Alberta Road Trip – Ghost Lake to Ya Ha Tinda

 In Animals, Calgary & Area Attractions, Fine Art Photography, Nature Photography, Photography, Travel

My friend Diane and I had planned a back roads drive to see if we could spot any wild horses.  Unfortunately the former Alberta government, and their infinite lack of wisdom, had authorized a cull in the area a few months prior, so we weren’t sure how abundant they’d be.  Starting at her home (with its stunning Ghost Lake vistas), we headed up Highway 40 north, through the Waiparous region (known for off-roading activities) and on to Ya Ha Tinda – an area I’ve always wanted to visit, primarily because of it’s cool name!  (It means ‘high prairie’ in Cree.)  Today it’s  a wildlife sanctuary, and home to Parks Canada’s horse ranch, where they raise and train horses for back country service in Western Canada.

Mule deer dotted our drive.  White Tailed Deer were spotted, but flashed their tails as they hustled into the distance the moment a camera lens was pointed towards them.  We weren’t on a schedule so we turned off random side roads at whim.  Diane is originally from Quebec and misses trees.  Tall pine forests alleviated some of that.   Periodic stops to inhale the fresh pine scents and appreciate the solitude resulted in my first ever shot (and sighting) of a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker.  American Robins abounded.  The Aspens weren’t quite in leaf – at least a couple of weeks behind their cousins further east. Large piles of ‘evidence’ along the road indicated the presence of horses, but they must have been lurking in the woods waiting for vehicles to pass – or roaming the extensive uninhabited wilderness available to them.  Deserted campgrounds provided pit stops along the way – filled by the sound of chattering squirrels, and birds.

We decided to call our quest to an end and head over to Sundre for lunch when flick of a white tail caught my eye.  Sure enough, a short amble across a grassy field revealed a stallion and 2 mares – while a ground level tail flick disclosed a foal.  The two of us were quite delighted and stayed a healthy distance back – both of us sporting extremely worthy zoom lenses, more than capable of handling the task.   Although presenting a defensive formation, they didn’t disappear back into the shrubbery.

Mule Deer

Mule Deer

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

American Robin

American Robin

Devil's Head Mountain to the left.

Devil’s Head Mountain to the left.

Plenty of trees.

Plenty of trees.

Dark Eyed Junco photobombed by a Robin

Dark Eyed Junco photobombed by a Robin

Brown Headed Cowbird

Brown Headed Cowbird

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Seedhead from a Cow Parsnip

Seedhead from a Cow Parsnip

The stallion, what appears to be a pregnant mare, and the foal.

The stallion, what appears to be a pregnant mare, and the foal.

One of the mares.

One of the mares.

The Mexican Standoff - don't come one step closer!  Mare, Stallion, Foal, Mare

The Mexican Standoff – don’t come one step closer!

 

All in all an amazing day – 335km of round trip driving from door to door. A very tasty bite to eat in Piro’s restaurant in Sundre, and some excellent conversation. Pays to move out into the ‘mobile office’ occasionally!

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Showing 6 comments
  • Johanna Bradley
    Reply

    What a beautiful part of the world! That backdrop of the mountains is so lovely. I had to pause and admire it before I got to your animal friends. There are some lovely captures here, Suzan. 🙂

    • SuzanMcEvoy
      Reply

      It is beautiful. I sometimes take the mountains for granted as they a distant backdrop whenever I leave the house. What I find fascinating is how they appear to ‘move’. Some days they will look like distant ridges, other days they’ll look like they’re just out the back door of the city. You may have noticed what appears to be a small building in that mountain shot. I zoomed in when I was editing photos and found what appears to be a fairly large house with a green metal roof (stops snow buildup), and a camping trailer outside. Unbelievably remote. Not sure I’d survive being quite that far from civilization!

  • Karen Bruch
    Reply

    What a perfect way to spend the day and the results were some outstanding photos. Thanks for sharing. with the rest of the world.

    • SuzanMcEvoy
      Reply

      Thanks Karen! I love showing off our gorgeous AB scenery!

  • Bente Haarstad
    Reply

    Must have been a wonderful trip. So lovely photos of animals and birds, and nature.

    • SuzanMcEvoy
      Reply

      Thanks Bente – love to get away from the city when I can. I’m due for another road trip, but am coming into fairly busy event/wedding season!

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