Sunday, 24 February 2013

House finch, Varying Hare, Boreal Chickadee, Golden crowned Kinglet on a Sunday Morning walk (20130224)

It was looking like a fabulous morning, bright, -8C supposed to rise up to +5C. The Weaselhead did not let us down. In the parking lot manage to get a good look at this pair of House finches.
There were also a few Blue Jays flying around, but I couldn't get one out in the sunlight, so I had to grab one that was feeding in the shade of the trees.
As we started out we found Redpolls, Downy's, Chickadees and Nuthatches. For the first time in a long time         managed to grab a shot of a Varying Hare (Snowshoe rabbit) while we were out. It was terrific to get a shot like this, had I been on my own, I would have spent a lot more time trying to get a better shot.
We were fortunate enough to get to see 4 or 5 Boreal Chickadees, this is not a very good shot, but I thought that I would throw it in anyway.
Not too far from the Boreal's we were able to get our eyes on a Golden Crowned Kinglet. This is a better shot than last year's, but I still need to improve my opportunities to get these birds captured.
We had Bohemian Waxwings flying over us all day, but none of them would light near us so we could capture a couple of images. Just as spooky was this Juvenile Northern Goshawk.
Wrapping up our "tour" we were present with a very cooperative Pine Grosbeak, she was willing to pose for us for quite a while.
While "tallying" the score at the end of the walk were were rewarded with a larger flock of White winged Crossbills, here is a Juvenile male, you can see how he still has some of his youngster yellow on his neck.
Here is an image of a mature male.
Overall a great day, just as we were finishing up the clouds started to close in.  I hope everyone has a great Wildlife week!

Monday, 18 February 2013

Jeannette's First Snowy and a Merlin (20130218)

Today started much like the last two heavy overcast and windy, another day that we will struggle to find critters. We were on the road by 12:15, with the hopes of finding some cooperative subjects. The first couple of birds we found were very skittish in the wind. We even tried zipping past them and turning around and getting a good look before even trying to slow down to grab a shot. After the first 3 Snowy's we came up behind this bird sitting on a post, and it held pretty well. I believe being down wind assisted us with our approach.
Shortly after seeing this unit we watch what must have been a couple of thousand of Buntings.  We tried to herd them into position for some close up shots, but no luck. I sat in the ditch for a couple of minutes and only managed a couple of Redpoll shots.
The day started to lighten up. And a couple of the birds began to show a little more tolerance. There were a few that we found that were just sitting in the fields. Here is a shot of our first cooperative bird.  You can see how she is leaning face first into the wind.
A little look at both of her eye's.
Her is our second last bird of the day. The sun was out and sky behind blue, perfect, almost. This picture shows you how far into the wind she has to lean to stay on top of the post. We are pretty certain that this was our second sighting of the day for this bird.
We finished up with "the 8:30" bird to bring our total tally to seven and I dropped Jeannette off at her vehicle at 4:15 p.m., a VERY successful four hour round trip "track"!
Have a great wildlife week.

Slow poke Sunday walk.(20130217)

Our poor weather from our Saturday trip spilled right over into Sunday. We had received a skiff of snow, and the wind conditions actually worsened. Light snow on flat ice from our recent freeze, thaw, freeze, cycle created safety issues for walking. Right as soon as I arrived I spotted this eagle floating over the river.
You can see the poor lighting, which we suffered from all day. In one lighter moment of the day, I managed to grab this shot of a couple of geese lifting off from the river.
The highlight of the day was a sighting of a Prairie Falcon at the far end of our walk, these are not commonly found inside the city limits! On the way back to our starting point we found this little Downy lady.
For this next shot I would have loved to had some real light for these Rock Doves, with their iridescent colouring a shot like this would look pretty nice!
One of the reasons for us to head to this area was the sighting of a male Pintail in the area, Dan and I found him on the walk back to the cars.
That pretty well wrapped up our morning walk on Sunday. Monday is a Statutory Holiday (Family Day) and I am planning a short jaunt out with Jeannette for Snowy's.

Wild horses finally. (20130216)

Jamie and I had made arrangements to make a run for wild horses. While there are many "targets" for the day, wild horses will be our primary objective. After several weekends of stellar weather and lighting, today's conditions have much less than ideal. We will suffer overcast skies and winds ranging from 20-60 kph. We spot a high flying bird of prey that appears to be either a juvenile bald eagle, or a golden eagle (one on the wish list for the day). Soon we have a brief encounter in red fox ( #2 on the list). within 10 miles we check the moose off our list. Our Great Grey search was fruitless, but at the end of that "track" we found some Whitewinged Crossbills. Unfortunately these incidents were all brief and no images were captured. Our first decent opportunity for a capture were a group of "Whiskey" Jack's.
We had been seeing Deer by the score, we decided to stop and grab a couple images of a group of Does feeding in the spruce.
More Grey Jays and then a surprise opportunity was provided by some Blue Jays.
So, where are the wild horses, you are asking? We found our first group of 3 wild horses, this was a pleasant surprise as we found them in an area where I have never found horses previously. This group were on a ridge over looking the road, using the ridge as a barrier of safety.
While we were quite close and the horses were a little nervous, we grabbed a couple a images.
The third of the group is this beautiful cream coloured unit with a white patch that runs from its ears through to the midpoint of the nostrils.
Things were pretty quite for the next couple of hours, more Grey Jays and deer, but little else. In the heart of horse country we find a herd of 10 horses. This is the same herd that Len and I found in October and that Jamie saw 2 weeks previous. Here is one of the Mare's.
We had spotted these ponies about 500 yards off the road and with the wind in our favour we tried to get closer. at about 150 yards they got nervous, so we grabbed some shots and backed off. This one reminds me of a teenager with the hair in front of the eyes.
Here is shot of what I believe is a second pregnant mare.
We finished up with a group shot, I couldn't get all ten in the image without then looking like little specs.
The other group of four that we found were out at about 2 or 3 miles on an open hillside. There appeared to be only 3 but after getting to review photo's I found a fourth. Th e afternoon just seemed to slip away. We found 3 mature Bald Eagles and what looked like 150 Ravens. About another 100 deer rounded out the day. We finished off with keen eyed Jamie finding two different Northern Shrikes, not greeting card material, but sufficient evidence.
well that was our trip, I hope everyone out there has a great wildlife weekend.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Don's first Snowy (20130210)

Over the the past couple of weeks I have been speaking with Don about getting out for Snowy's. Our walk ended a little early this morning sow we decided to see if we could find Don's first bird. We were just getting into our 8:30 bird vicinity when we grabbed this unit.
The birds were particularly spooky today, we didn't a chance to get in close on any of the birds today.
Don was in for a real "treat", as it turns out.  After our first bird we were able to spot a different bird about every 15 minutes for the first hour. Not only were we seeing birds, they were presenting themselves in many venues. Here is a shot of one on a large wooden power pole set up.
Kids and animals will make a liar out of you every time, right. I was just telling Don how the Snowy's prefer the single poles when we spotted this unit on a three wire set up.
We took a short break from the owls to grab a couple of shot so some Horned Larks, another first for Don.
After another owl I took Don over to the Redpoll spot so that he could set up his 800, on the tripod.
Overall an exceptional day, Don not only got his first Snowy but seven more to go along with it. We saw three of the birds a second time. I believe he had a great time, and hopefully grabbed himself some fine images for his collection.
I hope everyone had a great wildlife weekend!

Monday, 11 February 2013

A couple of new birds on our walk (20130210)

Our Sunday morning started with a bang. It was a cool fresh morning, with a nice bright sun to provide us additional optimism.  We had just nicely got started when three Pileated's Woodpeckers.
It is truly amazing how red these brush style heads are, just brilliant. Here is a little closer look of one the birds. This is a female as there is no red moustache.
We spent quite a while with two, but they were well in the woods and getting closer for a better show was not on the agenda, so we continued on. Not too far down the trail we spotted this Townsend Solitaire. While we were clicking away at this specimen, it's mate was checking us out from over our shoulder.
Down the trail a distance and this Juvenile Goshawk popped up into a tree over the river.  What beautiful camouflage it has for the area it hunts in!

We managed to work our way around for a little better view (that's tough to do when there are 20 people!) and I grabbed this image as it left us.
So those were our three sweetheart birds of the morning. Of course I have to throw in one of Canada's bird.
It was a great morning. I am thinking I'll take Don out for a cruise for Snowy's this afternoon. I hope everyone is having a great wildlife weekend!

Friday, 8 February 2013

Snowy Owls, Prairie Falcon, Buntings Lost opportunity, no chance for wild horses. (20130208)

I had picked up my Lens from repair on Wednesday and was anxious to get it into the field to make certain it would be up to our coming trip to California.So I set up my calibrating gear, and was very disappointed with the results. I had to call Zel and cancel our trip out to Wild horse county, so that I could get the lens into the shop and see if it could get functioning properly! I picked Zel up at 9:00 a.m, 2 hours later than planned.And we were out of the Camera Store by 10:30 with a lightened heart and fully functioning unit. Our first bird was a long distance, on the ground, female or juvenile snowy.  Our next encounter were with some smaller avian friends.
These are very tough birds to get to sit still long enough to grab a shot of them.
We happened onto an almost pure white male, but he spooked before we could get some close up shots, we grabbed some long distance field shots, but not really what we wanted. So we went for lunch hoping he would be back where we first saw him in an hour or two.  Lunch was great but not uneventful.  On our way out we found our white friend again, but he did not move from his ground spot. So we found some other "targets" like this fellow.
Of course we were able to find a couple of our original target birds, like this little lady (no crop).
I usually don' manage to capture the "take-off" very well, but how about these talons? This was a different bird then the shot above actually.
We headed down to the Short Earred Owl country to see if we could find them before the sun set. We didn't find the SEO's but we did find a Prairie falcon:)
We finished up our tour with a couple more Snowy's, including this cooperative lady.
So the day finished up strong and colourful, it could have been a lot worse. I hope you enjoy the shots, and that you have a great wildlife weekend!

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Sharp Shinned, Redpoll, Snowy's (20130203) After the Sunday walk

I picked up Zelimir and we stopped off at my place to tighten up my ball head, then we headed out for Snowy's once again.  I Love those birds! Zel was driving and we had to whoa up for this beauty.

This is the first Sharp Shinned I have seen in quite some time. I would have liked to had a clearer view, but we have to take what they give us. We were about to make our regular run when I decided we should spin by our favourite Redpoll spot.
I am thoroughly impressed with these little fellows and gals.
When we hit the prime spot for out birds it was great to see that one of favourite Snowys is still well and hunting in her typical fashion. She wasn't close enough to the road to grab a descent image. We next found a beautiful mature male on a fence post, but he was pretty skittish and didn't give us a chance for shots. Our next owl was a little more friendly.
It seemed to be the ladies that were cooperative today as we also found this sweetheart a little way down aside road. We had to back up  and head down the gravel to grab this shot.
We then headed to home with the idea of getting to watch the second half of the Superbowl:)
I hope everyone had a great wildlife weekend.