The classic red paint on these vintage barns stood out against the yellow stubble remaining in the surrounding farmland, and of course I had to stop to make a few images. Although it was quite warm out, the drifting snow in the field makes spring seem a long way off.
I took a trip Southwest of Calgary in search of Mountain Bluebirds as they are very common in that part of the city. I really enjoy making images of Bluebirds because they are very curious and they allow their visitors a very close approach. It helps that they are such bright and vibrantly colored birds that they are generally pretty easy to find.
The main reason I decided on this adventure on this particular day was because it was one of those hazy, gray, high overcast days where it’s really bright out, but you never actually see the sun. It was the perfect kind of day to make images of birds on or near the ground, and in particular for brightly colored birds like Bluebirds. And conversely it would have been a pretty bad day for making scenic landscape images or images of birds in flight (or even perched high in a tree) against a white background. I had heard many reports that the Bluebirds were already back in the area, so I packed up and headed out to a favorite location that I visited several times last year.
I found several pairs of bluebirds within minutes of my arrival in the area and I had several opportunities to make good images of both males and females. As is typical for many species of birds, male bluebirds are much brighter and more vibrant than the females.
Even though I found my intended target right away, my success didn’t last long and I found only a few more Bluebirds during the rest of the trip. I found one final pair just as I had decided to head for home.
I had a bit of a surprise when I found a Greater Yellowlegs in the glassy waters of a slough. This is another species that I had heard were back in the area, but this was the first that I’ve seen this season. They are very commonly found throughout the region later in the season, but there aren’t many around this early in the spring migration. This one posed very nicely for me and I made some of the best images I have of these elegant birds.
I saw several herds of Mule Deer in the farm fields while I was searching for Bluebirds. Mulies seem to be more common to the west of the city than to the east, and I haven’t been able to get this close to them very often. I have lots of images of White-tailed Deer, which thrive in the flat praire farmland to the east of the city, but I don’t have very many of Mule Deer. This solitary deer had become separated from a fairly large herd of animals that were further off in the same field. The rest of the deer wandered away when I stopped to watch, but this one kept eating and only occasionally looked up at me.
After the rest of the herd had crossed the road and disappeared into the brush, this one also decided that it should be on its way. I was lucky enough to make some very cool images of it jumping the fences on both sides of the road. All in all it was a great day to be outside!
Of course this is not actually the biggest frog in the world, not even close really, but it really was big!
I was out for a paddle around the pools in the Bonnechere River below my Wife’s family cottage last summer when I came across this huge frog. This incredible creature just sat there while the canoe slid closer and closer. I almost sideswiped it before I was able to gently backpaddle away, and he never moved at all. I was even able to paddle all the way back to the cottage to get my wife and daughter to take them out for a look. He stayed right there the whole time, and only jumped away after we backed away from him on the second visit…
Interestingly, I posted this image on Flickr last summer (with the same caption) and it has long since become my most popular image there. Until recently I had thought that it was just a really nice picture. However, after reviewing some of the stats that Flickr makes available for images posted to the site, I now realize that it gets hits from search engines all over the world from people who are honestly searching for (shockingly) pictures of the largest species of frog in the world.
I did a quick Google search myself to and quickly found out that the real answer is the Goliath Frog. I don’t have any pictures of Goliaths, but I do have several other nice images of reptiles, including Green Frogs and Tree Frogs that I’ve made near the cottage over the last couple of summers.
The cottage is on the Bonnechere River in Ontario and is one of my favorite places to relax, wander, and make images. I’ve been lucky enough to make some of my best and most popular images while there. Enjoy!
“Reptiles” – Images are available for purchase at Photoshelter
The spring migration started weeks ago on the prairies for the ducks, geese, and swans, but the shorebirds have been taking their time getting here. I did catch a glimpse of a solitary Kildeer on the shore of a slough last week, but that’s been the only one so far.
Well, everything changed this week and the shorebird migration is now in full swing. The early arrivals are definitely here and I saw dozens of Kildeer today and quite a few American Avocets as well. I haven’t seen any Black-necked Stilts or Yellowlegs yet, but I’ve seen several reports that they have also arrived. The next couple of weeks will be very exciting to watch as the next waves of birds arrive!
I saw this Avocet standing in a slough but unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the pond to get the best light. There was a parking area at the North end of the water and I was able to slowly walk around to the west side of the slough to get the late afternoon light shining on the face of the bird. I wasn’t careful or quiet enough while walking around and I managed to flush most of the ducks on the pond, but the Avocet (which was already flying before I even started walking) came in across the water and landed close in front of me. The pond was almost completely still and the glassy water was stirred up only by the movement of the Avocet as it walked around and I was able to make some really nice reflection images.
While I was laying on the edge of the slough watching the Avocet a flock of about 6 Kildeer also flew in and landed close to me. Most of them immediately launched again, but this one didn’t notice that I was there and stayed close while I made several images.
I also saw my first Red-winged Blackbird of the season this week and I had a good chance to make a few portraits this afternoon.
Here are a couple more images of the Avocet from above. I’m looking forward to lots more shorebird action over the coming weeks!