Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sunday Evening Swainsons!

It is too bad that Tim was unable to get out for the run this evening, I think he would have enjoyed the opportunity to get some shots. I just nicely got out on the road and watched this Swainson swoop in and land on this post by the higway.  The road was clear so I stopped and fired off a couple of quick shots.

A little while later on I found this unit that I had to back up for to grab the shot. The weather was coming in pretty hard so the lighting was getting pretty bad!
I was pretty much the same route as Saturday morning as I wanted to check on my newly found Owl to see if it would be a repeat location. On the way I found this pair of Merlins in almost exactly the same place as Saturday morning.  Not a close shot, but I did manage to get both of them in:)
I confirmed the Owl, it was in exactly the same location, so that will require checking on from time to time. The rain hit pretty hard so I headed in the general direction of home, taking some other tracks and found another first for me and that was several Solitary Sandpipers.  I am expecting confirmation, but am pretty confident with that call.

The Swainsons were thick this evening, at one time I could have put three flying birds in the lens at one time. Several Redtail hawks were out tonight too, the only thing I missed that I would have like to have seen was a Kestrel.
So a pretty terrific day/weekend. I am very pleased with how the D80 is performing, but the lens will be going back, it is just too slow focussing. Birds in Flight (BIF) are brutal. (IMHO). I hope everyone had as success a weekend, and have a GREAT week!


13 striped Ground Squirrel

We were off to South Glenmore park here in Calgary this morning. A real challenge with a large body of water is that birds can just swim away from you, so many birds were too far for decent photos. We found Common Loons, American Widgeon, Eared Grebe, Red Necked Grebe, Swans, Mallards, Coots et al.
Here is a shot of an American Crow it is nice to get one with some green and blue:
I find the Common Goldeneye a tough bird to get the eye just right on, due to the colour bleed on most shots of.
We ran into a small flock of Yellowrumped Warblers, they are small and flit around pretty steady so I am happy with anything that shows their colour.
So here is another:

I also managed this Red Breasted Nuthatch in the more familiar upside down pose.
And my Coup-de-Gras of the day was my first ever 13 line Ground Squirrel:
I might get out for a tour this afternoon, if all goes well.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

D7K back in the shop- D80 comes to the rescue.

I decided to send my D7000 back to Nikon for them to look at it. It comes off warranty next month, so I wanted to make certain all was good, and given the challenges that I have experienced with Pro level lenses, I think something is wrong.  Anyhow, about today's tour; A great one! I hope you enjoy the shots.  Started off with a coyote and a pair of Merlins with a pile of Blackbirds and Starlings. Thought I would post this out of focus (OOF) shot as it represents prairie colour this time of year.
I just love the Black of the Redwing and Yellowhead Blackbirds(first ones I've seen this year), with blue sky, green grass, brown of the fields and bullrushes. Hopefully it works for you. I always want to get better shots of the Redwing Blackbird presenting his plumage. I thought the twin bullrush footholds and full song was a pretty good capture.
I grabbed a quick shot of this Song Sparrow, sorry for the poor quality, but they are small tough birds to get close to.
The Western Meadowlark was everywhere today, I probably found 20. These are very melodious birds, and have a very striking appearance to back up the song:)
My next capture was of a bird that can be found almost anywhere in Canada or the US, the tiny Savannah Sparrow. Love the yellow eyebrow.
By this time I had seen probably 4 or 5 Kestrels, but they were all photo shy. I had attempted many shots at a Roughie on the wing, with no luck, but did manage to spy this GHO. I don't know if it is a male or female, it looks like it is right in front of a nest. So, I don't know if he just finished eating, or if the female was giving the owlet a little room.  I didn't see any little critters in the nest, but will keep an eye out on my next visit to the area.
I managed to find that owl on my way home, along with this RWBB, maybe my best shot yet of one.
So, a good morning. Best shots to date of a WML and RWBB, a new Owl to keep an eye on and an abundance of Kestrels and Merlin to be watching for.  I also found 5-6 Swainson Hawks so you will soon be seeing photos of them too. Hope you have a GREAT Saturday.


Sunday, 22 April 2012

April 22 Carburn Park Walk

It was starting off as a beautiful day. On our southerly walk we put up 5 whitetail deer. and at the Bridge we had this Flicker insisting making his presence known!
My first decent Mallard on the wing.
Walking between the ponds we picked up our second beaver of the day, this one provided a better photo opp.
Grabbed this Common Merganser pair
It's not hard to tell what the Robin's are up to.
While I'm not much of a Bug guy, I did grab this little butterfly today.

In all we found more than 30 species of birds, and we threw in some mammals for us four legged guys.  I hope everyone has a GREAT week.


Out looking for Great Grey's and Horses April 21, 2012

Picked Jamie up at 6:00 a.m. and got a shot of what I believe to be a Cross fox prior to day break it is carrying something in it's mouth, but poor light and long distance make for a bad combination for images.
Here is a sample of about 4-500 head of elk we saw, the 300 does do landscape very well:)
Not long after that we encountered our first Great Grey of the day, with very poor low light results, so I won't post any here. By mentioning it was our first, you know you've got shots coming:)
We found more Shrikes, Redtails and Roughies through out the morning.  Here is a blue bird, with less light it is actually easier to see the graduations of blue on their backs and wings. The 300 does give a nice blurry background.
We found a few moose and more predators, both of the four and two legged variety. I am including a shot here of a North American Bison.  There is talk of attempting to re-introduce these cranky critters into Banff National Park.  I think it would be a hoot to have some of these mighty animals continuing on in the park.
We managed to stay busy until we happened upon this fellow. We were able to get pretty close, I will post more images another day.
After this Great experience we headed out to wild horse country.  We had seen this article, and it had me quite concerned. Record number of wild horses caught and slaughtered We had lunch and managed to find this fellow. You might remember it from an earlier trip with Dan and Lauren.
Definitely looking the worse for wear. We found 6 horses, in an area where I would have historically been able to find 20-30.  We are hoping the few they have left will re-build the herds.
Our next great spot was of this Northern Hawk owl. We were lucky enough to watch as he dove down and grabbed this mouse. I like the way you can see the dried grass left behind in the air as he heads off with his meal.
As it turned out we had to boogie back to town as my wife had made us a dinner engagement, and we had some ground to cover.  We did take the time to grab a few shots of this Kestrel on the way home.
I thought he was a great sport in the way he turned his head so we could see most of his colouring.
We finished up with more of everything, but I thought I'd throw one more Bluebird your way. I was a little disappointed with the quality of the lens today, we will se how tomorrow's walk goes.


New Lens Friday April 20 2012

I picked up a new 300mm F4.0 lens today and have 14 days to determine if it is the right lens for me. So for the next several posts this is what I will be using for a lens, let's see how the images turn out.
waiting for Jamie to show up at Inglewood I found Mrs. Wood Duck.
An American Robin
Mrs. Mallard
Whenever comparison shopping you have to take a few familiar faces like our friend below.
A tough bird for me to get a good shot of is, the Black Billed Magpie
Of course a colourful Mr. Woody must be shown
A first ever Pied Billed Grebe, hey, that's what it is called. A long way off, and not a big bird.

That pretty much wrapped up the Friday evening. We had headed down to get a look to see if we could find the Harlequin. Jamie grabbed one quick shot of him flying overhead, but I didn't get a shot. So far so good, I liked the results with lens tonight.  More to come tomorrow.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

American Pipet victory. And a bonus Sprague Pipet!

This morning's Sunday walk started slow, I was a couple of minutes late and on the way to the designated meeting point I had to stop and grab a few shots of a coyote. And although I always seem to be apologizing for the light, we had heavy cloud cover, snow and a brisk wind today. Tough to grab a focus point with low light end everything the same colour:
We made the rounds with quite a lot of activity, migrating swallows, Franklin's gulls, various other shorebirds, but no Pipets to start the day. Upon entering the area where one pair of the GHO's are nesting, noticed a pair of Wood ducks up in a tree.
Now I'll be the first to tell you that I am not accustomed to finding ducks in trees, but there you have it.  Of course when you get the opportunity to fire off a couple of shots at a GHO you have to take advantage.
We headed over to one of the drainage ponds where I captured this Red Winged Blackbird. You can see where the wind has actually blown his primary feathers up to reveal the red secondary layer.
We closed out the regularly scheduled portion of our walk with a Great Blue Heron flyby.
So a couple of us decided to see if we could find the American Pipet one last time, with some success, here was a total surprise a Sprague's Pipet, another first for me.
Here is another shot of a pair on the rocks, not a double on the rocks, a pair:)
We also picked up a male Mountain Bluebird for the day which was a total surprise.
I hope everyone has a GREAT week, HAPPY BIRTHDAY BRO!!!!!!


Saturday, 14 April 2012

Great day, er, no--Great Grey day!

Headed out this morning to where Jamie had found a Great Grey Owl last week. We started out with a skittish Kestrel, added some Roughies, and made a pass through the GGO territory. I decided I needed to give the truck a drink, so we headed out for gas, spotting a Great Blue Heron, a Northern Harrier, and more Roughies and Redtails, on the way out. On the way back in, we stopped and fired off a few frames at the first Heron of the year.
This is part of what I love about Southern Alberta, the importance of water; although the target shot was the Heron, in the bottom right you will find a Canada Goose, and behind and a little higher in the frame from the Heron you will see a Townsend Solitaire.
Back on the Trail of the GGO, I spied him on the ground with his meal:
After finishing off his mouse/vole, he popped up into an nearby Aspen so we could fire off a few frames.
After cleaning his beak he took a closer look at me.

He popped over to anther tree, and he was much better hidden from a camo perspective.
It was a super encounter that lasted full 5 minutes of camera snapping time. These are my first digital photos of a GGO, hopefully I will get more.
The rest of the trip  was made up primarily of Shrikes (I think we found 4 different birds), hawks, deer, and horses (Domestic). As you can probably tell the sky was heavy overcast so the light wasn't great and it was snowing for much of the time we were out there. I did manage a decent "action" shot of a Townsend Solitaire coming in for a landing.  These are very hard bird to get a good photo of due to their muted tones.  Autofocus has a very difficult time.

I am expecting Jamie to provide me with a Shrike shot or two.  He OWES me.