Monday, 29 April 2013

American Robin, GHO, Rednecked Grebe A little better day (20130428)

Well the weatherman was marginally kinder to us this morning, it wasn't snowing, or raining, but it was still pretty windy. Right at the parking lot there is a nest of GHO's, so there was a lot of early action, I thought that I would wait until the light improved a little. The owls have plenty of company around the parking lot, like this American Robin.
We found the male GHO, he is looking pretty light in the this environment.
In spite of the poor weather and tough conditions over the last couple of weeks the migrants continue to show up, this mornings walk showed us our first American White Pelican. These are great birds.
On the pond the first Common Loon was the star, but these Red Necked Grebes were a viable second. They weren't quite as shy as the loon, so I got the better image of them.
As we returned to the parking lot, I thought I would grab another image of the male GHO, even though he is in a much darker environment, he still is able to hide quite effectively with his lighter shades.
I thought that I better throw in a shot of Mom, on the nest. There is some question as to just how many owlets are in the nest, some folks think that there may be as many as four. This is an odd angle, but you can see the fluffy little birds under mom's gaze!
That wraps up today, I hope you have a Great wildlife week!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Muskrat, Beaver, Flickers Couldn't stay home with the Sun out. (20130427)

Well, after a little nap, the sun was shining so I thought I'd take a quick trip over to the IBS. I was hoping that  with the sanctuary being in the river bottom, maybe the wind wouldn't be too bad. It was pretty late and   the "golden hour" light was available.
This little Muskrat was joined a little later by a pair of Mallards. It was still very windy and very little in the way of bird life was out and about. I didn't disturb this goose as I passed.
Even the pond was pretty much deserted. A pair of Mallards, a male Woodduck, and this Bufflehead.
I was also presented with an opportunity for a shot with this Beaver.
I finished up with a pair of Yellow Shafted Flicker males disputing territory. Because they were "preoccupied" with one another, I was able to get pretty close.
And a shot of the two of then together.
It was a great way to finish the evening. Tomorrow morning we are off to Carburn Park where there is a nesting pair of GHO's. The young have hatched, so I am hoping for some good shots of the owlets.
Hoping you are having a great wildlife week.

Deer, Meadowlark, Swans, Hoping things improve tomorrow (20130427)

Slept in a little this morning, last night was our 25th anniversary of being "together". The weatherman was touting sunny skies, but also threw in winds of 30-50 kph which shut almost everything down. I did spot a moose early, and a group of 11 Muley's.
Keeping out of the wind, I found this Whitetail buck laying down. It is looking like he is going to have a great set of antlers, the base that is showing so far look to be pretty close to the size of the base of his ears.
The best part of spring is the all the "love" in the air. Even with the heavy "breeze" this Western Meadowlark was singing his heart out.
I had thought that the Swans had all moved through for the spring, but I found a couple of hundred in a small pond. They were a long way off, but I did grab a flight shot of few of them.
With no sign of the wind easing up I thought I would head home. Hopefully tomorrow things will be better:)

Sunday, 14 April 2013

If last week was "rotten" this week was Miserable (20130414) Sunday morning walk

Boy, let me tell you I don't know what is going on with the weather, but it has just seemed to be miserable all week. With wet heavy snow and brisk winds we headed out. The area we were today is primarily a waterfowl area, and it held to that reputation today. With the conditions I took the back up camera and lens.
While the rest of the crew were "scoping" the pond, I took a little walk in the woods and found this pair.
They were positioned low on this tree, and were quite approachable.
They were on the lee side of the tree, just hoping not to be found by those intrusive "birders"!
 On this shot you can see that the male has both red and black in his moustache, this would indicate that he is a hybrid of both the Yellow and Red shafted Flickers. Alberta is known for this to be common.
I did also grab an image  of this Black billed Magpie, you can see the snow on the back.
I'll wrap up this post and Wildlife Week here in Canada hoping that better weather and photo opps are on their way. I am hoping to get one one night in the upcoming week.

Spruce Grouse, GGO, Northern Shrike on a Saturday tour- Looking for access (20130413)

Boy what a rotten weather week, I guess that over the year, and years things even out. I will say that I am missing that fabulous California light:)  .  Knowing that the weather was going to be crap, I decided to sleep in and and head out later in the morning with the hope of picking up some permissions in the Northwest.
I spotted this rooster Franklin's Grouse and tried to talk him into sticking around, but with heavy winds even these tolerant birds can be quite spooky.
He even jumped up on a stump for me, but with the fence and grasses in the way, and how spooky the bird was, I wan't able to get a very good shot.
A little after this I bumped into a gentlemen that provided permission for me to take photo's on his property, I need to contact his daughter for arrangements. But he mentioned that he had about 5000 acres, would would be just fantastic. I will be making contact this week.
Despite of the weather I was also able to "hunt up" a GGO.
Even thought his shot looked like he was hunting, shortly after this he spun and flew back into the pines.
After some preening, I figured that he would be settling back there for a good portion of the day. I actually drove by this spot about 90 minutes later and he was still sitting in exactly the same spot :)
There was not a lot "out and about" due to the conditions, but I found a trusty Whitetail to pose for me.
This next shot is a long distance Northern Shrike. You can get an idea of how hard it was snowing at times.
That wraps today. So inspite of the poor weather a very successful day. It was a great way to wrap up the Wildlife Week here in Canada.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Goose, Gull, Nuthatch What a rotten day. (20130407) Sunday walk.

This morning was a brutal day, it was heavy overcast sky with freezing rain falling. This morning was the first of our "spring walks" and someone neglected to tell the weatherman that it supposed to be spring! We started of at the river with Goldeneyes, gulls, and Merganser's aplenty. We stopped by and saw the nesting pair of GHO's and the Geese are everywhere staking out their nesting territories.
Everything seemed to be keeping a low profile with the weather the way it was, one Whitebreasted Nuthatch  made an appearance.
The Northern Flickers have also returned in abundance, and they were out today trying to scratch out a meal.
It was a miserable day, and I'm certain the deer were feeling every bit as bad.
During our loop through Hulls Wood we picked up some American Tree Sparrows and a pair of Killdeer. There were plenty of gulls flying around and I was able to get a couple of shots even though the light was bad.
And here is a second, I usually don't shoot these guys, but it was a slow day.
This wrapped up our day. The bad news is that the weather is supposed to be brutal for the next week or so. I hope we have some good luck next week.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Northern Hawk Owl (20130405)

There are those days when you just have to take care of business. So I left the house for a meeting with the bank, anticipating doing a bunch of chores like laundry (Dry Cleaning), getting some lights for the downstairs washroom, and other various and sundry things (like gas up the truck).  Then if I had time I was going to inspect the Ruffed Grouse drumming log.  All is good with the plan, right? Well then "things happen". I am sitting with the banker and my phone rings, it is Laura at the Cross, the Northern Hawk Owl has reappeared. I told her I would be there in 40 minutes. So I headed out with great anticipation, this would be the third different NHO in the last 8 days, I usually see one a year :)
I could see him as soon as I pulled into the parking lot at the Cross. I "casually" walked passed him and grabbed a few shots.
I spent about an hour with this guy, and eventually even grabbed a flight shot. But it was terrible light.
Part of the initial plan was to try and get a shot of a "drumming grouse", so I headed over to the spot we found on Sunday with the anticipation that I might be able to find him drumming. No luck, but here is a shot of the "drumming log".
Through my travels, I had connected up with Kerri and thought she might like to see the NHO has she only has one so far. So I made arrangements to meet her. Our owl was nowhere to be seen when we arrived, so we took a little stroll on the Aspen Trail. It was a very quite evening for critters, and the wind was pretty brisk. We did find the owl when we were getting ready to leave, but he was long way off. I grabbed this shot of the female Bluebird.  I want to label this "who wants to use Mascara anyway?"
Not a bad outing for a day of doing "chores" :)  I hope everyone's weekend get tied up with chores like this.

ps: I have been left a comment that I should thank Christina, who happens to no longer be with the Cross, for reminding the staff to call me when the owl showed up. Thanks Christina! I hope you enjoy the shots!

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Pine Grosbeak, Chipmunk, Varying Hare on our Last Sunday walk on the Winter course (20130331)

We were greeted with threatening skies and cool fresh air. With it being Easter Sunday we were pretty light on the attendance. The parking lot was quiet, on our first stop we spied a couple of Redpolls, Chickadees and a pair of Least Chipmunks.
Down the trail a bit was this lone Pine Grossbeak. she was quite comfortable with me getting close to her.
Down by bridge we found our second Least Chipmunk of the morning, in among the rocks.
Now I'm going to do something I don't normally do.  But that's only because I am not a very good action shooter. Here is a series of the Easter Bunny trying not to get caught before he is finished delivering his eggs.
From all stretched out to all tucked in. This is a example of how their back legs get up passed their nose when they run.
They can cover ground very quickly, and it takes no time to get stretched out again.
I have a couple more in the series, but will end it here. If you look close you will see that it is starting to turn back it its summer brown.
A great little encounter, I spent a little more time trying to get some closer shots of this guy but was unsuccessful. I'll finish this post up with a Rose Breasted  Nuthatch with a seed. ( no crop)
That wraps up this post, I have a couple of tricks up my sleeve for the next couple of weeks so you will have to keep checking in! Have a great wildlife week!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Boreal's and more Great Grey shots (20130330)

Well, here we are on day two of the Easter weekend, and the destination was the Northwest versus the Southwest that we were in yesterday. Like last week we found a large herd of Elk at sun up.
I messed up a great opportunity with a beautiful Rough Legged, but that stuff happens. American Tree Sparrows had us searching the sticks and twigs for a decent shot, but they wouldn't reveal themselves in the light at all. Up the road a way, Jamie spotted a yearling moose with a bit of a hobble, and I couldn't even get a shot of a cripple.  I was having a brutal "opportunity" day. My luck changed when we ran into the Boreal's.
We could even convince them to sing us a little tune, it was like they were auditioning for The Voice!
We even convinced this "contestant" to give us his "other" side. A great little encounter with a gorgeous bird!
We did a lot of searching through the rest of the morning and we finally found a Great Grey. We spent about 90 minutes with him, but he was quite a way off. It is amazing how in tune with every noise they are, this guy was watching everything everywhere.
He moved a couple of times the, THE DIVE!
And he was a long way up, it was a great show.
His aim was true and he was successful.
It was a great opportunity, it would have been nicer to be closer, but we gotta take what they give us. Later we relaxed with a beverage and reviewed the day, it was pretty terrific. Then we spotted a a new Northern Hawk Owl and spent 30-45 minutes with him. He wouldn't move so couldn't get any shots, but we know where he lives, and we will get him one day!  Gotta love this place.
Have a great wildlife day!