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!!!!

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