Monday, 31 December 2012

Big Buck, Last outing of the year. (121230)

With a slow, sunny, morning; just lounging around with the kids. I was probably an hour late getting away from the house for a quick trip down to FCPP, I've learned that when the women folk are cooking and baking; get out to their way! I am experimenting on the best way to lug by big lens around with us when the walks start up again in January. As always the Chickadees and Nuthatches were immediately around.
One of my reasons for heading down here today was to see if I could find one or more of the GHO's that reside in the area. I found a pair, only the male was available for "photo's". Here is the Sentinel.
I have forgotten how difficult these little birds are to capture, they are constantly on the move.
As I made my way down to the river I was surprized by the number of Mallards that were present. Here is a shot of probably 1/3 of the birds. I was also disappointed at how the sun had been hidden by a thick layer of clouds.
Whenever you get Mallard concentratins like this, the Eagles are not far away. I saw three eagles, I should have had some photo's but my experimentation moves cost me those opportunities. I spied three doe Whitetails trying to snooze away the afternoon, that reminded me of the secondreason I headed down here today. Earlier this fall I got some long distance shots of a 10 point buck, I was hoping to get another look at him, and perhaps get into position for some better shots. My attention was rewarded as I spied him in this thicket.
He moved across an open field to where he found some extra protection with this little buck. there is nothing like an extra set of ears and eyes to help keep you safe (no crop).
I thought that I would throw in another shot of the big fella. He has a couple of "kicker" nubs at the base of his atlers that might actually make him a 14 pointer.
That was a great wrap up to the walk. I hope everyone has a super "Happy New Year!". I have had an exceptional year, and hope that 2013 is even better.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Whitetail Bucks, Bighorn Sheep, elk A trip with the kids. (121227)

Jamie graciously agreed to be chaffeur for our trip on Wednesday. We started the morning with -24C, with the hopes of some sun and warmer temperatures. While the morning started slowly, we did manage to spot three or 5 Rough Legged Hawks, first we have seen in some time. With our last 6 days staying below -20C there is great photo-frost everywhere. I thought I would throw in this tree.
We found a pair of moose in the open and tried to find a spot to intercept them for a better photo op, but no dice, while Laurel stayed in the truck she saw 5 moving through the trees, we didn't get a single shot. During our investigation to try and find where these moose where headed we found this nice Blue eyed horse. Apparently the "blue" comes from a lack of pigmentation, also accounting for some of the white on this particular animal.
A couple of long distance Coyotes, and another couple of RLH's kept our eyes sharp. On our trail to the Northern Hawk Owl area we ran across about 50 Rocky Mountain Sheep in two difernt herds. You can see that this Ram has "chipped" his horns in battle for the ladies of the herd.
We stopped in Canmore for fresh coffee, lunch, and facilities usage, then we were off again. In the area of the Canmore Olympic facility wefound this handsome fellow.
He was traveling with this other smaller buck which has already dropped one of his antlers.
I don't know if this is a signal or not, I got of idea that this fellow was "flipping us the bird".
We cruised through Spray Lakes and, while there were lots of freshg tracks, we couldn't find another moose to photograph. We had some White Winged Crossbills, Pine Grosbeaks, and some Pine Siskins(I believe). On the way out to Highway 1 we found this group of 5 elk. Here is a version of Dr. Doolittle's "push me pull you".
We finished up the trek wiith a full moon rising over the horizon.
We spent quite a while in the truck, and everyone arrived home in great humour. It was a great day spent with super company. Have a great wildlife holiday season!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Short Earred owl, Snowys, Buntings, and Elk or were they Santa's Reindeer? Merry Christmas! (121225)

With little on the agenda today, Jamie and I thought that we would see what Santa would bring us for presents. The thought was we would amble on down to a "hot lead" from Kerri, for the potential of a Short Earred Owl. We headed out at 9:00 a.m. with no anticipated schedule and high expectations along with -24C.  Jamie spied a lump in a tree that turned out to be a juvenile Northern Goshawk, a first for him. We found a small herd of Muley doe's, then up the road we found the bachelors.
On our way over to the aleged shorty area, we found a Snowy that has been on the circuit for the last couple of weeks, but it was as skittish as ever, so no images. We were temporarily side tracked with a couple of hundred Redpolls, they turned out to be too shy for photo's as well. We were starting to think that the cold weather was working against us. We arrived in the vicinity of the rumoured owl, and lo and behold we found him on a fencepost 100 yards off the road. We watched it as it flew and grabbed up some lunch, but it was too shy as well. Here is a long distance poor image.
With our main objective successfully bagged, we headed the long way home. We got to try our Apache skills on some Horned Larks.
Our next targets were some Snow Buntings in the area.
We were feeling pretty good, we had great light, some owls and another first for Jamie. We also learned a little something, we found our little Snowy buddy from a couple hours earlier in the day, sitting right where we left him. We then spotted an anomaly that I have never seen before, a couple of hundred buntings in a tree. This is just a small group of them.
Next we found Jamie's first ever Prairie Falcon, it wasn't where I have seen them before, but we will take it. I wanted to grab a shot of this beautiful horse, one of the units that fooled me a couple of weeks ago. It has four white stockings and a unique coloured mane.
Just as we found our second Snowy of the day, Jamie heard this little lady tapping on a green tree.
We haven't seen too many Snowy's in a tree so we thought we better grab a shot of this.
To wrap up the day we found Santa's reindeer, they were relaxing with a couple of lady friends after a full night of hauling a sleigh around the world:)   Overall Santa treated us pretty well today!

Merry Christmas to all,

Monday, 24 December 2012

First ever Snowy for Russell (121222)

Russell complained about the cold weather system that had moved in and wasn't to anxious about getting out on Saturday, so I set up a potential alternate arrangement with Dan.  Just an hour before I received confirmation from Dan, Russell decided that seeing these beautiful birds were worth the price of getting chilly. We headed out at 7:45 a.m. with breakfast in a bag. our dependable 8:30 bird was no where to be seen, but we did find a group of Mule deerthe the -21C frost still on thier backs. Russell had to wait an extra half hour before we found this cooperative bird. It has snowed over night the skies were heavy overcast, so light was at a premium.
Their were still a few sSnow Buntings in the area from last week, I suspect they were a different group of birds as the flock was much smaller.
Our next bird was pretty skittish, so any shots that I got were poor. Number 3 on the day was a little more cooperative. Here it is almost 9:30 and you can tell that the skies are still dull.
Although the quality of the light hasn't improved, there was a little more from timt to time and that encouraged me to grab the 2.0 TC and put it on. This fourth bird allowed me to move around and get a more front on shot of her (No crop).
So Russell had his day made and it wasn't even 10:00 a.m.! He decided it was worth a little bit of chill:)  As we swung by the area with Tim's first GHO from last week, we spied it in the trees, too far back to grab a shot .Next up was a large flock of Redpolls, well over a thousand I expect. Not too far from them was the first of two Prairie Falcons we spotted on the day, another first for Russell.
We spied him as he flew and saw where he landed on these fence posts.  we put an elaborate plan together in order to get closer, but it failed miserably. At -21C, the snow getts pretty noisey:)
Our second GHO of the day was a beautiful sighting, but it was too close to the road and when we tried to approach it took to the wing.
That is okay though, thisis the second time I have found him on this very same perch, so I know where he lives. The next up was a small flock of Redpolls, with one or two late leaver's, that allowed for some reasonably close shots (no crop).
We finished our day off with this small herd of elk, Or are they Reindeer;)
That wrapped up a rather successful day, and we were home just after noon.  From my home to yours all the best over this Holiday Season; Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Snowys, GHO, Buntings Can we do it again? (121216)

Well after a record shattering day on Saturday with 10 Snowy birds, and a GHO, deciding what to do for a Sunday trip, was going to be difficult. We had planned to go out to the Weaselhead to get some Goshawk action and improve our photo's of Boreal Chickadees, but Tim had opted for a Snowy run, as he had never seen a Snowy yet.  We started out with the same bird as yesterday, but it was very skittish, and no shots were captured of that unit.We cruised by the formerly frost laden building of yesterday and found a second owl in the area where we found the first bunch of Sharpies for our second bird of the day.  It too was pretty skittish and flew before we got any photos. In the same area where we found the Snowy and Snow buntings yesterday, we found Buntings, lots of them.
We figure there were about 1500 -2000 birds, it was quite a sight.
It was amazing to observe this phenomon. Sheesh here it is 9:15 a.m. and we finally have a bird that will sit still long enough for us to get an evidence photo.

We weren't enjoying the sun of yesterday, but we endevoured to persevere, and the sun came out. We really appreciated having the sun, I believe it helped Tim find this GHO resting the day away in the trees.
After leaving there, which was tough to do as the Redpolls were very friendly and posing for us, we found a Prairie Falcon, the second "first" of the day for Tim! We were rewarded a little later with some even more hospitable Redpolls, here is one of my favourites.
My wife selects this pose as her favourite. My best redpoll shots so far.
As we continued through the day we found one more Snowy, this guy was on the ground. As an observation, this shot was taken at 11:30 in the morning, take a look at the length of the shadow the owl produces.  We are getting close to the shortest day of the year (daylight wise), but you can tell the sun doesn't get up very high this time of year up here in the Great White North.
A little later, after a brief side trip, we are pretty certain we found this unit in a more relaxed situation, and provided us with our best photo op of the day. Here is another no-crop image.
Some more Sharptails and other little birds through the following hour, and sharp eyed Tim picks up another GHO having a siesta in the sun. Both of these were excellent spots, in my humble opinion.
We grabbed that GHO on a last round-a-bout of a productive area and, on this trip through, we found this little group of Whitetails, with at least three bucks and as many doe's.
As we finished the loop, we popped by our now favourite Snowy #4, again with no crop.
This wrapped up our journey for the day. Another super successful day with 6 owls. Tim was happy with his first opportunity to chase these fabulous looking birds.  We haven't found a mature male yet, but they too should show up soon. I hope everyone has a super Wildlife week.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Snowy Owls, Redpolls, Buntrings on a Clear, Snowy day! (121215)

Zel and Jamie arrived promptly at 7:15 this morning and I got loaded up. Off to Rotten Ronnie's for some breakfast and we are on the road, well that was the plan. Micky D's only took 350 minutes to get our sandwiches to us. So we were a little delayed, and as was discussed a little later in the day, perhaps it was meant to happen. We grabbed our first Snowy of the morning very skitish bird ( I believe it is the same bird Dan and I saw three weeks ago) shot this just as the sun was coming up at 8:30

Then Shortly after Sun up, with the frost sparkling, we couldn't resist stopping for this old building.

We went around the corner and flushed a covey of  Sharpies, with more buildings, the landscape guys were busy clicking away.

Just 5 minutes down the road we found this Snowy and about 200 snow buntings.
A few skittish Snowy's later and we were finally able to find an approachable bird. This is a non cropped image. Have I mentioned how happy I have been with my new Sigma lens?  I love them.
It was about 10:30, and that meant that this last bird must have been number 5 on the day. As far as this next bird goes, I was fooled by a couple of horses that I thought might be moose. But the wild goose chase gave us number 6 on the day.
Did I mention that it was pretty chilly out there? -16C, -18C, with a 20 km "breeze" blowing. I have to say I was amazed at how the Frost was sticking and holding on to everything.  Here is a frost shot.
More Sharpies and a GHO were rounding the day out nicely. Of course this time of year we are sometimes blessed with these little redheads, the Redpolls.
Hey did I mention it was cool and Frosty?  I think that this is actually Snowy number 8 at 11:30 in the morning.What a day!!!
I think I might as well wrap up this post. All in all we found 10 different Snowys and one GHO, many, many other birds to keep us interested and sharp. To boot the day was beautiful and sunny, no excuses today to not  get great shots.  I hope you enjoy them as much as we did finding them.