On the hunt

The hunt!

I was in Waterton on the hunt for some birds. So far the day was pretty productive but there was still a lot of daylight remaining and I wanted to get some more pictures. I decided that I would stop at one of my favorite spots. Maskinonge is located just outside the Waterton Park gates and I find a lot of birds pass through here. I parked my van the White Turtle II in my favorite spot. I came across the usual birds as soon as I arrived, a mix of song birds, a Heron, a couple Trumpeter swans and a number of ducks.

I cam e across a couple Trumpeter Swans on my bird hunt
Trumpeter Swans

The hunter becomes the hunted

I was enjoying taking their pictures but the birds seemed nervous. I spotted a couple hawks and an eagle across the lake and even they seemed nervous. Then the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I heard a noise a ways away, but close enough that I turned towards the noise. It was like I was being watched. I reached down to make sure that the pepper spray was still on my belt and wondered if I needed it if it would still work. I looked around but could not see anything but I felt it, then I spotted it.

Hidden on the ground behind some trees it could survey the entire lake. It was not close enough to pounce on me but it wasn’t that far away. I tried to get a better angle to get a picture but it was well hidden in the trees. I did not want to approach to close as the closer I got the worse the angle would be to get a picture. Also the closer I got the more chance that I would get injured should it get spooked.

A good perch

I finally found a spot that I was in the open but a ways away. I watched it for a while but it did not seem like it was in any hurry. By its size I could only imagine what it was like when dinosaurs roamed this area. It was HUGE!!!! I also realized what it must have been like to be hunted by a Pterodactyl.

After watching it for several minutes I figured that it must be asleep as it had not moved since i spotted it. I then took some pictures of the birds in the area that were also confused by this massive invader in their wetlands. They would go about their routine but they were keeping a close eye on it.

It moves!!

After about 20 minutes of photographing the birds I heard another noise. It was getting ready to move. Before I could turn my body it was starting to rise behind the trees. Then without warning it put it’s nose down and started coming towards me. I had fortunately left enough space so that I had time to react. I swung my camera around and grabbed a few shots, not even thinking about the bear spay on my belt.

Before I knew it it was looming over me. As it went past I noticed that all the birds in the area were taking off and seeking cover. It headed west towards the river then it turned to the north. As fast as all that happened it was again quiet. The lake was now empty of birds but it would only be a short time till they came out from hiding and flew back from their hiding places.

I survived

Well they say that any time you survive an adventure it is a good one. I had survived!! I realized that I was now getting hungry and it was getting late so I decided that I would head to the campground for supper. A good day it was, a number of great images and an experience that I have not had in Waterton before!!

Mom & hungry baby
Heron on the hunt
Heron
Hidden behind the trees
It rises!!
Here it comes!!
There it goes…….
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Screen Door

I wanted to add some extra airflow and a screen door seemed to be the best option. For me there is nothing better than sitting on a screened in porch to enjoy the late evening light or the early morning light without worrying about mosquitoes. Now I can lay in bed and enjoy the scenery and no bugs.

I want to do a screen for the side door but have been putting it off till I figure out what I am doing with the layout of the van. A back screen seemed like a great idea. I can say the view is second to none while laying in bed. Plus when the heat of the day gives way to cool evening breezes the van cools off REALLY fast!!

White Turtle III
My lawn chair and the back door screen

I priced out having this made locally but the company that I had quote from was not overly encouraging, nor were they cheap. I thought of having my wife sew it. But I knew I would tweak it and she would not be happy to make the changes. So I went REALLY hi-tech and bought some high quality screen, some Velcro and a roll of duct tape. After about an hour of design and tweaking I had my screen. I am thinking of some adjustments but so far it performs 100%.

Screen Door
Velcro grabs on the carpet that I put under the bed to stop the mattress from sliding
Screen Door
Can stay in place when the doors are closed

The only time I think I will remove it is in the winter. I want to get a insulated blanket done for the back and the side door. Once I have the insulated blanket I think I will take the screen out. I can use the screen to make a pattern for the blanket.

I also have made a canopy that goes over the back doors when they are open. Now I can leave the doors open in the rain. Another luxury of the White Turtle III.

More about my exploring and the White Turtle III here.

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Cold Weather Camping

Cold weather camping
Waterton Lakes National Park

I hear from many people that say you cannot enjoy cold weather camping. Well I am here to say yes you can. You do need to make a few preparations when it turns cold but it is possible.

You really do not need to put your campers and camping supplies away come September like so many other people do. In fact with more months of cold in Canada then warm you should head out and try some winter camping so you can keep using your camper. With a few preparations you will be all set to make memories in the other 8 months of the year!

Make sure you do your research and prepare for emergencies. You will find that when others are bored at home you will be enjoying those long nights sitting by the fire or in your camper.

Here are a few tips to make it more enjoyable, it is in PDF format as there ended up being a lot of information. Feel free to share the link if you like. Cold weather camping tips here.

If you are a photographer you will also find that the winter gives you a lot of opportunities to shoot. Opportunities that you would not have at other times of the year. Long nights and less air pollution allows you to take amazing night pictures, from Astro images to painting with light. Add to this a warm place to warm up and you may find you get addicted to winter shooting!

Cold weather and astro photography

If you always wanted to take some Northern light pictures then winter is the best time for this as well. Long nights give more chances to get the perfect image. It also seems that the winter makes the aurora a lot more active. So get yourself in your camper and head out to a dark sky area like Writing on Stone. Writing on stone is open all year for camping with power plug ins it is like being at home.

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