Lee Sacrey Photography – Lee's Chatter

Mainly Photography but a little of everything at times

Posts Tagged ‘Wildlife

Highway 3 Revisited!

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A little play on Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, lol. NWT Highway 3 connects Yellowknife to The south (connecting to NWT Highway 1 near Fort Providence). Yesterday, Dale, Jenna and I went for a drive on Highway 3. We just wanted to get out for a quick drive to see want things we could see. We followed along the highway until reaching the Stagg River. From there we headed back to Yellowknife, making a few stops to snap some photos along our way home. There were two main places of interest, a pond created by a gravel pit that had beautiful glacier coloured water and the second was a small pond with red and yellow moss and foliage all around with a beautiful sky above. I took several versions of the second and will post each here and you can choose which you like. Jenna wanted to shoot as well and she decided my Maxxum 7 35mm film camera would work nicely for her. I captured a shot of her using it. It was a great way to kill and afternoon but, once we arrived home Jenna made it clear that she want to go out and spend some more time driving and shooting. So, Jenna and I decided we would load a few items in the truck, head out again and stay the night. We headed out again and continued to Mosquito Creek just past Becho’ko. We pulled off the Highway and went all the way down to the creek. There we watched a movie, ate and just hung out. This morning we were up early to see if we could find any wildlife. It was a great night and some great time spent with Jenna. We saw lots of ducks, a sandhill crane and three snowshoe hare before making our way back to town. Here is what we saw yesterday and this morning. Enjoy, thanks for hunting out and as always Happy Shooting.


Image 1 - May 19, 2014


Image 2 - May 19, 2014


Image 3 - May 19, 2014


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Image 10 - May 19, 2014

Written by leesacrey

May 19, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Go Falcons!

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Ok, all you Sir John Franklin High School students don’t get excited, lol. This is the last post of my recent Paulatuk trip (at least I think it is, it may be the Eagles last tour, lol). On previous visits I have photographed, Sic-Sics, a Bluenose-West Caribou, 5 different grizzly bears and a few other critters. Well this time I was able to capture something I don’t believe I have seen before. This time I captured a Dark Morph coloured Gyrfalcon! He/She is amazing, a killing machine as far as birds of prey go (as I was told by someone smarter than I). I am trying to convince some friends of mine that I am not a true bird watcher/photographer. For the most part I believe that, I don’t go out looking for some strange bird that was spotted around town. I have gone out with others while they look and if I am out and see birds I generally stop and try to get some images of them. I don’t often go for the sole purpose of seeing a bird that I have never seen. What I am finding though, is that when I see different birds I think of my friends who would want to be there or I wonder what bird it is and if they could tell me about it. That seems to get me out on occasion to capture these flyers. Sunday was one of those days. I was out taking some landscape images with my 35mm film camera and while driving back to the community of Paulatuk a bird flew past the truck just a few feet away. I didn’t get a good look but, it appear to be a hawk of some kind. I guessed it was a medium sized bird of prey and it was a medium grey colour. When I got back to the house I sent a message to my friend John McKay and asked if he could tell me what birds of prey there are in the Paulatuk area. He asked a few questions and gave me a small list of possibilities. I, and I guess John, was unsure as to what it could be. Not being able to give John more info so I could know what it was made me a little crazy. Later on Sunday I decided I would go back to the same area with hopes of seeing it again (like that normally works, lol). I didn’t have my 120-400mm lens with me but had my 70-200 and a 2x converter. I mounted those on my DSLR and off I went. I wasn’t expecting to see anything and was ready to switch back to my trusty landscape set up (I even brought my filters out with me). About 1/4 of the way to where I first saw this bird, I noticed something sitting on a large rock at the top of a hill. It was the bird, medium size, medium grey in colour – wow this birding stuff is easy, lol. Before I got close enough to get what I wanted it flew away. I watched its flight path and continued. This went on for about 20 minutes. The bird would land and fly before I would get a shot. After the 20 minutes I lost sight of this beautiful creature. I continued to drive around for another 30 minutes and saw nothing. I decided to head back. Coming from the opposite direction I could see the rock on the hill in the distance about 1.5 kilometres away. There was something on it, but it wasn’t my new friend. This thing was bigger and darker in colour. Not wanting it to just fly off, I slowed and just crept along. I noticed to my right, in the valley, a person driving along the Hornaday water shed on an ATV (the water is still in Paulatuk FYI). It looked so small in the vastness of the landscape. I am amazed that I get to visit these extraordinary locations. All of a sudden I noticed something else. Directly between me and the far off ATV was my medium grey bird friend, almost hidden from view in the texture and colour of the ground. I grabbed the camera and snapped away. Gotcha! With in a couple of seconds of me getting out to get a closer view it was gone. I looked back to the rock on the hill and that new bird friend was still there. I continued to move closer and this one isn’t as easily stirred. I drove about 100 ft and was now on the opposite side (in the truck) from where the dark coloured bird was. I quietly opened the door and exited. As I did this, the bird began to move and started to fly. I was sure I had lost my chance, but surprisingly it flew past me and perched about 80 ft away on the new rock. It was now directly in front of me. I got a couple of shots as quickly as I could and then moved forward slowly. I guess 80 ft was the limit as my new friend left very quickly and I couldn’t see it anywhere. I walked up to the rock to get a better look at the surrounding area, still nothing. My bird identifying shoot was over. I headed back and sent John McKay some of the images. I thought the second darker bird may have been a juvenile of whatever kind of bird it was. The colour reminded me of a young bald eagle, but the size seemed wrong. I had no clue what it was. John, on the other hand, is like the all-knowing Bird Whisperer. Within minutes I had the info I wanted. The medium grey bird is a Peregrine Falcon, the second, larger, darker bird is a Dark Morph coloured Gyrfalcon. The Gyrfalcon, by my estimate, was 15 – 17 inches tall (sorry I am Canadian so 38 – 43 cm) and the Peregrine about 12 inches or 30 cm. So there you have it, my most resent bird capture and as you can tell I am no birder, I was not a character in “The Big Year”. Here is a shot of the Gyrfalcon. Enjoy, thanks for visiting and as always, Happy Shooting.

Image 1 - May 13,2014

Written by leesacrey

May 13, 2014 at 8:06 PM

Another May Day in Paulatuk.

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This morning I was up and had planned a photo shoot for myself just as I did yesterday. I guess I should explain why I seem to have this free time on a work trip to Paulatuk. Well, I am here often as I stated previously and usually go shooting after work is complete. For this trip I planned a few extra days for two reasons; the first is to have some time available to help a couple of people in Paulatuk with some finance issues/needs. I didn’t want to pressure any of them into having me do their work but, I made sure they knew I was available if they chose to want some assistance. The second is that I wanted some time to just be in Paulatuk, to hang out, to take in the area to be part of the Hamlet for a few days and of course to photograph. So far my weekend in Paulatuk has been great. I had two mornings of shooting the area and lots of time to do some photo editing and to create these blog posts. A few months ago I took some engagement photos for a couple I know here and before I leave they will have all those images and will no longer have to wait for my crazy schedule to slow for them to get their photos. It has been quite overcast for the past few days but, as I write this the sun appears to be poking through the cloudy skies (which means I made need to go out and shoot again later). Today I wanted to capture some of the things I saw but didn’t capture yesterday, some of the birds that have returned, the Sic-Sic I saw in the afternoon and a few things around town. I was able to do that but, still missed some new things. I spotted three Sandhill Cranes but, didn’t get any images of them, I watched a bird of prey (some type of hawk I believe) fly past and didn’t get a shot of it but, there were some things I did capture (see below). All in all I am enjoying my time here and I am already looking forward to my next visit. Here is what I saw this morning as I traveled in and around the Hamlet of Paulatuk. Enjoy, thanks for following along and as always, Happy Shooting.

A Sic-Sic, can't you just hear him yell "Allan, Allan, Allan"

A Sic-Sic, can’t you just hear him yell “Allan, Allan, Allan”

Finally a Snow Bunting that would stay still, lol.

Finally a Snow Bunting that would stay still, lol.

Beautiful even when it is a bad hair day.

Beautiful even when it is a bad hair day.

Funny, I haven't seen any Caribou on this trip!

Funny, I haven’t seen any Caribou on this trip!

Written by leesacrey

May 11, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Caribou found Part 2!

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A couple of weekends after our first Caribou sighting and we stubble on the mother load. Traveling north on the Ice Road we get to Brown Lake, at first we see nothing and continue north. It didn’t take much more than 10 or 15 minutes and we turn back and start heading home, we reach Brown Lake again and as we cross John notices something on the far side of the lake. More Caribou, a lot more. We stop grab our cameras and get ready to capture some images. We haven’t figure out how we missed these Caribou when heading north, we estimate about 200 animals. How do you miss 200 Caribou? After we exit the truck, I would guess we walked a kilometre from the Ice Road, following a snowmobile trail across the lake close to where our new hoofed friends are.

Image 1 - April 15, 2014


It always surprises me how seeing something you want to photograph get your juices following. John and I are on the lake unprotected from the wind and it had to be 20 to 25 minutes before we notice the temperature. I am also in awe of todays camera equipment. I never do anything special to protect my camera gear from the cold and I never really notice the difference in my battery life. I am sure the batteries rundown much quicker but, I don’t every remember it being an issue. This day on the Ice Road is no different, our gear is working just fine. Probably better than we are holding up.

DSC04424Image 2 - April 15, 2014


After what I would guess is 40 minutes we start walking back to the truck. The temperature is really noticeable now and it is cold. The truck is warm and I am again thinking of the lack of care I take when using my equipment in the cold. Neither John or I do anything to protect our cameras, we just open the doors and climb in laying our cameras on the seat and start to get ready to continue our drive back to YK.


Image 3 - April 15, 2014


Heading south there is a lot of great conversation and some jokes at each others expense. This will remind John of that as I am sure at his age he has forgotten a time so far in the past, lol. Sorry John I couldn’t stop myself. Another great day on the winter road, maybe someone should do a reality show about the Ice Photographers or maybe next year I will mount an action camera to the truck and we will make our own show, lol. For now I guess my blog posts will have to do! Thanks for reading along and waiting for this second part of my Caribou posts. I hope you enjoyed it and as always Happy Shooting!


Image 4 - April 15, 2014

Written by leesacrey

April 15, 2014 at 11:26 PM

Caribou found!

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After several weekend trips up the Winter Ice Road, John McKay and I finally found some wildlife. Our first sighting was on portage 23. As we headed south, after three to four hours of driving north toward the diamond mines, we spot a small group of Caribou, about two dozen. We are both out of the truck quickly with our cameras and within seconds we are shooting. It most have been three or four years since I have seen any Caribou and seeing these gives me quite a rush.

Image 1 - March 19, 2014

I took the lead walking through thigh deep snow to get closer, breaking a little bit of a trail, although not making that much difference for John who is following close behind. John doesn’t need to get as close as I do because he is shooting with that big Nikon 500mm f4 and using a 1.4x converter. It one point I notice two bucks locking horns. From my vantage point it was hard to get a great shot of them but, I made sure John was aware and he could move slightly off my path and capture them easily (I will have to get John to post some of his images here at a future date).

Image 2 - March 19, 2014

Soon we are joined by some members of the Winter Road maintenance crew and they quickly tells us that they haven’t seen Caribou this far south in a few years. I think this is a great sign for our Caribou population. The Caribou are pretty cooperative and don’t seem to be bothered to much by our presence. We keep shooting for quite a while and seem to have forgotten about the temperature. Our hot Tim Horton’s coffee is long gone by now, lol.

@ Carlton University

@ Carlton University

For you readers not from the NWT the map above, which I got from a Carlton University site, above may help a bit. The 0 km mark on this map is at the end of the Ingraham Trail and where travel on the ice begins. John and I would be at around the 125 km mark for this shoot. After a while we start to feel the cold and head back to the truck which is still running a few hundred feet away.

Image 3 - March 19, 2014

It was great day and the small herd of Caribou made the travel over several weekends worth our time and effort. We already knew we would be back on the ice again the next weekend. Thanks John for coming along it is always great to have company. As for the rest of you who are joining us through this blog post, thank you for being here now. I hope you are enjoying your viewing time, stay tuned for another Caribou post and as always Happy Shooting.

Written by leesacrey

March 19, 2014 at 12:33 AM

Winter Road Critters

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My first post of 2014 and it is the middle of March. Not the best start to the year for my little photography blog. I am pretty busy this time of year, with Government year-end in March and tax season upon us, my day job keeps my schedule full. Of course, I have been out shooting, never as much as I like, but shooting. Also, this time of year I do a great deal of travel in the north and I try to take some time for shooting in the remote northern communities but, it is dark early and work has to get done, so again it is never enough shooting time. At the start of 2014, when I was in Yellowknife and when I wasn’t traveling, a friend (John McKay) and I would make regular trips on the Winter Ice Roads to see what interesting things we could photography. We started out just trying to see wildlife, there was a Lynx and Kit sightings and we went to find them. There were also a number of wolf sightings but, we never saw either. A few Snowshoe Hare, a Fox, a few Ptarmigan and a couple of Pine Martin were what we saw. No amazing wildlife shots for me, just a few images to prove we didn’t get shut out, lol.

Image 1 - March 16, 2014

Each trip would get us farther and farther up the Ice Road with no real change in what we saw. I believe if we just had our wide-angle lenses there would have been wildlife everywhere but, with my 120-400mm mounted and my friend John’s 500mm f4 at the ready we weren’t seeing much.

Image 2 - March 16, 2014

Our road trips started to become regular outings, every Saturday and Sunday morning we would be up and out the door early. Grab some Tim Horton’s and a few snacks and off we would go. We would see lots of tracks in the snow, sometimes we would even follow them but, still no big change in our luck. By now we were stopping to capture some landscapes and different things but still carried most of our gear and had our long lenses at the ready.

Image 3 - March 16, 2013

Finally, we saw something that we haven’t seen around our area for a couple of years, Caribou. With Caribou hunting on hold and reports of their herds having reduced numbers, it was nice to see them again. We only saw a small group of about two dozen but, at least we finally spotted something.

Image 4 - March 16, 2014

John finally had a use for his Nikon 500 f4 and teleconverter, lol. The following week we would find another couple hundred Caribou to photograph. It was good fun. So, where are the Caribou images you ask? Well, you have to come back for my next post to see some of those. For now you just get the blurry ones that are in the background of the image above. So, after weeks of traveling the Ice Road we now felt the time we spent was well worth the investment. Next time some of the landscape and Caribou shots. For now, thanks for stopping by, sorry for the time between posts and as always Happy Shooting.

Written by leesacrey

March 16, 2014 at 5:59 PM

13 for 2013

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As 2013 comes to a close I went back and looked through all my images for the year, there weren’t as many as I thought but never the less, it was a great year of photography for me. I spent most of the year not worrying about posting or blogging but just focused more on things I wanted to see and do. I can honestly say I really enjoyed 2013. I decided I would pick 13 of my favourite images and do a post with those images. The images would need to span the entire year and they would need to show different subject matter not just landscapes (although most of them will be).  It was actually much easier then I expected it to be and in a few hours I was down to around 25 images or so. I continued to reduce the number down, 19, 17, 15 and finally the 13 images shown below. Remembering taking each image was as rewarding as seeing my final choices. Again it was a great year. Out of the thousands of images I had taken in 2013 here are the ones I decided I enjoyed most (in no particular order). I hope you enjoy them as well. Thanks for following along this past year and stay tuned for images from 2014. As always Happy Shooting.

Image 1 - December 28, 2013



Image 2 - December 28, 2013



Image 3 - December 28, 2013



Image 4 - December 28, 2013



Image 5 - December 28, 2013



Image 6 - December 13, 2013



Image 7 - December 28, 2013



Image 8 - December 28, 2013



Image 9 - December 28, 2013



Image 10 - December 28, 2013



Image 11 - December 28, 2013



Image 12 - December 28, 2013



Image 13 - December 28, 2013

Pontoon Grey Jays

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On our last visit to Pontoon Lake Territorial Park with friends, we were visited by several Grey Jays (or Whiskey Jacks). I believe there were 6 in total that decided to hang out with us, hoping we would drop some food that they could then grab and fly off with. Almost, everyone there had a camera and snapped away shooting the Grey Jays continuously. I was no different and capture several dozen images. I had actually brought 4 cameras with me, 2 film cameras and 2 digital cameras. Jenna and I finished off all the film I had with me and we then turned the DSLRs on. We continued to shoot and got a few hundred images of the area and the birds. Jenna easily took more than anyone else, she was snapping nonstop for what seemed like an hour. It was another great visit with family and friends. Here are 6 images I capture of my grey friends. Enjoy, thanks for visiting and as always Happy Shooting.


Image 1 - October 2, 2013



Image 2 - October 2, 2013



Image 3 - October 2, 2013



Image 4 - October 2, 2013



Image 5 - October 2, 2013



Image 6 - October 2, 2013

Written by leesacrey

October 2, 2013 at 7:30 AM

Go north to Paulatuk.

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Back in July of this year I was able to travel to Paulatuk for work. For those readers who don’t know Paulatuk, here is a little info; Paulatuk is a hamlet in the Inuvik Region of the NWT (about 400 km east on Inuvik). It is in Darnley Bay on the Amundsen Gulf in the Arctic Ocean. Paulatuk means place of coal, named for the coal found there back in the 1920s. There are around 310 people who live in the Hamlet. I had never been to Paulatuk before and was really looking forward to the trip. Although it was a work trip I knew there would be time for photography, with the sun being up 24 hours there had to be time for photography, lol. Each night after work, usually around 8 or 8:30 pm I would head out to explore, some nights with a fishing rod and some with a camera and a couple with both. Surprisingly, there is a lot of road to travel around Paulatuk. Garry, my business partner, and I had a truck to use and we explored almost everywhere the truck would take us. My favourite drive was the Rat Lake Road. Rat Lake appears to be made by the Hornaday River and the Hornaday is the river that flows through Tuktut Nogait National Park. Although the Park is around 40 km away, Garry got me as close as he could and I even got to put my feet in the Hornaday. It was awesome and it was cold, lol. In addition to the amazing landscape, Paulatuk offered up some great wildlife experiences. In my six days I saw 5 Grizzly Bears, a Caribou Buck, lots of Sik-Siks, and several types of birds. It was an amazing trip. On September 27 I will head back to Paulatuk for another work related trip and I will bring my camera gear so, hopefully I can capture some more of Paulatuk’s beauty. For now here is a sample of what I saw in early July. Enjoy thanks for being around and as always Happy Shooting.


Image 1 - September 16, 2013



Image 2 - September 16, 2013



Image 3 - September 16, 2013



Image 4 - September 16, 2013



Image 5 - September 16, 2013



Image 6 - September 16, 2013



Image 7 - September 16, 2013



Image 8 - September 16, 2013



Image 9 - September 16, 2013



Image 10 - September 16, 2013

Written by leesacrey

September 16, 2013 at 12:27 PM

The Eagle has landed!

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Last night Steve Schwarz and I went for an overnight camping trip on the Ingraham Trail. Our original plan was to head out on Great Slave Lake to an island on Wool Bay and overnight there. The wind had other ideas. So, as I said we headed out the Ingraham Trail. Our Plan B was to take the travel trailer out to a location near some water and wait for the Aurora to arrive. It wasn’t a bad Plan B, we had 30 feet of living space, lights, a fridge, a stove, a furnace and of course beds. The boating plan had, a tent and sleeping bags. I actually would have really enjoyed the originally trip but, with 30 km/h winds the idea of going 35 or 40 km on Great Slave in a freighter canoe probably wasn’t a good one. We arrived at a place we liked and set-up for the night. The Aurora came early and stayed past our willingness to stay awake. It was a great light show. This post however will skip over the Aurora images I captured and will focus on what happened this morning. Before we headed back to Yellowknife we wanted to capture some landscapes and other images from the area where we spent the night. We hiked around the rocky hills near Tibbett Lake and captured a few great images. I wandered over one rocky area and a young eagle flew up and past me. Steve, who was better prepared for such an encounter, noticed it first and watched it as it journeyed past. The eagle landed on a tree a couple hundred feet away. Steve had his Leica 400mm lens mounted and was getting a few shots, I was there taking landscapes and had a 17-50mm lens. Unlike Steve, who was carrying two cameras with two different lenses, I had only one and my other camera with the long lens was still in the truck. I decided to hike towards our eagle friend just to see how cooperative he/she might be. Amazingly, the eagle let me get to around 30 or 40 feet, close enough that I was actually able to get a couple of shots with my short lens. As I continued closer the eagle finally flew away but, he/she circled and landed just a 100 feet or so from the tree it had just left. Again, I found my way closer as Steve continued to shoot from a distance. The eagle seemed just as fascinated by me as I was by it. Again, I got very close. When the eagle flew off for a second time, it went a little farther from us. We headed in its direction and I made a short detour to get my longer lens. I continued to try to get close and Steve continued to focus from a little farther away. The eagle continued watching me approach and again allowed me to get pretty close. Then it flew off once more. I knew the direction the eagle flew but didn’t see where it finally stopped. I called to Steve to see if he could still see the big bird and he told me to keep moving straight ahead. I continued but still couldn’t find it, all the while conversing with Steve (quite loudly as we were quite a distance apart). At one point I stopped and explained I couldn’t see the eagle as Steve shouts that he/she was in a tree almost directly above me, only 20 or so feet away. Still I was blind, lol. With that, the beautiful creature flew off again. I continued to move in its direction but, this time I wouldn’t be able to get that close. I took a few more images before the eagle finally flew directly toward Steve and then headed off, well past our view. It was awesome. Never before have I seen an eagle interact with a person like this. I was like a kid in a candy store. By now we had spent more time shooting than I expected and it was time to hook-up the trailer and start heading home. It was an amazing way to spend the morning. Steve, thanks for agreeing to come out, it was a great photography trip. For everyone one else visiting the blog, thanks for doing so. Below are some eagle images, the first 4 taken with my little 17-50mm and final 2 with my 120-400mm. Enjoys, thanks again and as always Happy Shooting.


Image 1 - September 14, 2013



Image 2 - September 14, 2013



Image 3 - September 14, 2013



Image 4 - September 14, 2013



Image 5 - September 14, 2013



Image 6 - September 14, 2013

Written by leesacrey

September 14, 2013 at 11:39 PM