bottoms Up): ISO 800, 35mm, f/5.0, 1/30

Angela pointed this opportunity out to me on on of her afternoon backyard garden walks.

Just like the previous image, I have used my Tokina 35mm 2.8 Macro lens to capture this close up of a Ladybug head first in a branch of Lupin leaves.

This year we seem to have an over abundance of ladybugs in our backyard. I will have more images to share.

Ladybug on Leaf macro ladybug Alberta Canada
Ladybug on Leaf: ISO 800, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/4000

I was enjoying the spring sunshine one afternoon last week and noticed this lone ladybug checking out the leafy foliage of some of our perennials.

I used my Tokina 35mm f/2.8 macro lens to capture this image.

Spring Shake Up House Sparrow fluffy bird
House Sparrow fluffing up his feathers: ISO 200, 320mm, f/5.6, 1/1500

Sitting on the Fence side profile house sparrow
Sitting on the Fence: ISO 200, 320mm, f/5.6, 1/1500

Spring feels like it is finally here. The birds are out playing and enjoying the new foliage.

The above shots are of the same male house sparrow. Enjoying the sun while sitting on our fence.


Tulips eaten by deer, Red Deer, Alberta, nature, nuisance
Half Eaten Tulips: ISO 200, 47mm, f/2.8, 1/500

This past winter the deers took a liking to our backyard. At first I thought this was pretty neat then I seen all the deer droppings.

I also noticed that the birds were no longer visiting our feeder. Even the magpies and crows were staying away.

I managed to get a shot of a deer at our bird feeder helping himself to the nice mixture of seeds and nuts early one morning. The quality is not the greatest. I was fresh out of bed and quickly set the camera settings to ISO 800 and shot with the lens wide open. I also had to shoot through our dirty back door window so that I would not startle the deer before he ran away.

This is why the birds have not been visiting. I will have to give the feeder a real good cleaning hoping to wash the deer smell off it!

As the snow started to melt and the spring flowers came up I noticed that they were also a tempting food source for our four legged friends as you can see by the picture above. I will not have many tulip pictures this spring as the deer have eaten most of them.

Deer at Feeder, nuisance, backyard, nature
Deer at Bird Feeder: ISO 800, 35mm, f/2.8, 1/13

Tip: When taking photos of wildlife I have learned that it is best to take your shots early and then move in a step and take another shot. Keep doing this in a slow steady action until the subject “flees”.

yellow warbler, Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Red Deer, Alberta
Yellow Warbler: ISO 200, 200mm, f/8.0, 1/750

Waiting for spring to arrive. This yellow warbler was captured last spring at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Red Deer, Alberta during one of my nature walks.

Tulip, Red Deer, Alberta, Macro, spring
Snake Charmer: ISO 125, 7mm, f/4, 1/100

The tulips have pretty much come and gone from our garden. Everything is a little late this year so most of our perennials are coming up at the same time. Can't keep up with the picture taking!

This was taken with a point and shoot camera. Looks like six "snakes" surrounding a single "charmer".

Poppy, yellow, backyard
Morning Poppies: ISO 100, 6.1mm, f/4, 1/40

Our poppies are starting to bloom.

As you can see by this image there are plenty of "heads" that will flower on this plant. The last couple of years the house sparrows have been eating them so there hasn't been as many flowers. This year should be different.

Common Loon, Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Red Deer, Alberta
Common Loon: ISO 200, 380mm, f/8, 1/800

I went for a short walk from the house on Friday morning to the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. It is nice in a way that I can walk 10 minutes east and hit downtown Red Deer and 10 minutes north I can hit a nature sanctuary and feel as though I have left the city.

I moved to Alberta more than 15 years ago from Ontario, Canada. I spent most of my teenage/early adult life in "Cottage Country" where the loon is a common sight. The call of the loon is eerie and at the same time comforting. I was happy to see four Common Loons playing and calling to each other during my walk on the shores of the Gaetz Lakes in the Nature Centre. It was like I had walked home!

I was lucky enough to capture this one showing off.


Spring Tulips Chris Bates Photography Alberta Canada
Spring Tulip: ISO 200, 90mm, f/5.6, 1/100

The weather is getting warmer now. The perennials are coming out of the ground.

Despite all the snow we have gotten this winter the ground is starting to get dry due to the lack of rain. I had just watered the beds this morning and taken this picture after the morning chore.

Spring Flowers Macro Red Deer Alberta Canada Chris Bates Photographer
White Spring Bouquet: ISO 200, 90mm, f/4, 1/3200

As mentioned yesterday we have a white version of the same flower posted previously. These white flowers with a blue strip are much more abundant in the flower bed under our crab apple tree.

This was shot using a dedicated Macro Lens.

Blue Flower Macro Spring Red Deer Alberta Canada
Sign of Spring: ISO 100, 90mm, f/2.8, 1/1000

Spring is finally here! These are the first of the flowers from our gardens to bloom from the long hard winter.

Not sure what these flowers are called. They are very tiny and come in blue or white. I took some pictures of the white flowers but since the last few images contained a lot of white snow thought I would stick to some colour!

The snow up until today had pretty much melted in our backyard. The tulips are starting to peak through the soil waiting to unleash their spring colours and this happens! Read More...

Melting Ice Garden Plant
Melting: ISO 200, 90mm, f/5.6, 1/200

Still lots of snow on the ground and on the roof of our house. The daylight sun is trying it's best to warm things up but it has a long way to go.

Click here to see the amount of snow we have at the end of March.

American Robin, Chris Bates Photography, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, nature, fall, spring
American Robin with Autumn Leaves: ISO 400, 270mm, f/6.7, 1/180


American Robin, Chris Bates Photography, Red Deer, Alberta, Canada, nature, fall, spring
American Robin: ISO 400, 270mm, f/6.7, 1/180

A sure sign of spring is when the Robins return to our yard.

Wait a minute, it's autumn!

We are still experiencing warm weather and it must be fooling the robins playing in our yard.

The parents may have returned with their spring babies to show them where they were born so that they will all return to us next spring.

Nothing Like Comfy Slippers


Lady Slippers: ISO 200, 35mm, f/5.6, 1/60

Just got back from a trip to Ontario, Canada visiting my parents. I was hoping while we were gone that I would not miss the annual Lady Slipper bloom under our front yard's cedar tree.

Every year we get more flowers. This year we have 7 flowers pop up. Last year we had 4.

Baby Jay


Baby Jay: ISO 400, 240mm, f/8, 1/1500



Proud Parent: ISO 400, 190mm, f/8, 1/500

I came home from work this evening and Angela told me we had company playing in our backyard.

We had from what we could see were three baby Blue Jays and the two proud parents. It seemed the babies were being taught to fly. The baby that was closest to the ground didn't seem to have the knack for flight yet. She needed some encouragement from her parents.

The bottom picture is of the protective parent keeping an eye on the situation from high above.

Reaching Out


Mother Nature's Hand: ISO 200, 90mm, f/10, 1/80

The rains have not let up for the last couple of days. I haven't taken my camera gear out as I do not have a rain jacket for them.

Here is a shot taken last week of a branch of our apple tree. It will have to do until the rains stop.

Centre of the Universe


Sun Shines Brightly: ISO 200, 90mm, f/6.3, 1/80

This is a macro shot of our crabapple tree blossoms.

The image reminds me of our brightly shinning sun with planets orbiting around it.

Apple Blossoms


Crabapple Bokeh: ISO 400, 270mm, f/8, 1/500

Skyward Apple Blossoms: ISO 100, 35mm, f/8, 1/400

Our two apple trees are blooming.

The crabapple has the nicest looking flowers of our two trees with the dark pink buds which open to reveal a light pink flower. The apple tree has the nicest tasting apples of the two. The buds from the apple tree are light pink which open up to a pure white bloom.

Gotcha!


Cedar Waxwing in Apple Tree: ISO 400, 380mm, f/8, 1/350



Waxwing Drinking: ISO 400, 380mm, f/8, 1/350

At long last I caught Cedar Waxwings in our yard!

It has been an unusually dry spring here. The bird bath has been a key attraction in our yard. The Cedar Waxwings have been in the Mountin Ash eating berries still on the tree from last year and then coming down for a drink.

I have spotted them the last few days but I was always in the house and when I go outside they flee. This morning I was working in the gardens and I guess they got used to me not being a threat and I was able to get some quick shots off.

Ta Da....It's Magic!


Plum Buds: ISO 200, 35mm, f/5.6, 1/250


Plum Flowers: ISO 400, 120mm, f/8, 1/90

A before and after picture to show the wonderful magic of spring! The same shrub shot 5 days apart.

What's for Supper?


Purple Finch: ISO 400, 400mm, f/8, 1/250


House Sparrow: ISO 400, 320mm, f/8, 1/180

The snow is gone from the yard. There is still some patches of snow in the region but the weather is finally warming again. The May Long Weekend is fast approaching and we should be able to say goodbye to winter for awhile.

The bird activity in the backyard is still pretty busy. Been watching the crows carry nest building materials to the neighbours pine tree. The sparrows and finches are busy feeding on whatever they can find.

Two nights ago I took the camera out to watch the House Sparrows forage for food on the ground. From the image above it looks like they are finding little bugs to eat. As the temperature at the time was in the mid teens the bugs were probably coming out of hiding to warm up.

As I was calling it a night I headed back to the house and spotted some Purple Finches high in the Mountain Ash tree feeding.

I wasn't sure the shots I took would turn out as I had the heavy zoom on and had to point it upwards through tree branches without a tripod. So I was fearful of blurry out of focus shots. I managed to get a few good images.

The top picture shows that the trees are finally starting to leaf. In a couple of weeks it will be nearly impossible to get this shot as I would have to shoot through leaves and branches.

May Blizzard


Sunbathing Tulips: ISO 200, 35mm, f/5.6, 1/500

The above photo was taken two evenings ago.


Snow Covered Tulips: ISO 200, 35mm, f/8, 1/100

The above photo was taken this evening.


Snow Garden: ISO 200, 35mm, f/8, 1/200

As you can see we got snow today. It never fails. At least this year the Ornamental Plum and Cherry Trees have not bloomed. We should still be able to enjoy them. Previous years they usually just started to bloom and the snow knocks off all the petals.

It's May!


Sapsucker: ISO 400, 160mm, f/8, 1/350


Chickadee: ISO 400, 80mm, f/8, 1/500



Chickadee: ISO 400, 190mm, f/8, 1/250


House Sparrow: ISO 200, 250mm, f/8, 1/500

As mentioned in my previous post the birds are in abundance right now. They love playing and singing in our backyard. The finches and sparrows appear to be eating the flower buds on our Ornamental Flowering Plum and Japanese Cherry (I believe this is what the two shrubs are).

The top image is a Sapsucker/Woodpecker. I have yet to determine if it is a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker or a Red Naped Sapsucker. My guess is the Yellow Bellied variety as it does not appear to have the big red patch at the back of his neck. Both varieties are known to dwell in our area. Angela and I believe this is the same guy who pounds on the electrical pole outside our bedroom window in the early morning.

When I was composing the shot of the Sapsucker the chickadee flew right in front of me as if to see what I was doing. Maybe he was jealous as I was not taking his photo like I was the previous evenings. He flew so close that he got his wish and he quickly became the object of my affection.

The last picture is a female house sparrow on our Japanese Cherry. These are the most abundant birds that live and play in the backyard. She came out while I was cooking supper on the barbeque.

All these shots were taken today.

Birds, Birds, Birds


Chickadee: ISO 400, 150mm, f/8, 1/180

The last few days our backyard has been like an international airport. Bird traffic has been heavy. Spring is here and the birds are busy with mating, nesting and training the young.

Monday night I was feeding our pet turtle and noticed through the window a flock of waxwings in our trees. I had been waiting all winter for the waxwings to feed on the berries of the mountain ash high above our crab apple tree. They never came. When I finished feeding the turtle I grabbed the cameras and went outside to watch the birds. It was a rewarding night.

The Robins were out. I didn't manage to get a picture because they hid high on the mountain ash waiting til I departed.

The above photo is of a baby chickadee. He did more hoping from branch to branch than actual flying. Just like the baby wren from last summer, the chickadee hid in the thick brush. It was hard to get a clear shot through the many branches even though I was able to get close.


House Finch: ISO 400, 400mm, f/8, 1/250

The above photo is a House Finch. The birds have been feasting on our blooming shrubs. We are worried that they will all be eaten before they bloom.


Cedar Waxing: ISO 400, 260mm, f/8, 1/500

This is the reason why I ventured out. These waxwings travel in flocks. They come and go real fast. This one is on the look out in the mountain ash. Shortly after this photo this bird flew off with the flock to feed and play elsewhere.

First Tulips


First Tulip: ISO 200, 35mm, f/3.2/1/1600


First Tulip Macro: ISO 200, 35mm, f/3.2, 1/3200


First Tulip Experiment: ISO 200, 35mm, f/8, 1/60

Our first bunch of Tulips bloomed!

We have been watering the gardens an abnormal amount this spring. The rains just aren't coming. The temperature has been warm and we have large bunches of tulips this year.

Should be a bumper crop of pictures!

Flight Path


Mallards in Flight: ISO 400, 290mm, f/11 1/500

I took a drive southeast of Red Deer last week scouting for photo opportunities. Currently migrating birds are visiting our area for a rest before they reach their final destinations to our north.

Ever since I moved to Alberta over 15 years ago I have always wanted to see Snow Geese. I thought this would be my lucky day as I seen a few white birds swimming in a small lake as I drove by. I quickly found a safe place to turn the car and headed back to where I spotted them.

As it turns out they were not Snow Geese. They were Tundra Swans. I had not seen a Tundra Swan before so all was not lost. The elusive Snow Goose still evades me. I wonder if they are related to the Abominable Snowman.


Tundra Swans: ISO 400, 400mm, f/11, 1/350

Messed Up


Poppy in Snow: ISO 200, 90mm, f/5, 1/250

I have been going through my photo library the last few days and have noticed some photos I have not shared. Well, okay there are a few thousand but only a few I deem worthy enough to share with you.

The weather here has been normal spring weather for Alberta, Canada. Warm weather one day and sub zero temperatures the next. However, we are currently experiencing a very dry spring. The local governments have declared drought in some regions.

The "Poppy in Snow" image was taken last May and cleary shows the spring weather we experience where I live.

Happy Easter


Good Friday Cross: ISO 200, 35mm, f/6.3 1/1250


Easter Sunday Cross: ISO 200, 35mm, f/6.3, 1/800

I drive past this Ukranian Catholic Church a few times a week. It is about 8 blocks from our home. I keep saying to myself that I must stop and take a picture of the roof line. The church has a wooden shake roof and I find the crosses on top of the steeples quite unique.

Tonight I finally put thought to action! I stopped tonight as the sun was setting and the subject of the cross is fitting for an Easter Weekend journal entry.

Both of these images are taken within minutes of each other. One was taken looking West into the sun (Good Friday Cross) and the other taken looking East (Easter Sunday Cross).

People believe cameras take pictures. I see the camera as capturing light. How the light falls on a subject can drastically change the mood of your subject.

Hope you have a Happy Easter!

You Know You are Canadian When...


Two Geese: ISO 200, 263mm, f/5.6, 1/750


Morning on the Ice Flow: ISO 200, 263mm, F/5.6, 1/250

This is the last of the shots from last weekend. These Canadian Geese are in the Red Deer River.

Not sure how they do it as there is no warm down on their feet. I know if you or I were to attempt this we would be in the hospital getting treated for hypothermia and frostbite. This is their safe haven from predators. If anyone would get to close they would just launch themselves into the river and wait it out. BBbbbrrrrr!

On my drive home from work this evening I noticed the ice is almost gone. There are sections where it still might be 10 feet out from the shore. But on the most part the ice only remains where the sun doesn't shine on the river banks. I also noticed that the number of geese have diminished. They must have continued their journey north.

Testing the Ice


Testing the Ice: ISO 400, 263mm, f/5.6, 1/1500

This is another series of photos from my photo walk at Bower Ponds in Red Deer on Saturday morning. This Park is just across the river from downtown Red Deer. It is part of the park system that goes along the river valley throughout the city.

We have deer running the neighbourhood streets where I live but I never can get the camera out quick enough to prove it!

I am assumming this set of deer is a mother and two of her babies from last year. The pictures show that one is much larger than the other two. They came out of the woods to see what was going on in the river. They are on ice in the second picture.



Testing the Ice II: ISO 400, 168mm, f/4.5, 1/2000

I was using my 70-300mm zoom lens without a tripod to get these shots. This lens does not have image stabilization. It was early morning with cloud cover so I had to use a large aperture to let as much light in as possible. If I were to come across this again I would be carrying my tripod or at the very least my monopod to allow me to use a smaller aperture and get a sharper image.



Close Encounter: ISO 400, 190mm, f/4.5 1/180

Mom, while on the river, heard this man walking on the trail. She is leading the other two who are not far behind across the trail into the much denser brush. I tried to follow them but they were much too fast or real good at playing hide and seek.

Returning Home


Flight: ISO 200, 81mm, f/4.5, 1/1000

The Canada Geese have returned to Canada from their vacation trip down to the USA. Like all Canadians, the geese like the warmer weather the USA has to offer in the winter.


The Chase: ISO 200, 149mm, f/4.5. 1/500

As my previous post has mentioned there still is ice on most of the ponds and lakes in the area I live. The Red Deer River is just starting to break up were the current is the strongest. During my early morning photo walk I found these geese waiting for the morning sun to warm them on the Bower Ponds' frozen surface. Canada Geese are monogomous. They don't like to share and the pair in this picture must not like the third wheel because whenever she became too close they would give chase.

Early Spring?


March 7 Tulips: ISO 200, 35mm, f/9, 1/25

March 7 Backyard: ISO 200, 35mm, f/8, 1/640

As promised I bring you our tulips breaking earth during an Alberta, Canada winter. These photos were taken this morning with a temperature of minus 7 degrees Celcius. That’s right it was well below freezing. Not a chance of Frost; a 100% guarantee of frost!

As you can see by the backyard picture there is still snow on 90% of our yard. In places it is over 6 inches deep! Mid day temperatures have been reaching the plus 5 to 9 range.

The tulips are in a garden along the back wall of our house. The back of the house faces south and catches the sun all afternoon. So the tulip bulbs are feeling the warmth and thinking it is time to come out and show their colours!

PS: They are calling for more snow early this week!

Winter Blahs


Pink Tulip and Columbine: 90mm, F5, 1/500

Well, it is Groundhog Day today. This is North America’s tradition to see how much longer winter will last. It is not very scientific. If the groundhog sees his shadow we have six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t, winter will end soon.

The Albertan Groundhog, Balzac Billy, didn’t see his shadow. http://bit.ly/aAb48b Could Alberta be so lucky? An early end to winter.... Stay tuned.

Playing in the Water


Okay, now I am worried Mother Nature is teasing us with warm weather making us think winter is over and spring is finally here. She is such the cruel jokester!

I wanted to play with water today. I heard the birds all around but they were high in the trees enjoying the warm sun where my zoom couldn’t reach them. So, I thought I would try water droplet shots and long smooth flowing water shots. I actually moved out of Av mode and into Tv mode. Talk about getting out of my comfort zone. I still think I need more practice and next time use my tripod.

Slowly but Surely


The melting continues. The last couple of days the temperature is staying above freezing throughout the night.

Is it Spring Yet?


I finished putting away the lawn furniture. Next chore is putting up the Christmas lights. The good thing about the lights is that it will bring back colour to the yard.

I posted this spring picture of the ornamental plum bloom to remind me that fall has to come in order to get back to spring.

Wet Slipper

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Lady Slippers

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Nothing Says Spring Like Apple Blossoms

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Better Late than Never

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Is Spring Finally Here?

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A Typical May Long Weekend in Alberta

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Tulips in Bloom

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May the Fourth be with You

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Isn't April Known for Showers?

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