Sunday, 31 August 2014

Grouse, Pica (20140824) Out with the Lynx Lady

Well after my Lynx encounter yesterday Kerri and I were pretty certain neither of us would be seeing another "cat" anytime soon so we resigned ourselves to perhaps finding a different kind of carnivore, so we headed out to grizzly country. Our morning started with this very relaxed cow moose feeding along side the highway.
We were also keeping an eye open for some weasels as Kerri might have had a good lead on a location. We did find some weasel feed, Kerri is a sucker for Picas. So we while we were searching for weasels, we had to shoot these little sweethearts.
Our next capture was this little Spike buck. He was very unconcerned with our presence, we shot him and left him to go about his day.
Up the road a bit we found a very cooperative Redtail. They normally don't sit still like this for me. You can see from the sky in the background we had a very low light day with almost zero dynamic range for these types of shots.
Next we had yet another Dusky Grouse family. This hen had at least three chicks that fed alongside the truck in the ditch. Here is one of the chicks.
Mom was walking along the bank keeping an eye on the little ones and us as we snapped shots. Kerri didn't even need to get out of the truck to capture her shots.
Kerri was pretty sure they were Spruce Grouse, then about 5 miles up the road she received a very good look at what young Sprucie's look like. Here is a youngster in the small ferns.
Here is a golden hued Sprucie hen with one of her little ones! What gorgeous birds!
Next we ran into a small herd of Mountain sheep, ewes and lambs. It was really nice to be able to shoot this ewe with the Fireweed in blossom.

Our final stop netted us some Red Necked Phalaropes, although you could never guess by their current colourations. Here is just one of the many we spotted.
We had a terrific day with several surprises, you can't beat that. The Lynx lady and I will be out again together soon. Have a Super wildlife day!

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Lynx, wren, fox (20140823) No telling what you might find if you just show up!

I had checked in with Dan about the Warbler situation around town and he made a recommendation, but for some reason I didn't think it was the right time. I headed out on my own and it was very foggy. I was questioning my decisions all morning long. I was heading to the area where we found the foxes a couple of weeks ago hoping to find more of the same. Every now and then I would chastise myself for not taking the day to do more exploring instead of covering very well known ground. But with the odd opening in the fog I kept hoping I had made the right decision. I was in position at the "fox spot" about 10 minutes when a Wren appeared and kept me distracted for a bit. When I spied this great looking critter.
I only got three 3 shots of this fellow before he disappeared. I fully expected that he wouldn't show himself again for a bit, so I returned to the Wren and it was being a cooperative subject.
Almost an hour later while watching for the fox I took a look down the road by my truck and spotted a critter, and I congratulated the fox on getting passed me. When I put my camera up to grab a long distance shot. But I didn't find a fox in my viewfinder, it was a Lynx. I fired off a couple of quick shots, then I heard a vehicle approaching and knew that it would spook the cat.  Sure enough, the cat scooted off the road behind my truck. I used the noise of the vehicle, and the cats disappearance to try and improve my position by getting closer. A few minutes later the cat re-appeared on the road and began to walk towards me.
I was starting to get pretty excited as it had been over 30 years since I had spotted a Lynx, and it was walking straight towards me! Then the dreaded vehicle noise started again and I knew that this time the cat would bolt.  I kept shooting hoping that the car would slow down and maybe turn off somewhere and not get all the way to me. No such luck.
The race was on, would the cat get around the corner before the vehicle arrived? Would the cat disappear for good and I would have to "settle" for the shots I already have. I like the image as it shows the difference in the length of the front and back legs of this Canadian cat.
The vehicle was getting closer and closer and I was pretty certain I wouldn't get any more shots of this ghost of the wilderness.
Well the vehicle arrives and obviously sees the cat at least briefly as I see the brake lights come on, but the truck doesn't stop. So I tentatively start approaching where I think the cat might appear. When I look around the corner, I spot something in the grass. Here is my subject and it looks like it is eating something, but I couldn't tell what and my critter was facing away from me. This was looking good in some ways and not so good in others.
By this time I was getting pretty close to the activity hoping to get a facial shot. My gamble paid off.
What a privilege to be in the presence of this elusive animal. It was obviously aware of my presence as it looked right at me several times. What a terrific encounter.
Then the biggest surprize of the day (really, I think that has already been taken care of, right) the cat just starts to walk away. The pace of the cat allows it to eat up real estate without it looking like it was even moving very much. Those long legs just cover ground!
I include this shot as it shows the white on the backs of the ears and even the tufts of hair on those same ears. I will not be doing a supplemental for this outing as I have included so many images here. Today really reinforced my dedication to "showing up to shoot"! This is not the environment that I would have expected to find one of these cats. I hope you enjoy the images. this has been a great day for me personally. I love living here in Alberta and having these types of sightings everywhere I go.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Spruce birds, Coyote, Calf moose (20140821) Thursdays used to be Grizzly nights.

I have had a pretty good history of being able to find Grizzlies on Thursday nights during berry season, so I invited Brendan out for a tour to see if we could rustle us up a bear or three. The weather for the past couple of days had been dark and gloomy and today was no different. It was a cool evening with off and on rain, during one of the "off" times we found this Coyote.
An hour later we found the same young "dog" and grabbed some more shots as it passed.
Next up we found this rooster Spruce grouse. It has been awhile since the roosters have been around. They have terrific plumage. I love the golden tones.
Then 30 minutes later, we spotted one chick and the next thing we knew there were five of them in the air. I was able to find two of them. This one flew into a dead tree, and was still pretty well hidden.
This nest mate looks a little more developed, but very able to hide in the foliage.
At half past eight on our way out the highway we found this mother and daughter taking in a little water. This is my first moose calf in quite a while, it would have been nice to have a little more light.
I have often found moose on their front knees either feeding or eating, it is always great to get the opportunity to grab a shot while they are in that position. It  is a special time when the critters allow you to observe and they still go about their normal behaviour.
At last light we found this nice Whitetail buck out grabbing a meal with his lady.  He is on the border of being a big boy.
While we didn't get any bears, we had a terrific wildlife night in the mountains of Alberta.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Dusky Grouse, Wilson's Warbler (20140816) A pretty slim day out west.

I have always wanted the opportunity to capture ungulates during the stripping of their velvet off of their antlers. Jamie was fortunate enough to find some elk in that situation a couple of years back. So we headed out to my dreaded 1A route with the hopes of duplicating that encounter. Things were looking good early as we found a cow elk very early in the day and up the road just a couple of kilometers we found a young pine that had been worked over pretty recently. The trunk still had damp sap, so we had  high hopes. Unfortunately we were unable to spot any of the large males. On our last couple of klics we did spot this hen Dusky Grouse.
She had eight chicks with here. This is a shot of a young male that I was able to get pretty close to.
Here is a shot of Jamie with 5 chicks (can you find all of them?) and what I believe is Mom on the lower left.
We left them after a 15 minute encounter, a great experience! This was a life time first for Jamie, and my third encounter in the past couple of weeks. Our next stop was at the top of the Highwood Pass where we found some Fireweed.
There were some little yellow jobs floating around and so we stood and tried to get some images. Here is a shot of a Wilson's Warbler.
I also got this image of a mystery bird. When I find out what it is I will update the post. It could be a female Wilson's?
That wrapped up our day. It was a little disappointing, but we have been overly blessed on other occasions so we are willing to take a light day every now and then!

Monday, 18 August 2014

Red fox, Mountain Chickadee, GGO (20140810) A productive Northwest run

Sunday morning finds us once again up before dawn, and headed out to find things. As always we are hoping that today will be "a good day". As it turns out, today is a great day.We managed to find 4 young Muleys with their mothers very early on.
Next up we spent a little time with some mystery birds, here is one in flight. We will hunt down their names later.
We spent about 10-15 minutes with this Great Grey. He was at a location where we have never spotted a GGO before in the region and came as a bit of a surprise:) It is always nice to find them when you know they are hunting. given awayby the morning dew on the feathers.
Jamie then pointed out this little gem of activity that we had missed all summer long. This small wap nest just inches off the water made for great reflections.
Then for the first time all year we were grasced with the presence of the Belted Kingfisher. She must have had her brood in this area and we just kept missing her.
Next up was a well healed Redtailed Hawk. They never seem to allow us this close. It was a pleasure as the bird allowed us a couple of images before retreating to the Aspens.
I always love when I cna get the "first ever or first of the year" image for the blog, and today it was a Mountain Chickadee that makes the first of the year appearance. It was hanging out with a mixed flock as they usually do.
Somewhere nearby had to be a generous foster mother as I believe that this is a Juvenile Brownheaded Cowbird.
Next I grabbed another mysterybird in flight. Again I will have to find an ID later, unless you can tell me what it is.
We topped the day off with the sighting of two red fox kits. Jamie got some quick shots that didn't turn out. We pulled over and put the "stakeout" on the spot. Knowing it was the heat of the day and we were not likely to see them again I was able to grab a couple of quick shots after about 20 minutes of waiting.
These are one of our most sought oafter sunbjects and we jave just not been able to find them reliably yet. One day it will be our turn and we will capture these beautiful critters on several days over the summer.To date these have been my best images. I fully expect to have more and better one day.
So a terrific way to finish up the post and the day. It was a treasure filled day that kept us busy snapping all morning long, like so many other Aberta days.

Swainson"s and Dragonflies (20140809) Last Bluebird trail trip of the year.

A sunny Saturday morning at a leisurely pace had me picking up the "uncle" for a trip around the Bluebird trail. This trip was primarily to purposed to clean out the boxes and do a final check for fledglings. The heat from the day kept most birds and critters at bay although we did find this trioof youthful Swainsons sitting on a hay bale with breakfast which I expect came courtesy oc mom or dad.
Mom aand dad were present as well and announced their presence with a flyby.
Here is a slightly different angle.
We had spotted one GHO in a far off the road grainery, and a couple of Mule deer during the rest of the ride, it was pretty quiet. We stopped in Longview for some jerky and lunch and headed home.  While in the back yard I found these Dragonflies on my tomato plants. I don't really know them very well so they all fall into the same bucket as far as I am concerned. This was the smallest of the three, "The Grey".
The largest was this fellow "the Red"
And lastly, Colornel Mustard.
I know thast there are Dragon, Damsel, and Skimmers, but I don't know them at all. If anyone could properly ID these I would be grateful. Just drop acomment on the post, and everyone could then learn.
A pretty slow uneventful day, but even at home you can find some small wildlife to shoot occassionally.