Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Quick trip looking for a Snowy or Two

I wanted to get on Tuesday to fire off some shots at some Snowy owls for a set of omparison shots. I am renting a different lens for the weekend, so I was hoping to get a few shots with the 70-300mm to take note of any improvements.  Not much luck.  We were late getting away and that never helps. We had great light for the time we were out,but could only find one flighty Snowy. Other notables were Redpoll flocks, a group of snow Buntings, a group of four Grey Partridge (Huns), three coyotes, and a Pile of Magpies. Sorry no decent photo's for the Blog today, but I will be very busy on the weekend trying to find birds I've already shot this year for some Image Quality comparisons with the rented lens.  You may not see any undates until Monday. But they will be coming:)


Monday, 27 February 2012

Humming bird nest, Kinglet

We were out to Griffiths Wood, on the West side of town for our Sunday stroll this week.  It was another dull and snowy day, so the images are very poor. I've included a shot here of a Humming bird nest, a very interesting find.
We also managed to find (of particular note here in Calgary) a Belted Kingfisher, a male Pileated Woodpecker, a group of Yellow Crowned Kinglets, and a Blue Jay.
Here is a poor photo of a Kinglet:

If these birds get any smaller, I may give up trying to get shots:)


Very dry day at ASCCA

Bruno and I had a very uneventful day out on our Walk at the Cross on Friday (24th).  We spotted a pair of chickadees, (that wouldn't even give me a shot) a magpie and probably 15-20 ravens. Nothing else othere than the cattle that are grazing on the land. In order so show you a little something I went back into my "file" photos and thought that I would share a couple of shots of this large (200+) herd of elk that Mike M and I found on the property a couple of years ago. the light was terrible, but I think you can get the idea:

It was cold and snowy that day. I have seen any elk on the property in the last 12 months.
We did see some Cougar tracks on one of the trails, they looked to be 2-3 days old.
Have a GREAT week.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Wild Horses and Rough Leggeds part two

As I mentioned in the last post there was just too much great material on Monday so I thought that I would throw in a couple more shots. Our first good critter of the day was this coyote:
Here are two shots of the pileated, he was flying around trying to find the other male that was calling in the area (that was Dan and his iPhone). The first shot he just looks like a torpedo, and the second he is holding on for dear life:
And I am certain that I must have had one more decent hawk shot:)
I thought that I woud let you know that my Golden Eagle shots made the Calgary Birders Sunday Showcase, take a look: 
Have a GREAT week!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Wild Horses and Rough Leggeds

I went out with Dan and Lauren today to show them some wild horses. We met @ 8:00 a.m. and gassed up his Jeep.  We were on Snowy watch on the drive up to Olds, but no luck with the white owls.  Into the woods, we got started with 3 Roughies, one posing on a post.  Lauren spotted our first group of 8 or nine horses, then came a group of 10, both herds that I hadn’t seen before. The latter group had a beautiful dapple grey and a pair of white horses, which I find unusual.
Dan stayed behind after the herd with the white horses left and managed to pick up a shot of a Northern Shrike, a bird I am currently on the look out for. 
After picking the first pussy willows of the year, Lauren wanted them for her mother I think, we managed to call in a male Pileated woodpecker.  Down the road to the next set of horses, a group of three. One of my favourite roads produced nothing of note, we came back out and snuck in on the last three horses we had seen to about 40 yards.

We managed to find one more group of 5 very dark horses, but they wouldn’t let us get anywhere close to them.  With the horse part of the mission completed we focused on finding owls. We were unsuccessful with the owl hunt, but we kept finding Roughies and one bald eagle. 
Here is one Roughie tht did not want to leave its perch:
We shall find the owls another day, I am certain!  Another long post, but when you spend all day in the truck you are going to find lots of great things to photo:)  I want to thank Lauren for being a terrific trooper, she was relegated to the backseat for the day, and didn't complain once!


Townsends Solitaire Bebo Grove re-visited

Well we were back in the “grove” today in search of the elusive three toed woodpecker, with mixed results.  We were able to locate the bird by its song, but only visual contact was made, the bird was inflight, no photos were managed. From a good news perspective we spotted a Grey Jay today, and that is the first one sighted inside the city in a couple of years.

An interesting section of the park, a lot of hornet/wasp nests, the one below is in pristine condition, usually by now birds have torn these apart looking for pupae or larval insects inside.  

This was the largest concentration of weasel tracks that I have seen since I have arrived in Alberta.  This section of the park also has a garter snake hibernation (hibernaculum) site that is protected.
Other birds from today included Geese, Hairy and Downy woodpeckers, Chickadees, whitewinged crossbills, pine siskins, nuthatches, and a couple of Townsends Solitaire like below:

This guy stood on this post and twirled for us just like a model.  


Saturday, 18 February 2012

Hairy Woodpecker, Rose Breasted Nuthatch Bebo Grove

I jumped in on the Saturday morning walk today, as there has been a three toed woodpecker spotted this week, and I have never seen one. The park was very busy today and we didn't have any luck with the woodpecker, but we spotted: Townsend's Solitaire, nuthatches, Hairy and Downy woodpeckers (we actually we in a spot with 5 or 6 woody flying around in a very small area). YOu can actually see this fella's tongue as he is feeding.

Pine Siskins, Pine Grosbeaks, and ravens all made the list today.  At the end of the trip the Nuthatches were really quite friendly.  I hope tomorrow's outing gives the opportunity for the Three Toed unit.


Early walk at ASCCA

I talked Bruno into starting our Friday morning walk at the Cross a little earlier than normal:) We noticed right away that there were a lot of cattle up near HQ, so I was hoping for more wildlife sightings deeper in the woods. We were half way up Butterfly hill when I spotted a moose on the Ranger Trail, so we decided to backtrack to see if we could get a better look. The moose had moved off, but we were still able to get quite a bit closer, and actually find three moose, a first for Bruno on this property.
As we made our way down to Pine Creek we picked up some cougar tracks then at the west end of the valley trail they crossed south again. On the Aspen/Pine Creek hill we saw another set of cougar tracks, a different age, but might have been the same cat, although it exited the property to the north.
Here is a shot of the ice flow at the east end of the valley, it looked great with the sun on it. We probably could have stayed right there and taken photos all morning with the great looking frost!
We think we may have seen the Golden Eagle again, but it was quite a distance away. A great day out in the woods, with 20-25 deer, cougar tracks, a lot of ravens and of course a woodpecker or three.
We also found some tracks of a smaller animal, I am thinking perhaps a marten, I think they were too small for a fisher. We'll have to catch it out in the daylight some time.


Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Pileated Woodpeckers!

Thursday morning I headed over to Quesnel B.C. to hook up with some buddies for a little fishing and relaxation (some folks think those two things are the same). It's an 11 hour drive so I headed out from Calgary @ 7:00 a.m. I was hoping to get some shots of a Pileated Woodpecker and maybe a Stellar's Jay or two. I took this shot of a mature Baldy, there was a second mature eagle there but I couldn't get the two of them together. This was just outside of Cache Creek.
I was hung up for an hour, just outside of McLeese Lake, due to a major accident on the highway, so I was an hour late getting to Ken's place.
Thursday was a GREAT day of fishing with super results when searching for the Eastern Brook Trout:
The balance of the fishing was disappointing but well worth the effort. We always try one new lake every year that I get over, and this was no exception. Alas, all we caught were pikeminnow's, a coarse fish known for years as a more politically incorrect name. But the highlight was having Jim's young lad along for his first fish through the ice. Lief (sp?) quickly got the hang of the light biting minnows and would have filled a bucket:)
Monday morning had us out to a usually productive spot for rainbows, but no luck, I did however get to snag a couple (literally) of Pileated shots:
An a couple of flying shots Male:
Now for the female:
Sorry for the long post, but this one covered an entire weekend, with a couple of days tacked on to each end!
The drive home was uneventful and smooth. Never did get any Stellar's Jay shots though, maybe next time.
Have a GREAT week!

Whitetailed Doe

Bruno and I hit the Conservation area on Wednesday morning (February 8th) with the hopes of finding our buddy the Golden Eagle, but no luck.  We ran into some chickadees and could hear the Magpies around but very little else.  We did manage to find some Whitetailed deer.
We will stay optimistic on finding a few more specimens out there, we are heading out again Friday (17th) for another stroll.


Baltimore Oriole Nest

I was going to be away on the weekend and would miss my Sunday walk, so I joined up with the Tuesday crew on Beaver Damn Flats (February 7th). A lot of waterfowl as usual on the river with the ever present eagles on the look out for the easy pickings. We found this Baltimore Oriole nest very high up (60-80 feet) in an Aspen tree, first one that I have seen, and now that I know what to look for, it won't be my last.
As always (it seems) there are woodpeckers everywhere and I couldn't resist this Downy. I find the yellowish early morning light hard to deal with when it comes to post production processing. Maybe this looks okay?

I have been away on a fishing trip to BC, photos and entry to follow!


Monday, 6 February 2012

American Dipper and Boreal Chickadee

Sunday morning was a great walk, another first ever bird for me, an American Dipper.

We also had the Boreal Chickadee's thrown in along with the usual cast of Characters: Black Capped Chickadee's, Downy Woodpeckers, White and Red Breasted Nuthatches, a Pine Sisken or two, 3 whitetailed deer, ravens, geese, mallards, and a Merlin that was being pestered by Blue Jays. The day started cool @-8C but warmed up by noon to probably +2C. Hope you enjoy!


Saturday, 4 February 2012

Golden Eagle

Bruno and I thought we would do a patrol out at the Conservation area.  It was a very slow start with 4 whitetails and a couple of ravens. When we reached the southeast corner and broke out into the field we spotted this large bird of prey. It took a little peak at us then dropped out of the tree and flew overhead. I manage to squeeze off a couple of shots, and ended up with these.

After referencing my resources it was determined that it is a golden eagle, only my third confirmed bird. The rest of the patrol was pretty quite with a few more Whitetails, a Roughie and some chickadees. Tomorrow is my regular Sunday tour and I’m hoping for something to report! Have a great day!

Friday, 3 February 2012

GHO and Moose

On Tuesday I toured both Fish Creek and Carburn to see if I could get any better shots of what I had already seen, or, something new. Here is an updated shot of the female GHO in Fish Creek Park:
Then I was reminded what a great day Jamie and I had on the first day of the year, so I thought I would throw in a big game animal for everyone.
I need to Thank my brother Len for rescuing this shot from the garbage pile.  I also took some shots of a couple of mange infested coyotes, but they look pretty bad (the coyotes not the shots) so I elected not to post any of them.
Have a GREAT day!