Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Mallards, Robin, Grackle (20140429) A city park visit.

With beautiful weather here it was gret to get out of the house. I was hoping to find  a Wood duck but had no luck with that. What I was able to do was spend a lot of time with a pair of mallards. I have new appreciation for anyone that can get a
good capture of these birds. For some reason they are very difficult to shoot.
The robins have been returning in droves. I have not posted any shots yet so I thought that I should throw one in here somewhere.
While I had seen a common grackle or two around this is the first time I have been able to get anywhere close to a decent shot. This is the first time I have noticed the purple on the shoulder.
On my way back to the truck I found this northern flicker. It was singing away.
My next stop was the "frog pond" to check in on things. There were two drakes there at various times. This guy would cruise through the area from time to time.
I had the chance to get shots of him coming and going:)
About every hour he would cruise through and check things out.
It took a long time before the frogs started singing. I didn't see any of the Columbia's today, they were either Wood frogs or Boreal chorus frogs.
This feller here was really small.
After two and a half hours of sitting and standing I thought that I would head home and grab some lunch.  Thanks for looking!

Monday, 28 April 2014

Frogs, frogs, frogs.(20140427) Isn't a little bit of sun a good thing!

After a very successful morning walk, and with the sun providing some heat, I headed out to see if the frogs were singing. A couple of days ago I posted my first Columbia spotted frogs on the blog with a promise to return when the light was better. The light was better today, but I was worried after the very cool day yesterday that the frogs wouldn't be active until much later in the day, and I wasn't going to hang around too long because I was hungry:) After about a forty minute wait my first visitor arrived.
I am throwing in a second image of this unit with the yellow stripe down its back (which I have since learned is a Wood frog) as I find the reflection of the eye just seems to be hanging in the water pretty neat.
My next visitor was demonstrating what "springtime" is all about. Singing to attract a mate. Notice no yellow stripe, this is a Columbia spotted.
A great "singing job" will allow you to approach a lady friend like this successful suitor. I caught these two under water at first, they were headed straight for my feet. Notice that this guy of this pair is a Wood frog.
I had to re-position carefully so as to not disturb them. At the time I was thinking that this would make a great greeting card. "Wouldn't you really rather be a Columbian spotted frog about now?"  It would probably never sell :)
This kind of activity of course leads to the inevitable.
Unfortunately there haven't been any tadpoles out and and about just yet or I would have included a shot of them too. So the boys continue to woo the ladies!
I think that the water vibrating off the back of this fella looks just super! Another frog with a yellow stripe. I have a query out to my Frog Lady- Kerri to hear if these yellow striped units are Columbia spotted frogs as well, or if they are some different specie. I have found out that they are Wood frogs.
Here is another shot of a frog with the creepy eye reflection:)
I hope you enjoyed this little diversion from my normal variety type post. This was a great way to invest a little time to get some very terrific photo's. It just goes to show you that you can find a little nature everywhere if you take a little time to sit and look!

Ferruginous hawk, Says phoebe,Pelican (20140427) An eventful day at Carburn Park.

With Spring springing all of the Sunday walks over the next couple of weeks should show us new birds every trip. Today was a terrific day with some first-of-the-year birds and even a first-ever bird for me.  We started with the local owls as the chick is now too big for the nest, and mom was around to make certain that all was kept safe. Our first of the year birds was a small flock of yellow rumped warblers.
I thought that this Magpie was showing its colour in the morning sun. I don't usually pst these birds, but the colour on this bird is great.
Next was a reaction set of shots that I took as a raptor swung by overhead. As it turns out it is my first ever ferruginous hawk. There was a lot of debate between this and a light morph redtail, but it has been confirmed as a ferruginous!
This next bird was another reaction shot of a flying merganser, I am pretty pleased with the result considering I shot it with the 2.0 TC on.
After a couple of years of only getting blurry, distant images of these birds I thought I would post another couple shots of a rubycrowned kinglet. The first is a head on shot.
Now a shot from behind showing the colour that these little fellows interesting:)
Next up was our first of the year american pelican, resting comfortably on a gravel bar. This is a male as we spotted his beak "horn" from a more distant vantage point.
Our next FOTY birds was this Say's Phoebe. I was surprised to find one of these birds within the city. I usually find them well outside the city and much later in the year.
At the "end of the trail" we found some Franklins feeding with a pair of mallards.
I thought that this was a decent shot of the drake. I probably won't post another of these for awhile.
With the beautiful light we had, even the hen looked pretty good in the viewfinder.
I will finish this post with another Franklins image as it was just too good to exclude.
With the nice light and warmer weather I am headed over to see if the frogs are awake and ready to sing some more. I am hoping to get some better images.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Ruffed grouse (20140426) An early morning visit with Action Jackson.

I am a little disappointed with the weatherman, but then I should still believe in the easter bunny, right? I did find this bull elk early on after just about running over a little grouse on the gravel road. Very poor quality shot but taken 20 minutes befor sun up on a very heavily overcast sky.

We were supposed to get snow overnight, but it didn't start snowing until 5:30 a.m. while I was driving into position. I still have "grizzly fever" so I sat on a staight stretch in the road where I have found grizzly track 3 times over the past couple of weeks, but nothing showed. Jackson wasn't on his perch when I went in the road, but he was ready to roll when I came out.
 Here is a little closer look at Jackson's snowy log.
He allowed me to get much closer to him today (not that I have ever flushed him) and in the very poor light it allwed me the opportuntiy to get some nice close ups.
The rest of they day was okay, with some swans, redwinged blackbirds, my first Snipe of the year and I think maybe an American Pipit. I was home by 10:00 a.m. I hope evryone gets out for a little wildlife this weekend.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Widgeon, Frogs, starling (20140424) A walk in the park.

After a stellar morning with the wildlife out at the Ranch I had a quick lunch at home. The sun was still "available" so I thought a little walk down at FCPP was in order. As usual I started off with a visit to the GHO nest to see who was harrassing the nest today. I was pleasantly pleased that no one else was there and that the whole family was resting. I was also pleased to be able to grab a couple of images of this Starling.
I was shown where "dad" was sitting and grabbing a nap as well by a passerby. He was in the shade resting comfortably, and I did nothing to disturb him.
I headed down to the river and through Hulls Wood. I am still amazed at the destruction of last year's flooding. There is no longet a nice treed pathway that allows approach to the river, now there is only yards and yards (distance, not volume) of gravel along the entire shoreline.  I was able ot grab a quick shot of this mallard feeding on a river "hatch" that had several kinds of birds present.
I was even able to find a cormorant, although there was only one that I could see.
There were a couple hundred of Franklins gulls feeding on the hatch as well.
I was also treated to some great light and a closer encounter with an american widgeon to provide me with my best opportunities for this bird.
So, when I get my "best shots" I always like to throw in a second or third:)
I find these to be quite beautiful birdswhen you get "capture" them properly.  With the light disappearing due to clouds I headed back to the truck. I found four ladies having a debate about what they were listening to; they were frogs not ducks:)
So with Kerri's love of amphibians in mind, and assuming she hadn't found any frogs yet this year I thought I would stop and see if I could find one with my lens.
With the poor light and positioning these make for tough subjects. This is a first for the blog (I think) the Boreal Chorus Frog.  I am certain Kerri will correct me if I am wrong.  (Well that only took a couple of hours as Kerri has let me know that this here is a Columbia Spotted frog! Still a first for the blog )Here is a shot of one with its sides extended while it "sings" in the chorus.
I will have to return on the first sunny opportunity that presents itself. I would like to get better images of these usually invisible songsters.  I will wrap up this post and the day here. I had a full and exciting day. Come on out, lets have some excitement together.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Ruffed Grouse special (20140424) Drumming Grouse video link

This morning I headed back out to the Ranch to see if I could "clean up" a few branches around the ruffed Grouse drumming log. As you can see from the first image here, the conditions were far from ideal for making a video.
I had an absolute riot with this little bird which I have nicknamed "Action Jackson" due to his dedication to attempting to attract a make.  I watch him "drum" about 6 or 8 times before he walked off for  a second time. While he was away from his perch I thought I would go in and do a little trimming. As it turns out I didn't even flush him and he was back "at work" within minutes. Here is my first attempt of a video on this site. Please visit the following link to see "Action" in action. The vieo is best viewed full screen.
Drumming Ruffed Grouse.
Here are a couple of "stills" from this morning.
It was super spending time with Action, our little visit was interupted as we had some elk cross the road about 60 yards from us, so I was temporarily distracted.
Aftr a fabulous hour with Mr. Jackson, I left him as I found him, trying to find a date for the "spring dance". The rest of the morning was full of long distance ungulates; moose, deer, sheep, elk.  The birds that provided the best opportunities of the morning were redtail hawks.
On the way home I spotted these two that seemed to be "sharing" the same post.
Then all of a sudden they decided to split. I guess that the way goes. I will wrap up this post here. I hope you enjoy the video.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Rubycrowned Kinglet, Beaver, Downy (20140420) An Easter Sunday trip to Carburn park

With spring here it is great that evryday we are finding new birds (I think I might have already said that once this year) so the Sunday walks are a must. Today we were off to Carburn park home of one of our city GHO owl nests.
Mom was in full view but she kept the little one pretty well hidden.As with most city parks we were accompanied by local Chickadees.
We were pleasantly surprised to find a beaver in the river. Don and I took a little time away from the birders to see what we might capture with the mighty damn builder. It seemed to have a bit of an itch:)
Then a little belly grooming is in order.
On one of the "inside" ponds we were able to find the beavers most common partner a muskrat.
Don was kind enough to be my "hand model" for this chickadee shot.
We next got in amongst a couple of rubycrowned kinglets. These are tiny birds, the only thing smaller is a hummingbird here in North America.
As we swung back to the parking lot this mallard drake provided me with an opportunity I just couldn't turn down.
Caroline decided to hike back over to the rubycrowns to see if we could grab some good images. Here is one that I really like.
Not all the colour is on the top of these little beauties. The yellow on them is outstanding.
So I wasn't disappointed with the extra time. I had to leave to grab something to eat as I was starving.  See you next week!