Wildlife - Nicholas Taffs
Powered by SmugMug Log In

Canada Lynx - Spray Lakes, Alberta

This photo is the result of countless hours of research and scouting in the Rockies over several years. As a photographer this is probably my favorite image because it represents how hard work and persistence pays off. On this day, I set out specifically to look for and photograph wild lynx in Alberta. To understand what was involved in this photograph, you must first appreciate the fact that most people will never even see a lynx in the wild, let alone have a chance to photograph them. Spotting tracks in the snow is the first part. To do this I drive up and down high altitude mountain roads and scan the ditches for any animal tracks. If they are fresh I stop and investigate. Majority of the time it is only tracks from a hare or coyote that I see. I continue on this until I can make a positive ID on lynx. Once I located a set, I set up my camera gear and snowshoes and start following them. They have a tendency to take the most difficult routes through a forest and zigzag back and forth through the trees. This is a test of patience and fitness to navigate the unforgiving terrain. I spent 7 hours following two sets through some miserable conditions on this day. After experiencing sheer exhaustion, I finally threw in the towel and had no choice but to start heading back to my car. As I made my way through the waypoints I marked on my GPS I noticed the tracks circled around me and were now heading in the same direction that I was. Just before making it back to my car I spotted my first glimpse of a cat. It was only a quick second. Simultaneously behind me the mother was sitting and studying me. I tried to take a few photos but my camera did not turn on. It turned out the battery came loose and prevented me from getting the shot. Devastated, I quickly fixed the camera and was presented with one last opportunity to get the shot. It seemed that by now the lynx and her kitten realized that I was not a threat and allowed me into their world. I spent the next 20 minutes or so jut mere feet away as they went about their hunting. This was truly a rewarding and humbling experience, one I am surely never going to forget.