Thursday, 7 August 2014

Hawks,Grouse, Muley bucks (20140804) A trip to the south

Every now and then we have just a stellar day, and we treasure them when they occur because they are uncommon.  The Holiday Monday was one of those days as Kerri and I made our way to the South where she is becoming the queen of the critters. This would be our second run to this area, and Kerri has been exploring and finding more hotspots so I was fully on board! We had a lot of targets in mind and wouldn't be very disappointed with our results. I will like do two supplementals of this trip if not a third, things were just that good. An early morning Merlin got us started. Next up were Redtails and Swainsons. Our first real treasure of the day was this Great Grey, it flew in from up the road we just had to pull over and start snapping. We spent about 15 minutes with this fella.

Next up was a trio of Dusky Grouse, my primary target of the trip. This hen had two nearfull grown chicks with her. I was fortunate enough to get close even if it was in pretty heavy bush. Again we spent significant time with these three. It was a beautiful encounter, and Kerri even managed to grab a shot or two of mom here out in the sun.
We drove just a little further along and found our second Dusky family of the day. This mother had at least 4 much smaller chicks with her. I was lucky enough to catch one of these out on the "suny side of the street". They were feeding on the red berries you can see to the left in this shot.
Our third Grouse family with 2 miles of roadway were Ruffed. I am convinced that mom had more than just this one chick, but the little fella was not not backing down from anyone. Here he is with his tail fanned out and he's trying desparately to "fluff" our his neck feathers to show everyone around that he is the boss, and he means business. I'm afraid he isn't going to last too long once hunting season comes along.

Next up we had a nice group of Muley bucks which would make wet dreams for a lot of young hunters. Kerri got the images of that crew. I had settign s issues and didn't recover in time to get the "shot". Around the corner and over the knoll and we were greeted by a pair of Prairie Falcons, again I had significant focusing issue, one might have thought I was getting "buck fever" with all these great opportunities. Here is an image that I have barely saved (if at all).
Next up was our second group of Muley bucks. Here are three of the five bachelors on the hillside. This is a teaser as I will likely do a supplemental of these fine gentlemen later.  This was taken @ 240 mm, look at the guy on the left, he has one drop tine on his left side.
One of our other targets presented itself on a fencepost along side the road. This Furringeous Hawk posed for us for quite a while. These are large birds of prey.
This next image is a desired shot of mine that would have fulfilled a dream if on ly the pidgeon would have been an owl. I have spoken to the group on several occasions that I would love to find this type of opportunity with a GHO or a Snowy.
While we were stopped to grab some images of an old barn (yeah, I know more landscaping, sheesh) Kerri spotted this bruin headed down to the creek. This bear was out on the bald ass prairie at 11:10 a.m. in the day. This was a real bonus for us as we had no anticipation of being able to grab a bear on the trip. It was a long way off and it was ony when I got home ans started looking at the photos that I noticed the "cape". This is only my second "caped " bear I have found to date. He was a long way off so the image is not very good.
Oh, and did I mention we had two separate Golden Eagles on the day? I will likely do a birds of prey supplemental as we actually found 8 different species. Not too Shabby!  I will finish this post up with a pair of faces that only a mother can love. Two baby coots feeding on a pond.
If you are wondering about the rest of the weekend my laptop has gone on the fritz and is in shop along with images from our tracks from Saturday and Sunday. Here's hoping I suffer no data loss :)  As always I can attest that Alberta is the place to be for wildlife opportunities.

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