Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Long-tailed Weasel special (20141118) This little animal has captured the hearts of a City!

For the past two weeks one of the city parks has been home to a very active Long-tailed Weasel that is almost reliable with its appearance. Part of the challenge is being around at the same time it is out and about. even though these little carnivore's are primarily nocturnal this unit makes frequent appearances during daylight. While the papparazi is waiting we are always on the look out for any other wildlife worth shooting, like this male Pileated Woodpecker.
We were fortunate to have this Great Horned Owl watching over us as we were waiting for the weasel to put in an appearance.
There were about 7 photogs standing around when the call went out and the activity level went from 1-100.
The shutters starting clicking and eyes tried follow this little white killer on the snow and amongst the trees and sticks.
This is its backyard an it knows where every nook and cranny to hide is, and where every vantage point to check out what is happening in its area. It was keeping as close an eye on us as we were on it.
Talk about fast! While it would travel at times at a slow lope, there were times when it would demonstrate real speed. I am afraid the local meadow voles don't stand much of a chance.
This animal has tremendous flexibilty that would likely put a human gymnast to shame and their energy seems to be boundless.
Every now it then it would stop and keep track of all the photogs, and still try and find a little something to eat. Giving us an opportunity to capture some images.
The challenge of course is to grab an acceptable image of these elusive in action. I haven't been able to actually catch it catching anything, but it is great to try to get a shot of them in motion too.
I have to tell you that it was an absolute blast to spend an active hour with this amazing mammal!  Get some wild in your life, it will do your heart good!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Snow birds, Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon (20141116) Will we find the Badger again?

With our great success yesterday Jamie and I thought we see if we could duplicate all of our pleasant encounters. So we headed out a little later in the morning. We made our way over to the badger area and had no luck. So we searched the area for Snowy's, and found a large flock of Buntings and Larks. With Jamie driving today it was my turn to try out the "stop, drop, and roll" tactic. befor Jamie was three carlengths away I was treated to some avian company.
It was again great to be contained within the flock and be provided with great opportunities.
We were fortunate to have some super light, but the wind was howling and it we wouldn't want it to be any colder.
The Lark colouring is a little light right now, they will look much better in about 4 months when their breeding plumage darkens up.
The Buntings on the other hand are their most colourful right now. Most folks think that these birds are black and white, I think they have wonderful markings.
While I was suffering the chilling winds Jamie was out and picked up a Great Horned Owl in someone's yard. I am hoping he will provide an image for the post here later. We swung by and spotted the owl in the back of the property, the large dogs were not going to let us get any shots. Our next sighting was this Prairie Falcon, I am afraid Jamie missed a drive by opportunity.
Next we found our large flock once again, and this time we just sat on the side of the road and they enveloped us. It was another great encounter. All in all we found three Snowy Owls and this was the most cooperative.
We were getting to the end of the run when Jamie spied this large bird in a tree. He got us stopped in time for a couple of images to be captured of this wonderful Golden Eagle.
We finished up our shooting with a little session with a small flock of Redpolls.
Here are a couple playing on the antenae of Jamie's truck.
Of course were were in the ditch trying to get better images. I hope you enjoy this shot. It is very nice to see these birds this year, as we didn't find them any where last winter.
Here's hoping you get to have a little wild in your life soon!

Monday, 17 November 2014

Snowy Owls, Badger (20141115) Lets see if we can find a Snowy today

As quite a few people have been posting Snowy shots this past week we (Jamie, Tim and I) thought we would join the hunt. The drive out was pretty uneventful even though we were focused on anything that moved. We were watching some buntings when sw spooked our first owl of the day. He popped off the fence and into the field where we wereable to grab an image or two.
Again we were focusing on some smaller birds when the bunting put up our second owl of the day. No shots of that owl for here, but out third owl was spied on a telephone pole and held for a couple of shots.
Owl number four got tired of hearing our cameras click. It was a very good sport.
Or, is it whining: "why won't these guys leave me ALONE?".
Next we spotted our fifth of the day just 2-300 yards up the road from this bird. Our next subject was a flock of Grey Partridge that ran but fortunately held for an image or two.
Next sharp eyed Tim spied this Prairie Falcon on the side of a hay bale,  with what looked like maybe a Magpie for its lunch.
I had dumped Tim and Jamie off for a patented "Turbo's stop, drop, and roll" action when I found this little sweetheart in a field. I had to stop and grab a couple of images.
I watched this ground dog for a couple of minutes and was thinking of the boys the whole time. Would it stick around for a few minutes while I rounded them up? I was hoping, but I tokk a couple of extra shots, just in case:)
Well, thankfully when we returned our target was still there. The boys got their shots while I was busy talking to a land owner get permission to walk more property. So we decided to head for a meal and on the way we ran into another owl.
Here are the other sides of those large powerful wings. Is there any wonder why we search out these birds to photo?
After lunch we all decided to see if our badger was available for yet another viewing, and we were rewarded.
I love the power that these animals have and watching them plowing through snow is fabulous. On another point check out the claws on these critters.
Things slowed down through the afternoon but I thought I wold toss in a coupleof images of our last Snowy of the day. They might be the best of the day.
And now perhaps my best ever Snowy in the air. I have to really appreciate the bird here. It was so terrific that it flew up passed us and into the sun showing off the golden hour light.
What a fabulous day! Here is hoping that you get a little wild in your life soon! Drop by and see me in Calgary.

Whitetail Bucks (20141113) City parks part 4

So its Thursday afternoon and I grabbed some nuts from the front seat of the truck after my walk through Bebo Grove with the Three-toeds. I decided to check on the weasel and bumped into Rob there again on the hunt. About 15 minutes in a Whitetail Doe went past us and Rob wondered where the buck was hiding. I spied him just a minute later.
There is no question as to what is on his mind, and it wasn't "fight ot flight" :)
As he worked his way through the small patch of woods he offere us great opportunities to shoot him in all kinds of poses, and with a lot of different backgrounds.
Here is the object of his affections. She looks great with just a touch of snow on her snout.
He was a pretty persistent suitor and didn't want to let her out of his sight.
We then had a mounted Calgary policeman come through and he and his horse spooked these two potential mates. They didn't go far so we were stiall able to capture more images. I like this shot for how little of the deer you actually get to see.
She eventually headed off to another piece of the park with him in "hot pursuit", sorry I have to think of Smokey and the Bandit whenever I use that term:)
We spent over an hour with this terrific pair, and since they had headed off and the weasel didn't seem be coppoerative we headed home. I did manage to spy the two of them through the trees and watched for a couple of minutes before moving on. When I turned the corner a small deer caught my eye and I stopped to look. As I searched the hillside a little more I found this big fella.
I believe that this is the same buck I found two years ago.You can find my best shots of that 3ncounter here. I watched as he paid little attention to people walking on the pathway below him so I decided to improve my postion.
He was following this little Doe as is there custom this time of year.
Now the ste to see if she will be receptive to his advances, or will he be wasting his time chasing her?
He decided not to pursue her at this time, so he just moved along the ridge. I have ncluded this next shot as I really like the shadow on his back where you can count his 6 points on this left side.
Another top quality encounter with some of natures large mammals after a wonderful morning with some small birds, how much better can it get?  Put a little wild in your life soon.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Three-toed Woodpecker, Nuthatches (20141113) City parks part 3

I found myself this morning heading back to Bebo Grove to look for the Black-backed Woodpecker. It was another very cool morning in the -20C category, so I was greatful to be out of the wind. I was able to find this little lady by her tapping. My first Three-toed Woodpecker.
Then another lady joined into the tapping party and just a few feet away, and I found this little Downy joining in on the drum section:)
About an hour later I once again heard a little tapping and found this little lady on the other side of the river. This is a second Three-toed for the day.
My next subject is a bird i have posted before, but I believe this is a much better image. This is a leucistic Red-breasted Nuthatch.
I have been struggling to come up with a good caption for this next image and the two Black-capped Chickadees. I was thinking something like: "Mom, Johnny is getting all the good seeds!" If you have a suggestion leave me a comment:)
Here is shot of a regular Red-breasted Nuthatch for comparison to the bird up a couple of images.
I bumped into a couple of birders and asked if they would like to see a Three-toed and they were interested. When I went back down to the river, I didn't find the little female from just 20 minutes early, but I spot this male.
As I was starting to get hungry I decided to head home, on the walk back to the truck I found this male Three-toed banging his head against a tree.
A very successful morning walk around one of our great parks here in Calgary. I decided on stopping in and checking on the weasel. I hope you too get a little wild in your life soon.