In Canada, prickly pear cactus can be found in small pockets scattered through the western provinces. They only grow to about the size of a football. Travelling through Arizona, I was amazed how big they grow when given year round sun. This plant sprawled out and was about 5 feet tall.
This was my first experience in the remote regions of the Kofa Wilderness Refuge in Arizona. During my visit, I was the only person in the park. You could see for miles in all directions. As my first day drew to an end, an eerie calm resonated through the desert as night approached. I have never been anywhere so quiet in my life. Alone, and lost in my thoughts I remember sitting in the back of my car with the hatch wide open, just looking at the vast landscape and enjoying watching the remaining sunlight slowly disappear behind the horizon. Of the few times I have visited the deserts of the American Southwest, it is the silence that I enjoy the most.
Every now and then, I head out in the early morning to search for owls along the Grand Valley Road north of Cochrane. This Great Grey Owl was the first of many I found that morning. I was able to observe it hunting for nearly half an hour before it silently slipped away into the forest. In that time, it was able to successfully capture three voles out of five attempts. In this photo, the owl has spotted a vole and has locked its eyes on the target while waiting for the right moment to dive down on it. The attempt that followed seconds later was one of the failed attacks.