Friday, May 09, 2008

In The Zone

Did you ever stop what you were doing and thank your lucky stars for the wonder that surrounds you? I had pulled over to shoot this scene and after shutting my truck off, I got out and gave thanks for living in southern Alberta on a morning like this one as the light applied earthy pastel hues to this misty scene accompanied by the soft sounds of a new day.

A female meadowlark on a fencepost nearby raised her voice like a symphony of flutes in hopes of attracting a mate. It seemed to be working for as she played her symphony over and over, a meadowlark off in the distance began playing his song in return. I don't suppose that I've mentioned that I love the song of the meadowlark.

I found myself northeast of Strathmore on this beautiful morning in hopes of getting captures of badgers that had been observed several days ago. I had received the directions through a email and decided to scout the area in hopes of finding a badger and possibly capturing photos as he dug out gophers. I would bet that the ranchers are not necessarily pleased when a badger moves in to a pasture. The landscape looks like its been hit by landmines as they go about digging out gophers for lunch. I met my new friend Jim Bray for the first time as he rode by on his horse and stopped to say hello.
Nearby a male Swainson Hawk voiced his displeasure with us as his mate was on her nest a ways down the road from where I was pulled over. I lost count of the number of hawks nests I'd seen as I drove the various range and township roads looking for badgers. In Southern Saskatchewan where I spent my youth I was very familiar with badgers and their habits. They are amazing to watch as they dig down a gophers burrow. The claws on their feet are lethal and to see them in action as they dig is awesome. I had a friend who raised a badger and kept it as a pet after finding a badgers den. They lived on the edge of the small town I lived in at the time and the badger was free to roam and would come when you called him. He was somewhat un-popular at times with the lady of the house as he would dig holes all over her garden in his quest for gophers.
I finally gave up on finding a badger on this morning but I will be back as signs of them were everywhere. Being nocturnal they would have turned in for the day by now. Having said that I recall that if the day is on the warm side with overcast conditions, they are active in their continuous pursuit of gophers. From here I drove down to Strathmore where I stopped for lunch. After lunch I headed south towards Carsland with every slough that I saw teeming with ducks, geese and swans. I stopped near a slough with several trees nearby and one held a Great Horned Owl's nest with the female on the nest. After a couple of captures I turned my attention to a muskrat who swam to and fro from his burrow near the far end of the slough. I assembled my lens and camera on my ground-pod and after approaching as near as I dare on foot, I crawled the last 20 meters while pushing my camera along in front of me. I managed to get near enough to shoot the muskrats photo as he snoozed in front of his burrow. I pulled myself to my feet and a very startled muskrat disappeared under the water. I am enjoying the new perspective that the ground-pod is giving to my photos when the opportunity to use it arises. I have used it a number of times and you may have noticed the photos in some of my posts lately where I have used the ground-pod for the capture. Not only are you eye level with your quarry but it gives a nice blur to both the foreground and the background when shot with a wide open aperture and the subject being held nicely in focus.

Once more underway and having made the turn west after crossing the Bow south of Carsland, I once more was keeping my eye out for interesting photos when I almost ran over a ringneck pheasant that seemed to have a death wish. Looking in my rear view mirror I could still see him standing on the edge of the roadway and decided to stop and see if he would allow me to shoot his photo. I backed down the road a ways and found him in the ditch where he went about pecking at seeds and what not. I was surprised that he was not concerned as I fired off captures. Normally when you stop, they are running as fast as they can for cover, Go figure. On the road once more I had a photo in mind and I believed I would succeed in capturing it as spring seeding is well under way in Southern Alberta. I wanted a capture of a tractor pulling a air-seeder and had observed several fields being seeded. However none of the farms that I saw had the final ingredient that I wanted in my photo. I was beginning to think I would have to settle for second best when I lucked out with a field being seeded that had all the parts to the puzzle. You ask what that missing link was that I wished for? My photo tells all as I wanted this gallery of sea gull's following along eating worms and other tasty morsels turned over by the air seeder. It is amazing to witness these hundreds of gull's that at times almost made the air seeder disappear in a cloud of seagulls. With my fill of gulls and feeling pleased I called it a day and headed for the barn.
Spring Seeding

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