Saturday, 31 March 2012

Evening Tour

Picked Deb's uncle up, we haven't been out much this year so I thought I would drag him along. He is a waterbird guy, but endures my search for mammals. We left town at 5:45 p.m. I was hoping to get to show him some Bluebirds as he has an appreciation for their beauty.  Redtail hawks numbered in the 8-10 range, herd of Elk of about 100, 30-60 deer. We probably found 6-8 Bluebirds, but no acceptable photo's, one mature bald eagle.  I did manage to snap this shot of a Northern Shrike:

After finding our designated moose, we also spotted two more on the way home. The light is poor, but I was shocked to see that this fella still had one of his antlers. This is the last day of March, unbelieveable!
I apologize for the poor quality, but it was getting late. We were quite disappointed that there were limited water birds around. He was hoping to see some mallards, and I was hoping to find a Red Winged Blackbird--true harbingers of spring:)
Some sort of bird hit the truck on the way home, I think it might have been a Snipe. A fair size and it bent my truck antenae.  Tomorrow is the the Sunday morning walk. Will report the results!


Killing time

I was drag ass getting out of bed this morning, and debated going into the Camera Store to buy a new 300mm F4.0 lens, I decided against it.  I will wait until there is one available with VR. So when I finally got out of my funk and headed down to FCPP it was 11:30 like, late. But I did okay, I got my first butterfly of the year, I found out it is a Morning Cloak.

I followed that up with Mom's favourite a White breasted Nuthatch:
I was then almost attacked by this lovely little Downy:
Of course the Owls are doing great! I think we will start to see the youngsters in a couple of weeks.
We had some sun for a change. It was a great morning/noon time. The trails are getting muddy.


Monday, 26 March 2012

Sunday evening Bluebird?.

Jamie popped down for an afternoon cruise, I think he is getting the bug:)
We headed over to the ranch, and even though it was the middle of the day we did pretty well:
3 eagles, 6 red tails, 15-20 roughies, 10 deer, 3 bald eagles, 1 Solitaire, and the sure sign of spring 12 robins!
One of these days I'll get a great shot of a Roughie:)
And did I mention, the Mountain Bluebirds have returned. Love these little birds.  Will need to wait about a month before the women folk come back and calm these males down, so we will be able to get close enough to get some decent shots.  This one was about 30 yards.
Have a great week everyone!


Hooded Merganser :)

Our Sunday morning walk had to be re-routed, so we hit the next week's scheduled walk instead.We hit the nesting pair of GHO's for a peak and caught our first look of the returning American Robins, a sure sign of spring! Over to Mallard point for a lot of ducks and geese, with a mange coyote thrown in the mix as well. Oh, yeah, we also spent a few minutes with this rooster pheasant:
A new bird for me was this pair of Hooded Mergansers, here is the male with his crown extended:
And of course here is the Missus in a neck stretch display pose, who could resist?
All in all a good day, althought the weather was crap! -5 C with a brisk wind and heavy humidity, and very poor light conditions. There was hoar frost developing on all the plants and trees.


Jamie's place

Sheesh, way behind on my posting from the weekend. This will be the first of 3 posts to cover off the weekend treks. Jamie has been moaning about not having anything worth "shooting" in his neighbourhood, so I thought I would go up and do a little exploring with him.  We left his place @ 4:10 p.m. and were in woods within 45 minutes.  What did we find? How about: 100 deer, 25-30 elk, 5 bald eagles, 15-20 roughies, 1 redtail and a GHO!  Not too Shabby, as we used to say at the spring bear camp!
Ever wonder how a deer jumps, clears, then lands when they jump the fence?  Here is your answer:
First you have to lift your front legs.
Then you kick with your hind legs:
Then you land on your front legs and do a hand stand!
That boy is dreaming I tell you, there is a tonne of great stuff up in his area!!!


Friday, 23 March 2012

Dan's day.

Dan was headed out to Frank lake and was looking for some company so I tagged along. He picked me up at 8:30 and we weree off, unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse and we had very poor light conditions; heavy overcast with heavy snow at times. Things were quite until we arrived at the lake area for parking, Dan spotted our first Bald Eagle (6, I think for the day). We found about 150 Horned larks:
I've always had a tough time getting shots of these birds, as they tend to keep their distance, and they are pretty small. You can see the snow falling in this shot.
The lake, although only partially open was full of birds.  Here is a group of Male Pintails escorting a female:
We found probably 5000 Pintails in a single field a little later in the day, along with about 3-500 swans, there were a mixture of Trumpeter and Tundra:
We finished up the day (about 8 hours) with this herd of 80-100 elk:
While the weather was tough, and we didn't find some of the birds Dan was looking for, we did pretty well: 1-3000 geese, 1-3000 mallards, 4-8000 Pintails, 5-800 swans, 6 Redtailed hawks, 8 Roughies, 6 Bald Eagles, 100-150 Horned Larks, 20-40 deer, 80-100 elk. On a day with very poor light conditions, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  I would consider that a successful day!!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Input Please!

After a long self debate, I thought that I would ask my followers and visitors to provide me with a little guidance. I am enclosing a link here of a short video taken of a large (3-400 head, looks like)herd of elk not too far from home.  I believe that I have found this herd on outings and have posted a couple of photos taken on a cold snowy morning.
Should I post more links to things that I find interesting?
Yes or No?
Please respond by leaving a comment.


Tuesday Morning coming down- Hairy Woodpecker, Whitetail, Northern Flicker

Had some time to kill this morning and even though it was poor light I thought that I would try and find the two male owls on nest guarding duty in FCPP. After spotting the first male and walking over to the second I found this Hairy Woodpecker working over this fallen log:
I was very fortunate and able to creep to within 15 feet.
After the spotting of the second male, I found this doe. She had been laying down with her fawn. This deer has no white eye rings like I have seen on other Whitetails recently:

Shortly after that I found these two male Northern Flickers. They did a little head bobbing, but I didn't see them do any wing flaring at all. It was some sort of a stare down match.
I start work on Monday, so that will bring an end to my midweek walks in the parks.  Once the the days get a little longer, I will be doing evening patrols out at the Cross.


Monday, 19 March 2012

Sunday at the Sanctuary, Greater White Fronted Goose, Bald Eagle, Northern Goshawk

When we split up on Saturday night, Dan mentioned he was going to head down to the our weekly "walk" area early to try and get shots of a snow goose. I told him I would try and make it. So, running a little late on Sunday morning we got hooked up and did a brief tour, found no snow goose, but two other "new to me" specie were present; the Greater White Fronted Goose and the Cackling Goose. The Cackling goose, looks like a Canada goose, except much smaller, and has quite a different call. Here is a shot of the white fronted:
There were a number of other "water birds" of note, a couple of Widgeon, some Pintails, but we could not find the Harlequin that had been seen earlier in the week.
There was quite a stir on the river as many of the ducks took to flight along with the gulls, as a mature Bald Eagle was trying to "grab some lunch", it picked out a target and chsed it quite a while, to no avail.
Later on, Dan spotted this immature Northern Goshawk, which I believe everyone had a look at prior to its leaving.
By the end of the day we had added a couple of migrating Sharpshinned Hawks to the tally and a second, high altitude Baldy. We also found our first outing Richardson Ground Squirrel for the year.
Have a great week!

Saturday night Squirrels

Saturday night and Dan and I are sitting in the dark, looking skyward for indications of the Northern Flying squirrel to appear. Actually I arrived around 7:00 to get my flash gear set up, and to find a spot to sit. I was ready for a long evening. With evrything in place and tested it was around 8:00 p.m. when our friendly neighbourhood Ruffed grouse appeared.  I took a shot at it, this time with absolutely marginal flash, this photo has been lightened up significantly with software, but I love it!
A little "bright eye" but I am happy with the shot considering conditions.
Dan showed up at about 8:10, and got set up. We headed over to the bridge to do a little owl calling with no responses received. We were all settled in when our first "visitor" appeared. Dan got off a shot (a little too early, I'm afraid it spooked the squirrels):
Dan has graciously provided me with a copy of the photo for use here on the Blog. We hung around for another 2 hours after this shot, but no other squirrel came calling.  We could here them around us, but none came to where we were set up.  Perhaps another evening we will head out.


Saturday, 17 March 2012

Saturday morning tour

Happy Saint Patricks Day!  With the time moving last weekend there is a real advantage to not having to head out of the house until 7:00 a.m. One of our local skunks was outr and about, but there was notr enough light to grab a shot.I stayed pretty close to home today, but still managed to find about 70 deer, here are a pair from a Bachelor herd of 5:
What really surprised me is that these bucks still have antlers, this is the middle of March for crying out loud.An indication as to the health of the critters and the mild winter we experienced this year.
A lot of geese out and about this morning, this fwellow has already laid claim the pot hole he wants to raise a family on it seems:
Also spotted 4 rooster pheasants, one with a couple of gals by his side:

The "find of the day" was this little bird of prey. I need to get an ID on it.  I initially thought it was a femail Kestrel, but it is likely a Merlin. 
Of course there were Coyote's out there, I think I saw 5 but they were all high tailing it. 
Overall a very productive morning. Have some Green beer everyone.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Thursday morning Cross walk

Bruno and I did our Cross patrol this morning as I have an  interview scheduled for tomorrow, and thought we should get in a little exercise. We found a cow moose with last year's calf up on the flats, then in the SE corner we found these 10 Whitetails:
Things were pretty quitefrom there up to the top of the Pine Creek trail, where we found our freshest looking cougar tracks this year. I would say that that they were likely made within the past 24 hours, if not in the last 6.  Part the way down the hill we spotted three more Whitey's, and I think this is a decent shot of the lead doe:

Oh, I should throw in the Bald Eagle as well.  The wind came up pretty hard around 10:30 a.m. as seems to be the case here this spring.


New Moose Country

Skipped out for a morning tour, headed out to find the NHO or the Short Earred this morning, with no luck for those particular birds. There was significant activity though, starting with a Coyote, 10 whitetails, 8 Roughies, and 4 moose.  I did spot a Shrike again, but was too slow on the draw. A Bald eagle maintained its distance, so no decent shots of that unit either. I did see my first Red Tail Hawk of this spring so the migrations are beginning.  Here is a shot of a moose that I spotted laying down. It was there for at least 90 minutes (10:30 a.m. until noon) on my last pass by it, there was a second moose behind it feeding. Bruno and I are headed out to the Cross tomorrow.

Have a GREAT day!


Sunday amble

I owe everyone an apology, I have been holding on to the Sunday update, and here it is Thursday, Sheesh!  The Morning startedoff with a coyote, which I hammered out a couple of shots of but nothing worth posting. We were then off to find the two pairs of GHO’s that are nesting in the area.
This is the second male standing guard over the female as she sits on the eggs. 

Here is a shot of her, she is in the hollowed top of this cottonwood tree, all you can see is one eye and her ear tufts in this shot.

The place was CRAZY with woodpeckers and flickers this morning, here is a shot of a Hairy:

Sorry for the delay in getting this posted.


Saturday, 10 March 2012

Friends at FCPP

I am trying out a different camera lens this week, and I have been experiencing terrible results, as you can probabaly tell by my photo posts for this weekend. In order to try and work through what is going on I headed back down to Fish Creek PP to shoot some friends that are usually close at hand. On my walk I did manage to find this Ringed necked pheasant, so I thought I would post his portrait.
I was very disappointed with my Nuthatch and Chickadee shots, and couldn't find a cooperative Downy of Hairy woodpecker, but this Northern Flicker shot seems okay.
She was watching me as closely as I was watching her.
Changed configuration settings on the camera and we are out again tomorrow for our Sunday walk. It will be an hour earlier tomorrow as the clocks "spring ahead" tonight for Daylight savings time.


Owl Prowl

With now two owls in one area that we wanted to get shots of Jamie and I headed out to look for the elusive Northern Hawk owl and the newly added to the list, Short Earred owl. We didn't get out of the neighbourhood when Jamie had me scrambling for my camera, one of my target specie was on the loose, but we weren't going to get too close.
We found another target of mine while out today, and if this keeps up we will continue to look for the NHO, and find other stuff that we weren't necessarily looking for.
A Juvenile Northern Shrike.  While out exploring, as this was our other purpose for the morning, we happened upon these domestic horses, and I thought a couple of shots deserved posting.
Other critters of note were Mule deer, Whitetails, a couple of mature Bald Eagles, several Roughies, and a cattle drive with about 300 head and 10 cowboys, gotta love Alberta and the cowboys!


Flying Squirrel outing.Ruffed Grouse

Dan asked if I would be interested in getting out for a flying squirrel expedition, I was all over it like white on rice:)  Rocky and Bullwinkle are two of my favourites. During set up this little Ruffed Grouse popped in for a visit.  I apologize for the poor quality of the photo, but we were in the woods and it was probabaly 45 minutes after sundown, to get any shot was remarkable, without using a flash.
A little earlier in the evening my "sensitive" side came out and I shot these rose hips.
Unfortunately the squirrels didn't make the meeting, Dan and I might try again next Friday night.


Hunchback Moose of Cross Conservation

With Bruno and I out on our weekly patrol, we had a moose and two Whitetails sighted before we left the parking lot. the we found this group of Muley's soaking up some early morning sun.
Just a little further down the path we found our second moose of the day, and when I looked at the photos, I was thinking we should call it Quasimodo! It looks to have a rather odd hump on its back. We will need to keep an eye out for this particular moose once again.
We picked up some more cougar tracks that were likely 3 days old. We look forward to the day when we find feet still in some of these markings:)  Other than that a very quiet (animal wise) walk.  The wind came up, and I find very little in the wind.


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Short Earred Owl and Mange Coyote.

I want to thank Jamie for this shot, it shows a coyote with mange passing just yards away from the Short Earred Owl we were watching. I'd like to point out that this shot was about 350 yards out, in very harsh light conditions. Jamie usually produces much higher quality photos! The idea here was to record what we saw and gain a confirmation that this was in fact a Short Earred. It marks the first time either of us have seen this bird.
Recognized the quality is not great, but thought you might like to see this shot/behavior, the owl did not fly, the coyote just kept on walking.  Let me know if you think I should delete.


Monday, 5 March 2012

In search of the Northern Hawk Owl

After the Sunday stroll, I hooked up with Jamie as he had never seen a NHO, so we headed out to find the mystical bird. We had great directions (mostly) as to the Owl's location, but it was not be found. We did manage to find a different Owl, a first for me and that was a Short Earred Owl.  We took photos but he bird was about 350 yards off. Perhaps Jamie will be able to submit something here as a comment?
While we were out we also found this herd of 80+ elk, lounging in a field:
Some Rough Leggeds:
10 Sheep, 40-50 deer. It was a fabulous afternoon, other than the wind came up. Here is a shot I took from the back of the truck:
Everyone have a GREAT work week. I am contemplating trying out a different lens next week.
I also have to acknowledge the fantastic woman I am married to, she allows me the freedom to embark on these adventures.