When Canmore residents Jacinthe Lavoie and Ian Wilson decided to travel across Canada last year photographing birds, their goal was to photograph 150 different birds, as a way to recognize the country’s 150th annversary.
It turned out they encountered more than enough varieties of birds to reach that goal and surpass it by capturing images of more than 200 different birds.
“It’s quite astounding,” Wilson said of the wide variety of birds they photographed.
Instead of keeping the fruits of their trip to themselves, Lavoie and Wilson have pared down the more than 4,000 photos they took into a 45-minute slide show, set to classical music, called “Wings Over Canada.” They will bring their slide show to Lethbridge on Wednesday, June 13, presenting it at 7 p.m. at the Helen Schuler Nature Centre in Indian Battle Park. Admission is free, though donations will be accepted.
Lavoie and Wilson are the authors of the book “Wildflowers of Waterton Park,” a photographic guidebook showcasing close to 170 flowers found in the park. They have also written “Waterton Wild” and “Wildflowers of Banff Park.”
Wilson says their five-month, coast-to-coast journey photographing birds was a learning experience. Because they aren’t “birders,” identifying some of the birds they photographed was “pretty challenging.”
Starting from the West Coast, they photographed shorebirds to songbirds, and raptors to waterfowl. They reached the Gaspe Peninsula in time to catch the southward migration. There, they encountered masses of gannets — “30,000 birds in one place,” Wilson recalled with awe.
Along the way, they also encountered bird enthusiasts who proved helpful to their photographic efforts.
“Birders are an interesting crew,” said Wilson. “They showed us where their best spots were” to photograph birds.
The trip, Wilson added, “was quite a learning experience, learning about birds and bird behaviour.”
They witnessed a territorial display by blue herons, and saw the courting rituals and mating dance of western grebes.
“We got to experience some pretty magical times with the birds,” said Wilson.
While they relished the trip, Wilson noted, “The only problem with birds is they get up so darn early.”
Wilson said he and Lavoie tried to capture the magic of birds and flight in their slide presentation, which they designed to be entertaining “but with a bit of education to it, too.”
“It’s really rewarding to share what we’ve seen,” he added.
They have been taking their presentation to other communities, including seniors’ homes, where “they really like it,” Wilson said.
Find out more about Wilson and Lavoie and their books at their website, http://wildflowersofbanff.com/.