Geese, Sheep, and Bears, Oh My!
What’s better than a road trip? Why one with plenty of animals to gawk at along the roads. Driving through Alberta, Canada, not only were there pristine landscapes, vistas that will take your breath away, but the bonus was all the wonderful wildlife we were able to watch along the way.
If you’ve never seen wild sheep, Alberta is the place for you. We saw many types of sheep. They were up high, down low, running up steps right beside us. They weren’t afraid of humans; in fact, they may have been a little too friendly in my estimation. This majestic Big Horn greeted us along the Icefields Parkway.
The sweet young doe was hanging out across the street from one of the most stunning vistas. Mama Deer probably thought those humans wouldn’t bother with animals when a scene like that of Moraine Lake was in front of us. She was almost right.
We saw lots and lots of babies. These Canada geese are just scooting along in a small creek. They looked as happy as can be. Every animal we saw, we saw babies.
This baby mountain goat never strayed far from its mother. The mountain goats were moulting, and were not that picturesque, but this little guy was one of the cutest things we saw. Just look at that face!
This young moose was a little wary of us, but hung around munching at the young shoots long after we were tired of watching her. One hint while driving through wilderness, is stop where all the other cars were stopped. There must have been 50 people watching her when we pulled over.
Yes, we saw bears! I lost count on how many bears we saw. There were black bears everywhere! This guy, like most of them, were also eating the young shoots in the grass. They ate mouthfuls of it. Can you see a little hanging out of his mouth?
This elk was also munching away. He was all by himself, but we did see a small herd of females with babies along one of the rivers, much further off the road.
How cute are these ground squirrels?
And finally, we enjoyed watching this grizzly for quite some time. She was rooting and digging up the stump. Termites are a favorite of bears, and she was going to get every last one of them.
Tips for watching wildlife:
1. Most animals are either nocturnal or crepuscular, meaning most active at dawn or dusk. Therefore the best time to see animals is first thing in the morning or during dinnertime, so you need to decide what is more important to you eating at your regular mealtime or going animal viewing.
2. Most of the animals, like that grizzly up above, look very sweet, cute, and cuddly. They’re not. They are wild and dangerous. You wouldn’t believe how many people are willing to get too close to these animals. Don’t do it. Keep your distance. Keep the car between you and the animal. They are fast! Getting a good photo is not worth getting hurt.
3. Never, ever get between a mama anything and her offspring. It does not make them happy.
4. Going off-season, like visiting Banff in fall, or Jasper in Spring will lessen the crowds and magically it seems even more wildlife will appear. Maybe it’s the noise level. So, we suggest definitely going off-season if you can.
5. And make sure to take the best gear with you like the best travel backpack.
Tips for photographing wildlife:
1. Since the light is usually lower during optimal viewing times, crank up your ISO to at least 800 or higher. A flash will not work, and it might scare the animal.
2. If you shoot on Sports or Burst mode, you are more likely to get a clear shot. You will also get plenty of bad shots, but hey, it’s digital. Delete them.
Further Canada Reading
Have you been to Canada? Where have you found some great wildlife viewing?