Colin Dalton: Blog en-us (C) Colin Dalton (Colin Dalton) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:44:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 06:44:00 GMT Colin Dalton: Blog 120 91 Year End Owl The last day of the year in Alberta was sunny and (relatively) warm, so I went out for a last Snowy Owl drive and was rewarded with this shot of a female snowy owl hunting! I'll post some more pics of the days trip later,as I had some other great encounters, but this was the highlight. A stunning end to the year, and a Happy New Year to all. Flight FantasticFlight FantasticA Snowy Owl hunting near Delacour, Alberta.

]]> (Colin Dalton) owl snowy snowy owl', flying, hunting, white, owl, feathers, wings, beak, eyes, claws Thu, 01 Jan 2015 20:09:21 GMT
Snowy Owls are back in Alberta The magnificent Snowy Owls are back in Alberta! Actually, they’ve been back for several weeks, but I try to let them get settled and get their strength back after their migration down from the high arctic. It also lets them get used to cars passing by their perches on telegraph posts. As ever, I consulted the excellent e-bird website and used the BirdsEye app to see where the most recent sightings had been. Once again, it looks like the owls have had a great breeding season, and there are many to the east of Calgary. I travelled around Nightingale and Irricana on various back roads and found lots of owls, as you can see below:

A Perfect PerchA Perfect PerchA Snowy Owl finds the prefect perch by some woods near Nightingale, Alberta.

Nature recyclesNature recyclesA Snowy Owl recycles old farm equipment to good use near Irricana, Alberta

ObservantObservantA snowy owl knows all that happens around her near Irricana, Alberta.


FocusFocusA Snowy Owl keeps a beady eye on the neighbourhood near Irricana, Alberta.


One youngster was beautifully perched high up in a tree, with a commanding view all around the prairie. As I watched her for a while I realized she was leaving her perch and grabbing tufts of grass in her claws and then flying back to her perch, on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes she would land on the ground too. At first I thought she was hunting, but in the few hours I observed her, she never caught anything. She was either practicing, or not a very good hunter! Towards dusk she did miss landing on her perch and had to fly around again. Given she only had a few black marks on her feathers, she was very young and maybe inexperienced. Hopefully she’ll get the hang of it and have a long and fruitful life, coming back to Alberta for many years to come. For me, it was pretty special, as normally the owls are on telegraph poles and if you get too close they naturally fly away. If that happens, I leave them be, but I have seen others chase them from pole to pole, trying to get that perfect shot, which must be tiring for the birds and is interfering with their hunting. That’s what made today’s encounter so special, I could spend a lot of time with the owl, knowing I wasn’t interfering with her behavior. Magical.

SentinelSentinelA Snowy owl up high overlooking the prairie near Nightingale, Alberta.

Claws!Claws!A Snowy owl gets ready to grab her perch near Nightingale, Alberta.

LandingLandingA snowy owl prepares for touchdown on the prairie near Nightingale, Alberta.


Take OffTake OffA snowy owl takes off from the prairie, near Nightingale, Alberta.

On the drive back I had a surprise on the side of the road. A prairie falcon with a kill! I managed to get a quick, high ISO shot as it was dusk, but that was an added bonus to the day, as was the sunset.

]]> (Colin Dalton) flying owl perch prairie snowy owl Wed, 24 Dec 2014 06:16:32 GMT
Loon Dance While canoeing on Lake Maligne, near Jasper in the Canadian Rocky Mountains in August, I had a rather amazing experience. My friend and I were drifting in the canoe, taking in the magnificent scenery, when two loons popped up in the water next to us. Getting close to a loon is always magical, but then one of them started to stand up and run about on the lake, but without using it's wings. The loon ran around on the surface, splashing and calling out. I’m not sure what it was doing, it seemed the wrong time of year for a courtship or mating ritual, and we were not near the shore or any young (that we could see), so I don’t think it was a display to attract our attention away from any young or a nest. Whatever it was, it was spectacular, and went on for some time, even as we drifted away.  On the trip we also saw Ospreys and Bald Eagles, rather a fantastic place to visit if you ever get the chance.

Space to danceSpace to danceA loon dances on mist shrouded Lake Maligne, Alberta. Shake and FlapShake and FlapA loon gives a shake on lake Maligne, Alberta. FocussedFocussedA Bald Eagle intently watches the comings and going on Lake Maligne, Alberta.

]]> (Colin Dalton) bald bald eagle', osprey, mountains eagle jasper lake loon maligne Sat, 04 Oct 2014 04:29:02 GMT
Not owls, but... On my last trip out to find Snowy Owls, I didn’t see any, despite the rather excellent e-bird website showing some had been seen the day before. Still, I saw a different large flying predator – Bald Eagles!

Unlike the Snowy Owls, the Bald Eagles don’t conveniently perch on road side poles, so I ahd to do some careful walking to get close enough to get some shots. Still, there were quite a few out, and as you can see, I got behind one in a tree and managed to get a decent shot. Shortly after I left to go back to my car, the eagle was mobbed by crows and flew off. Hopefully, with the warm/cold snowy weather cycles we’ve been having this March that the Bald Eagles are finding enough to eat, as they are magnificent.

Three's a crowdThree's a crowdThree Bald Eagles watch the world go by I see youI see youA Bald Eagle tries to hide in the leafless branches of a tree.

]]> (Colin Dalton) Bald Eagles close-up perched trees Wed, 09 Apr 2014 20:19:46 GMT
Time passes Wow, I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted. The weather here in Alberta has been pretty awful and work has been busy, so I’ve not been out taking pictures. As the weather has got a lot nicer, hopefully that will change!

I also saw the winning entries for the Canadian Geographic photo competition titled Authentic Alberta, very nice pics from the thousands of entries. Sadly (for me) non of mine were winners, but congratulations to the winners and it was good to take part and see the likes and comments on my images.

In the meantime, I joined 500px and have some of my images there. I’ll slowly upload more as time passes, but the few images I have there already have been favorably received, which is always nice! So far the most popular one is this one:

CalmCalmThe last rays of sunlight capture the top of Vimy Peak in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.

]]> (Colin Dalton) Wed, 12 Mar 2014 22:43:35 GMT
Authentic Alberta I mentioned a while back about the Canadian Geographic Authentic Alberta competition, which closes later this week. I have entered quite a few images from my website in the Wildlife in Alberta section, naturally, and a few in the Breathtaking Scenery section too. Check out the amazing pictures submitted so far under the other categories of Authentic Experiences and Travel Portraits here, well worth a look!

CoyoteCoyoteA Coyote watches from the trees near Powderface Trail, Alberta.

]]> (Colin Dalton) Tue, 21 Jan 2014 04:40:49 GMT
Finally, Snowy Owls I like birds of prey, and of them, I really like owls. And of all the owls I have seen so far, snowy owls are a particular delight. In Alberta, many snowy owls come and visit over the winter, and obligingly sit on telegraph poles next to the numerous range roads that crisscross the prairies. The weather of late has been very cold (-20C with wind chill, and worse!) and lots and lots of snow, making driving an interesting endeavor. But today the weather was sitting in the balmy 0-4C range, there was not much wind, and the sun was shining, so off I went, to see if I could find my first snowy owls of Winter 2013.

I drove around the Irricana/Beiseker area, and saw quite a few, but they were far off, so I continued driving around until I spotted one on a mound overlooking the fields. A nice new pose I thought, but the sun was in the wrong place (well, I was in the wrong place really). So I took a long, circular wander through knee high snow to come round to a better position and slowly approached the stationary owl. As I don’t like to disturb the owls when I take pictures, I got as close as I dared and got some nice images, some shown below. Then I went back to the road and my car via the snowy terrain. As I sat in the car to examine my pictures, I caught a glimpse of movement and turned to see the very same owl I’d not wanted to disturb fly right past the front of my car at head height!  It would have been a wonderful shot, but I had no time to get the camera out, so I just watched it fly majestically past. Awesome.

Thinking I’d not see anymore owls (it was getting late), I started back and lo, came across a further three owls on poles that had been vacant on the earlier drive by. As the sun had again moved itself to the wrong place in the sky, I slowly crept up to one owl in my car, and stopped just past it and took some pictures from my window, as you can see from the picture below. Lovely ending to a top day.


WatchfulWatchfulA snowy owl watches for prey in the evening light on a hillock near Irricana, Alberta. Startled OwlStartled OwlA snowy owl is startled on a telegraph pole near Irricana, Alberta.

]]> (Colin Dalton) owl snowy Tue, 24 Dec 2013 05:47:51 GMT
A Rabbits tale During some recent heavy snow in Calgary, I noticed a rabbit had dug itself a little sheltered spot and was waiting out the storm just outside my front door!

It was too good an opportunity to miss, so I got my gear out, did some practice shots through the glass to get set up, and ever so slowly and quietly open the door, just enough to poke the end of my lens out, as it was rather chilly!

Luckily the rabbit had no intention of moving and I got this rather nice shot, showing the snowflakes on his eyelashes and whiskers! Sitting out the snowfallSitting out the snowfallA rabbit sits in a hole in the snow, waiting for the most recent snowfall to pass, Calgary, Alberta.


]]> (Colin Dalton) cold ears eye eyelash hare rabbit snow whisker Tue, 03 Dec 2013 21:44:54 GMT
A Banff Weekend On a recent trip to Banff for work I managed to get the sunset over Mount Rundle and early the next day, the sunrise too. I also had a very cool encounter with a coyote and a herd of Elk, just before all the snow arrived.

Still watersStill watersMount Rundle reflected in the still waters of Vermillion Lakes, Banff, Alberta. Morning CalmMorning CalmMount Rundle in silhouette from the morning sun, reflected in the calm waters of Vermillion Lakes, Alberta. Alert CoyoteAlert CoyoteA coyote shows off her natural camouflage near Banff, Alberta Don't mind meDon't mind meA coyote skulks past some Elk near Banff, Alberta.

]]> (Colin Dalton) Banff antlers coyote elk lake mount mountain refelection rundle sunrise sunset vermillion water Wed, 30 Oct 2013 04:54:55 GMT
Canadian Geographic Shortlist As I mentioned in my blog on 30th June, I entered some images into the Canadian Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the year competition. They have just announced the winners here.

Although I wasn’t successful, Canadian Geographic has contacted me and let me know that three of my images have been shortlisted for a special upcoming magazine! Rather unexpected but amazing news. I have sent off the high resolution images for consideratin, fingers crossed I’ll see them in print soon!

Canadian Geographic also does featured competition as well, currently there is the Authentic Alberta competition. Check out the amazing pictures already submitted here.

The images that were shortlisted were:

Itchy bellyItchy bellyAn American red squirrel scratching his belly near Forget-me-not-Pond, Alberta. View from Mount CarthewView from Mount CarthewLooking down over the Carthew-Alderson Hike path towards Waterton, Alberta. CalmCalmThe last rays of sunlight capture the top of Vimy Peak in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.

]]> (Colin Dalton) Fri, 11 Oct 2013 15:02:37 GMT
Inclement Weather Recently I drove up the Bow Valley Parkway between Banff and Lake Louise. It wasn’t the best of days, overcast and with the occasional rain shower. The sun would sometimes burst through for a few seconds, making the light very variable to say the least. However, I have found that days like these can have wonderful surprises in store, as everyone else has stayed home.

This day was no exception, although after quite a few hours of seeing nothing, not even a deer, I was beginning to doubt my wisdom in being there. As it was, I got to see a beautiful red fox, an animal I have never before seen here. The fox didn’t hang around and I only got two decent shots in focus from my idling and badly positioned car before another car scared the fox away, never to return. Still, to me a magical encounter, however brief.


I see youI see youA very aware fox prepares to move away, Bow Valley Parkway, Alberta.

]]> (Colin Dalton) Banff Bow Valley Parkway fox red Tue, 08 Oct 2013 03:48:43 GMT
Our Feathered Friends As many of you have probably noticed, I like bird photography, so when chasing the light announced a new competition called ‘Our Feathered Friends’, I figured I just had to enter!

I managed, with the help of my very patient family, to select ‘only’ 8 images to submit, which are:

Here's looking at you Young Osprey Osprey close up Whoosh Great Blue Heron Serenity Places to go Homebuilder

]]> (Colin Dalton) Tue, 10 Sep 2013 04:40:44 GMT
Flood Damage I recently went to Kananaskis country to hike Moose Mountain, a great hike to the highest fire lookout in Alberta (a view from the top is below). On the way I saw first hand the devastation the June floods had made. The other images below are what remains of the southern end of the bridge near Allen Bill Pond, or what is left of what used to be called Allen Bill pond!

I was also in Banff this weekend and saw the flood damage there, at Cascade ponds, along the Bow Valley Parkway, around Canmore and Exshaw and the road in between Canmore and Banff.  An amazing amount of repair work has already been done, but 3 months after the floods, the scale of damage across the whole of Southern Alberta is still huge, and the demonstration of the power of nature is awe-inspiring and a little humbling.


Bench with a view

]]> (Colin Dalton) Kananaskis damage flood moose mountain Tue, 03 Sep 2013 05:02:29 GMT
More location Wherever you live, there is always something to new discover. I want to mention that Calgary is great place for a wildlife photographer, and you certainly don’t need to go into the Rockies everyday to see a lot of wonderful wildlife.  There are many parks, both in the city and close by, that have owls, ospreys, bald eagles, waterfowl, woodpeckers, song birds etc. Parks like Carburn, Baker, Bowness, Big Hill Springs, GlenBow Ranch, Nose Hill, Fish Creek, Weaselhead and the hidden jewel in the crown, Inglewood bird sanctuary. Inglewood is a popular stop over for migrating birds, and has kingfishers, herons, beavers and lots of waterfowl, all surrounded by an industrial park, a golf course and one of the busiest roads in Calgary! Unfortunately Inglewood, and many other city parks, got pretty badly hit during the June floods (map here) here’s hoping they recover.

]]> (Colin Dalton) Baker Big Hill Springs Bowness Carburn Fish Creek GlenBow Ranch Inglewood Nose Hill Weaselhead calgary parks Mon, 19 Aug 2013 20:26:07 GMT
Location As you may have gathered from previous blogs, I am very fortunate to live in the Calgary area, close to the Canadian Rockies. I have had the good fortune to have met, and taken some inspirational courses by John E Marriot (link) and others. A few weeks ago (before all the floods in Southern Alberta), I went out into the Rockies and saw 5 black bears (one of which was in it’s brown phase), numerous mule and white-tailed deer, mountain sheep, ospreys, bald eagles and of course, fantastic scenery. Some of those images are now on the site.

So I am very grateful for where I live, and I hope that I can share some of that good fortune with you, by showcasing my images. For starters, here are pictures of the  the Brown Black bear I mentioned, by the side of the road, enjoying all the dandelions, another black bear, also eating a dandelion and some mountain sheep by the road, not eating dandelions.

Hello Tranquil Butting heads

]]> (Colin Dalton) bear bighorn black brown sheep Tue, 06 Aug 2013 02:48:18 GMT
Waterton Last weekend I went to Waterton, in the Southern part of Alberta, on the border with Montana. In fact, you can take a trip in the historic M.V. International and cruise along the shoreline of beautiful Upper Waterton Lake and cross the International border to Goat Haunt, Montana. Whenever I have been to Waterton, I have always found amazing scenery and also abundant wildlife, from bears, to moose to deer and bighorn sheep, whatever the season of the year I visit. This time was no exception, but I almost got too close to one young black bear, who walked straight out of the roadside grass in front of my vehicle on the Red Rock parkway!

Both the bear and I looked at each other in surprise for a few seconds, before the bear, sensibly,  went off into the tall grass on the other side of the road. A few days later I was on the same stretch of road, and got some pictures of another young black bear walking along, taking time to eat the roadside flowers and totally unaware of the all the cars on the road, waiting to get by, or close to take a picture!


Another favorite drive of mine in Waterton, the Akamina Parkway to Cameron Lake, was very badly damaged in the extreme weather that caused the floods in Southern Alberta last June. If you check out this link you can see that the road was completely washed away in some places - that was some rain!

I’ll be heading back to Waterton in the Fall, but for now, here are some images from the trip.

A beautiful mountain bluebird Itchy Bison Dozing Bull Bison Moose in Silhouette The historic M.V. International

]]> (Colin Dalton) Waterton bear bir bluebird moose scenic wildlife Thu, 25 Jul 2013 04:33:09 GMT
Airshow Yesterday I went to the Airdrie Regional Airshow to take flying pictures of a different kind, and also to have a lot of fun! Hats off to the organizers and fantastic pilots for a great day out.

]]> (Colin Dalton) Mon, 15 Jul 2013 22:32:21 GMT
Runner up! My photo, Little Baa, was one of the 20 runners up in the Chasing the Light Juried photo competition, Wildlife Babies and young!

I am rather humbled, as there were hundreds of entries, from all over the world. The top 25 images featured photographers from the UK, USA, Canada, South Africa and India alone.

Check out the winning, honorable mention and other runners up images here

And here is Little Baa once again


Little Baa

]]> (Colin Dalton) Chasing the Light Two Jack Lake Wildlife babies and Young baby bighorn bighorn sheep lake lamb runnrer-up sheep young Thu, 04 Jul 2013 20:09:19 GMT
A great Canadian photo competition After entering the chasing the light photo competition, I decided to look on the web and see if there were any other competitions I could enter, and I found the Canadian Geographic Wildlife Photographer of the year.

So I entered some of my pictures into the ‘In flight’ category.

There are some amazing pictures in all the categories and I would recommend checking it out, just to see what great wildlife there is around Canada and how many passionate people there are out there taking awesome pictures.

The pictureDinner time! Great Grey Owl Bringing home dinner Flying high Touchdown Coming in to land s I submitted are below.

]]> (Colin Dalton) Sun, 30 Jun 2013 06:19:51 GMT
Photo Competition I just entered my first photography competition!

I heard about it from reading another blog, and as the next competition was about Wildlife Babies and young, I thought I’d submit a few pics.

The competition is run every few months, and you can check out some of the previous winners and runners up on their main webpage, which has some stunning shots here


The five images I submitted are:

Babe in the woods Chasing dandelions Banff's Bear 64 and cub Little Baa Dinner time!

]]> (Colin Dalton) Mon, 17 Jun 2013 05:23:54 GMT
Luck When trying to photograph wildlife, emphasis on the wild, luck plays an enormous role in being in the right place at the right time. As many articles and other blogs attest, there are ways to increase your luck, by knowing animal habits, by keeping track of their sightings by others, by going out and spending time in their world. But luck does also play a factor. Last weekend I went to Banff as I had heard that Banff’s Famous Bear No. 64, and her cubs, had been spotted along the Bow Valley Parkway and Vermilion Lakes Road recently. I started in Banff, around Vermillion Lakes, and decided to travel the Bow Valley Parkway all the way to Lake Louise. Surely I’d see something.

And I did.

A heron at Vermillion Lakes, and a black bear and an Elk on the Bow Valley parkway. But no Grizzly Bear No. 64, or her cubs. Oh well, there are many more days to come, probably with better weather too. As I’ve met her before in previous years, I wasn’t too gutted. Getting out into the Rockies for any reason is a good day.

And then today, I found a blog post about Grizzly bear sightings over the weekend. Bear 64, and her three cubs, in Vermillion Lakes and Bear 126 near Lake Louise, both on the Friday (link). And then an article about Bear 64 and her 3 cubs causing traffic chaos on the Sunday, in the same Vermillion Lakes area (link). I had missed them all by one day, even though I was in the right area!

So luck does play a large part in trying to photograph wild animals in their natural habitat. But that also makes it ever so special when everything does come together: the animal and you are in the same place, the light is right and you even remembered your camera!



]]> (Colin Dalton) Banff Bear Bear 64 Bear' Black Black Bear", Bow Valley Parkway Elk Grizzly Heron Lake Louise Vermillion Vermillion Lakes Thu, 13 Jun 2013 04:14:06 GMT
Hello and Welcome I never, ever thought I would have my own photography website, let alone one with a blog! I’ve always appreciated good pictures, but didn’t think I would be someone that could take them – it seemed a black art when I was growing up, using a basic 35mm ‘instamatic’ camera. But a good friend of mine, who has been into photography since the days of film, was an inspiration and a few years ago I got my first entry level DSLR, and the rest, as they say, is history. I am now onto my second DSLR and, with the encouragement of my wonderful wife, I have set up this website to showcase my images. The website is only a few days old, and I have many pictures yet to share, and of course, many more still to take! I hope you like my pictures and come back regularly.

]]> (Colin Dalton) Mon, 03 Jun 2013 02:40:17 GMT