Posts tagged “birds in flight

Snowy owl on the hunt in Irricana

 

Spring Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1653-2

This Snowy owl’s dive into the grass directly below was a great moment to watch.  The bird’s intense focus when it started tracking the prey from the perch on the fence through to the awesome descent to attack were welcome rewards given the time invested.  I found this Snowy on this fence post a little after 9 am and quickly set up my camera and lens across the field from her.  For the next 2 1/2 hours, she shuffled, scratched, preened, and dozed.  She seemed to have little interest in me, the field mice or in flying for most of that time.  She kept watch of everything going on around her but her talons may have been nailed to the wood!  I was hadn’t expected to wait that long but with her relaxed manner, I hoped when she did fly it would be in the direction she faced when I first stopped.  That direction was facing towards me and in the end she did do that.  I thought if she flew that way, I would have a few in flight opportunities but this dive was short in both time and distance.  I was happy to have captured a couple of frames before she disappeared into the grass.

Spring Snowy Owls - © Christopher Martin-1654-2

I waited for about 10 minutes for her to climb out of the tall grass and when she did it was heading away from me.  Given the time on the ground, I would wager that she did catch the prey and spent the time out of sight enjoying the meal.


Hawks on the Prairie

Evening perch - 2013 © Christopher Martin

This summer has been very good for hawk watchers on the prairies around Calgary.  To the west around the Springbank area I have spent a number of afternoons watching mostly Swainson’s Hawks scouting over the fields.

Arond the phone line - 2013 © Christopher Martin

This is a small set from a few of these encounters.  I looking forward to a few more before fall comes and these fair-weather friends head south.

2013 © Christopher Martin

This hawk above was staring me down from her nest while I stopped briefly to see if her chick was looking out yet.  On a separate visit, I saw the young one’s stare was equal to its mother’s.

2013 © Christopher Martin

Earlier in the summer, on the same day as my running fox encounter, I was watching a female hawk on this ranch entrance when its mate swooped down.  When I saw the bird descending, as below, I thought it was attacking but it was getting closer for other reasons.

Could you be loved? 2013 © Christopher Martin

2013 © Christopher Martin

The hawk above had just finished a meal when I came by its perch on a fence near the airport.  It preened for a while before launching for a higher viewing point.  It stayed in the skeleton tree below before flying through the bare branches and gliding over the fields.

2013 © Christopher Martin

On one of the rainy mornings that I was out, this hawk flew alongside me for a few seconds which was really cool.  When it crossed over to the driver’s side and banked back, I caught the nice image of the downstroke of his wings below.

2013 © Christopher Martin

I will be trading the opportunity to photograph these wonderful raptors for the wild residents of Prince Rupert’s coastal rainforest next week.  I’m always excited about a return to the province I grew up in and especially when it is to visit a part of British Columbia that is new to me.  We will see what opportunities present themselves starting tomorrow.


Eagles on the Prairie

Scouting low over the Prairies - 2013 © Christopher Martin

I’ve spent a lot of time this winter driving the township and range roads which divide the prairie up into a grid work of  crisscrossing dirt roads.  The primary goal has been to photograph Snowy owls during their winter stay here but I’m always happy to see bald eagles when I happen across them.  These were two separate encounters.  Above, the eagle was flying low over the fields west of Calgary and I parked at a driveway in time to photograph the bird flying past.  In the photograph below, the eagle was perched in this tall tree near Gleichen east of Calgary for ten minutes while I watched before it launched and headed out over the fields.

A tree launch - 2013 © Christopher Martin


Canada Goose Flight

Geese takeoff - © Christopher Martin-3200

At Inglewood in November, I spent a few hours along the river watching and photographing the mass of birds that congregate on the rocky islets in the middle of the water each night.  I was down there in the morning to watch them takeoff, heading out for another day foraging on the prairie.  The vast majority of the birds were Canada goose flocks, followed by Mallard ducks and then small numbers of a wide variety of other species.  I really enjoy watching both the Canadas and the Mallards taking flight.  The geese run along the water once they get up above the water, before they are fully airborne.  Here, I used a lower ISO and smaller aperture (200 and f/11, respectively) to get a shutter speed on 1/30th of a second.


Taking Flight – Bald Eagle on the Prairie

A cold snap has taken hold of the prairies around Calgary for the past few days.  I saw this eagle picking away at some bones out in a field in Springbank and stopped to photograph it for a few minutes.  After a few minutes, it took to the air to find the next meal.  Given the damp cold, I would suggest it carry on the migration that brought it our way last week and head for somewhere more temperate.  That said, I will be very happy if I have the chance to photograph it a few more times before then.


Bow Valley Ospreys

(please click on any image for a higher resolution version)

This adolescent osprey’s nest is along the Bow Valley on top of the Castle Junction bridge.  Its sibling had not yet fledged and the two of them spent the whole two hours I watched them screaming at one another.  Screaming may be too strong, but if they were just calling back and forth, it seemed to have considerable emotion behind it.

Maybe the one who was flying was urging the other one to try, maybe the nest-bound bird was telling the flier to go away.  With other nests I know of emptying as their summer residents head south, I wonder how much longer the one will wait for the other.

Watching this bird circle around was incredible, it always is.  After this flight it landed on a bushy tree nearby and at one point it stared down at me reminding me of an inquisitor.

My favourite one from this vantage point was when the raptor cocked its head in the direction of a sound and I caught this look.


2010 Favourite Photographs – Wildlife

I’m running through my 2010 image library and pulling out a few favourites from the year.  In addition to wildlife, I will likely do a couple more themes.  Before diving into the new year, it’s fun to have a look back over the last one.

This year I found my photographic interests often moving towards people and landscapes with wildlife taking a backseat compared to other years.  That said, I still got out a fair bit and had some really great encounters with wild creatures on their terms.

I spotted this owl in West Bragg Creek as I was looking for moose.  It was in the middle of stalking some small creature under the snow and continued its hunt as I watched.  The advantage of longer lenses as I didn’t need to get very close to this beautiful bird so it was not disturbed.  Here is my original post.

On a drive along one of Bragg Creek’s back roads on Christmas morning, I found this moose.  He is one of three bulls that have been sparring over the last few weeks of December.  So far, I have not been able to photograph them while they are locking antlers but friends have told me all three get right into it pretty frequently.

I photographed this bull in a boggy field in Bragg Creek in early October.  He may be one of the three bulls but I haven’t been able to confirm a match with the photographs I have so far.  He was mildly curious about me but never lowered the ears so I felt relatively comfortable sharing the same meadow with him.  Here are some other photographs from that encounter.

This young bear walked out of the forest and around my house at about 7 am on a weekend.  It ran across the road and disappeared back into the woods.  I walked out to the path between my house and the river and waited figuring that the bear may nose around for a while but then decide to return to forest along the river.  It did but not before tearing into a neighbour’s garbage cans that had been left at the side of the house.  That’s how I spotted the bear again, I could hear the garbage cans and their contents banging around.  So, it got spooked, probably by golfers on the nearby tee-off and sauntered across the road back towards the river.  I was in a great spot to photograph him running across the grass and up into the forest.  Here is my original post with more shots of the bear.

These whitetail deer were wary but not overly concerned as I watched them move out of the deeper forest towards the road I was standing on.  Here we were watching each other and after a couple of minutes, I carried on down the road and they moved in the other direction along the fence line.

We were in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in April and one of the joys of the trip was seeing brown pelicans.  They are numerous around the marina and shoreline in Cabo, considered pests by some.  Where we stayed, there were a number of birds which started their day at the beach arriving at first light and soaring off well before the heat of the day settled in.  I walked down to the water’s edge several mornings and enjoyed watching these giant birds start their day.  I had a great time photographing the pelicans and this one was no exception.  It strutted along the beach, stopping to preen, squawk with other pelicans and then glide over to another piece of beach.

Watching these birds and learning a bit about them made it very frustrating to see the damage they suffered in the Gulf of Mexico this summer.


 


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