Saturday, 28 November 2015

Bull frogs,Silver darter, Common Yellowthroat (20150703) A run to the old hunting grounds.

We took possion of our new home on June 22, and the moving truck arrived the next day so we have been busy with getting the house contents situated. Finally I managed to secure a day for the woods and a beutiful day it was. Len had wanted to take me up to an area where he and my father had hunted 20 years ago. A day of exploring, and putting my eyes on places I had only heard about, what could be better? It's an hour's run north or better. A quick stop to get rid of some morning tea and we found this guy, a bird that is quickly becoming a standard in our outings. Another great B&W!
We took a little stroll down one of the former side roads. It was pretty heavily grown in, but it turned out to be pretty productive. Our first encounter was with this little female Common Yellowthroat.
On the same old road way there was a water filled ditch, and it was filled with singing bull frogs.
We probably found about 15 different frogs in this ditching, they all had their own little territory staked out, and were all pretty well hidden.
I was thinking of Kerri the whole time. I believe she would have an absolute ball checking these beauties out. After about 10 minutes we found the bully that was making the loudest and deepest calls. He would be king of the pond, and would probably weigh in at about 10-12 ounces.
We also found Grey Jays in there but couldn't get a good image. As our drive progressed we just missed a turtle. I saw it as it slid off its log and into the water. we waited around for a bit and did a little stroll in the area of the pond. There were a lot of red dragon flies and some whitish/silver ones like this.
There were also a lot of these flowers in the wetter sections. I think they may be some form of water Iris. I will need to get some better images of these fine looking flowers in the upcoming years.
I think we may have spotted a Bobolink, but I regret not going back to check. Our final subject of the day was this little Purple finch. He was pretty flighty so the shot is pretty far off.
Overall a super day!  Thanks to brother Len for acting as guide and providing a running commentary:)  Hey, grab your brother, sister or buddy and put a little "wild" in your life!

Friday, 27 November 2015

Merlin, varying hare, Palm Warbler (20150617-18) A second fishing trip

While loading the boat for an attempt at an early morning getaway for fishing ( it's a two hour ride in and 2 hours back out due to road conditions) I spotted a new yard bird for Len. This Merlin flew in across the street monitoring the neighbourhood for a meal.
It didn't stay long, so I only managed a couple of images. I will crop this shot a little tighter. I am not certain if the east coast Merlins adhere to the "prairie" colouring of the males being blue/grey and the females being brown. If so, I believe that this is a female.
 The next morning managed to find about three different Varying hares on the drive in. They were pretty skitish, but this one agreed to sit long enough for a shot or two.
When I was reviewing this image I couldn't help but notice the similarity of these, and probaby all, rabbits and kangaroos. The head structure in this shot just took my mind right there!
We had a successful morning of fishing and were looking around for the Bland-and-white we had shot last time we were here, to no avail. We did however come up with a new bird for Len, this beautiful Palm Warbler.
The only other Palm Warbelr that has been on the blog was about 2 or 3 years ago. I certainly didn't get this quality of image last time. 
The colours and distance from the birds are much better this time around. 
A bit of a thin post, but it is what I have. Even a thin day is better than none, so be certain and put a little "wild" in your life!

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Snapping turtle, Starling, Goldfinch (20150613) A trip down the Valley

The bride and I decided to to visit mom on a beautiful day here in NS. We were in no hurry so we took the old highway enjoying the scenery. Just after getting on the major highway west bound I spotted one of my "target" specie for Nova Scotia. I had thought that perhaps I had missed the "season" but that was not the case. I asked her to pull over to the side of the road so that I might get the unit off the highway. We had to travel about 150 yards to get to the end of the guardrails in order to have enough room to get comfortably off the highway.
The road wasn't too busy but a "Snapper" of this size could do some damage to a smaller vehicle. This transport would hardly feel the bump, I'm certain. So I ran back the shoulder of the road hoping I could get to the turtle before it suffered any collisions. I would stop every now and then and grab an image.
A small blue car straddled the critter and I didn't know if it had been hit or not. So I continued and watched as the cars kept zipping by at 100 kph. I finally got into a postion where, with a break in the traffic I would be able to go out and rescue this beauty. I love the dinosaur-like structure and tail of these ancient reptiles.
I was able to find an opening, and picking the unit up by the shell waaay back by the hind legs, I was able to get it to the same side of the road that I was on. It seemed to be its direction of travel based on my first sighting. I am looking forward to getting more images of these incredible water dwellers. I don't mind ahaving a couple of images here as this is a first time visitor to the blog!
 While at Mom's I took a little time in the yard, but overall it was very quiet. Here is a European Starling on here roof.
She loves it when the American Goldfinch are in their breeding plumage and come to visit her feeder.
Take some time today and put a little "wild" in your life!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Cardinal, Oriole, Purple Finch (20150609) A stopover in Toronto

We left Calgary on schedule and were hoping to get to see our new grandson in Toronto on our way through. Nathan was born on May 5th some 3+ months early, so he was in a neo-natal room and we were not certain that we would be allowed to see him. We did get to spend a little time with him. What a tiny little feller! The stop over allowed me to get out into Sharon's back yard and do a walk around Too Good Pond in Markham.The yard is usally good for a Cardinal or two and this trip was no exception.
I was also able to capture this House Finch.
It was later in the afternoon and I didn't have much time before our evening outing, so I headed over to the pond for walk. I was fortunate enough to find this female Baltimore Oriole.
I watched her for a while and was able to actually find her nest, it is the lowest I have ever seen one. She was a vry tough target to try and capture. I think she could hide better if she didn't have that orange tail.
There can be no doubt that these are beautiful birds. This is the first time that I found them in this area, so a new discovery for me.
I couldn't find the Heron that frequents this area, but with bull rushes and creek there are always Red-winged Blackbirds here too.
On the way back to the house I also found this young Robin. 
So even if you are on the road traveling, you too should always find a little time to put some "wild" in your life!

Pine siskin,Yellow-Headed Blackbird, Red-naped Sapsucker (20150603) One last run out to the Ranch with Jamie

The Moving van is arriving on Friday June 5th, I was able to sneak out one more day with Jamie. The weather was terrible cool and raining. When you are just a visitor and you only have a couple of days you have to take the weather your are given. On this trip I am the tourist so if it's raining today that is what we have for weather! Jamie and I started doing trips together about 5 years ago and it is a friendship that will last the rest of my life! Our morning started with a Pair of Mountain Blue birds feeding this years first set of hatchlings.
Dad was working just as hard as mom was. These birds have been a real treat for me to learn!
 Even in June, there is a lot of "springing" still going on as you head further up the mountains. This female red-winged blackbird is sitting a bush still filling out its leaves.
Here is the male, showing just how wet the morning actually was.
I believe it was on the second pass through Black Rock road we found these cooperative Pine Siskins. If memory serves me correctly Jamie actually took this image. The little birds were on his side of the truck so I handed him my camera and ask that he shoot a couple of frames.
We also found this young Whitetail buck taking in the morning. He wasn't concerned with us. It is great to see them in their "red" summer coat.
The Red-naped Sapsucker has been another favourite of mine, although my best images are from British Columbia, they are great looking birds.
Eastern Kingbirds always provide a challenge as they don't often sit for very long. This shot was taken just after noon and we were hoping we might get some sun.
Our hope for improved light faded as fast as the light itself as the weather moved back in and every thing turned very dull. I had to lighten this image quite a bit, baby coots are a hoot!
We spent some time in this same area and came up with a number of birds, it is a shame that the light was so poor. This female Yellow-headed Blackbird let us drive up pretty close.
A male wasn't very far away trying to serenade any female that would listen, I guess.
We had Canada geese with youngsters, and a trio of Ruddy ducks but this pretty well summed up our day. I really look forward to the opportunity to do this track once again with Jamie! If you get the chance grab a "buddy" and put some "wild" in your life!  Turbo

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Red Foxes (20150601) What a bounty of foxes!

Sheesh, as I finished of the prevous post I commented how it would always be nice to have more red foxes on the blog. Well the old adage "be careful what you wish for" came into play today. I had been watching the Alberta Wildlife Facebook page while in Nova Scotia and was envious of the folks getting great red fox images. So when I returned for the packing task I just had to get our and see these beauties for myself. Once again it was Tim and I that hit the road down towards Nanton to spend some time with these photogenic critters.
We arrived at our first "viewing area" around 6;00 p.m. the light was terrible with dark overcast skies threatening rain. We spotted our first subject about 20 minutes later. It tood another 20 minutes before a second kit showed up.
 While the time seemed to pass slowly there were a couple of diversions, which are always welcome when on a stake out.
Red-winged Blackbirds always make interesting subjects. The nest was obviously very close by so Mom and Dad were pretty active.
Tim suggest that we take a look at "viewing area" number 2 perhaps there would be  little more going on at the second local den. The shift took us about 15 minutes but we had more activity immediately.
These three siblings seemed to have no limit of energy, stopping only occasionally to make certain all was good, and nothing was in the wrong spot.
They practiced their "wrassling" constantly.
Then a fourth sibling appeared. The light was continuing to disappear and I had to increase my ISO to 2000. Of course, observing and stalking, are important skills to practice on a constant basis as well.
It is a reall challenge to try and shoot this many moving subjects at one time. Getting them all in one frame is a victory, but they are never all in the range of the depth of field so there are always one or two out of focus.
Observing, stalking, chasing, wrestling, what else does a young fox have to practice every day?
Oh, there is one more critical skill, and that is the "pounce"!
It was a real challenge to try and follow these critters and their antics. You never knew where to look or focus as there was activity all around all the time. Tim suggested that we go back to the first den and see if there was any more activity going on over there. So we went over knowing that we would be losing light.
What we found was 5 kits doing exactly the same thing the other 4 had been doing. Pouncing, chasing, watching, wrestling, and stalking. The life of a kid. What a great evening! As the old saying goes: "it never rains, it pours". this makes 10 red foxes in the last 26 hours, a pretty phenominal couple of days.
Well that certainly fills in the red fox holes of the blog for a while. I hope you enjoyed the images just 1/1000 as much as I did taking them. What a pleasure. This week don't delay, put a little "wild" in your life!  Turbo