Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Hoary Redpoll, Pine Grosbeak, Bald Eagle (20150222) A sunny SUnday morning walk.

The Weaselhead is one of my favourite areas of FCPP. On Friday night (20th) there was a Bobcat photographed by an individual so my expectations were added to.  This is the same area where I got my Bobcat shots last November, the link to those shots is here.  Our first bird was a feeder situated Downy Woodpecker that was in heavy shade. This male was out in more generous light.
As we walked by the area some Redpolls were flushed so we waited a bit and they returned. This is a shot of a Hoary on the right defending the seed pile while a Common came in for a little something to eat.
Here is a look at just he Hoary Redpoll. She was very possessive of the food supply.
And here is a very similar but Common Redpoll. The breast streaking is much more pronounced.
Here are a more congenial pair of birds sharing the feast.
I spotteed four birds in a different area than these birds and I got down on my belly to get this next shot. The crew on the walk thought that I was nuts, maybe I am :) This is a Common male, love the colours.
Up the trail a bit some House Finches were being heard, and an American Goldfinsh was with them. That is quite an oddity for Calgary in the winter. Here  is a House Finch action shot.
Of course as we observe the wildlife there is usually wildlife observing us, nota all as readily evident as this Red Squirrel.
Our next encounter was with a small flock of Pine Grosbeaks. These birds an be quite approachable if you move slowly, and there is food around. This is a young male, just getting his red colouring.
Here is a female, they add such colour to our winters of brown and white.
We had other sightings like an American Tree Sparrow and a lot of Blue Jays. Our day wound up with this immature Bald Eagle we found at pretty much the furthest point of our walk.
We had a great day with some stellar winter light, a terrific way to start a Sunday. This week, put a little wild in your life!

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Moose, Elk, Rough-legged Hawk(20150221) A snowy Saturday drive.

With wild and wooly weather around the alure of fresh snow couldn't keep Jamie and I from heading out to see what might be wandering around out there. We found this early morning moose with another. the weather was still pretty tough.
Next up was a herd of about 200 elk. They had been bedded down nearby and we could see where they had been out on the road earlier. Unfortunately I have no postable images (and you know they have to be bad for me not to post them :) ) so I am hoping that Jamie might have something that I can use. One of primary purposes of the trip was to see if we could find any Sharptails. As it turns out we foudn a group of four very cooperative birds. The light was still pretty brutal, but here is a little evidence.
We also spotted this Northern Shrike. It allowed us to get close, but we were underneath it. It just wouldn't come down to offer us a better angle.
Next up was this Coyote. We had just missed him catching something as he gulped down the last morsel just as we arrived.
Our next sighting was another herd of Elk. This group was smaller probably closer to 100 heads. This is just a few of them.
The find of the day for me was this beautiful bull moose we found feeding on the aspens. I have uploaded and linked this video here. This might be largest bell I have seen here in Alberta.
This stretch of road, out closer to the mountains seemed to be the only place we were able to find any Rough-legged Hawks. I believe Jamie might have another contribution to make here too.
We got word from the mechanic that his truck was ready so we headed off to town. We found one more herd of about 80 elk on the way. Put some wild in your life this week.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Ruffed Grouse, Chickadees, (20150216) Being a passenger for change

Tim and Jamie were continuing their testing on Family Day Monday so I decided to jump into the backseat and do a ride-a-long. Our run was to swing out to the North-west. We spotted this Roughie pretty early on in poor light.
On our next little side road Jamie did a great job of spotting this cow moose.
At then end of the road we grabbed a cup of tree and some shots of the local Boreal Chickadees. It is just too bad about the poorly placed branch.
On the cruise out the road we also found this young bull. It is likely last years calf, but he is getting all the markings of a handsome dude.
Jamie was the spotter once again. He hauled over as there were a couple of Red Crossbill's on the road. While we stopped we had some Mountain Chickadees put in an appearance.
Next up I made a huge mistake in forecasting the route an Eagle was going to take. I said, "he aint headed this way at all", but he did.
Our next little encounter included a few more Boreal's.
Then on one of the roads that Jamie selected to explore we foudn some Blue Jays.
On the way home I suggested a side road and on the way out I spotted this beauty that we spent some time with.
We are cruising along when Jamie backs up as he had spotted another grouse to shoot. The light conditions were pretty bad, but as it turns out there were two of them. Here is a shot of the what I believe is "her".
The day was getting finished up when we found the third of the Chicky's!
We spent about an hour with this last bird. With the "golden hour" light and a bird that was singing it heart out we were hoping that it would move in closer to give us some shots. That never happened, so you have to settle for a cropped long-distance shot.
It was a fabulous day with a lot of opportunities presented. I owe Tim and Jamie a huge THANK YOU for allowing me to tag along. This week put a little wild in your life!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Ruffed Grouse (20150215) The return of "Action Jackson" spring must be near by!

Withs ome time to kill on Sunday morning and Tim having lent Jamie the rental body for the day, Jamie and I headed to the Ranch to see if anything was cooking. Brekkies on the way and the hopes for some exciting material to photo.
We found this moose in an area where I have never seen moose before, some deer but never moose. It was very early and I shot this at 4000 ISO.
We checked out our Sharpie site and no action yet, but we did find this gentleman not too far from where Action Jackson hung out last year.
As we continued our drive I was convinced that the brid we had found was likely Jackson. As we passed by a little later this is what we found:
Here was "Action" right in position to start drumming up a storm! For those of you new to the blog here is a link to AJ's drumming last year. If you look closely you will recognize his almost exact feet location:)  We spent some time walking back and forth talking and taking photos to get him accustomed to our presence.
We left AJ and headed along our route when we found this bird. We spent some time with it to see what it was going to do but it just hid.
We wiled along the road and found a couple of Blue Jays. Out here in the country they just seem unapproachable so you have to settle for a long distance shot heavily cropped.
We spotted some Magpies and one Rough-legged hawk, but other than AJ I would suggest that this Northern Goshawk was the find of the day.
While we were having a sunny day, where AJ hangs out it is the darkest of the valley. We decided to make another swing by. AJ was in position.
We continued to walk back and forth and talk to get him accustomed to our presence, when all of a sudden he fires up the drumming. I was shocked that the Ruffed's would be drumming this early. Sure it's Valentines Day weekend and all but I think it is still pretty early. As we walk by he hops off the back of his log and starts to feed. So we head down the road to the truck when Jamie spots another grouse on the road. so we spend some time watching it and she appears to headed straight for AJ's log.
While she works her way over to AJ's log, I look up and see AJ crossing the road. Now last year I know he had another log over there that he would drum on but I could never find it. Sure enough today Jamie spies him on his second log and we get some shots.
We even saw him Drum! Shot 1
Shot 2
Shot 3
What a thrill. So get ready folks for more video and more images of AJ. I am hoping that both Jackson Junior and Sunny also made it through hunting season and the winter. Here is a shot of Jackson leaving his second log. I love the feathers down to the toes.
Put some wild in your life this weekend. You will feel better for it!

Snowy Owls, Eagles, Merlin (20150214) A GREAT day with Jamie, Tim, and some owls

Well it had been a while since we had been out looking for the Snowy's so Jamie, Tim and I decided it was time. Tim had rented a new camera body (7D MK II) and it is always good to get subjects that you have already shot to assist in equipment evaluation. 7:10 we headed out and grabbed a bite on the road. For a change we decided to head to the North-east, some birds had been reported in the area. With ice crystals in the air I mentioned that the birds could easily "disappear" in that type of cloud cover. Our very first bird Jamie spotted when we were right underneath it. We went down the road a bit and tuned around. It didn't provide us with any photo opportunities so we had to wait until this bird assisted us in our quest.
About 30 minutes later we found these Grey Partridge. 
 Just a short 5 minutes later we spotted this cooperative owl. We spent about 30 minutes with this bird. As we waited occasionaly we received the benefit of some blue skies moving in. 
Our fouth Snowy provided no photo opps as it was on a pole line with no access.  Then around noon we found this pair of eagles scavenging in the middle of pairie area. 
And just up the road a bit were two more. Only one provided a photo opp, it looks pretty large on this fence post. 
Jamie made our next spot. "A small owl" was the exclamation, so we backed up slowly. We were only slightly disappointed when it turned out to be this female Merlin instead. She proved to be a very cooperative subject
So where are all these Snowy owls you ask? We found a total of 18 on the day, a new personal best. Here is one of my favourites from the day. I believ this was Snowy 5 or 6. While I am not much of a Landscape fan, I like this image. 
We accidentily flushed this next bird from the ground. We watched it for quite awhile after it had landed, once again in the field. Then it popped in this tree, and the Snow Buntings were none too happy about having it around. 
Then for some reason we started to find more "white" owls. This bird looked huge on the pole, and it just shone like a beacon in the sun which we were now having the joy of experiencing. 
Another bright white bird wa spotted at quite a distance as we were making a turn onto a new road. We confirmed it was in fact a Snowy and it provided us with a close up encounter. I think this is one of my best ever!
As the day was winding down and we were well on our way home, this bird provided us a yet another great "sitting".
Earlier in the day I had been speaking with the guys about the vsrious shots that I had been missing for Snowy's this year. We already grabbed a "tree" bird, then this sweetie decided to satisfy my "grainery" bird requirement. 
Tim spied this beautiful white bird as we were cruising on the highway, so we had to turnaround and get some shots. It decided not to hold so here is a take off shot. 
We found two more birds that time did not allow to take images of, we had to get Tim home on time. A new personal record for all of us with a final tally of 18 of these beautiful owls. We also spotted some coyotes and pheasants. I am hoping that Jamie and or Tim will be providing me with some additional images from the day.  This was my bride's Valentine's day gift to me; a day in the woods with the owls, what a sweetie.  This week, put some wild in your life!

Here are a couple of shots that Jamie provided to me from the day, here is a lovely shot of a rooster pheasant.
And a shot of one of ouer owls at take off.
For more of Jamie's shots visit his Flickr page here.