A new owl day…

I am always amazed when I see something new…especially when it involves owls.  I am in awe every time I see one.  Well, to get back to my adventure, I was out with my friends and we were searching for a snowy owl that was spotted in Grand Valley.  It was getting later in the day and we were all ready for supper, but thought we would take one more loop to see what we could find.   No snowy was found, but in Wild Cat, thanks to another birder, we spotted our first Short-Eared Owl.First sighting Short Eared WCH cropped wm…first one ever and first one of the day!  So cute…so tiny…so far away…but a first!  We snapped a few photos, laughed with delight and headed up and over the hill to see if the Great Grey was around.  No luck there, so back to thinking about supper.  Coming down the hill, we spot something on the fence post up ahead….Short Eared First Sighting cropped…a Short – eared, this time much closer to the road…we weren’t sure if it was the same one, as it looked a little bigger, but we counted it as sighting anyways.  This one didn’t stick around for long.  More laughter followed.   When we turned onto Grand Valley Road, we say two more Short Eared…they seemed to be everywhere…but these ones were to the west and we were on the curves on Grand Valley, so no place to stop.   More laughter…thinking we were so fortunate just to see these little cuties!   Heading north, we passed the two big hills and I spot something in the field out of the corner of my eye, I yell…”Stop the car”!   The driver checked all mirrors and the cameras starting firing!  Beautiful light, subject taking a pose and an amazing opportunity to capture a great photo….Short Eared Owl Puffed GVR cropped wmShort Eared owl puff ball cropped wm…now, not just laughter but belly laughs…feeling so lucky…usually when you see something new,  it takes days or months sometimes to see another one and then to actually get the opportunity to capture an amazing image in less than an hour…wow!!  Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, another Short – Eared….right next to the road…Short Eared Owl Side profiile cropped wm…first looking off into the sunset…Who me short eared owl GVR wm…and then a full stare, saying “hello ladies!”

Always love being out in nature on photo adventures with my girlfriends!!

Oodles of Owls

A day to remember…

On many occasions my friends and I head out on an adventure to find the Great Grey’s…sometimes we are lucky if we see one…

Great Grey first sighting of the day cropped wm

First sighting

…this one was the first one of the day,  spending quite a while checking out various locations.  It was the beginning of an amazing day…Great Grey in V of Tree cropped wmGreat Grey back in the yard cropped wmOn our way to pick up another friend, we saw 2 more Great Grey’s flying overhead.  After gathering everyone…we headed back to check out where the 2 were spotted…Great Grey One with the tree cropped wm…and off in the field, we spotted this one.  They blend in so well, they are easy to miss!  This owl provided us with a show…moving from post to post…

…not seeming to mind us at all….

Great Grey checking us out cropped wm…with no good options for lunch…off to find another spot….Great Grey wings down cropped wmGreat Grey wings up cropped wmWe weren’t sure if this was one of the one’s we saw earlier…but we counted it as a sighting…

Up around the corner…another one was sitting on a fence post on the roadside…but there was a vehicle behind us and no where to pull over…so we took a loop and the passengers watched as the owl headed into the trees….Great Grey so hard to spot cropped wm…again…camouflaged and so hard to spot…5 Great Grey’s in one day…truly breathtaking!!

Best photo of the day…up close and personal…

Great Grey Close up Focused cropped wm

Eye on the prize

….definitely one of the best days ever being in the presence of these astonishing birds and oodles of them to appreciate!

 

 

 

Safari down south…

I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego this fall.   I heard such great things about the San Diego Zoo, that I planned a full day on my itinerary!   I have toured many zoos over the years, but I never experienced the action I encountered on my adventure in San Diego…

There were big cats, all awake and alert except the Tiger…

Lion San Diego Zoo cropped square wmLeopard background cropped wmCougar San Diego Zoo cropped wmTiger San Diego Zoo cropped wm

Elephants and rhinos…

Elephant San Diego Zoo cropped wmRhino San Diego Zoo wm

Giraffes and gorillas….

Giraffe San Diego Zoo cropped wmGorilla Male San Diego Zoo cropped smGorilla Female San Diego Zoo wm

Koalas, flamingos and pandas…

Koala San Diego Zoo cropped wmKoala 2 San Diego Zoo cropped square wmFlamingo San Diego Zoo cropped wmRed Panda peeking cropped wmPanda San Diego Zoo cropped wm

So many animals up and moving about…and a brand new baby Takin born that morning…

Baby Takin cropped wmIf you are in the area, I highly recommend a visit to the San Diego Zoo!!

A little Paint to brighten your day…

One day a friend and I were heading out to check on the Osprey nests.  We came across a beautiful scene that brightened our day!  On the Morley First Nations land, we spotted this mare and her foal.  We pulled off the road and watched the little one put on a show…Paint and foal Morley cropped wm…he wasn’t sure about us…Paint and foal having a drink Morley wm…decided to have a drink…Paint foal prancing Morley wm…which put a little skip in his step…Paint foal behind mom cropped wm…around and around mom I go…Paint foal staying close cropped wm…but not venturing too far…Paint and foal walking away wm…then together, they wandered off.

I’m “Hangry”…

A flock of tree swallows were buzzing around a nest box…

 

Squabbles on the wire…in and out of the box…not sure who is who…mom, dad, kids…there were so many…

Then out of the box a young chick…who seemed to be ignored by the group flying around…the mouth kept getting wider and wider and further out of the hole…I am thinking the young one was getting “Hangry”!

Tree Swallow hungry chick cropped wmFinally someone came to the rescue…and fed the little one!Tree Swallow hungry chick 2 cropped wmPure craziness to watch!

Tour of the Osprey nests…

I have been out checking on the numerous Osprey nests this year…

In Cochrane, the young are testing out their wings and mom is constantly feeding them…Osprey young stretching wings cropped wmOsprey feeding young Cochrane cropped wm

At 22…no sighting of the young, but mom is always sitting up on the top of the post…Osprey at 22 on post cropped wmIn Exshaw, mom came in to settle on the top of the post at the nest site…Opsrey Exshaw Nest cropped wmAt the train yard…there is one chick in the nest…Opsrey with young Railyard Bow River cropped wmAs well as one chick at Glenbow Ranch…you can just see the top of the head poking out of the nest…Osprey Glenbow Ranch cropped wmIt is going to be great fun watching all these youngsters learn to fly!!

Sad news however, the nest at Castle Junction has no activity.   It is my understanding that this nest has been active for many years…and a real tourist attraction for the visitors to Banff.   Hope they are back next year…

Baby boom…

This time of the year is awesome!  So many babies…

Baby deer in our backyard (twins)…hope to get a great shot of them together one day soon!!Fawn in backyard cropped wmLove watching them race around the woods!!

Baby Eastern Kingbirds…first sleeping…mom with lunch…and babies waiting…

Feeding time…

Baby eaglet still in the nest but with full adult feathers…Eagle cropped wmtBaby hawk venturing out of the nest…Baby Hawk out of the nestBaby blackbirds and mom bringing food…

…and Bluebirds and Meadowlark parents with food…

Great adventures these days!!

Checking out the local ponds…

I have discovered some great water in the area with lots of activity!

Coots – nesting, babies and check out those feet!!

Finally a blue heron…I have seen quite a few, but this was the first I was able to photograph…

Wilson’s Snipe out on Horse Creek Road…

Horned Grebes…

Dragonflies are everywhere right now…Dragonflies Lochend Lake cropped wm…and an Eastern Kingbird, Muskrat and Killdeer…

Lots more coming soon!!

So much to see at the pond…

I have been busy hanging out at the pond.  I am amazed at the variety of birds!  A lesson my back yard adventures have taught me… slow down and pay attention to what’s around you!  Here is what I have witnessed over the past week…

There were ducks(Blue-winged Teals and Common Goldeneye) and their ducklings…

 

 

Four different types of sparrows (white crowned, house and house babies, clay-colored and Savannah)…

 

Robins, Warblers, Goldfinch, Grosbeaks and Waxwings …

 

Eastern Kingbirds…

Northern Flickers that you could hear load and clear, but were hard to find as they blended into the trees and another bird in the tree cavity that I have just not been able to identify yet…

 

Sandpipers…

Geese and there were goslings (but no more)…Gosling taking ride on the Bow River cropped wmThat is 17 different types of birds just a few steps away from my front door found in and around the Riviera pond….

…and there are definitely more…just not captured yet!  It was a great week of discovery!!

The Majestic Bald Eagle

Saturday was majestic…bald eagles!!Bald Eagle Female on side of nest April cropped wmMy friends and I went out on a photo adventure…one of the planned stops was to swing by the Bald Eagle nest.  The female has been sitting on the nest since the middle of March and with an incubation period of 35 days, we were hoping to see some eaglets had arrived!!  We were not disappointed!  When we arrived, the mother was standing on the side of the nest…a good sign that she has young…and in no time a white fuzzy head popped up…an EAGLET!!Bald Eagle on side of nest and first sighting of eagle tcropped wmMom flew off for a few minutes…came back and settled in…we saw two eaglet heads popping in and out from under her wing!!  I think everyone was hungry as they kept checking the sky…looking for dad to bring in some lunch!!   There were also a group of 3 hawks circling above…not sure if I would want to picking a fight with a bald eagle…but the red tailed hawks have a nest on the other side of the creek!  Bald Eagle with Baby 2 cropped wmLooks like mom gave a little cuddle as the little eaglet came out from under her wing…Bald Eagle Female with eaglet coming out from wing cropped wmThe eaglets will be full size in 10 – 12 weeks…and fledgling takes place (take their first flight) at this time!  I know there will be more adventures to capture these amazing moments as we watch them grow!!

Honored to see our Provincial Bird..

The Great Horned Owl is common in Alberta.  You will often hear the deep, soft hoots … hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo in the late evening or early morning, but trying to locate them is not always so simple.   These birds nest early in the year compared to most other birds, and will most often settle in a nest build by others (usually Red-tailed Hawks, other hawk species, crows, ravens, herons, or squirrels).   Good friends took me to see one this week…what an absolute privilege to see such an amazing animal…our provincial bird!!Great Horned Owl Nest 1 cropped wmI look forward to watching the family grow this spring and summer!!

Oh…also exciting news…the resident Osprey’s are back!  Can’t wait to capture them in action this year!  Photos will be coming soon!! Check out the story from last year in my blog and my favorite Osprey photos from last year in the gallery!

Riviera returning residents…

The Riviera pond has residents returning!  Despite the snow on the ground this past week, the birds are arriving!!  The remaining ice on the pond doesn’t seem to bother them at all…Canada Geese back at the pond cropped wmMore geese photos in the galleryFemale Duck return to pond cropped wmThe Mallards are searching for a nest site…more photos in the gallery!Mallard return to pond cropped wmOn Tuesday, I heard the familiar song of the red winged blackbird…it was great to see them perched on the cattails at the pond!   More photos in the galleryRed Wing Blackbird at the pond cropped wm

 

Sunday Showcase…

We were having an amazing spring, very warm and wonderful, but it has taken us back to cooler temps this past week!  Sunday was a dreary day and barely above freezing, but my husband wanted to see the spring birds that I had been capturing with his own eyes…so we decided to venture out anyways.   It was quite the showcase of activity…

We started our tour east of Westbrook School to check out the Bluebird boxes. Bluebirds…I think these little ones are going to be my passion this year!

I was hoping we were going to see them on our Sunday adventure as my husband had never seen one before…

We passed by several boxes without any activity before heading north on RR 40.  We drove slowly up the windy road and spotted swans including a pair coming in to land…synchronization in flight…Swan RR 40 on approach cropped wmWhile we watched the swans, a hawk was hunting in the field to the east…you know it’s spring when you hear the screeching of the hawks high overhead!!  No pictures yet…

Just up the road and off in the bushes I spotted a pair of bluebirds…I was so excited for my husband to see these little cuties!!Bluebird pair in bushes off RR 40We watched for a few moments…this time seeing the male bluebird gathering grass and taking it into the box…

Next on the tour, we were heading north to see if the Bald Eagle was in around.  On the way, we saw 2 Prairie Falcons hunting…another first for me!!Prairie Falcon Sunday Showcase cropped wmAt the Nature Reserve, the Bald Eagle was still sitting on the nest!  With the incubation period being 34-36 days…it won’t be long before they hatch!!  Bald Eagle MV Reserve April cropped wmIt was time to head home…with one last surprise sitting on a fence post…an American Kestrel…Kestral HWY 22 Sunday Showcase cropped wma little chilled, but filled with joy in seeing so many amazing things on our Sunday adventure…

The Spring Wildlife Adventure Begins…

Last fall,  one of my fellow camera club members(and bird photographer) told me about a Bald Eagle’s nest north of Cochrane.   Yesterday, I took a drive to the location with a friend, found the nest and a Bald Eagle in it!  I did a little research about the nesting habits, and each year the adult pair will add 1-2 feet of new material to the nest…that means that this nest has been used by this pair for quite a few years as the nest is huge!   Bald Eagle Nest Mountain View County Reserve wmThe Eagle stayed in the nest the entire time we were in the Nature Reserve, so I am assuming she has laid eggs!   It is going to be an exciting spring and summer!Bald Eagle Mountain View County Reserve cropped wmWhile in the reserve watching the Eagle, there was lots of bird activity…hawks flying overhead, ravens socializing  and a busy group of house sparrows flying in and out of the bushes….

We were not prepared to stay for the day, so it was time to head home.  We took the long way home to see if there was any activity at the Bluebird houses…nothing yet…but it won’t be long!  We saw a herd of moose on Range Road 280 just west of Horse Creek Road. My friend had seen the moose several times, but this was my first!

My last sighting of the day was a couple of white tailed deer.  We were looking for the Great Grey Owl that lives in the Grand Valley Road area.   A group of deer was trying to cross the road.  I pulled over, thinking I was going to get a great action shot of a deer jumping the fence…but it decided to go underneath…

What an amazing day!  My friend, who I was out adventuring with spotted the Great Grey Owl later that evening!  One day soon, I will be sharing an owl adventure…