Monday, 29 July 2013

Out to the ranch with Jamie (20130728)

Chores around the house have kept me busy for the past couple of days, and I needed to get out for a run. Jamie phoned @ 3:56 a.m. as my alarm clock, and arrived @ 4:26 , so by 4:30 we had wheels turning to the woods. By 5:30 we had spotted 2 GHO's, an elk, some deer, a yearling moose, our first skunk of the year, and a feral rabbit; a great start to the morning. In Old Grey country there were whitetails aplenty with fawns. This little one came running towards the road and stopped up short.
We shared a quiet spot having tea with the Sparrows busily finding food for their young.
We took a stroll into a new area for walking and enjoyed several sightings, the first was this Ring Necked duck.
Down the pond a little distance we were glad to see we had some large company. The mist was heavy still on the water and it was tough to get  a good shot. But I finally got Jamie his Bull moose in the water shot:)
We flushed a brood of Ruffed Grouse, there were at least 8 in the family. On the way out we had to stop and grab a shot or two of this rather large and colourful Thistle in full blossom.
Just as we were getting back to the lake, Jamie spotted this nice buck, unfortunately he had noticed us as well.
We found a second brood of Ruffed on the road heading out, this hen didn't mind strutting for us in the road.
There were at least 4 chicks that were flight able, flitting about.
One of our last opportunities of the morning was this Eastern Kingbird, now that I know what to look for I seem to find these birds pretty regularly.
Jamie took the wheel while I shoot this fellow out the drivers door window, sorry for the backlight, but you take what you can get, whenever it presents itself.
I'll finish this post off with a couple of cow elk that were out feeding in the early afternoon. It was a great chance to get out and see some of the great wildlife we have here in our little area of the country.
I hope everyone out there had as nice a weekend as we did.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Every day there is a reason to visit Frank Lake (20130721)

With Kerri having photo'd a Red Knot at the lake last week I figured that Dan had hopes of repeating the feat as a Knot only visits about every three years apparently. Dan woke me up with his text and I was ready by the time he arrived. We set up in a different area than last time, and actually got to see the Knot as it vacated the area as we approached. There were Avocets aplenty.
This is likely my best photo of the day as this Lesser Yellow Legs meandered pretty close to the blind.
Every now and then one of the local youngsters would reveal themselves, this is a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.
Our surprize bird of the day was this Black bellied Plover, a first for me.
When we popped by the big Blind at the north side of the lake we were treated to a couple of great birds, one of them is the Earred Grebe.
Other sweethearts around the blind were Ruddy ducks, both a male and female with little ones floating  around. We also saw a Marsh wren, which was a first for me, but no good sharp shots of that bird for me.
In a different area we found my first Alberta Common Yellowthroat.
The coot is always a great bird to get, their beak makes them a tough bird to get a really good shot of.
Through the day we spotted both Eastern and Western Kingbirds, but I only go a shot of the eastern version.
So I thought that I would throw in a second shot of a young Spotty!
I'll wrap up with another American Avocet shot, these are beautiful birds.
Thanks for dropping by! Dan and I had a great time with birds, not very mammals out and about, but we will get some of those soon enough. Have a great wildlife week.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Thrush, Bull Moose, Toad (20130720) An evening drive with Kerri

I have to apologize as I have been down with a cold for the past two weeks so there has been little opportunity to be getting out. With the opening of the road into the park,and around the loop Jamie had told us that there was significant damage in the area, so we had to head out for a boo. We started the trip looking for the Hoary Marmots that Kerri has spotted on occasion in the area. I'm afraid all we were able to dig up were a couple of Columbian Ground Squirrels.
 I managed to find a Nice Buck for Kerri and she took some fine shots of a young doe. We took a ride into a pond that she keeps an eye for a frog and toad population. There was no activity in that area, but on the way out we spied this Swainson Thrush.
not a very good image, but enough for an ID. It was busy gathering chow for the little ones.
I'm afraid it is another poor image. I was about to show Kerri where my latest publication was taken when we spotted a nice Bull Moose. While we were getting into position for some shots I found this Boreal Toad.
Kerri was better positioned and took better shots, you can see them here at her flickr site:
Other shots from the trip are there as well.
Here is a shot of the reason we were out of the truck.
Here is a shot of him up on all fours. He was watching as a few other people that had stopped and came down for a look.
On the way out we found more deer and as it was getting pretty late we found this bull,  he has a larger set of antlers started, but I believe is a younger smaller moose @120mm.
My buddy Jamie is always asking for me to find him a bull moose in water, sorry buddy, but here he is.
He was just out for a late evening drink, from the looks of the tracks around it seems like a popular "drinking hole".
That was our last photo opportunity for the evening. A great night out for us! I hope you too had a great wildlife weekend.

Monday, 15 July 2013

10,000 views Breakdown

I thought that I would share with you where my audience lives and what my top posts are at the 10,000 view mark:
Canada             61%
United States    16%
Russia                 8%
U.K.                 1.5%
France                 1%
Ukraine                1%
Current most popular posts:

My personal favourite experiences:
The whole Warterton trip in September 2012
The whole California trip in March 2013
The whole BC trip in May
 Thanks again for visiting the blog. Hoping that you get out for a great wildlife encounter soon!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Swainson, Butterflies, GGO (20130710) An evening cruise with Nephew Al

With the nephew visiting from T.O. he wanted to get out for a "track". He and I had great luck last year around this time with Moose and Grizzly bears, alas the roads are all washed out and who knows when they will be back in service. He met me at the office and we headed out, Sandhill Cranes the target, and if we could bag an Owl or two that would just add to the booty. We grabbed an early dinner in Cochrane before heading out, Albert and Walter still do a great burger and beer! It was HOT with a 20-30 kph breeze blowing. The "Gloria's" were out in abundance, not always sitting willing to be "shot".
I believe that his is his mate.
It was a pretty drive evening with the heat and breeze keeping everything hidden, probably cooling off in the shade. One of the targets for the evening were the Sandhill Cranes, while they weren't where we found them last week, a little walk produced them.  They were on the far side of the lake and we had no way to approach, what we were able to approach were the nearby "beautifly's"!
This beauty looked like he might be "stuck" in the mud", but Jamie, who had caught up to us reached for it, and he flew away.
We made a run for a cool drink only to find that the local general store was closed, bummer. On the way home we picked up a second target, a GGO. This fellow was not cooperative, bit he did sit long enough of r a couple of shots.
As the evening cooled down and the breeze settled, the creatures made themselves a little more visible.
This Muley buck was just lazing around chewing his cud. This is a nice start to this fall's "lady impressors".
We were not the only successful hunters on the day, this Swainson had their favourite meal a Richardson Ground squirrel.
I believe that this was the previous bird's mate, they were sharing the fence post line. When all you have to satisfy an itch is talons like this, you want to protect your eyes.
We spotted one coyote on the rest of the trip with a series of Redtails on the hydro poles. A brief run with a dry start, but a great finish. I believe Al enjoyed himself and says we will get out again.
Have a great Wildlife week!

Monday, 8 July 2013

Thanks for "Showing up"! Some time in the next week I expect to pass the 10,000 view mark! (20130706)

I'd like to thank everyone who has visited the "blog" over the past 20 months. As mentioned in the title sometime this week the blog counter for visits will "rollover" the 10,00 visit mark. I have "learned" that folks come to view the photo's. If you look back at earlier posts you will see that the number of images were minimal, one or two per post. Now I try to keep them down to 10 or less, but on the occasion where I have an exceptional outing, or we are out for an extended period of time I will post a "supplemental" just to include some additional images.
This is one of those supplemental posts. This the drive home portion of the trip Dan and I took to the lake on Saturday. We spotted this Swainson nest on the way to one of the other areas that I wanted to show Dan.
At the "south basin" of the lake we found another pile of shore birds like Stilts, Phalaropes, and even a Dowitcher.  Just like Charlie Brown, "I got a rock", actually another Killdeer.
Okay, here is a long distance shot of the Long Billed Dowitcher.
As we were driving along, we were discussing the habitat of Long Billed Curlew's. As we drove down one section of road, I said "I wouldn't be surprised to find a Curlew on this road", and sure enuff!
She was squawking  and leading us back up the road, when Dan spotted the youngster which had broken cover.
Of course this time of your we are always able to find Wilson Snipes on the fence posts.
We happened across a pair of juvenile Upland Sandpipers (one in each wheel track)  so Dan and I each had our own bird to shoot :) My first of the year.
This road ended at a large pond where we scoured with the binoculars for exceptional birds, but found none of note. On the drive out the road Dan spotted this Uplander on the post, on my side of the road. he took much better shots than I as he was able to get out of the truck and have the Canola field as a background.
Our next find was in wintering GHO country. We spied this Redtail nest with three fledglings,  rare find for me.The one on the left looks considerably larger than the other two.
We were able to find a few more Ibis on one of the ponds I am aware of, but they were pretty unapproachable. Here is a poor image.
Dan wanted us to chase down a Bobolink and Turkey vulture that had been reported out by Millarville, so we were off on the search. While we didn't find them, we did find this Red Necked Grebe still on her nest.
This little spot also had an abundant group of Black Terns. These to me are very difficult birds to shoot successfully due to their colouration. The black, white and greys are difficult to capture in a photo.
This will be a pond that I will return to, in hopes of getting some better photos. This will wrap up this post, and perhaps produces the images that will attract my 10,000th viewer. Have a great Wildlife week!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Another Trip to the Lake with Dan (20130706)

Dan and I hit Frank Lake Back in March 2012, and had terrible conditions. Today was a little better, no snow, or rain:)  The sky was full of heavy cloud, and the light conditions were brutal. We set up the blind on a mud flat hoping to get some up close shots of shorebirds and maybe even an Ibis or Black Crowned Night Heron. There were Willets and Kiilldeer running around. Our fist "visitor" was this Great Blue Heron (6:40 a.m.).
The advantages of spending so much time with these birds, like anything else really, is that you get to see some poses and behaviours that you don't get with just a small glimpse of time typically.
While we were there we spotted a couple of Sora's, one of my favourite birds because of their secretive nature, it is not often you get to see them out in the open on the mudflats.
A little while later we were treated to another Sora sight, it was a pair of Sora's, the male obviously chasing the female around on the flats. They were a long way off and moving pretty quick, so no publishable images.
Spotted Sandpipers would bounce in and out of the area.
There were Phalaropes buzzing by and occasionally one or two would "pop in" for a visit.
Another visitor was this Lesser Yellowlegs, my first of the year.
We had one Ibis drop in for a couple of minutes, and there were a few flying around, but nothing came in to where we could get a decent shot.  After leaving the blind we took a short walk and Dan managed two new birds (that I didn't get as we split up, I think they were the Grasshopper and Lincolns) and I was fortunate to get this shot of an immature GHO. I have lightened this up a bit so you can get an idea of how bad the light conditions were.
I wrap up this portion of our day and this post here, on a pretty high note. It would have been nice to have some better light, but you take what you can get. I will follow this post up with a supplemental as we found some good stuff on our drive home. Have a terrific Wildlife day!