Posts tagged “grassland

On the hunt with a Great Gray Owl

My good friend, the owl, took me for a bit of a run last Monday.  I found it perched on a stake in the middle of a large field in West Bragg Creek and after a few minutes I had walked to within 100 yards.  I stopped at another stake that I thought would provide a better vantage point than the current perch, set up my tripod and waited.  The Great Gray glided to a small evergreen first,  then to a fencepost and eventually to the stake about 10 yards from me.

It stayed there for a couple of minutes before gliding past me and flying low over the grass.  For the next 10 minutes, it lunged a couple of times into the tall grass.  These dives proved unsuccessful and I was surprised when it spent a minute or two standing on the ground before pushing up into the air again.

It covered a lot of ground and I just stayed on a straight line moving northward.  Our paths came close once but I did not get any memorable photographs during this stretch.  I was really enjoying the opportunity to watch how it scouted and attacked.

The field work came to an end when the owl flew into a line of trees and settled on a stray fence post.  I moved up on to the road for a better angle and then the owl moved to a post connected a long line of other posts by barbed wire.  It flew from the first post to the next in line so I moved a few down to set up in case the pattern continued.  It did fly over two more posts but then it got really still on one of the perches and stared intently into a tangle of branches about 15 yards on the other side of the fence.  I didn’t have a great line on the branches but I didn’t want to move and make any noise.  When the owl launched, it was clear that it had a target lined up.  The silence of owls in flight is incredible and I was enthralled watching this attack.  This time, the talons caught a field mouse and the owl paused while it moved the kill to its mouth.

When the bird flew up again I had a great line and was able to take some nice images.  It crossed back over the field and settled on the far side to dine which signaled the end of this encounter.


Blackbirds and Bullrushes

 

Almost every marsh or pond in the Foothills with cattails or some form of brush on the water’s edge is attended by one or more mating pairs of Red-winged Blackbird now.  They have returned from their winter south or west of Alberta over the past couple of weeks and are now setting up for the kids.  I love the energy that is growing now that spring is truly underway (in May, I know…)

This fellow flew within a few dozen yards to check me out.  He may have just thought that the tripod and long lens was overkill for his little pond but he hopped along the bullrushes nearby and then flew across the water to where I could see his mate was perched.