Owl watching season

Owls fascinate me. They are definitely a passion of mine from a photographic perspective. But, I think that what I love most about owls is their behaviour. We learn lots from just simply sitting and observing them. This is a time of year when there are three owls that I look for – great gray owls; northern hawk owls; and great horned owls. Great grays and hawk owls are both active during the day time. Because the the leaves are off the trees, they are easier to see. Northern hawk owls can be seen in Riding Mountain during the winter months.

How to watch for owls

What is involved in looking for owls? A good pair of eyes – knowing what to look for, and learning to look at the landscape to distinguish the shape of an owl; being out at the right time of day for nocturnal owls (great horned owls, or spring arrivals of saw-whet or boreal owls); having a pair of bright field binoculars and a spotting scope; a field guide – either book or electronic editions; and being warmly dressed. Often, you are standing outdoors for short periods of time. By being warmly dressed, you’ll be able to persist and watch.

Great_gray_owl_Riding Mountain_©Celes Davar

Great gray owl in spruce

Here is a photograph of a great gray owl I noticed, as I was driving along. It swooped low across the road and then up into a spruce tree. If I had not noticed its flight, I likely would not have noticed it in the tree. It is very well camouflaged.

Earth Rhythms creates small group photo safaris to learn how to use your digital camera in new ways. Along the way we spot birds, photograph tracks, and share stories about Riding Mountain wildlife. Bring your family or friends. Combine it with a stay at a local resort or a visit with friends in the area. Call us at 1.888.301.0030, or visit Earth Rhythms online. Happy owling!


Raccoon fishing in creek

Raccoon fishes in creek ©Celes DavarIt was a perfect fall morning.  Still, temperature a -3C˚frosty chill – the kind that even with gloves on, goes right into your bones. But, it was sunny. Five bull elk were bugling around us. Tracks and scats of moose, elk, and coyotes were on the trail. Several side trails led to locations where elk had been active in their harems during the previous night. Their smell was pungent and present everywhere. I love mornings like this. I had primed myself at 5:30 AM on an espresso, a banana, and a peanut butter sandwich. Joining a friend from Wisconsin, who has been returning to Riding Mountain National Park for over five years (we had guided her on her first wildlife photography excursion in 2005), we were meandering – looking for wild nature to photograph and video.

Earlier this spring, we had the privilege of hosting a number of tour operators and travel writers from India, China, England, and Japan. One of them, Hiroko Yoshizawa, who loves Canada (has come to Canada over 80 times in the last 20 years), loved the way that we explored and engaged with the nature experiences we provided.

As leaders in experiential travel, we want our guests to truly immerse themselves in Riding Mountain’s wild nature. We had rain, snow (8 inches of it), and sun and everyone loved it.Travel writer in Riding Mountain_©Celes Davar

But, my take-away from their visit was Hiroko’s thoughtful comment and appreciative smile, as she shared that this was very enjoyable for her. She called it “slow travel”. She said that she would share her experiences with her Japanese audience and help them understand that Earth Rhythms provides “Slow Travel experiences”.

As my friend from Wisconsin and I finished off our day of photographing, I suggested that we head out to another location where I would share with her a creek location that I often enjoy stopping and looking for wildlife. We were in luck – a raccoon was fishing in the creek. With full sunshine, and that low angle of sunlight that accompanies the fall season, we were able to capture photographs and video of a curious and well-adapted mammal that spends a lot of time close to water. Enjoy this short video.

The things we don’t see in the woods

Black bear cub in aspen tree

Black bear cub eats aspen buds in spring

I love being in the right place at the right time when it comes to photographing natural phenomena, including wildlife.  This image of a black-bear cub emerging in spring to eat aspen budes is one of my favorite images of all time that I took in Riding Mountain National Park. It illustrates how amazingly honed black bears are to their food supply. Wherever the right food source is available, they will find it. Blue sky, white aspens, black bear. A photographer’s dream.

Then today, I received a link to a whimsically produced YouTube video of a bear scratching itself on a tree.  The video image was terrific because we become witness to the ordinary behaviour of a grizzly bear ( I believe that it was a grizzly bear given that it was identified as the Northern Divide Bear Project).  If you can turn down the music and just watch the bear scratching, it is quite remarkable.

What I am realizing is that today’s technology – remote or motion sensing and digital video – enables us to see things in the woods that we would not normally be privileged to see.  This helps us to communicate the remarkable bio-diversity of life here in Manitoba and elsewhere on our planet.

It’s time to act on climate change

Here is an excellent video to promote actions in support of political changes that reduce the impacts of climate change, that anyone can use to send a clear action-oriented message.  Use the embed code on YouTube to add to your website.

We are 100 days away from..

……the COP15 international talks with 192 countries attending to develop political agreement about actions on Climate Change.  Follow current information about the United Nations Climate Change Conference Dec. 7 – 18 (Copenhagen).

u @ 50 Inspiring video

When you see a video that is simple, has an inspiring message, and then surprises you with how it delivers that message leaving you understanding the message, intrigued by the delivery, and then motivated to share it, you know that it has been effective.

Be who you are – be the change you seek.  For our children, our planet, and each day’s success.

There’s been a greening on the hill – Washington, that is

Two powerful American singer-songwriters share their music as part of the Greening of America and the shift that we all start to be part of, as the Green Ball (January 19, 2009) kicks off the changes to how America re-powers itself and re-sets its clock of respect and integrity for people of all kinds, environmental values, and care for the planet.


I Need To Wake Up (Melissa Etheridge)

Obama Song, written and performed by Michael Franti,  after the recent American election

Michael Franti performed and electrified audiences at the 2007 and 2008 Winnipeg Folk Festival in a way that no other performer has done in over two decades.  I know, because I was there and was absolutely amazed.  Enjoy this video…this will kick off your energy buttons and leave you in a space of asking what can you do to help Planet Earth?

Riding Mountain National Park video

Parks Canada produced this short (10 min) video about Riding Mountain National Park.  For anyone who is visiting for the first time, this is an excellent short visual introduction.  Once you have seen this, you will have a sense of the park’s beauty and why Earth Rhythms team of guides and facilitators lives here, and why we love it!  In all seasons.  We love working with small groups of people who are looking for customized itineraries to experience local culture, cuisine, nature, wildlife, or the arts.  Call us at 1.204.848.4680

Bull Moose Spar in Fall in Riding Mountain

A remarkable 4 minutes of video taken in Riding Mountain National Park of two bull moose sparring in the fullness of September.  This is one of the best bits of video that I have seen that demonstrates the sheer power of these animals, their speed, and the amount of ground that they can cover.  

The Power of One

This simple, yet powerful video ties together the power of one to make a difference – whether the reason or issue is social, environmental, planetary or other.  When we look at this place we call home today – Planet Earth, or Riding Mountain – it is all about the Power of One to be positive, affirmative, clear, and to ask for what is needed.