Saturday, April 21, 2012

Signs of Spring - April 21, 2012

I had been out at Glenbow ranch on the weekend to pick up a copy of the newsletter when I saw some crocuses on the side of the hill. My camera was in the car and I was in a bit of a hurry so I wasn't able to grab any shots.

A few days later I was out at lunch talking a quick walk along the hill in Bridgeland to see what the city skyline looked like when I spotted some crocuses blooming in the dog park. I was somewhat surprised to see them there and went back a couple days later after work to make some shots. Lying on the ground seemed to be a good vantage point for this kind of thing - I just had to watch out for poop and unleashed dogs that were interested in checking me out.

Signs of Spring

A few days later I was back again! It had been raining all day and after work I had to pick up Clare from school - she was late because she had to practice for the school play. We'd gone to the Starbucks in Bridgeland for a tea latte and a coffee when I thought about the flowers that were near by, how they'd be all wet and how they were fuzzy and how the fuzz might have trapped some water droplets so I had this vision of what the flowers would look like and of course I had to go see. I asked Clare if she wanted to go - luckily for me she said yes but I probably would have made her go regardless.

So this time I was lying on the ground watching out for poop with unleashed dogs checking me out and I was getting all wet in my work clothes because really; you need to get up close and personal with flowers and lying on the wet ground in the rain is a small price to pay for such a fantastic view.

Spring rains

Later it turned out that everyone forgot Clare had to be at the Boys and Girls club for cooking class. So it was a race to get her there. She made chocolate chip muffins and ate them all herself.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Great Grey Owl - April 13, 2012

I have a contact on Flickr who posts lots and lots of bird photos from around Calgary and the surrounding areas. He had posted a few shots of the grey owls out by Water Valley and quite frankly I couldn't take it anymore. I had to go see myself. This was my second time trying to drive down the Grand Valley road to find owls this spring. The first was a couple weeks earlier where I ran out of time and had to turn around and come back. I still had loads of fun driving those curvy country roads!

The second time I went out there I had more time which was helpful because I found a hawk owl perched high on a tree. After spending 30 mins trying to get some shots of him sitting atop the tree ignoring me I left and came across this grey owl just sitting on a tree beside the road. I like owls much more than hawks - sometimes the owls just check you out and decide to go back to whatever they were doing before you came along. The hawks almost always fly away before you can get anywhere near them.

Great Grey

I stopped, got out of the car and actually used my tripod with the long lens cause it was a bit overcast and I wasn't going to get high shutter speeds. I took some shots and moved closer, shots, closer, shots, closer. Eventually I couldn't get closer because he was filling the frame of the camera. He did fly off a couple of times and I followed through the heavy wet spring snow that had fallen overnight. I'd put on my winter boots when I got out to look at the hawk owl so I thought I was OK. The snow was really deep in places and pretty soon my legs were wet from kneeling down to frame pictures. The snow was getting into the tops of my boots and making my feet wet, and stinky. I really need new boots, these ones are about 10 years old and are starting to go. Three weeks later my boots were still wet inside!

Anyway, after getting a bunch of shots I decided to leave the owl alone - not that I felt I was harassing it or anything like that it was just time to move on. I quickly came across ANOTHER grey owl. I parked and watched it for a while in my wet, stinky boots. He surprised me by jumping off the tree he was on and floating across the field like he was hunting. I say floating because at one point the owl was moving so slowly that I thought it was just hovering without moving his wings. It was incredible and I feel privileged to have observed it. The trade off to that is that I was so flustered that I missed the in-flight shot. Still, I felt fortunate to have found two grey owls and a hawk owl.

I've now seen four types of owl this year. Hawk, Snowy, Grey and Horned. I'm fortunate indeed.

Click here for more shots from this day.

Thanks for looking