The difference between number one and ten are practically immeasurable in my mind, but in the spirit of a common year-end ritual, I figured why not do the count down? Here are my top ten…
I visited a little water hole in the Livingstone range a number of times between June and August to monitor a family of thousands of tadpoles, watching them grow into full-fledged toadlets. This image is from my last trip, when sadly, I found logging trucks had completely destroyed the habitat 🙁 Hundreds of logs were piled over the water, sapping up all the moisture, leaving nothing but dry, cracked earth. I fear this little toadlet is one of the last survivors and likely didn’t live much longer. Still, I wanted to thank him and his siblings for providing me with the opportunity to observe and photograph one of my favorite creatures.
9. Kananaskis Grizzly
I found this beautiful blond grizzly turning over rocks in search of insects and grubs in late July. I have always wanted to capture a grizzly amongst the flowers, so I was ecstatic to see this gorgeous specimen of a bear against such a colourful backdrop.
Penny the porcupine made an appearance in the Lethbridge river bottom when I was home for the holidays, making it just under the wire for my 2015 list. She is only the third porcupine I have ever seen in the wild, and the fact that she posed so nicely in the snow made the encounter extra special.
7. Three Moose
A mom moose and two calves were the highlight of a great moose day for Jamie (CrzyCnuk Photography) and I in early September. These were three of a total of seven moose we saw that day, plus a bunch of other cool creatures. It was a great trek through K-country.
6. Black Bear
This beautiful girl, seen in Banff at the end of October, holds the title of my last bear of 2015. She had attracted a bit of a crowd, and as I was driving away, I noticed a young girl in one of the vehicles watching the bear. The look on the girl’s face is burned into my memory – her smile was wide and bright and her expression was of sheer joy. I like to think this was her first-ever bear sighting. The memory of the bear’s intense gaze and gentle eyes will hopefully stay with her forever, spawning a life-time love of mother nature’s creatures.
5. White-tailed Ptarmigan
Seven trips out to the ‘ptarmigan spot’ since November 2014 and this image comes from the only successful search in January, thanks to my friend Jamie. Read about our adventure with the white-tailed ptarmigan here.
4. Snake and Fish
During a trip to Lethbridge in August, I wanted to visit the Old Man River weir to photograph the pelicans. So my sister, nieces and I embarked on a long hike down to the water’s edge. As I was watching the pelicans, I heard my 7-year-old niece Lexi scream, ‘water snake, water snake, water snake!’ Sure enough, there was a garter snake in the water. I was fascinated! Seconds later, I hear her yelling ‘this one has a fish!’ and sure enough, there was another snake with a meal. I was doubly fascinated! I later learned from Rick Andrews, a photographer friend in Lethbridge, that this is a common sight at the Lethbridge weir. Check out Rick’s write up on the snakes and pelicans here.
This is Lexi’s beautiful artistic rendition of the encounter, displayed proudly on my fridge.
I will not repeat myself – you can read about my amazing experience with the lions of Africa here.
2. Mountain Gorillas in Rwanda
Again, no need to repeat – read about my experience with the mountain gorillas of Rwanda here.
1. Pine Marten
I realize it might seem strange to have a Canadian animal in my number one spot with all the once in a lifetime encounters I had in Africa. This was a difficult decision, but the reason I ultimately picked the Marten as number one was the fact that it was such a surprise. I knew I would see lions and gorillas in Africa (or was pretty sure), but I didn’t know if or when I would ever get to photograph a marten – and I’ve been wanting to see one for so long! Plus, everything about the encounter came together absolutely perfectly. Read the full story of the Pine Marten here.
2015 was such an amazing year – I’m a lucky girl. Here’s hoping for a great 2016!
Until next time, continue loving life and all things wild 🙂