Thursday, 29 May 2014

Spruce Grouse (20140524) A Saturday supplemental

Well it is time for me to share a few more images of our grouse encounters on Saturday. It was just fabulous to spend some time sharing a space with these terrific birds.
This rooster was fantastic company as he pranced around and flew up to and fluttered down from trees.
We were hoping to see him "present" and show us his tail feathers.
It was a pleasure to shoot this bird even though the light was very poor.
He posed for us in all sorts of different environments, which was fabulous.
It is very hard to image getting an encounter like this again.
And a final shot of this terrific rooster. I have to come up with a name for him. Any suggestions? He actually got into some light for a bit.
Then later in the morning when we found the Mrs. and got to spend some time with her was really the icing.
Unfortunately she was much more intent on finding her man and recognized very quickly that we weren't him so she walked off very quickly.
So I will end this post here, I hope you didn't mind looking at the shots of these terrific birds:)

Monday, 26 May 2014

Broadwinged Hawk, Greenwing Teal, Sora (20140524) A GVR that produces surprising results.

Call us "pleasure gluttons" but it is just hard for us to stay home when we get a chance to be out shooting wildlife. On our drive home Tim and I were in contact with Jamie and we arranged a hookup at a city park, and we were on the road again!  We swung on to a road that Kerri exposed us to and we had a great start to the trip. This Eastern Kingbird got us rolling.

 At the next little pond Tim asked to stop so he could grab a Bufflehead shot, and we were pleased to at first hear then see our first Soras of the year. You should be seeing mor of these little beauties in future posts.
This seems to be the year of the Says Phoebe for some reason we are finding them everywhere, maybe the flood last year has something to do with it?
Next up we spent some time with this Townsend's Solitaire, this might be my best image yet of this bird. I think we all had the pleasure of getting this bird.
Our next little discovery came courtesy of Jamie. We had stopped the vehicle and wre getting out when he notifiied us of this birds presense. This is my first ever chance to capture a Broadwing Hawk, this is a juvenile.
Our next surprise was this little Greenwing Teal that didn't want to flush for some reason. We were content to shoot him from the truck while he swam in circles.
This was a real treat., so I'll add another shot of this "tough to get" beauty.
To  wrap up this post I will add a second shot of the Broadwing as well.
It was a terrific day, but pretty tiring. I didn't get home until 9:00 p.m. and was one tuckered out lad. But, if you don't get out, you won't find anything:)

Bald Eagle, Spruce Grouse, Columbia groundsquirrel (20140524) Morning in K-Country

Tim and I were out of the house at 4:30 on Saturday looking for the grizzly that Kerri found on week night this week. We were just getting into the "country" when Tim found this Bald Eagle in golden hour light.
It was a quiet drive for the most part. We spotted several elk and one black bear that was a half mile away on a hillside. We got on the rabbit road and found this Rooster Spruce Grouse.
We spent some time with this bird as it was doing its flight display for us, the first time that I had ever witnessed it in person. He would "pop" up into trees for us.
I will be doing a supplemental post to provide more images of this terrific bird. Just 30 yards up the road Tim got to see his first rabbit on the rabbit road:)
With the day warming the Columbian groundsquirrels made their presence known.
As we headed into the rabbit road nearing noon we found this Spruce Grouse hen exactly  where the rooster had been performing in the morning.
It would have been fabulous if "he" had been around so we could witness the interaction, but no luck.
We were spotting a lot of little birds on the roadways, so we stopped and took a look to see if we could identify them.  We spotted some Yellow rumpeds and a group of Chipping Sparrows.
As we headed home, Tim once again spotted a Bald Eagle that we decided to grab images of.
That was our K-Country trip. A little disappointing due to a lack of carnivores but the encounters with the Spruce birds made the day!
Get out in the woods, either in your howe town, or come to Calgary and we will get out together.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Sapsucker, Kingbird, Ruddy duck (20140523) Another check on the Lewis's

Well over the past couple of days there has been no sign of the rare Lewis's woodpecker and so I thought we would try one more time to spot him. On the road in we stopped to grab a couple of shots of this cooperative Red-naped Sapsucker.
My ony "drummer bird" available today was Junior. I took some more video and am debating whether or not to put it up on YouTube.
It is nice to see the Kingbirds back. While we were able to spot the Easterns the Westerns have eluded me. I know that they are back as Tim shot them on Monday.
While these birds love farmers fences, occasionally you can grab a shot of them on a nice little natural bush. I like this for the environment.
The only action whe had around the woodpecker spot were swallows to I thought that I would toss a shot in.
I didn't post a shot of a Ruddy Duck at all last year, so I grabbed a shot when one was presented today. I am hoping to add an improvement later this year.
This Redwinged blackbird was pretty cooperative so I though he deserved a shot.
That wrapped up our Friday morning adventure. Tomorrow could be a good day as Tim and I are headed out to see if we can find our first bears of the season.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Lewis's Woodpecker, RUFFED grouse, Sandhill Crane (20140518-19) Rare Bird!

After the Sunday walk I spoke with Jamie about hitting K Country for a little drive to see if we could find anything new. The morning was dreary and drizzly and the afternoon was looking just as dismal. On the way out we actually ran into hail twice. We were hoping that after such a set of storms we might see something out and about in the aftermath. Our first "spot " was this Sandhill Crane. we are hoping that they stay for the summer. It was a long way off, so the quality is hindered.
We were investigating my drumming grouse locations with the hope of finding somone one home. At Jackson's log, he wasn't home, but there was drumming nearby. Then a hen flew right over my shoulder and landed close to Jackson's log. I followed as it walked westrward behind the first row of spruce trees. Next thing Jamie shows me another bird walking across the road. This was the rooster. We watched him as he followed the lady up to a different log, and he went into full presentation mode.
I have never seen this presentation with with a Ruffed. This my second Grouse first presentation this year.  Here he is shortly after leaving his log, still in full presentation mode.
 I want to mention here that these shots were taken in VERY difficult light conditions. We were laying on our bellies, shooting under the bottom strand of barbed wire in a spruce grove with light at an ultimate premium. Here is the object of his affection. The hen popped up into a tree.

Here is a shot of the rooster as he puts his "ruff" away for day to day living.
Our next "find" was less dramatic, but it is always nice to fidn a Snipe on a post.
Now I will do something I don't normally do and that is add a couple of shots from a follow up trip the next night. This next bird was the reason for the follow up. We spotted a Lewis's Woodpecker. They are a rare sighting here in Alberta. So after getting a couple of Identification only shots on Sunday I headed out on Monday to see if I could get a better image.
These are still realative poor shots as the conditions on Monday were little better than Sunday. I will offer up another image of this beautiful bird.
I will be trying for more shots of this bird in the coming week, and see if it hangs around in the area. On the way home on Monday I picked up this Brewers Blackbird.
I'll finish this post up with a dinner complete with a Swainson's Hawk.
We had a super long weekend here in Canada with some real surprises. I hope everyone got out for a little outdoors this weekend!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Kingfisher, Common Yellowthroat (20140518) A dreary Sunday walk.

With threatening rain, we headed out to one of my favourite parks that I seldom visit, and I can't figure out why? After spotting  3 or 4 diferent Says Phoebes we watched this radio collared, ear tagged, Coyote trot off with breakfast for the kiddies.
We found a lot of Cedar waxwings flying overhead and swallows were always present.  We even found several Western Tanagers. In at one of the ponds, in the area we were greeted by this male Belted Kingfisher.
At the same pond as the Kingfisher we also found this Common Yellowthroat, both are new birds on the year for me.
These little sweethearts can be very hard to catch out in the open, so I thought that I'd post a second image.
Not far from there we were inundated with Chickadees, Downy and Hairy woodpeckers and several Whitebreasted Nuthatches. It was a great 20-30 minutes of birding. Our next little visitor was this House Wren that Dan discovered.
As we wrapped up the walk, with sprinkles of rain coming down we were treated to a couple of Blue Jays, I was able to snap a quick one before they disappeared into the trees.
Although a tough day for light our list for the day ran into the 40 different species. Let's hope for some better weather tomorrow:)

Cowbirds, GHO owlets, Loggerhead Shrike (20140517) The drive home from the lake.

Well although it was a pretty quiet early morning we were still optimisitc regarding the rest of the of the morning as we were going to check out how the GHO owlets have been making out. But first a female Redwinged Blackbird.
Our first nest showed a pair of owlets but there was already someone there taking photos's so we just passed by. The next nest showed only a single youngster.
Our next nest is quite a distance from the road but it appears that there are two owlets in there amongst the sticks. You can just see the top of the second's head.
Can you tell that we were dealing with poor light again? The sun was coming and going. The next nest had three chicks that had left the nest, but were not too far away.
When Kerri and I had passed this nest several weeks ago we thought that there were ony 2 owlets left, one must have been hiding:)
Our next find was a total unexpected surprise, more thn twenty Black bellied Plovers at one of my favourite ponds. Too bad it was so windy and they were so far off.
We were then able to grab some images of some Brownheaded Cowbirds, here is a shot of a female.
Now for a couple of shots of a male, one from the back showing all the textures and colours.
Now here is the front, I love the "pose" they strike trying to attact the female.
Our last nest netted us another pair of owlets. If you look through the sticks you will also see Mom standing guard.
We finished up the road and our entire morning with a new bird for both of us. I have been meaning to get out and shoot these birds the last couple of summers. I guess they really wanted to get on the blog because they found me this year.
I was really glad to get confirmation that this bird is a Loggerhead Shrike. It was a very flighty bird that we couldn't get very close to at all. At this point I will chalk that up to the wind.
Now the task will be to get even better images of this vicious little bird :)  I'll end this post here. I am hoping there is still more great stuff to come this weekend.