Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Great Grey, Swans, Boreal (20141101) My mistake I took us to the wrong area.

Not having been out for a track with Jamie for awhile we were up for a trip to the Northwest. I had forgotten that this is the opening day for Deer season, and that there would be hunters everywhere. We were actually a little aggressive with our timing and were out in position about 20-30 minutes early so we had a bit of time to sit quietly and get caught up.  The wind was up and the critter count was way down. We did manage to find a couple of Boreal Chickadees at one of our dead-end roads.
Sightings continued to be slow until almost noon, so we stopped and had a beverage and homemade sandwich. The Chickadees were singing and then were interrupted by this beautiful female Pileated Woodpecker.
You can see the grey lightless skies in the background, causing us to struggle to get any sort of decent shots. Here is a shot from a couple of moments earlier. The bird had left its perch and flew directly at me. Without the red head you wouldn't even see this very large bird approaching.
We were in an area where Jamie had previously been able to spot a GGO and so our hopes were up that we might be able to duplicate that sighting. At the end of a bit of a straight stretch I fount this bird.
It appeared to be hunting so we settled in to watch. Here is a series of images that show the pre-strike stages. First is the homing in on a target, and getting positioned for the strike.
Next is the "attack", usually starts with leap, and getting the wings out.
Then a pump or two of the flight engines to get up to speed.
There is usually a little time for a coast, prior to the final "pounce" which in this sequence I actually missed. I guess you can't win them all :)
It apparently missed the target, and headed way up into the trees to take some time to reset. We repositioned and waited about 25 minutes but the bird didn't reappear. So we headed out, and as we just got the truck rolling, Jamie says " he's back out!", so we stopped and I grabbed a parting shot.
Things remained pretty slow, but we were feeling great for this encounter that lasted more than a half hour, along with the time we had spent with the woodpecker, it was deemed a highly successful day. On the way home we stopped and watched a large group of swans on a pond.  As we were standing watching a group of 8 swans came in to land. The newcomers created a bit of conflict with the birds already in position.
So we finished the trip on a highlight, even with the poor light it was a super wildlife day here in Alberta. Get some wild in your life soon!

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