I set off this morning to try and see if I could spot any snowy owls east of Okotoks, where in the past these great birds have been spotted during our winter months. These owls come down from the North of Canada in the winter and are seen very frequently east of us, where the landscape is all prairie, which is similar to the tundra these birds are used to in the summer.
I left just before sunrise armed with coffee, binoculars, camera, lenses and my new travel tripod. Destination was somewhere around Mossleigh via some secondary routes, where previous sightings had been reported. 40 minutes of driving in great prairie landscape got me to the Mossleigh area where I stopped off to take a look at the three grain elevators that still stand in Mossleigh. These historic landmarks are fast disappearing in Alberta. The first grain elevator in Alberta was built in 1895, with the last one arriving 90 years later in 1985. By 1912 Alberta had 279 of these buildings standing next to its rail tracks, however, the high point came in 1934, when Alberta boasted 1,781 grain elevators. Over the years these historic buildings have declined, and in 2005 only 156 wooden grain elevators remained.
Despite there being hardly any traffic around I was not fortunate enough to see any snowy owls – or any other wildlife for that matter. My route home took me along all sorts of gravel roads (called township roads) and lo and behold I did see a snowy! He was flying over a field too far away for me to be able to photograph, but the view through my binos was fabulous. His flight was so graceful and powerful at the same time. Before I knew it he had landed on the snow, at which point I lost track off him – total camouflage at work!
I love driving around the countryside and discovering different vistas along the way and this drive did not disappoint (in fact, no drive ever disappoints around here). Below are some of my favourite shots from this morning all show-casing the prairies on a winters morning.
Another great thing you come across a lot are the old and empty barns/houses standing seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I found one that I really liked the look off and had some fun with one of the shots in Photoshop to give it that old photograph feel.