Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Clay-colored Sparrows

As some of you might know, I visit Fish Creek Provincial Park a lot. When I am up here in Calgary in the summer, I try to visit the park at least 3 times a week. And why not? There are so many intriguing subjects to photograph. Take last Thursday for example. I was photographing a family of Kestrels (post to come soon!) when I heard a loud and insistent chirping coming from behind me. I turned to see a rather large juvenile Clay-colored Sparrow still getting free food from it's parents.

Canon 7d;   Manual exposure, 1/800sec., f7.1, ISO 320 with Sigma 150-500 f5.6-6.3 @500mmm

Though many naturalists and photographers alike consider sparrows to be drab little unphotogenic birds, sparrows can be among my favorite subjects to shoot. They can sometimes present a challenge to get them in the right lighting and poistion but if you do, the results can be very rewarding.

Clay-colored Sparrows also have to be one of the most strikingly marked sparrows with thier bold patterns and subtle beauty, though this juvenile does not quite yet have the same bold facial markings as the adults.

Juvenile Clay-colored Sparrow

The juvenile Clay-colored Sparrow was perched right in the open, perhaps not yet having learned the valuable lesson of staying hidden but the adult, with food in it's beak was much more cautious and wary- hopefully the young bird learns his lesson soon or some raptor will enjoy a nice meal.

Canon 7d;  Manual exposure,  1/1000 sec., f7.1, ISO 320 with Sigma 150-500 f5.6-6.3 @ 500mm

Monday, July 30, 2012

Standing out

The other day in Fish Creek I came across a family of Common Mergansers sitting on some pebbles in the the river. They posed nicely for some time until a biker came racing by loudly and scared them into the water.

Canon 7d;  Manual exposure,  1/160 sec., f8, ISO 800 with Sigma 150-500 f5.6-6.3 @ 500mm
When the young mergansers were scampering into the water, most were focused on their destination, however, one happened to glance over at me, giving me a neat perspective shot.

Same settings as above

While I enjoyed photographing the mergansers I'm always disappointed when people in parks scare away the subjects I'm shooting.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A tale of Two Chipmunks

Here in Calgary, there is only one common species of Chipmunk to be found within the city limits; the Least Chipmunk.

Least Chipmunk     Canon Rebel XSi;   Manual exposure   1/200 sec., f8, ISO 400 with Sigma 150-500 f5.6-6.3 @ 340mm

The Least Chipmunk can be seen throughout the city at various parks and natural areas. I saw this one at the bird feeding station in South Glenmore Park.

Recently, I went down in the southwest corner of Alberta to Waterton Lakes N.P. with some friends doing a bird and mammal Big Year. One of the mammals they were looking for on this trip was the Red-tailed Chipmunk, a new species for me. We saw this Chipmunk and it was in some good conditions for photography too!

Red-tailed Chipmunk    Canon 7d;  Manual exposure, 1/800 sec., f6.3, IS0 1000 with Sigma 150-500 f5.6-6.3 @ 500mm

Friday, July 27, 2012

Speak up m'boy!

At one point when I was photographing the 2 herons clashing in the pond last week, the adult heron reached up and scratched his head. Now, I hate to say this, but at that point, he looked exactly like my grandfather without his hearing aid in. In reality, he wasn't straining to hear something but just scratching his head. But still...

Canon 7d;  Manual exposure,  1/1640 sec., f6.3, ISO 250 with Sigma 150-500 f5.6-6.3 @ 400mm

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Clash of the herons

On a recent bike ride of mine to Votier's Flats in Fish Creek P.P. I came across a juvenile Great Blue Heron in a storm water pond so I got myself into a good position to photograph it. I sat watching and photographing the heron for some time when suddenly, an adult Great Blue flew in.

A rather impressive landing...

The adult heron seemed to "own" the ponds and did not take kindly to the young heron fishing in his waters. The adult proceeded to hunch himself up in a bid to frighten the juvenile.

All hunched up, the adult Great Blue proceeded to hurriedly chase the juvenile around the pond until finally the young heron took a running start and flew off.

Far from being content however, the adult flew after the young one and the two of them disappeared over the hills. I didn't move from my position however, because I had a feeling that at least one of the herons would be returning. Sure, enough, several minutes later, the adult returned finally content at having chased the young upstart off of his territory.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Elk at dusk

While looking for a Dusky Grouse in Waterton Lakes N.P. with the Fur & Feathers 500 team we saw an Elk at dusk. Does this make it a Dusky Elk?
Canon 7d-   Manual exposure, 1/160 sec, f9, ISO 4000 with Sigma 150-500 f5-6.3 @ 290mm

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Waterton Trip with the Fur & Feathers 500 team

I visited Waterton Lakes National Park recently with the Fur & Feathers 500 team as they attempted to add a few more species of birds and mammals to their list for the year. You can check out their blog here.

Cameron Lake-  Canon 7d,  Manual exposure  1/1000sec, f11, ISO 1000 with Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS @ 18mm
I brought my new 7d with me and managed to capture some images; above is the gorgeous Cameron Lake.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Spotless Spotted Sandpiper

Okay, try saying that 10 times fast. Spotted Sandpipers, while spotted in their breeding plumage, do not have spots in winter or when they are juveniles. Juveniles can be separated from winter plumaged birds by the scaling and barring on their upperparts, which nonbreeding adults do not have. Right around now, we start to see juveniles so look out for them; I recently found this juvenile in Votier's Flats in Fish Creek Provincial Park.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Sparrow in Delphiniums

I recently got my new Canon 7d as an upgrade to my Rebel XSi and while I haven't had a huge amount of time to play with it yet, I have gotten to use it a little. The House Sparrows in my yard love the delphiniums and this presents a great setting for some photography. This female posed especially well.

Canon 7d   1/320;   f6.3,  ISO 640,   Sigma 150-500

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Reading the wind

White-tailed deer in the early morning light trying to sniff me out.

Canon Rebel XSi    1/640, f7.1  ISO 800, Sigma 150-500 at 300mm

Monday, July 9, 2012

Pied-billed Grebe

Grebes always seem to have somthing rather photogenic about them. Though they can be occasionally difficult to capture when they are diving all the time, they just seem to be ready for the camera the rest of the time. I'd have to say that the Pied-billed Grebe is the dumpiest, least colorful grebe out there, however, even they seem very photogenic. This one at a small pond in Fish Creek Provincial Park was no exception.

Though I generally like to photograph waterfowl at very low angles, I could not get any lower for this shot and had to make due with a slightly higher angle, probably making this photo not quite as attractive as it might have been. One of those shoulda' coulda' woulda' moments.