I drove east of Langdon in the evening a couple of days ago looking for owls. At this time of the year the odds are decent to see Snowy owls perched on a silo or a fence line so I was looking for them as well as Short-eared owls that have been reported in that area recently. It was about an hour before sundown when I found a Snowy owl perched a couple of hundred metres away along a fence line.
This beautiful fellow flew between a few posts and was not interested in having me around so I headed west as the sun fell behind a tall bank of clouds standing over the Rocky Mountains. I found the second, and final, Snowy of the afternoon on a small oil and gas installation built on a rise that was a bit of a hike from the road.
She was perched on a storage tank and took only passing interest in me during my 15 minute walk towards her. As I drew closer I took a few photographs and as color came into the sky with sunset, I took a bunch more :)!
She kept tabs on me but had her focus on the surrounding fields. I didn’t see anything of note but it was a different story for the owl.
When she did launch she glided over to another small hill then dived into the field where it seemed she caught something. It was too far for me to make out and when she flew again after a couple of minutes she went further away and I had no interest in chasing her any further.
A pair of Bald eagles were drawn to Redwood Meadows today. My daughter and I spotted them flying overhead when we were on our way to grab an ice cream cone in Bragg Creek. We stopped going there and again on the way back. They were drawn by a deer that had died near the golf course. Ravens were on the ground while the eagles bided their time above in the nearby trees.
I really like Brown Pelicans (their scientific name is Pelecanus occidentalis). They can be acrobatic in flight but generally look very cool while gliding in the sky or low over waves. They are inquisitive, excellent hunters and socially engaging. They are also active early in the morning and late in the evening which allows for some great lighting opportunities when photographing them.
I have put together a gallery of a few of my favourite Brown Pelican images here (or click the image above). In the gallery, please click on any picture to see a full size image. Most of these images are from Los Cabos in Mexico with a couple of flight pictures from Laguna Beach, California.
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.
Not me, the Stellar Jays on the deck of my aunt and uncle’s house in Nelson.
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”.
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.
It always exciting when I come across a new creature for the first time. On the weekend, while photographing two beautiful owls, I had my first encounter with a Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis). I’m used to seeing Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers frequently around Bragg Creek but the distinctive red patches sent me looking through my bird book to identify this new (to me) species. We are on the northwest edge of their summer range but they are apparently quite conspicuous so I must have missed them previously.
(Please click on any image if you would like to view a higher resolution version in a new window)
When one of the owls flew to a fence post near a stand of trees, it disturbed this small woodpecker. The little bird started chittering away and ended up flying out of the tree above the owl and landing on a post in front of me. He settled down and took a minute to scratch the feathers on his nape before heading across the meadow. It didn’t bother the owl in the least but I really enjoyed the short visit.