Early Spring 2015 Birding in Calgary

A male Northen PygmyOwl

A male Northen PygmyOwl

Due to a combination of vacation, multiple family commitments and unfavourable weather, I haven’t got out birding that much the past month. That said, the few forays I have made have been reasonably productive so I can’t complain.

Another shot of the male Pygmy Owl

Another shot of the male Pygmy Owl

A real highlight was getting to see a second Northern Pygmy Owl – a male – in Fish Creek Park.

Male NPO emerging from a tree cavity.

Male NPO emerging from a tree cavity.

This bird has a lovely rufous-brown colouration (vs the more grey-brown of his mate), but has proven just as adept at hunting as the female.

Another successful hunt...the owl saw this vole in the snow from 30 metres away!

Another successful hunt…the owl saw this vole in the snow from 30 metres away!

Note, the only way I can tell this bird is a male is because I have seen it mating …fair to say this pair do not seem particularly shy!

A female Northern Pygmy Owl just after pouncing on a vole.

A female Northern Pygmy Owl just after pouncing on a vole.

The female NPO with its catch - each hunt I've seen ends with a 'coups de gras' with the owl biting the back of the vole's neck

The female NPO with its catch – each hunt I’ve seen ends with a ‘coups de gras’ with the owl biting the back of the vole’s neck

Another birding destination was the Weaselhead Natural Area, a local park not far from where I live. While the very mild Alberta winter has brought out a lot more dog-walkers, joggers, etc there have still been some good birds to see despite the increased foot traffic, including Pine Grosbeaks, House Finches, Redpolls and Dark-eyed Juncos:

A female Pine Grosbeak

A female Pine Grosbeak

The same Grosbeak, up close

The same Grosbeak, up close

A 'red' House Finch

A ‘red’ House Finch

A 'yellow-red' House Finch - I gather the various colourations have something to do with diet

A ‘yellow-red’ House Finch – I gather the various colourations have something to do with diet

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Dark-eyed Junco - I find they like to spend most of their time foraging in the underbrush

Dark-eyed Junco – I find they like to spend most of their time foraging in the underbrush

Same Junco as above, different pose.

Same Junco as above, different pose.

This weekend, I decided to try and find a Great Grey Owl which are always exciting to find and photograph. I was hopeful more than anything as it’s been over a year since I’ve lucked out in seeing a GGO, but I guess today was my today and I managed to get two brief glimpses of GGO!

A Great Grey Owl - always a treat!

A Great Grey Owl – always a treat!

 

Great Grey Owl - a face full of personality.

Great Grey Owl – a face full of personality.

Looking ahead, the early spring migrants have already started arriving in Alberta, so hopefully next month I’ll be able to showcase a few of these.

And finally, this blog marks the start of my fourth year of bird photography – it’s been entertaining to look back at my first shots from 3 years ago and see how I’ve progressed to today. But best of all, it’s still so much fun – which is what got me started in the first place!

Cheers,

Tim.

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3 Responses to Early Spring 2015 Birding in Calgary

  1. Ron says:

    Great photos! Especially the first photo of the male NPO. I wish I would learn how to take great bird photos like you do!

  2. Tim Hopwood says:

    Thanks, Charlotte :). Yeah, those juncos are cool but hard to photograph!

  3. Beautiful photos, Tim! I really like the photos of the Junco!