Sunday, April 13, 2008

Blue Collar Day

Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with 1.4X TC and EOS 40D - ISO 500 - spot metering - 1/4000 sec @ f8

I couldn't believe my luck as I crouched down in the grass bordering a slough east of High River with my camera resting on the ground. I had spotted the Tundra Swans
on this slough from my truck and realized that I might be able to get closer by parking my truck behind a small rise and going in on foot. I had my camera and long lens mounted on a gimbel head which in turn was mounted on a ground skimmer which looks like a Frisbee on steroids. This allows me to crawl while stalking nervous wildlife or in this case Tundra Swans while sliding my camera along the ground in front of me. After a approach of a hundred meters, I cautiously looked over the grass bordering the slough to find the swans still on the slough and not showing any indication of my presence. I was catching my breath while I glassed the slough with my binoculars and was thrilled when I noticed one of the swans had a blue collar with the letter/number combination U314 around the neck. I also could see that this particular Tundra Swan also had a band on one leg. I was fortunate enough to be able to get photos with the color highly visible and could easily read U314 on the collar as I shot photos.

I had hoped to see swans with this collar as I was aware of Tundra Swans that were marked in western and Northern Alaska in the Summer of 2006 with coded neck bands as part of an effort to learn more about the timing of migration and movements relative to breeding areas. I have since sent a e-mail with the information on this swan and expect a return e-mail with a brief history on this banded swan that I observed. I was more that pleased as I headed back to my truck with my captures of blue collared swans, well one anyway.

Upon getting back to my truck I was torn between heading home to check out my captures on my computer and report my observing this collared swan or push further east. I decided to head east on the 23 and I am happy to show you that it was the right decision. I had pulled over to try and get captures of a meadowlark sitting on a fence post who promptly flew away when I stopped.

As I glassed the area with my binoculars I spotted this Great Horned Owl sitting in this tree bordering a abandoned homestead. I immediately spotted the female in a nearby tree where she was going about her parental duties sitting on her nest. Upon closer examination I realized that I could shoot captures from near the abandoned house located nearby without causing any unneeded stress to these Great Horned Owls. The wind was blowing in my favor as I made my approach. You can see what I mean by wind if you check out the ear tuffs on the owls that are being blown about in the wind. Notice how the male GHO is leaning into the wind blowing out of the Rockies. With captures of the owls and both owls still sitting in the trees that I found them in, I retreated with a promise to myself to return to get captures of owlets in the nest. Now it was time to head on home after a fun day in southern Alberta.

Canon 500mm f/4 L IS lens with 1.4X TC and EOS 40D - ISO 500 - 1/2000sec @ f5.6
Note: all photos expand

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