Saturday, February 16, 2008

Wild Turkey Country

Wilson Coulee Rd. -looking at the- Front Range Of The Rockies

I couldn't believe my ears as I set up my camera to shoot a photo of Willow Creek near Chain Lakes in the Porcupine Hills of southern Alberta. I almost dropped my camera as the gobble of a wild turkey reverberated through the trees along the creek and from the sounds of it, very near to my location. I'm getting ahead of myself as I had left Calgary before dawn so that I would be in the Porcupine Hills west of Nanton in time to see the sun rise over the eastern horizon and perform its magic as it painted the front range of the Rockies with colors that only can be created at sunrise. The five to ten minutes at sunrise are magic.

West of Nanton I made my first good decision when I decided to veer off of the 533 and take Williams Coulee Rd. west to Chain Lakes. I pulled over and mounted lens on my two DSLR's in order to be prepared for any photo-ops that I came upon. I had only gone a couple of kilometers when I came up on a herd of Elk grazing just off of the road. They were somewhat skitish as I pulled my truck to a stop and they moved off into the breaks along the coulee. I enjoy seeing Elk in the wild as they are a very majestic animal that I never tire of observing. Check out the elk in the center with only the right side of his rack remaining.

Nearby found a coyote watching these elk with thoughts of breakfast running through his mind I suspect, although he was going to need help if he thought he could take down a elk by himself.
Not much further I spotted this nice Mule Deer pair grazing near the top of the coulee where they had a commanding view of the area.

I was close to exiting the Williams Coulee Rd. when I spotted this delapitated building that I realized was a old schoolhouse. I found a dilapidated sign on a fence nearby that told the story. This had been the Muirhead School in School District #2032 and had been in use from 1910 through to 1948. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to attend this school in this isolated part of Alberta at that time. I love old buildings and enjoyed exploring this old school with my camera.

The ridges throughout the Porcupine Hills are lovely with many of them home to Limber Pines such as this one that I stopped to photograph along Chimney Rock Rd., south of Chain Lakes where I had been checking out the area in hope of spotting Wild Turkeys. I have been in this area of the Porcupine Hills a number of times over the years looking for wild turkeys with limited sucess. Today would prove to be my day.

So going back to my opening paragraph where I determined that the turkey I had heard appeared to be located somewhat near to me and upstream a ways, I decided to make my way in that direction and see if I could get a fix on the turkey I had heard gobble. I had covered aproximately a hundred meters when the turkey gobbled again and I almost fell in the creek it sounded so close to my location. With much caution and my camera in ready I topped a small rise and found myself looking at this turkey picking gravel near the creek. I managed to get a number of captures for insurance and decided to flush the turkey in hopes of getting a flight photo. Well wouldn't you know it, the turkey took one look at me and proceeded to run into the underbrush near the creek. Shortly after I heard it gobble as it took to the sky out of sight from me. Still - I was happy to have photographed a Wild Turkey in the Porcupine Hills on this day.
All photos expand and a Hi-Res photo is available at;

Willow Creek - Porcupine Hills

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