Posts tagged “wings

Osprey in the trees

We were in Invermere last weekend. I spent some time watching a family of osprey on the water. This adult perched in this tree and made a couple of passes over a pond but no dives for fish. They looked pretty fantastic in the evening sunshine so I wasn’t too disappointed.


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.

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.

Great gray owl backlit in the morning

This owl was hunting along a field and flew up to this post close to me after swallowing a vole. The sunlight shone through the extended feathers as she flared her wings to land. The intensity of the great gray owl eyes was on full display as well. A few different elements came together to make an image that I really like.

Hawk flight

A hawk launches out over the prairies.  Photographed in late August last summer.

Evening flight

I found a Swainson’s hawk south of Cochrane last week.  When the bird eventually pushed off from this tangle of branches I took a couple of photographs with the wings at full extension.

A golden owl rising


Great gray owl off the ground - © Christopher Martin-6709

A golden owl… or rather a Great gray owl in soft, golden morning light.  This owl had swallowed a mouse a few moments before and here she was readying her jump into the air.  The single downstroke of these broad wings being enough to get her airborne.

Chickadee at its feeder

Chickadee landing - © Christopher Martin-2191

One of the backyard’s Black-capped chickadees as it landed on their feeder.  I liked the motion in the wings and the grip on the post by its feet.

Work on the parallel bars - © Christopher Martin-2196

Flights of the dragonflies

(please click on an image for a sharper, higher resolution version)

While waiting on the lake at Wild Rose for a heron to drop out of the trees and do something (ideally fly towards me and then start fishing closely 🙂 I enjoyed watching the dragonflies that were buzzing in and out of the grasses along the shore around me.  The courting seems to be in full swing so there are wild chases along the water, hovering showdowns and kamikaze dives.

I end up turning my lens away from the bird and towards these far more cooperative fliers.  Here are a few images of some of the dragonflies that I was able to photograph and keep in focus.  It was very tricky using a long telephoto (500mm with a 1.4x extender) to get them sharp but the ones that turned out made me pretty happy.

Great Gray Owl – Flight through the open woods

(please click on the images for a higher resolution version)

The last week has held a series of great encounters (and here) with one of my favourite animals, the Great Gray Owl (Strix nebulosa).  Through the course of these moments, I have been able to make some in flight images that I’m really happy with.  I have photographed this same owl for the past four years.  I have photographed it in all seasons but sometimes several months have gone between sightings.  So far, this May has exceeded even my most out of reach expectations.

I had a gentleman express some concern via Twitter regarding me spending that much time following the owl.  I strive to not impact all of the animals that I photograph and I feel I am successful at this.  Particular to this owl, I know where its nest is but I have never ventured close to that stand of trees because that represents risks that I do not have the knowledge and experience to be sure I will avoid (like driving the mother away from the nest, stressing the owlets, etc.).  I do not use blinds or hide from these owls – I make sure they see me and know where I am at all times.  I have spent a lot of time learning what owls like to perch on and where they like to scout from.

I try to use this knowledge to anticipate a spot where an owl may choose to fly to and launch an attack from.   In the open meadow and mixed forest settings I usually find owls in, they have many options and I select one that I think they may choose. It’s a bit like laying down a bet, if they fly my way, I’m in luck.  If they choose one of the myriad other options, I may be too far away or just not in a good location for photography.  I do not follow right behind the owl – it makes for many shots of them flying away which aren’t what I am looking for.  I stand a few yards away from a perch I think they may like and wait.  When they fly away, I may stay there and see if the owl comes back or I may move to another location to see if they go there.  Either way, I don’t chase the owl and to me, that helps to allow the owl to continue its activities (hunting, watching, preening, eating, etc.) uninterrupted.

With this owl, several times of late I have set up my tripod in a location more than a hundred yards away from the bird and, after some time – up to an hour later, the raptor has flown in my direction and landed within ten feet of me.  That is an incredible experience and I strongly believe it is due to the comfort level the owl has with my presence.  During the encounter when these images were all taken, the owl stayed beside me as it scanned the meadow for about 15 minutes.  When it left, it dove on the far side of the gravel road and came away with a field rodent of some type.

When it was close, I used the long telephoto lens I had attached to take a couple of portrait shots.  Rarely have I had a better model.  Two days later, on the holiday Monday, I spent some more time with this owl on an open meadow about a mile south of this location in West Bragg Creek.

Prairie Wildlife: Red-tailed Hawks

With spring having taken control,  the hawks have returned in earnest to the prairie and the foothills around Bragg Creek.  During my hikes and drives, I often cross their path.  When they wait long enough for me to pull up my camera, I really enjoy photographing them in flight.  I’ve had a couple nice flight series so far and wanted to share a few ahead of a larger raptor project I’m working towards completing in the fall.

When the sun is low in the sky, the warm light can beautifully illuminate the stretched out primary feathers (the fingers), the splayed out tail feathers (particularly true with the Red-tailed hawks) and the patterns in the covert feathers (the layers covering the wing at the base of the primaries).  With the sun behind, the backlit feathers can glow in a striking fashion which I find very appealing.