Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Pine Marten (20150412) Third of three posts on a super Sunday

Well this is my third "themed" post from last Sunday's day out with Jamie. We had started the day with a Bang! spotting three Great Grey owls within just a few minutes. After a couple of terrific encounters we were then entertained thoroughly most the day with very cooperative Golden Crowned Kinglets. Our wrap up critter for the day was this fabulous Marten.
This was a very healthy looking weasel. the fur was luxurious and its tail was thick and black.
While this was a very brief encounter it is the first for me since Grayson and I found one on 1A anout 15 months ago.
This critter was much larger, I would say easily twice the size, and it seemed pretty comfortable with our presence, at least for a short time.
Then, quick as a squirrel, it leapt to the log in behind, and I almost missed it entirely.
Then I managed a couple of shots as it traveled along the deadfall. Here is what I consider my best effort of the group as it captures the animal in its element, doing what it does.
I am looking forward to see what Jamie might send over to augment these images. I know he has a couple that really had my attention when we were reviewing in the vehicle afterward.  This weekend, put a little "wild" in your life, you deserve it!

Here is one of Jamie's shots that he has passed along to me.

Golden Crowned Kinglet (20150412) Two of three posts on the day

As mentioned in the previous postI am taking a slightly different approach to the trip we had on Sunday. We did not have a lot of variety, but what we did find we had fabulous encounters with. So each post will "feature" a particular subject. This post is about the Kinglets. Typically I would be estatic to get this first image of these tiny creatures. He is singing is heart out.
However as the day progressed, Jamie was hearing these little gems everywhere!
They were very cooperative with showing us their "crowns".
Here is a shot that shows just how well they hide those red feathers on there skulls.
 They were just a joy to find and fill in the day all day long. It seemed that they were just everywhere and willing to entertain.
Don't get me wrong, these little buggers do not stay in one place very long! They are very tough to shoot.
To add a little perspective for the unaware, the only smaller birds that we get here in Alberta are humming birds. The little Kinglets are even smaller than Chickadees.
Just look how their size compares to the Spruce needles that they travel in. Their body is no much wider than the end of the branch.
It certinly was my "best ever" day with these beauties. We even managed to find a couple in the sun.
I probably have another 50 shots that I could add in here but you are probably getting tired of all this colour.
So I'll wrap up part two of this special Sunday that we shared.
I hope that this series might just encourage you to getsome "wild" in your life this week!

Monday, 13 April 2015

Great Grey Owls (20150412) One of three posts for this unusual day.

With the wind persisting for the third day in a row, Jamie and I decided to head out to see if we could find an owl or two. We got out a little earlier than normal and almost had to wait for light. But we didn't wait, and we were rewarded.  I want to note here that due to our limited variety on the day, but the quality of our encounters I will be doing three posts for this day. This first is dedicated to our target specie the Great Grey Owl. Here is a shot that Jamie got of our very first bird @ 6:49 a.m. just before sun up. As is often the case, this bird was first spotted and captured on a little road where we had never traveled before. The message here is NEVER STOP EXPLORING!!!!
Jamie was the owl whisperer on this day. This bird flew from this perch to one MUCH closer to Jamie, I expect he has a lot of marvelous shots of this bird in his portfolio now.  Our next bird was just up the road about 15 minutes later just as the sun was making an appearance.
 I added this next shot as it pounced on some prey as I just love the pinkish halo around the wings of the bird.
It popped up on the fence post with its prize, and the light wa fabulous!
The landing was stuck like a gymnast! This is a better quality shot.
With its meal complete, it was across the road to another post. Jamie then headed down to the fence line for a better angle.
I threw this shot in for the look of the legs. I really like how it turned out.
After it was on the fence line for a bit I turned around and caught a glimpse of our third GGO of the morning. I don't think Jamie even got a shot. All I have is evidence.
Then the "whisperer" went to work once again. He got our second owl to fly down to him and do a little "hover" right in front of him. I am waiting to get a shot or two to add to the post here. I hope they come soon.
I will finish this GGO only post with owl two just one fence post away from Jamie.
I hope you enjoyed our 35 minutes of joy with these fabulous birds. After this encounter I said to Jamie; " I could go home and go back to bed and feel like I have already had a full day!" he agreed. A very special morning. This week, put a little "wild" in your life!

Here are a couple of "hovering" shots that Jamie has provided.
And five shots later, one with dangling legs, which is always something that he likes to capture.
To see more of Jamie's great images check out his Flickr photostream here.

Ruffed Grouse, Varied Thrush, Northern Shrike (20150411) What a windy day!

Kerri and I were hoping to duplicate our outing with Dancing Sharptails, it seems like everyone is finding them but us. But the weather was not cooperating we had 60-70 kph winds to keep everything hidden. Well maybe not everything. I did spy this Ruffed sitting roadside in a quiet section of the road.
We waited and the bird eventually just settled down. It allowed me to add my teleconverter on my gear so this next shot is a little tighter.
Our next subject is a bird we have chased before, but today we were able to find and shoot it successfully. Here is my new "favourite" for now, the Varied Thrush.
One of my previous "favourites" was next up. I initially thought it was a Bluebird, but no it was a Northern Shrike.
We were hoping to see it hunt, but I think the wind was keeping it close to the ground.
Another bird I will continue to shoot everytime I get a chance until I get something I really like will be the European Starling. These are beautiful birds in their breeding plumage!  I just have a ard time getting close enough in the right light.
About that time we decided to let the wind just blow us all the way home as it was not calming down at all. I hope that you get to put a little "wild" in your life this week!

Here are a couple of Kerrri's shots on the day: A set of three Coyotes were sunning themselves in the middle of a field. Our passing broke up their reverie.
She was also in position to get this Northern Flicker when it showed up for a shot.
The sighting of the day was her spotting a pair of Sandhill Cranes. They were actually starting to dance. There was a thick layer of trees for cover, so it was tough to get any kind of image.
For more great images of Kerri's work please drop by and see her website kerrimartinphotography.com

Muskrat and Mallards(20150410) a quick check for Wood ducks.

I try not to "chase" birds and mammals that I hear about, but occasionally if the conditions are wrong I will go ahead. I didn't get shots of Wood Ducks at all last year and it has been quite awhile. Jamie was teasing me on email telling me where he had found a pair the evening before. So the weather was perfect, and I headed out for a look see. My first sighting is a new shot for the year, some minnows in the muskrat pond.
I call it the Muskrat pond as that was my second spotting of the afternoon.
This time of year always give me a chance to practice my Mallard in flight shots. I think I might be getting better, I kind of like this image.
Here is another shot of the same bird. I might catch on to this whole bird in flight thingy yet.
This next mallard was a little easier to capture. It is nice to see the little bugs on the water proving the waterfowl with a quick, easy picking dinner.
I couldn't find the Woody's that Jamie was telling me about (you don't think he was just kidding do you?) so I made my  way back to where the "Rat" was hanging out.
I thought that I would include this next shot as it shows just how large this little rodent's teeth actually are.
That wrapped up my outing on this day, the wind was really starting to come up so I headed home. Make certain this week that you put a little "wild" in your life!

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Northern Harrier, Kestrel, Northern Shrike (20150408) A trip to the North-east with Dan

Dan and I usually get out for a run to Frank Lake around the equinox, but our schedules didn't click this year. With all the brown around due to the earlier (than last year) spring, I was hoping we might be able to find one of our many Snowy's from earlier in the year. Our first subject was this very dark morph bird which had us puzzled at first.
When he spun around he removed all doubt. We must have snuck up on it as we got pretty close. Redtails don't generally allows us this far into their "zone". Just a beautiful bird.
I know that Tim (who is away visiting South Africa for a month!) would be disappointed if I didn't post a Northern Pintail, especially a pair, if I had the chance.
Our next subject allowed us very close as well. Normally Bald eagles keep their distance, but this cooperative bird provided me with a few "pose" shots.
I am quite happy with this next shot, just off the branch and not moving too fast.
Next up were this regal looking pair of Canvasbacks. I need to spend some time working on letting these birds getting closer to me!
With everything starting to migrate north, it is always great when you can grab an image or 10 of Tundra Swans. These are pretty big birds.
Thius next bird was a pleasure to see even if it was somewhat less than cooperative. The american Kestrel is another very beautiful bird with beautiful patterening. I love shooting them any time I get the chance.
Dan spotted this next favourite of mine; a Northern Shrike. I am now realizing how fortunate I was to be able to get close to a couple of these birds a few years ago. Like most predators, they don't like the feeling of being "crowded".
We had been spotting Muskrats at various times through the day, waiting for a closer opportunity. This next subject was our selection for today. It looks like it has something in its right ear.
We had been spotting Northern Harriers quite often and I find them a very tough bird to shoot successfull. This is by far and away my best of a male. What a treat to be able to watch him soar!

Another common target that we had a tough time getting a position opportunity were the Western Meadowlarks. We had been seeing them and heareing them all day, but they just wouldn't give us a presentation that was ideal. So for a "first of the year shot" I'll have to settle for this.
We had a terrific day with just a ton of predator birds and some others to keep us entertained. We had 3 Merlins and a White-tailed Jackrabbit, Grey partridge and many, many others that I did not get great images of. Hopefully Dan might be able to add a couple of shots to the post.
Spring is so great to see all the colours of the mating ready birds and some green grass, and leaves. Be certain to put some "wild" in our life this week!