Moose on the Loose
Winter Moose Exercises
Have you noticed lately that moose are flexing their limbs in positions akin to gymnastics? Working out as only moose can to keep in shape through the winter months. They do not need a gym after the holidays to make that happen. At least not like the northern hemisphere humans they share their habitat with.
The kind of workout equipment this gangly mammal requires is all natural boreal and the forum is entirely outdoors. No sweaty, steamy gym for these folks. Add freshly fallen snow and a thermometer plunge for frosty effect. Native brush, crunchy stubble and overhanging trees lure the moose on their chompy workout circuit. They believe in interspersing appetite satisfaction with muscle limbering. A backyard full of non-native specialty shrubs and trees will interlude just fine for their workout unwind. A neck stretch here. A deep bend there. Legs straddle. Rigid muscles flex. Supple limbs ripple. They may be snooty in looks but their arrogance is reserved only if hostility is in the air. Otherwise, they roam unfettered in a landscape laden with fresh snow. Add a few leaps that target the quads and hams. Engage those chest muscles that are not put into play in the light summer browsing when food is for the taking. A full body machine.
Movements may appear scattered and unfocused but this calm, composed beast knows its environs. Most of the time they live unfettered by the intersection of human activity. With relaxed attitude they barely break out in a sweat. At the same time they are wild animal aware. That gangly body may look relaxed but their jumpy workout enables 0-60 in seconds.
After their backyard workout with the calm composure of a post gym satisfaction, legs flex into a leap over the fence and they are off to workout on someone else’s treasured transplants. The next time your moose comes by to workout, be sure to join in. You can mimic the poses from the kitchen window.
For more on northern hemisphere animals, see also:
Happy New Year This Fall Season
Back To School For Everyone
For some folks the fall season is the” new year” as far as getting back to a schedule after the drop out days of summer. Back to a schedule often means continuing education after a break. How does the frugal photographer improve?
We are often happy to separate from our money on workshops and seminars but it may not always be convenient or necessary to have others lead? With a little sleuthing and planning you can get a low cost education on a myriad of topics.
Internet – the idea here is to get a plan, not just scamper around sites looking at whatever is announced in your Inbox or social media site. Find a few websites or blogs that speak to you, sign up for their regular spiel and read them as an assignment. To maintain discipline, the newsletters could go in a folder called “School” and you could make a commitment to get a little education daily. Read them all or replace with ones you will read. Don’t pick too many or you will be overwhelmed. Pick a focus area that you want to improve in and assign that work for a month or two. Stick with it then move on to a new focus. Discipline with the internet is key and we all know what that is about.
Public Library – Let’s start with what libraries are known for, books, then walk past them to the magazine. There is a wealth of information in computer, technology and art books as well as specific books showing imagery on subject matter you may be specializing or interested in. Computer and technology books need to be current but older photography and art books can work for composition, focus, new or improved subject matter, colour, posture, lighting and all things image capture related. Test yourself. Why did the photographer chose the setting, lighting, angle, point of view, how was that shot obtained, why was the lighting set up a particular way? This is also a source for focused look at specific areas of interest, nature photographers check out the magazines on outside activities, portrait folks look at poses and props. Pick your genre and explore.
Equipment – Sounds simplistic but, in reality, cameras are complex computers. If you are just using the Auto settings (or ones with icons like night, portrait, landscape) you are not utilizing much of the potential of your camera. Do you know how to set up for flash off camera, use the timer, take bracketed images, change the on-camera flash compensation, preview a shot, Live-view a shot, compensate for fill flash, and any other new, untried button, setting or switch? Set up a time, open your manual and play around with settings in an area that you are not familiar with.
Shoot with someone who does an entirely different type of photography. Push yourself outside the box. With a little discipline you can get a free education.
For more on Fall Shooting, see also:
All Creatures Great and Small
at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
We know who the great creatures are at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. Bucks accompanied by does and even fawns, the occasional coyote. And, flying by, the big birds, hawks, owls and osprey. But what about the far more secretive yet abundant small ones? A diverse group of songbirds make their home at the park in the summer. They migrate up from southern climes to breed and feed off insects and other northern hemisphere delicacies.
In Alberta, Clay-coloured Sparrows’ most common occurrence is in the prairies and parklands, not treed areas. A walk along a park trail can have them flitting out of the grasses every hundred feet. Listen for the insect-like buzzy calls of the male Clay-colored Sparrows from May through July. They can be distinguished from some other sparrows commonly found at Glenbow, the Vesper and Savannah, by their relatively unstriped buff breast. They search out insects in the shrubbery and seeds in the grass. Nesting habitat is typically a shrubby area with wild grass, situating the nest on the ground or in a low shrub above ground. They build open cup nests out of grass, weeds and twigs, lining it with rootlets, fine grass, and hair. This is another reason to keep dogs on leash in the park to avoid disturbing these or any wildlife shelter.
Spring after spring, Mountain Bluebirds return to nest boxes placed at strategic locations in the park. They can arrive in Alberta as early as March while fall migration for many migratory birds is an extended affair from mid-August to late October. Bluebirds can’t resist the open country with occasional trees for shelter offered at the park.
As members of the Thrush Family (such as American Robins) they feed mainly on insects, spiders or other invertebrates, which they glean from short ground vegetation. Nest boxes are paired, with Tree Swallows often taking one box, and the bluebird occupying the other. The former seeks out insects flying high and the Bluebird will not compete with its ground watch. Unlike other Bluebirds, they often hunt by hovering, obviously inspecting the ground below for any potential food item. The striking turquoise blue is unmatched against the prairie setting.
The next time you see an insect at the park think of the food source and protection it is offering our beloved small avian creatures.
For these and other nature sightings at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, see also:
Black and White Winter
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta
Monochrome and a nature park do not always dance together. But sometimes the palette begs it. Take black and white Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park (west of Calgary, Alberta), toss in a fresh dusting of snowfall and the prairie paradise is dressed in it’s grey scale finest. There are trails to discover so don your booties and venture into the black and white world of western Canada’s best.
Meditate on your surroundings and drink in the cold season’s best. Lily Loop will not disappoint as the poplar boughs bend to frame your route. While heading down the drifting path, other sets of eyes may be on you so pay attention if only for the pleasure of sighting wildlife curious about you. It is not every day you are so popular. Moose would be rare in these parts but Mule Deer or White-tails often venture to the edge of a human encounter. And coyotes are always watching.
Fence lines defining natures’ borderless panorama. Meandering trails lure your athletic prowess with deer springing across the landscape, anywhere and everywhere, and spooky poplars with fingers grabbing the sky. And possibly you. All awaits your inquisitive wonder.
Mind the slippery ramble back up the hill to wind up your adventure. All roads lead up at Glenbow park. Before departure, be sure to amble your eyes west, drink in the Rocky Mountains creeping up behind the foothills vista. Can you imagine all of this in monochrome, a black and white Glenbow?
For more on Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park in winter, see also: