Birds

Spring Robins

Spring Robin - © Christopher Martin-3454

Robins are heralds of spring where I live.  Our weather can be 20°C in the middle of winter or have a snowstorm in July so we have a lot of fits and starts between each season.  I know that winter has mostly retreated when the robins return to our backyard.  This one showed up with its partner about a week ago and I photographed him having a drink in the pond over the weekend.  It was a mild winter but I’m still very glad to be enjoying spring now.

Spring Robin - © Christopher Martin-3448-2


A Snowy Owl’s flight over the prairies

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1458

On the weekend I followed reports of Snowy owls northeast of Calgary near Irricana.  I left home early and arrived in the area just after sunrise.  I was lucky enough to spy the first Snowie of the day perched on a fence post glowing in the soft light.

Irricana Snowy Owl - © Christopher Martin-1415

The pure white owls were until quite recently thought to always be males.  That has been disproved leaving it hard to determine the gender from casual observation.  I will allow for the old convention though and refer to this one as a he.  The other four birds I photographed that morning were banded to varying degrees and I will refer to them as ladies in a future post.  It took only a few minutes before he launched and scouted low over the field for breakfast.  This was repeated a couple of times with each sortie ending with a return to the fence line.

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1457

On the last flight that I photographed of this owl, he flew away from the fence and landed in the middle of the field on a pipeline valve which allowed for an interesting backlit shot as he flared his wings to land.

Irricana Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1474


Eagles in the Elk Valley


Elk Eagle Valley - © Christopher Martin-0150

We were in Fernie a couple of weeks ago and on the drive home found a few Bald eagles who were flying around a carcass that had been pulled a few hundred meters off the highway.  They scattered when we first stopped but came circling back around the trees and back to the easy meal.  A nice break during the lean winter months.

Elk Eagle Valley - © Christopher Martin-0157

Elk Eagle Valley - © Christopher Martin-0161

 


A Grouse in Kananaskis

Kananaskis Grouse - © Christopher Martin-0013

This bird was teasing seeds on the roadside in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis.  It continued on as I got close to the ground and photographed it at eye level.


Osprey along the Sea of Cortez

Los Cabos Osprey - © Christopher Martin-7440

There are two ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) who are residents at the Hacienda del Mar resort in Los Cabos.  Ospreys are another favourite animal that I am fortunate to be able to photograph quite often at home.  It is a bit surreal to see them living in a warm, southern climate as I think of them (myopically) as being a bird of the lakes in and near the Rocky mountains where I usually see them.

Los Cabos Osprey - © Christopher Martin-5933

 

If any images appear grainy or pixelated, please click on the image to open a higher resolution version.

 

Los Cabos Osprey - © Christopher Martin-7437

Los Cabos Osprey - © Christopher Martin-7441-2

They own the palm trees that line the pools and sun decks which overlook the beach using them as viewing towers to find fish near the shore in the Sea of Cortez.

Los Cabos Osprey - © Christopher Martin-6159
Los Cabos Osprey - © Christopher Martin-6132
Several times during our stay in Los Cabos, I had great opportunities to watch these beautiful birds fly to and from the tree tops and glide over the beach and rocks nearby.

Los Cabos Osprey - © Christopher Martin-7790

Los Cabos Osprey - © Christopher Martin-6119

Los Cabos Osprey - © Christopher Martin-6120

Los Cabos Osprey - © Christopher Martin-6121


Egret on the rocks

Cabo Egret - © Christopher Martin-1481

This Great egret (Ardea alba) stepped around the point and into view from the rocks where I was photographing.

Cabo Egret - © Christopher Martin-1435

After a short pause, she flew across a small gap and began fishing.  The head cocks back and then strikes into the water, rarely coming up without a fish.

Cabo Egret - © Christopher Martin-1445

 

Cabo Egret - © Christopher Martin-1490

Cabo Egret - © Christopher Martin-1492

Cabo Egret - © Christopher Martin-1516

At home I photograph the Great blue herons frequently which is in the same family as egrets.  Their mannerisms are very similar as is their size.  The white feathers are the most obvious difference and I love shooting them against the blues of the water and the warm hues in the rocks.

Cabo Egret - © Christopher Martin-1411

In flight, I find them particularly alluring and this bird flew between several outcrops affording me great opportunities to watch.

Cabo Egret - © Christopher Martin-1409-2

Cabo Egret - © Christopher Martin-1216

Cabo Egret - © Christopher Martin-1480


Pelican dawn


Pelican dawn - © Christopher Martin-9167-2

(If the image appears pixelated, please click the picture to open a higher resolution version)

We fled the cold and are now warming up under the sun in Cabo San Lucas.  This morning I trekked along the beach to an outcrop of rock that I thought would be lovely for sunrise.  Along the way, a squadron of Brown Pelicans flew by and were silhouetted against the early glow that preceded the sun.


House Sparrows in Canmore

Canmore House Sparrows - © Christopher Martin-8941

The Summit Cafe is a favourite place for Bobbi and I to have breakfast when we are in Canmore.  I was there last weekend, sitting on their patio outside.  The sun was out, the snow had melted and it had more of a spring feel than anything else.  These House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) contributed to that with their chittering and occasional outburst of song.  There were about 15 that darted between the roof of a nearby building, a deck railing and a shrubbery that was more stick than bush given the time of year.

Canmore House Sparrows - © Christopher Martin-8981

Canmore House Sparrows - © Christopher Martin-8970

Canmore House Sparrows - © Christopher Martin-8984

Canmore House Sparrows - © Christopher Martin-9034

Canmore House Sparrows - © Christopher Martin-9010


Red-tailed flights in Turner Valley

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3798

On my return from the two separate visits with Great Horned Owls near High River, I drove past Okotoks, through Black Diamond and Turner Valley and then back to Bragg Creek.  I counted more than twenty five hawks before I reached Priddis.  Along the way, I stopped a couple of times that were in interesting locations.

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3755

 

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3733

One Red-tailed hawk was hunting from a wooden gate and fence dividing a farm from the highway.  This hawk dove once while I was set up – it was great to observe an attack from close range thanks to a long telephoto lens.  It returned to the post empty-taloned but then launched out over the field and grabbed a mouse when it neared the far side.  Too far for a decent photograph but great to watch.

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3786

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3787

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3797

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3799

Turner Valley Hawks - © Christopher Martin-3801


Working for peanuts

Stellar Jay - © Christopher Martin-4472

Not me, the Stellar Jays on the deck of my aunt and uncle’s house in Nelson.

 Backlit Jay - © Christopher Martin-4336

There are a pair of these beautiful birds that live near the house and they call for peanuts a few times throughout the day.  These cries are rewarded and the opportunity to photograph them was not one I passed on.  At my home we have several blue jays that favour our backyard so it was fun to look at these birds closely and compare and contrast with “ours”.

Phone perch - © Christopher Martin-4398

I grew up in the Kootenays but moved away almost twenty years ago.  Luckily Marnie and John have kept their house there and we try to get out to visit them at least once every summer.  I missed last year and sadly this year was only a one night stay.  However, it was great to see them, to meet their resident jays and to enjoy one of my favourite places in the world.

Prize winner - © Christopher Martin-4484


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