Birds

Spring hunting

I spent a morning watching a great gray owl flying over the long grass which broke up the forest. Spring has not yet taken hold so the color palette was rather pale but matched the owl’s plumage exceptionally well. He missed on the first dive into the field but came away with breakfast on two other occasions.


A goose and his territory

A couple of weekends ago it was a beautiful, sunny morning at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Ducks were quacking and swimming around the open water in the ponds. Two Canada geese flew in and paddled towards the edge. The scene was hectic but peaceful… up until a nearby goose took exception to them coming into his territory. He flew over and then chased them away. This image is when the defender was attacking his perceived intruders with hissing, splashing and general malevolence.


Aspirations

A chickadee at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary flew up in front of me. Made me think of positive aspirations – onwards and upwards. A good visual to ruminate on.


A day of twos

It was interesting thinking about two in different forms on this 22nd day of the 2nd month in 2022.

I liked thinking of couples, pairs and partners. I ended up thinking mostly about my love most of all. Happy two day sweetheart.

This image from the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary of two Canada geese taking off from the Bow River seemed a good fit for the theme.


Inglewood’s Goldeneyes

A run of warmer weather preceded the latest dip of the thermometer here in southern Alberta. That opened up a couple of the ponds at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary last weekend. The calm, open water drew in dozens of Canada geese, mallard ducks and a few common goldeneyes. A steady cacophony of quacks was the soundtrack by the water. Some calling out to partners, occasional angry exchanges and seemingly random squawking here and there.

The sun was low enough that the light was still warm and, to my eye, a bit buttery. I focused on moment of action – flapping to dry wings, short flights across the pond and a couple of chases.


Watching the hunt

I spent a bit of time with a great gray owl last week. It was later in the evening and it seemed to be looking for a last snack before dark.

I watched it crisscross a meadow of tall grass and make several dives out of sight. It came up without a catch on those.

Apparently, it felt like a change of location was required. Crossing the road she landed on a couple of old fenceposts and stared hard into the adjacent little fields but didn’t find a target worth chasing.

Success came when she flew out of a tall tree she had spent a few minutes surveying from. When she launched, it was a drop to just above the grass and then a sudden drop.

She swallowed while low in the grass and then rose out and flew towards me before alighting on a post right beside me. A couple of minutes later she went across another field and out of sight.


Those eyes…

We had two wonderful encounters with great gray owls yesterday. The highlight for me came when the second owl flew across the field to a tall post about 30′ away. I took some good flight shots there. Then he glided down and landed 2′ away on a fence post beside me. When he was there, it was incredible to share the space. Being that close I was awed by the power and wisdom that I felt from him.

He stayed there for around 10 minutes before I moved further down the fence. The wind picked up as the clouds covered the sun. The owl remained focused on finding dinner in the long grass but after several more minutes, with his feathers whipping around, he flew off into the trees.


Flaring to land

This great gray owl dove at something in the hillside grasses behind this sign. I wasn’t in a good position for that attack but I was when it returned to the sign post it was hunting from.


Snowstorm and Robin

In mid-April, snow fell regularly. The robins had arrived earlier in the month and I wasn’t sure how they would feel about the weather. One afternoon, I photographed this one for a little while. He didn’t seem to have any issues with the white stuff as he bombed through it and flew around to a few different spots around the yard.


My favourite great blue heron shot

Desirée shot this heron out of the sunroof while we were driving into the sun along Plummers Road near Priddis. It was beautiful light to see this bird in flight – but such a hard photograph to get. She has worked hard at her photography and built on her natural talent. I feel like this image is such a great reward for that: Artistic, dynamic, perfectly focused and truly beautiful. It’s my favorite image of a great blue heron. An incredible shot sweetheart!


In flight

This great gray owl was hunting in a field near Grand Valley Road a couple of weeks ago. On one of the glides between perches above the grass, she flew towards me and landed on a ranch gate behind me.


Common loon cleaning

This loon had a small lake to himself a week ago. After swimming around a small island once, he decided to preen. I am used to this being a relatively short session that ends with the stretch out of the water as in the image above. This time was very different and saw the bird splash, skim, dunk and flap for 15 minutes. I’m guilty of thinking that he was having great fun during his bath time. While this is not unusual behavior for loons, it was new to me for the amount of time and the exuberance displayed.

I had a great time was watching and enjoyed looking for dynamic images that I have never had the opportunity to photograph before. The head emerging from the water, wings outstretched perpendicular to the water, surface skimming while beating droplets into a fury around him were among my favorite moments. Here are a few of the images that put a smile on my face when I reviewed them a couple of days after the encounter.