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Frank Lake

Frank Lake

I had an amazing evening photographing flying Terns out at Frank Lake. The waterfowl was out in full force with Grebes and Redheads playing around by the blind. There was a bunch of White-faced Ibis off in the distance, and I saw my first couple of Black Terns. But the star of the day was most definitely the Common Terns which spent the whole time hovering and diving into the marshy area east of the blind. I think I shot about 800 photos of the Terns alone (a couple hundred of which were complete blurs, or more likely nothing but sky where I had missed the bird completely). One thing I learned for sure is that shooting birds in flight is not an easy thing to do and I could use a whole lot more practice at it. But it sure was a lot of fun..!

Eared Grebe in a prairie pond
Eared Grebe in a prairie pond
Eared Grebe in a prairie pond
Eared Grebe in a prairie pond
Ring-billed Gull in flight over a prairie wetland
Ring-billed Gull in flight over a prairie wetland
Redhead duck in a prairie wetland
Redhead duck in a prairie wetland
Redhead duck in a prairie wetland
Redhead duck in a prairie wetland
Eared Grebe in a prairie pond
Eared Grebe in a prairie pond
Redhead ducks in flight over a prairie wetland
Redhead ducks in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Eared Grebe in a prairie pond
Eared Grebe in a prairie pond
Black Tern in a prairie wetland
Black Tern in a prairie wetland
White-faced Ibis in flight over a prairie wetland
White-faced Ibis in flight over a prairie wetland
Black Tern in a prairie wetland
Black Tern in a prairie wetland
Yellow-headed Blackbird perched in the reeds of a prairie wetland
Yellow-headed Blackbird perched in the reeds of a prairie wetland
White-faced Ibis in flight over a prairie wetland
White-faced Ibis in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Pair of Duck tails sticking out of a prairie pond
Pair of Duck tails sticking out of a prairie pond
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland
Common Tern in flight over a prairie wetland

Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

Tree Swallow on a barbed-wire fence
Tree Swallow on a barbed-wire fence
Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis Country

Still waiting for spring….

I drove out to Kananaskis Country, taking the long way through Springbank, to exploring some of the backcountry roads to try and photograph waterfowl in the country ponds. It wasn’t very successful and the weather was beginning to turn rather ugly. By the time I got into Kananaskis Country I realised that spring was still a long way off in the mountains and headed back early, deciding not waste anymore time.

 

Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Snowy mountain scenery in early springtime
Ring-necked Ducks in a farmland slough
Ring-necked Ducks in a farmland slough
Frank Lake

Frank Lake

Winter seemed a big long this year and by April I was desperate to get out and do something. Despite it not being very warm, and a strong north wind blowing I thought I would give Frank Lake a try to see if the birds were migrating yet.

While the birds were starting to arrive (most notably the Northern Pintails) the lake was still partially ice covered. Most of the shoreline was free of ice, but it was completely flooded and I couldn’t actually get near the lake. At the trail to the viewing blind where I parked my car the water came pretty much right out to the roadway, the walkway was completely submerged, and the actual blind had water halfway up the railings.

I walked around the lake shore for a bit despite it being completely unproductive, but eventually the wind took it’s toll and I gave up and headed home.

 

Flock of Northern Pintail ducks on a frozen lake Alberta Canada
Flock of Northern Pintail ducks on a frozen lake Alberta Canada
Flock of Northern Pintail ducks on a frozen lake Alberta Canada
Flock of Northern Pintail ducks on a frozen lake Alberta Canada
Powerlines through the prairies with mountain views
Powerlines through the prairies with mountain views
Springtime in Kananaskis Country

Springtime in Kananaskis Country

I started out in the prairies, watching swallows (which are almost impossible to photography) working on their nest at one of the roadside birdhouses. After that I headed up through Jumpingpound spotting Buffleheads and Goldeneyes in one of the ponds along the way. Next it was a White-Crowned Sparrow (my first), when I stopped to use the washroom at Mount Lorette Ponds.

When I left town the weather was pretty crappy, windy and cloudy, and not very nice, but the further I got into mountains the nicer it got. By the time I made it to the Shark Mountain turn-off on Spray-Lakes trail it was a beautiful spring evening. While there was still snow higher-up, it was great to see the rivers and streams had already thawed and were flowing high with spring melt.

On the return trip I spotted a pair of Grizzlies (mother and cub), walking down highway 40 from what must have been at least a kilometre or two in the distance. Cutting the engine I coasted down the hill doing my best not to spook them, but a winters worth of gravel on the roadway grinding under my tires was enough to scare them off the road before I could get very close. Thankfully I had my long lens and 1.4X on and was able to get some great shots of them crossing the road and climbing over the guard rail.

After leaving the road they climbed down the embankment, and I spent a half hour or so before it got too dark watching them (from a really bad angle) while they fed on new spring growth.

There was an Elk on the hillside about 20 metres behind them, and neither the bear nor the Elk even blinked at the others presence, they just kept on grazing. I found this very interesting, because everyone knows bears are blood thirsty carnivorous that kill everything they see…

 

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)

 

Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)
Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)
Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica)

White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Elk  (Cervus canadensis)
Elk (Cervus canadensis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear mother and Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear mother and Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Grizzly Bear Mother and Cub (Ursus arctos horribilis)
Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep
Rocky Mountain Big Horned Sheep
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Mountains in Spring
Frank Lake – Avocets

Frank Lake – Avocets

Frank Lake is a Ducks Unlimited conservation site southeast of Calgary that is an important breeding site for many migratory birds (http://www.ducks.ca/your-province/alberta/wetlands-area/frank-lake/). How I went this long without hearing about this place completely baffles me, so when I was told about it I headed down for a look the first chance I got.

One of the birds on my list to find and photograph this year was the American Avocet. I spotted one the previous spring and thought they were pretty cool looking so I was hoping to get some photos when their migration brought them up north again.

All I can say about Frank Lake is that it’s pretty awesome. On my first visit there I found not only the one Avocet I was looking for, but was greeted by an entire flock of a few dozen of them wading around in a pool right near where I parked my car. There is also a great viewing blind that sits out over the water where you can watch all the ducks and geese out on the lake.

While there I spotted a large unfamiliar bird landing in the reeds off in the distance, and though it was too far away to identify at the time I shot some (really bad) photos, and after getting home was able identify it as a Black Crowned Night Heron. A bird I had never even heard of let alone seen before, so that was pretty exciting.

When I fist arrived at the lake I ran into a lady who asked me about Short-eared owls (at least I think that’s what she was asking, her English was not great, and I was rather confused). But then later when the sun was pretty much down and I was packing up I saw what was obviously some kind of owl flying around way off in the distance. I shot a couple of photos but was pretty much out of light so I put my gear away and headed out. Then as I was driving the gravel road back away from the lake it flew right up to within 10 metres of my passenger window and followed along beside me for a couple of hundred metres. She was right, it was a Short Eared Owl.

Overall my first experience at Frank Lake was pretty awesome, and I’m sure I’ll be heading back again in the near future.

American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
Trio of American Avocets napping in the sun.
Black-crowned Night-Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Black-crowned Night-Heron hiding in the reeds.
Prairie Lake
Sunset in the Prairies
041913 - Frank Lake-444
Sunset over Frank Lake, Alberta Canada
041913 - Frank Lake-451_2_3
Sunset over Frank Lake, Alberta Canada
Short-eared Owl
Short-eared Owl in flight
American Coot
American Coot
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet
American Avocet

Carburn Park

Carburn Park

The weather was finally starting to warm up a little, so I headed down to Carburn park to try my hand at some spring fishing, and test out my new 500mm lens. The fishing was entirely uneventful, so I spent most of the time chasing birds around the shoreline.

Common Mergansers
Common Mergansers
Canada Goose
Canada Goose on it’s nest
Canada Goose
Canada Goose
Ring-Billed Gull
Ring-Billed Gull
Killdeer
Killdeer
White-Tailed Deer
White-Tailed Deer

Weaslehead Park – Swans

Weaslehead Park – Swans

Picked up my new lens yesterday, so as soon as I had a chance I headed down for a walk through the Weaselhead area in Calgary. There wasn’t a lot going on, but eventually I spotted a couple of Trumpeter Swans swimming around the western shore of Glenmore Reservoir.

Swans
Trumpeter Swans
Swans
Trumpeter Swans in flight
Swans
Trumpeter Swans in flight
Swans
Trumpeter Swans in flight
Swans
Trumpeter Swans in flight
Swans
Trumpeter Swans in flight

Fish Creek Park – Birds

Fish Creek Park – Birds

I heard from a fellow photographer that there was a Great Horned Owl that had nested and in Fish Creek Park, and had recently had a couple chicks. So I went down to see if I could find them. It didn’t take very long to figure out where they were, as there was already a bunch of photographers down there watching them. It was pretty neat to see them, but with the nest facing east, and the sun setting directly behind it, shooting pictures was a bit of a waste of time. I think that Owl chicks might possible be one of the ugliest creatures on the planet.
I took a nice long walk through the park, and saw a lot of other birds. The highlight (apart form the owls) was a pair of American Kestrels, but they were way to fast to get a decent photo.

Great Horned Owl Chicks
Pair of American Kestrals on a tree branch
White Breasted Nut-Hatch
American Robin
White Breasted Nut-Hatch
Canadian Goose on a tree
Northern Flicker
Canadian Goose 
Great Horned Owl Chicks
Great Horned Owl Chicks
Common Mergansers
Carburn Park

Carburn Park

It was a particularly warm January afternoon, so I thought I’d take a walk and maybe do some fishing at Carburn Park. The fishing wasn’t really happening, but I did get up close with some of the resident White-tailed Deer, and of course the ducks!

Ducks and Deer at Carburn Park, Calgary

 

Young White-tailed Buck, Carburn Park, Calgary

 

Sunset over the Bow River, and the Southland Park pedestrian bridge, Calgary, Alberta

 

Waterfowl

Waterfowl

(May 8/12)

2011 was a pretty terrible year for migrating birds in Calgary, I’m not sure if I just didn’t get out at the right time, or the weather just really messed up the whole migration, although I’m leaning towards the latter. I did head out east of the city a few times, but only found a few of the more common birds.

City Walk

City Walk

(April 10/11)

Took a long walk through Downtown and Inglewood.

Downtown scenes of Calgary Alberta Canada
Canadian Goose
Common Goldeneye in the Bow River Alberta Canada
Female Common Merganser in the Bow River Alberta Canada
Downtown scenes of Calgary Alberta Canada