As you recall we took a birding trip to Alberta, Canada recently with the Field Guides tour company. We started in Edmonton and made our way through several national parks before ending up in Calgary 9 days later.
It may be hard to believe but I do take pictures of animals other than birds and Canada was a great place to see a variety of mammals not seen in Chicagoland. For a change of pace I thought I would share some non-bird pics today (PS. The images are non-clickable as they do not reside in our bird photograph database).
The first picture of a female Elk has a story behind it. We arrived at an overlook parking lot about 7 PM in search of rare Black Swifts (found them). When we disembarked from our vehicle a crowd of about 15 people were spread out around the parking lot looking at this female Elk. She didn’t seem overly annoyed and most people kept a respectable distance away from her. Eventually all of the people in the parking lot drove off, leaving the Elk standing on the edge of the lot. Karen said it had a pretty coat and that I should get a picture of it. I wanted a side-view of the Elk so I made my way to the opposite side of the parking lot, about 30 yards away, and started moving laterally. She kept her eye on me but I wasn’t getting closer and I was farther from her than most of the people were when we arrived. Suddenly she went into a trot right at me! The rest of our group was watching this from farther back on the overlook and all I heard was “Mike! Mike! Mike! Mike!” as she rapidly approached me (notice not one suggestion came from the group as to what to do). What I did do was to step behind the largest tree trunk I could find and as the 700 pound Elk approached me I moved around the trunk to keep it between her and me! She passed me within 5 feet and came to a halt about ten yards past. By keeping the tree between us I had rotated around it 180º from my initial position. Finally she dashed off to the side and out of sight. The only person more relieve than I was was our tour guide Jay, who would have had a lot a paperwork to do if the Elk had decided to actually attack me. Moral of the story: they’re called wild animals for a good reason. Keep your distance from them!
On the opposite end of the size spectrum was the cute little Pika. Typically I don’t like rodents but the Pika is a member of the rabbit family. I couldn’t believe just how cute they are!
Although much of our trip was in the Canadian Rockies as we travelled toward Calgary we left the mountains behind and entered wide open plains. There we saw majestic Pronghorns out in the fields. Almost all of the meadows we traveled through were surrounded by miles and miles of barbed wire. Our guide Jay said that Pronghorns crawl under the barbed wire rather than jumping over them (which they could easily do) and that there is a movement to replace the bottom string of barbed wire with plain wire so the pronghorns don’t scratch their backs as they crawl under, perhaps developing an infection from a barbed-wire scratch.
We observed Long-horned sheep several times during our trip in the mountains. This shot was taken on a road that had just opened up for traffic in mid-June after the last of the snow had melted. The Long-horns gather on and beside the roadway to lick the salt which was dropped there in an attempt to de-ice the road earlier.
That’s it for now but I do have some Grizzly and Brown Bear pics I’ll share later.
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