Category: Waterton Lakes National Park

I almost stepped on this day old fawn as I made my way along the shoreline of a small pond in Waterton.  It didn’t make a noise or move a muscle even when I was a few feet away. I quickly took a few pictures and continued up the shoreline. I wasn’t more than about 20 feet away when I heard the mother coming back to check on it. I hid in the brush but she must have caught my scent and let out a warning call to make sure the fawn stayed hidden.  When deer and elk fawns are this small they can’t keep up with the adults and so the mother’s routinely leave them for several hours to go feed before coming back to nurse them.  Therefore, if you come across a fawn in the grass don’t assume that it is orphaned. Just leave it be and the mother will return within a few hours.

Last year was a very wet summer in southern Alberta and the result was a lot more insects. I have been trying for years to get photos of dragonflies in flight but they are so quick and their flight so erratic that I never managed to get a photo I was happy with. After going down to the shore of a pond to photograph a moose I noticed what seemed like hundreds of dragonflies flying around.  Each dragonfly seemed to have a defined aerial territory that it would defend against if another dragonfly entered it’s airspace.  After chasing off the invaders they would return to the same general area to hover and wait.  After watching the same dragonfly for some time I figured out where along the shore I should sit to have the best chance of photographing it while it was hovering.  One afternoon and hundreds of photographs later I managed to get a few I liked. This photo was taken with the pond and clouds reflecting in the water behind the dragonfly. As for the type of dragonfly, it is either a paddle-tailed or lancet-tipped darner.  Apparently you can ID them based on the tail anatomy but unless you find a dead one it’s pretty hard identifying them in flight even with still photographs.


One of my favorite photos from the trip. This little black bear was the last to cross the road after it’s mother and sibling had already made it across. Instead of running into the forest, as soon as it crossed the road it stopped behind the daisies until the mother came back, licked it’s face, made sure that I wasn’t too close and then they wandered off to eat.


This is the sibling of the cub in the first photo.  The mother kept them in the same area near the Waterton town site for several days so I was able to follow them from a safe distance for some time to get these photos. At one point this cub chased a squirrel up and around a tree.

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With the mother already across the road she went up on her back legs to check to see that her cubs were following.  This black bear has her territory surrounding the Waterton townsite and over the course of two days I saw her wandering past the information centre, Prince of Whales hotel and Linnet Lake and she never once approached people despite numerous people getting too close to her on foot.


Another one of my favorites!  This Great Horned owl was sitting in a tree only about 40 feet from the main gate early in the morning.  Two of her recently fledged offspring flew off when I arrived, but this one stayed.  I photographed her for almost an hour, and during that time various song birds would see her and try to disturb her enough to fly off.  This robin was the most persistent and made several fly-by attempts to get the owl to leave but the owl just closed her eyes during the fly-bys.  The robin eventually flew off and even I left before the owl as the sun got too high in the sky and started washing out all the colours.



One of the great things about Waterton is the wildlife and once you get to know the park it is relatively easy to see a lot of wildlife without having to travel very far to see it.  On this trip it was like none of the animals had moved since I was there almost two years ago.  The elk were still below Mt. Vimy hiding in the trees during the day and then would make there way out onto the plains at around sunset, the great horned owls were raising another clutch near the main gate and were perching in the dead trees in the marsh, the black bears were wandering around Red Rock Canyon Road, etc. etc.  It was so great to go back…my favourite place in Alberta!


This adult female elk stood out like a sore thumb in the rest of the elk herd but obviously she has survived despite this variation in colour, although she was slightly thinner than the rest of the herd as evident by her prominent spine.  Sometimes white discolouration of animals can be caused by parasites, disease or wounds but these problems usually only effect a small portion of the fur.  This elk didn’t appear to have any of those and therefore the most likely cause is genetic.  If you search the web there are numerous pictures of white elk and piebald deer but it appears calico or piebald elk are not that common and I have yet to see another photograph of one. Please share if you have!


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This nest, built out of moss was on a steep cliff next to a series of rapids near the Akamina road to Cameron Lake.  There were three chicks nearing fledgling age that somehow managed to stay within the nest while extending their heads out to get fed by their parents.  The two adults fed these chicks every 5-10minutes and tended to the nest.  The fecal sacks produced by the chicks were removed by the parents and dropped into the rapids to wash them away.

An American dipper holds onto the slippery rocks after catching several insects along the river with the rapids splashing around the bird

An American dipper partially submerges in the rapids to search for insects to bring back to the nest.