Monday, 12 January 2015

Northern Pygmy Owl, Brown Creeper, Red Squirrel (20150111) First Sunday walk of the Winter season

Well I decided to sign up for the Winter session of the FFCPP as it gets me out of the house and walking at least one day of the week. With the popularity of the the "celebrity" Northern Pygmy Owl that I featured on last Friday, That Park entry point was selected as the starting point for this season's walks. The owl was present prior to the walk and everyone received a viewing. The balance of the morning was pretty slow. We heard a Pine Grosbeak or two and some Downy Woodpeckers. The group also flushed a Great Grey Owl but no images were captured. The highlight of the morning walk for me was this little Brown Creeper.
I find these to be one of my nemesis birds. They tend to like shade, they are hard to get good focus on as their colouration is so mottled, and they are just not all that easy to find. We found the Creeper as we happened into a small mixed specie flock of Chickadees (Black-capped and Boreal) and Nuthatches. Their chattering also brought this Red Squirrel out of hiding.
So the walk was successful and wrapped up pretty much right on time. I then hooked up with Dan A and Peter H as they were on a mission to find more American Three-toed Woodpeckers as ther is no telling what you can find in a park as vast as Fish Creek. Our initial investigations were unfruitful then Dan spotted this subject, that I have nicknamed the "changling owl".
It changed from this long distance tree top ornament into this much closer by tree top ornament, as it flew in our direction almost straight at us.
This is a different NPO from the parking lot bird as Dan called up to the next FFCPP walk leaders and determined that the afternoon group were looking at that owl the same time we were watching this one. The bird flew off briefly, than returned and changed into just a bump on a branch.
Then as a group of Chickadees moved into the area this owl went through the most dramatic "change" as it flattened it head feathers, sucked in the body and stretched out in order to better try to look like just another branch on the tree.
It was great to watch as the owl kept an eye on what it viewed as the most aggressive Chickadees. Here it looks like  mininature Great Horned :)
The final shot that I will add here, shows the owls spun around and trying to face its tormentors.  Just seconds later an aggressive Chickadee "drove off" the owl with a number of supporting troops following close behind.
As you can see from the BLUE skies in behind we had a fabulous sunny day and received excellent images due to those conditions. Once again I think that this just shows some of the great biodiversity we enjoy here in Calgary and Alberta overall. Put some wild in your life this week, it will do you a world of good.

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