Last Hurrah for Winter (hopefully!)

Barrow's GoldeneyeI’ve been fortunate enough to have spent 2 of the last 4 weeks outside of frigid Canada in the warmer climes of Mexico and Hawaii, so the amount of local birds I’ve seen and photographed has been relatively limited. However, I was able to make two trips to two quite different Calgary locales, the first being a 2-hour shooting session on the banks of the Bow River just south of Calgary. Taking advantage of some late afternoon sun that was low in the sky & directly behind me, I set myself up on a pile of snow-covered rocks on the river bank and proceeded to photograph the endless procession of ducks as they floated past downstream feeding, then flew back again to repeat the process. The constant flow of ducks alighting and taking off was a great opportunity to practice my flight photography and I took full advantage.CommonGoldeneye touch down

A Goldeneye shaking off the cold

A Goldeneye shaking off the cold

A Common Merganser heading upstream

A Common Merganser heading upstream

Common Goldeneye...a graceful landing this is not

Common Goldeneye…a graceful landing this is not

A female Redhead fly-by

A female Redhead fly-by

Redhead on final approach

Redhead on final approach

CommonGoldeneye CommonGoldeneye An added bonus was bagging a lifer bird – a pair of Barrow’s Goldeneyes – which I have been hoping to see for sometime!

A couple of weekends later, I returned well-rested and relaxed from Mexico to find that Calgary had experienced something of an owl eruption with Saw-Whets, Barred and Great Grey Owls being seen in my absence. So, I headed down to Fish Creek Park the next morning to see if I could catch some of these owls before they moved on & was fortunate enough to be quickly directed by friendly fellow birders to the Great Grey. The presence of this bird is particularly remarkable for as I posted last month it has been 14 years since a GGO was reported in Calgary, and now we have two!zGrtGreyOwl1

More dramatic than it looks...this was mid-preen and I think maybe it had a feather stuck or something!

More dramatic than it looks…this was mid-preen and I think maybe it had a feather stuck or something!

zGrtGreyOwl2

For the 90 minutes I was there, this owl was content to preen the entire time but still was interesting to observe, especially when it made some rather interesting faces.

A final bonus was seeing a Pileated Woodpecker up nice & close on my back to my car. Seeing these birds is always a pleasure, and this particular bird showed no noticeable reaction to the stream of dog-walkers and joggers than passed by within a few meters…not to mention the guy pointing the big lens!PileatedWPecker2 PileatedWPecker4 PileatedWPecker5

Overall, I must say that this winter was definitely not what I expected – the most snow recorded in Calgary in the last 100 years, getting stuck in the ditch (twice!), pretty much no winter finches, but more owls than I could have hoped for. All up, no complaints at my end :)

Nonetheless, I am quite excited about the next month – not only do we have the Canadian spring arrivals coming, but I’ll also be down in coastal Texas (twice!) to get a sneak peak of what’s coming Canada’s way!

 

 

 

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