Skip to main content
Monthly Archives

January 2023

My Favourite Wildlife Sightings of 2022

Hoary marmot

It’s time for my fave animal photos from last year. I always love going through my pictures (all taken on my teensy Panasonic Lumix camera), but it’s always tough to pick the final shortlist. Let me know if you’ve got a favourite from the bunch.

1. Snowshoe Hare
Snowshoe hareI think this one will be hard to beat. I got home from snowshoe guiding on a snowy day last January, and while I was shovelling, I noticed a roosting snowshoe hare beside the woodshed. They often rest in the daytime, and this little cutie decided that this was the perfect spot. The next day, I was doing the dishes and looking out the kitchen window when I realized that a clump of snow underneath my car was… the same little snowshoe hare!Snowshoe hare roosting under the car

2. Yellow-Fronted Bumblebee (Bombus flavifrons)
Bumblebee and glacier lilyThis early bird (er, bee) was out gathering nectar and pollen at the end of May in Yoho National Park. Given the early date, this is a queen bee, born in the late summer of the previous year. She and her sisters are the only bumble bees from a colony that survive the winter, and after hibernating, each of them will try to start a new colony in the spring. Talk about resilience! Plus, if you need proof that bees are important pollinators, this picture is worth a thousand words.


3. Hoary Marmot
Hoary marmotThese photogenic and jumbo-sized squirrels could make my list every year. There’s something endearing about marmots and their big buck-toothed grin. Right now, they are in the middle of almost 8 months of hibernation, making them the deep sleep champions here in the Rocky Mountains (take that, grizzly bears!).

4. Grizzly Bears
Female grizzly bear and cubSpeaking of grizzly bears, sometimes the Lake Louise Ski Area lives up to its billing as a good place to spot bears. I was on the “Grizzly Express” summer sightseeing lift in July when I spotted this mama griz and her cub.

5. Chipmunk
chipmunk stuffing its cheeks with seedsFall is my favourite time to watch chipmunks, because they get really focussed on collecting seeds for the winter. It’s super charming: they harvest and husk grass seeds, then stuff them in their cheeks until they can’t squeeze in any more. These seeds are carried to the hibernation den and piled up until there are a couple of litres (!!) squirrelled (er, chipmunked) away for the winter. They wake up and snack frequently during their hibernation period.

6. White-tailed Ptarmigan
White-tailed ptarmiganOkay, I have to start with the only ptarmigan joke I know…

Q: Why can’t you hear a ptarmigan going to the bathroom?
A: Because the “p” is silent.

At the end of September, you know that winter is just around the corner, and for proof, I like to watch the white-tailed ptarmigan moult from summer brown to winter white. It takes a few weeks, but once it starts, it’s time to break out the long-johns and the extra puffydown jacket.

My Favourite Panoramas from 2022

Marcus on top of the world

A happy new year project for me every January is posting my favourite panoramas of the past twelve months. Panos are great at capturing the sweep of the landscape, and most of the time, I like to place a person in the frame for scale. Enjoy these half dozen photos from 2022!

February: Afternoon light on Mount Hector. With the sun low on the horizon throughout the day, winter is a magical time for mountain photography.Mount Hector

March: On a ski tour with my friend Marcus north of Lake Louise, we enjoyed the proverbial “sea of peaks” all around us. It’s an experience that makes you feel big and small at the same time.Marcus on top of the world

August: Lake O’Hara is one of my favourite places, and here you can see why. Thanks to the Bedrich family for agreeing to do the stiff climb to All Soul’s Prospect. This spot gives you a sense of accomplishment and beauty in equal measure.High above Lake O'Hara

September: This is O’Hara again, only a few weeks after the previous photo. My guests Eric, Alice and I had never seen anything like it: a full-on snowstorm to the north of us; a mix of clouds and sun to the south; and the three of us standing at the dividing line between the two weather systems!snow and sun at Lake O'Hara

November: Lake O’Hara a third time, in mid-November. My friend Chuck and I cross-country skied up to the lake, which was frozen and in deep shadow. All around us were glorious peaks.Chuck at Lake O'Hara

November: That’s yours truly on the same day, after a magical afternoon skate on Lake Louise. The lake ice was spectacular in mid-November, and in ten days I managed to skate on five different lakes and one river.Joel on the ice of Lake Louise