Sunday, 31 March 2013

Springtime brings Bluebirds out at the Ranch (20130328)

It has been months since we have been out to the Ranch, those Snowy's and Great Greys are just too seductive. I had also heard that my favourite Grey moose had been seen in the area, so I had to get out there. Oh, and by the way, the Bluebirds should be back :)
Jamie and I were out on time and headed in to the same spot that I have watched this moose for the past 4 years, we find her with her calf from last year.
It was an almost full moon setting right over the area we were going to walk for the first time ever. Moon, Mountains, new ground, what else could anyone ask for.
We found this Roughie, the second or third of the day.
At the back end of the Sheep River we found elk, and two different groups of male Rocky Mountain sheep. They are a long way off, so we decided to wait to see if the light will be better, and if they will hang around until this afternoon.  On the way out we found our third moose of the day, a nice looking bull that has wintered well.  The Blue birds were active and cooperative.
This handsome fella already had his digs picked out and was just waiting to find the right lady friend to share his abode with him.
Although there will be a Bluebird specific trip in a couple of weeks (when the ladies are around) I couldn't resist throwing in another of the beautiful birds. While we were shooting this guy Freeman, stopped by to chat, and we exchanged information. He leases land right on the river and has provide permission for me to go in and take photo's.  Thank you Freeman!
We did a nice 3 hour hike on new territory where we believe we found an Northern Hawk Owl, we will have to go back and confirm. Eagles, Grey Jays, and even a male Northern Harrier were spotted. we headed back to the riven and there were still a few sheep on the hillside. They are well over a mile away so we had time to set up the tripod and I threw the TC2.0 on and thought that this might be a decent shot considering all the conditions :)
I am throwing in this shot of this Coyote, it was a long way off, but this one looks like she is about to drop her pups. Do you think the "she's got the belly"?
Jamie might have grabbed a couple of shots of a Northern Shrike, and one of two foxes that we found today. If he sends me something, I will likely add them to this post.
Have a GREAT wildlife day!
As promised here are a couple of shots from Jamie!
First up, our first fox of the day!
And a mature Northern Shrike.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Brown Creeper, Waxwings, Merlin Sunday morning coming down (20130324)

Our Sunday morning walk started with a scurry, as a trio of Brown Creeper's were spotted in the parking lot area of our meeting place. In spite of decent light these little rascals are very difficult to get a good shot of.
The walking was tricky, as soon as we arrived at the river, a mature male Northern Goshawk swung by attempting to grab another bird, we could't tell for certain whether or not it was successful. There was a mature Bald Eagle was sitting on the other side of the river.
There were flocks of Bohemian Waxwings flying over us all during our track, the totals was definitely in the 1000's. Here is a shot of just a few resting up on a tree.
American Robins made their presence known, so we know spring has arrived here in the great white north.
This has been a great year for Crossbills this year and we managed to find a couple today.
With thousands of Waxwings floating around and the many other species in the area, we added a Merlin to our predator list.
We wound our way through a series of neighbourhoods, each with their own unique reputations, we were able to spot Wood Ducks, Mallards and Canada Geese, with ease. Both Hairy and Downy woodpeckers were spotted, and as in most urban environments here the House Sparrow is a common sight.
As we returned to the parking lot the Creeper's had been replaced with Flickers, with one pounding his head merrily on the top of a metal light standard, in order to "announce his presence with authority".
Have a super week everyone.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Elk, Whitewings, Boreal Sorry for all the Great Grey shots (20130323)

After a great day on Friday, I screwed up and slept in well past our agreed meeting time.  I could only hope that we could salvage the day. Things started looking up when we pulled into the A&W to grabs a couple of breakfast sandwiches to get the day started and we spied a Merlin on the light standard right outside the restaurant. As we headed into the "zone" we were greeted with beautiful "golden hour" light and this herd of 200-250 head of elk. Here is just sample of them.
Things were a little light with a Northern Shrike and the usual ravens and Magpie's, at the end of "my" L road  we were able to find some Whitewinged Crossbills.
Back out at the highway we put up a Rough Legged Hawk, that when he flew over an aspen stand a your bull moose trotted out onto the road. So the day was shaping up pretty nicely, we were only 75 minutes into what could be a long day:)  Ten minutes later we were enjoying the company of our first GGO of the day.
This is the first time that I have actually seen a GGO in this position. When it checked out the field in front of it, it had to "duck" under the wire. We don't often get to see the colours in the backs of the wings like this.
We spent 25 minutes with individual, and saw a RLH in the background. As we manuvered in the direction of the RLH, we spied a second GGO within 300 yards of the first. It too was on top of a telephone pole, just a little higher up, standing beside the insulator.
90 minutes later we found another GGO, and he was terrifically cooperative. Dan and I were able to get into a tremendous set of positions as this fellow totally ignored our presence. He spent a great deal of time watching the sky for some reason (no crop).
Here is a shot you don't get very often in the day, a time when he looks right at you and closes both his eyes.
Sorry for the slight over exposure.
We watched as he was unsuccessful on three different "attacks", this was after "pounce #2". I like the way his leg is forward and the grass in the foreground.
While we were watching this owl, another GGO flew in across the field and hunted for a while, then disappeared back in the trees, so we know there are at least two owls in that area. After a bit the wind came up a little, and ruffled some feathers.
On the way back home we picked up a couple of other sweetheart birds. We caught this male Spruce Grouse on the edge of the road, but he walked into the woods as we approached. I managed this shot, I am happy with it considering the conditions.
Back at my "L" road where we grabbed the Crossbills earlier in the day, we found 5 or 6 Boreal Chickadees.
I'll wrap up the post here, but will let you know that the elk were still out in the open field as we returned to town. Have a GREAT week.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Redpolls, Rainbow Trout, Snowy Trip to the South East with Dan (20130322)

With clear skies and cooler weather, Dan and I were on the road to see if we could find the Short Earred Owls and the Snow Buntings of last week.  We couldn't spot any owls, but we made our way into Frank Lake, there were thousands of Canada Geese and Pin Tailed ducks. There were American Widgeons and Northern Shovelers. The female Pin tails seemed to be very heavily out numbered by their male counterparts.
Here is a Canada Goose shot, with two of them. I was overall very disappointed with the shots produced.
After about an hour or more at the lake we headed out looking for the Buntings. We spied a nice male Snowy but the images were not presentable, he was pretty skittish. Along the way we ran into a lot of Horned Larks along the way, although they too were reluctant to sit still very long.
We found a few small flocks Snow Buntings, but nothing like what Jamie and I had found last week. We headed over to the "Redpoll" spot. We had great light so we spent some time, shortly after the arrival of a few birds, a Merlin appeared, then disappeared. We don't know if it grabbed anything or not.
Here's another.
I just love these small birds, and their behaviour, soon we won't see them again next year.
After this joyful little respite, we headed over to the Carsland Weir, and I grabbed this shot of a fisher landing a this sweet Rainbow!
Not too far away, I managed to grab this shot of an uncommon Hoary Redpoll.
Okay, Okay, Okay, no more Redpoll shots for this season. We found a group of 10 paired up Grey Partridge. This is a very poor image, but I thought I would throw one up.
We wrapped the morning up with this Snowy, then headed home.
It was a welcome day to have this much light. Tomorrow is supposed to be a nice day as well. I hope everyone has a great wildlife weekend!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Redpoll, Buntings, Snowys What a difference a day makes (20130316)

Sheesh, last night I finished up the blog posts for our California trip, and this morning it was out into the dark of the morning looking for Snowy Owls. We actually had three purposes for today's track. See if the Snowy's were still here, see if we could find Kerri's Short Earred Owl, and determine if the GHO's are nesting in the spot I am suspecting they might.
As the Day started to appear, I'm afraid the light decided to hide. The conditions were horrendous, not only was the light poor, with temperature was cooler than predicted, the wind was also much stronger than anticipated. The day was not starting well. Our 8:30 owl wasn't around, we did find a Horned Lark.
We looked for a couple of my other dependable Snowy's hang out, but no luck. We headed over to my favourite section of the road to see if it is passable yet, no luck. So we headed out on foot, it was pretty damn chilly. No owls at our GHO nesting area, bummer, but we did manage to spot our first Snowy of the day, that was great news, they haven't left for the north just yet. Not too far away we spotted our second owl of the day, and she was pretty skittish. It isn't often that I get to shoot these beauties in a Conifer, but today was one of those days. You can see the poor light quality in the background colour of the sky in this shot.
We next thought we might have a chance to grab a decent Coyote shot, but it was off like a dirty shirt.  As we were cruising along  and a pair of Grey Partridge broke and we grabbed a couple of shots, but nothing worth posting. We ran into several more Horned Larks.
We hit up our Redpoll spot, and things were looking dry so we got back into the truck and "voila" our little flock appeared, so we spent a little more time with them.
Before heading in for lunch we found this beautiful fully mature Snowy male.
In this shot you can see that there is blood on his legs, we expect he had just finished eating his lunch, so we went too.
After lunch we happened upon a very large flock of Snow Buntings. I expect that there were 4-5000 birds in the flock. So as soon as I recognized the situation we were in I got Jamie to let me out of the truck and leave me here for a while. This time it paid off.
As I laid in the ditch, I realized that I had to get up closer to the edge of the road. I got into position and time after time the birds would swarm around me, the sound was fabulous.
This was my best wildlife experience so far this calendar year, and these are my best Bunting photos yet ever.
I am waiting to see if Jamie's shots of me among the birds turn out, if so I will post one of his images.
In spite of the poor light, the cold temperatures, and the "Brisk" winds, we had a fabulous day and a super time. Tomorrow is my Sunday morning walk. I hope the day is better for photos than today.

ps: I have received a couple of shots from Jamie so I will include one that he took of me while the Buntings were swarming around.

These are the types of events that get my heart pumping!!!!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Turnstone, Townsend Warbler, Iris for my Final California Post (20130309) Laguna Beach

As we were headed out to Laguna Beach for a walk and "shopping" experience for the girls, now I'm convinced that they addicted :) On the way out to the car before leaving the complex I grabbed a very low light "quick and dirty" shot of my first Orange Crowned Warbler.  The light was pretty brutal.
The White Crowned Sparrows and YRW's were also flitting around.
Down at the beach we got this "crab".
Walking around the beach there were a lot of Willets, and came up with another Newbie. These Surfbirds ( I have been told that this is actually a Black Turnstone) were on the edge of the water amongst the rocks.
This next shot is one of my best of the entire trip, and wouldn't you know it another brand new bird for me. These are very tough to grab a shot of, like most small birds, but I am very pleased with this result. I believe it is a Townsend's Warbler.
I like the bird so much I though that I would include a second :)
Although I have seen this bird previously and even got shots of it earlier on the trip, this is my first posting of the Least Goldfinch. This is another beautiful bird!
So in keeping with the 'All new" theme for this post I thought that I'd include best image of a Brown Pelican.
This is a "comeback" bird for me as well. The colours on this bird were fabulous. It is very unfortunate that this was taken in such poor light!
There were also new flowers, and this beauty was just sitting in a spot with a terrific backdrop. I expect it is some form of Orchid, maybe not, it was just past its prime. Still good enough for a quick snap.
There are a lot of different lizards here so I don't know if I've posted a shot of this specie before of not. Anyway here goes, this would be the only duplicate on the post (I think).
So that wraps up the Laguna Beach stroll, and the first California trip. We will be back, I guess I have to thank Arnold for that :)  All in all a total of 36 brand new sightings for me, a tremendous visit.
Well it is Friday night here in Calgary and trying to decide what to do tomorrow, but I am certain that photos will be involved. I hope everyone has a great wildlife weekend!!!

ps: If you check in again Amy please send me an email