Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Swift fox, Golden eagle, White-throated Sparrow (20150311-15) A bit of a hodgepodge of trips

Over the past couple of months I have been preoccupied with personal stuff involving the house and other items so I have been re-miss at getting some images up here on the blog.  A coupleof trips have been made out for more swift foxes with minimal opportunities. On one trip I was able to find this soaring Golden Eagle.
On the third night out watching for the "Swifties" I spent about a minute with this little critter.
I was watching it through the camera lens and thought it was gently settling in as it cautiously put first one paw then the second.
The little fox seemed to be getting comfortable as it looked like it was about to rest its chin on its paws.
Then in a flash it was gone! You might even say "swiftly" :)
This next set of shots were from one of our Sunday walks that for the most part was uneventful until we found this early returning Song Sparrow.
 On the same morning this recent arrival also held nicely for the group, obviously resting from a long distance journey.
Another great surprise for us on the day was this White-Throaded Sparrow.
There was some discussion as to wether this was a recent arrival or perhaps a bird that has over-wintered here in Calgary. I really like these birds:) So you get a second shot.
I'll wrap up this post here, but don't worry I have more material coming shortly.
I am hoping that in my absence you have been able to get some wild in your life!

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Swift Fox Special post (20150311) An endangered specie post

While I focus my energies on wildlife and finding animals in the wild I have been provided with an opportunity that I just couldn't pass up. In the past I have had dealings with the Cochrane Ecological Insititute (CEI). Please have a look at their Facebook page: CEI . They have been working to re-introduce the Swift Fox to Canada and the United States. They have a 20 acre enclosure where they allow the foxes their freedom. It is in this enclosure that I have been able to capture the following images and videos over the past couple of days.
This fox received its name from the speed it is able to attain on the full run. It has been clocked at over 60kph which is quite a feat for an animal only 12 inches tall.
These nocturnal creatures are not often out in the daylight so these shots were taken in late evening and as such are of poor quality, but I thought I would share them with you.
It was a joy to see this critter on the run, was an impressive burst of speed!
This next "dog" was quite a bit closer. I was very happy to get this shot before it disappeared as quickly as it showed up.
The evening wrapped  up with last shot. The fox laid down right there for a while then moved to the other end of the small den enclosure you see in the shot.
What a special occasion!  So I had to go back the next night to see if I could get more images. The wind was up and these little fellas don't like the wind. I did get a little bit of video that I will share here. The first is of the wind bothering the senses of one of these little critters, see it here.
This next video is when this fox decides to get up and move, check out the body skake as it leaves the sun. My last video of the evening is pretty late in the evening, when all of a sudden a second fox appears and settles in for a bit of a nap. You can see the other fox all curled up on the left side of the frame. These video's are best viewed full screen. I hope that you enjoy them. To understand more of the small wonders see the fact sheet here.
I hope you enjoy these! This week, put a little wild in your life!

Another timely link, Thanks to Mike Kelly for the link.

Moose, elk, surprise (20150310) A trip with the uncle to the Ranch

It had been some time since the wife's uncle and I did a trip so I gave him the option of where he would like to go. He opted to take a chance on finding a drumming Ruffed as opposed to an almost guarantee of Snowy owls. We were well into Sharptail country when we found these two bull moose. I believe Jamie and I have seen this pair during other visits to the area.
At the end of the road I couldn't resist this moon-set. It was a really bright moon that we had been watching since we left the house.
We swung past all of my Ruffed birds and there was no one out and about. We did find this herd of Elk at one of my usual spots.
The birds we actually pretty scarce on all fronts. We were finding the usual Magpies, Ravens and Chickadees. So when this pair of Whiskey Jacks provided us an opportunity, I took it.
On our second pass through the area, we still found no grouse but this herd of Muley's had taken up residence where the Elk had been just 90 minutes before.
There were also Sheep in the area but the heat shimmer didn't allow for great images. With hunger pains striking the uncle pretty hard we headed back to town for lunch. I will close this post out with a little teaser of what I did in the evening hours of today.  Here is my first shot of a Swift Fox, an endangered specie. I will be doing a post just on these beautiful animals soon, so stay tuned.
I hope that you too get to put some wild in your life soon!

Mink, Hare, Townsend Solitaire (20150308) a Sunday morning walk at Voltiers Flats.

The FFCP walk this Sunday was at a section of the park where I had only been once before, but nice weather had high expectations for the day. While the walking was slippery and very noisy we were still able to find a few subjects to keep us entertained. After watching some Pine Grosbeaks, Nuthatches and Downy woodpeckers we caught a glimpse of this beautiful mink.
A short distance later this Varying Hare was spotted right next to the trail. It held until everyone passed.
Next up was this very cooperative Townsend's Solitaire.
These are the nicest conditions that I have had to capture this beautiful bird.
This was such a great opportunity I thought that I would add one more image of this white eye-ringed birds.
Next up, I call Canada's bird which I may have to stop doing, is the Black-capped Chickadee. 
I'll wrap up this post with another Black-capped shot. We had a terrific day with wonderful weather and probably 20 specie on our winter list. 
I hope that you too had a great weekend. This weekend, put a little wild in your life!

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Snowy owls, Pheasant, Redpoll (20150307) Prep run with Kerri for next weekend

Kerri has some friends coming to visit the weekend of March 14 so she wanted to do a little recon work in the area where Tim, Jamie and I had a super day a couple of weeks ago (see the post here).  Kerri was working with a limited amount of time so we were just looking for a "taste" of what the area had to offer. Our first discovery was this rooster pheasant. Love the red-blue-green:)
We then found a pair of Grey Partridge, but none of my images turned out. While we had stopped to investigate a long distance object, we were getting ready to leave I spied this Horned Lark.
We found our first "White bird" right next to a large house that was for sale and grabbed our first images (more about that bird later). Our second bird was spotted several hundred yards from any access. They do shine like a beacon in the bright sun light.
Our next situation was this little Common Redpoll, which was with very few of its pals. There were probably only 6 birds in this small flock. Like the Lark this shot is pretty heavily back lit.
So now back to our target specie, the majestic Snowy. For some reason several of the birds we found on this day were located on poles with complex wiring in place. They usually like the simplicity of a single line wire pole. A portrait for you.
Our fourth bird of the day was happy just to soak in the rays on this glorious day.
Even our stop for gas produced a subject on this fine day. This might be one of my best House Sparrow images to date.
Back on the road and once again in search of our targets netted us this beautiful while owl. This bird was very cooperative, and allowed us to take our shots and move on.
Our sixth Snowy of the day was another ""long distance" bird as was number 7. Number 7 however was being harrassed by this raven. They flew for probably more than mile during this confrontation and got so far from us that we don't know how it was finally settled.
We next spotted a Bald Eagle but didn't end up stopping. I thought that I had spotted Doug M in a van but didn't stop to check it out. As it turns out we should have as he was getting shots of Chukars--birds that have never appeared here on the blog. Just behind Doug's van though we did find this GHO sitting on her nest. If you look to the left you can see that she has a little company.
I'll finish this post up with a shot of our first and last bird of the day. We found this bird in the same postion as 2.5 hours earlier in the day. It did a little "ruffle" that I was capture.
We boogied home and Kerri was happy with the outing. I am certain that she will be able to find a few of these gorgeous birds for her friends on the upcoming weekend. Do, like Kerri's guests are planning this week; put some wild in your life!

Hairy Woodpecker, Squirrel, Coyote (20150305) A return to Bebo

It has been quite a while since I took a stroll where we have found the NPO's in the past. I had some time, and needed to take a stroll in the sun, so off I went. I was glad to find the parking lot empty. While watching some Chickadees I heard a different tune, and it turned out to be a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers.
This is the most vocal I have ever heard these birds. They were squawking and swooping around the area it was amazing. Here is just the male.
It was very tough to get these birds out in the open, they really liked hanging in the thick heavy spruce. Here is the soon to be mom.
While there was very little I was able to capture successfully, I missed out on a Merlin, and some Blue Jays, but found this surprise visitor a Whiskey Jack in town. A long distance evidence only shot.
There were a lot of squirrels out and about, so you have to shoot them, as Kerri says "we don't want to become wildlife snobs!".
The 90 minutes just got chewed up and while heading out of the park I spied this last subject, and just had to include it here. A little Wiley E. Coyote, to end the day.
A terrific morning, with some terrific wildlife company. Put some wild in your week!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

GHO, Mallards, Grey Partridge (20150301) A Sunday morning walk at FCPP

Well Sunday morning again and another trip down to FCPP. Two owls nests have been spotted, and will be monitored quite closely by many citizens. It was to be a chilly but beautiful morning for a a walk. On my way into the park I spotted these two Grey Partridge doing great "rock" imations.
One of our first birds on the walk was this European Starling, this is a certain sign of spring, they are some of the first birds to return.
Here is the dad of the first nest Owls. He and his mate have put up with a lot from FCPP visitors over the years and always take it in stride.
I was very fortunate to grab a quick image of this fly by of a male Common Merganser.
Next up is this nice Mallard. I am afraid that I struggle with these brilliant birds.
The sun  can really creeate havoc with their glossy heads. Yet anothr attempt of getting an acceptable image of these plentiful ducks.
Given where the second Owl's nest is located I am surprised that anyone has actually found her. In this shot she actually has her head elevated quite a bit.
Here is her mate. This is another resident pair of the park that have hung out there for years.
I love this section of the park as you can almost always find the little Red-breasted Nuthatches here.
I'll finish this post up here with a final Mallard image. I love how their "green" heads turn blue in the right light.
I hope that this week you will have the opportunity to put some wild in your life!