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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
(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.
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.