My granddaughter wanted to stop and see the little painted turtles at the bridge at Gillies Hill and when we approached they got nervous and slipped under the lillipads to her disappointment......however, shortly thereafter, while i was waiting for them to reappear Laura wandered to the other side of the bridge and exclaimed "Look at the fish Grandpa!". To my surprise she had located a school of at least 3 dozen Catfish(I think these are Flathead Catfish sometimes called Mudcats) spread out in a line eating insects at the surface....whenever a car passed over the bridge or when we spoke to each other too loudly they dived below the surface only to cautiously reappear a few moments later.
Just a note about what they eat......Catfish have a diet that includes other fish, aquatic bugs, crayfish, mollusks, fish eggs, aquatic plants, minnows, snails, decaying vegetation, carrion, worms and leeches.
Read more: What Do Catfish Eat?
Music: "Turtlerock"....by Kevin MacLeod
Johnson's Golden Eagle
Here we have defensive/warning behavior by this young juvenile Golden Eagle. The Eagle was under observation for some time by gulls but the Eagle knew they were no threat to him so he took no action and continued soaring peacefully. However when approached by a mature bird of prey such as this lovely Red-Tailed Hawk it was a very different story. The Golden Eagle rolled over and showed the Red-Tailed Hawk what his talons looked like. The message was unmistakeable and the Red-Tail immediately left the area.
Bighorn sheep males, females and yearlings are referred to as rams, ewes, and lambs. During the summer, rams establish order of dominance by the size of their horns. When two bands of bighorns meet, rams possessing horns of equal size often engage in head butting bouts. Head butting also occurs when two rams are following the same ewe during breeding season. The victor wins the right to breed with the ewes.
Breeding or rutting season lasts from mid-October to December. Lambs are born from mid-April through late June. They weigh about 9 pounds. Twins are very rare. The first two weeks of life only milk is suckled, then the lambs will eat grasses and plants.
During the summer, bighorn sheep live on high mountain slopes with rugged terrain and in the foothills near rocky cliffs in the winter. Both areas are near permanent water sources. They depend primarily on grasses and forbs (a herbaceous flowering plant that is not grasses, sedges and rushes) for food, and shrubs depending on the season. In spring and summer, mineral licks containing salts are eagerly sought.
Rocky Mountain bighorns inhabit the mountains from Canada south to New Mexico. They are relatives of goats, and have balance-aiding split hooves and rough hoof bottoms for natural grip. These attributes, along with keen vision, help them move easily about rocky, rugged mountain terrain.
Wild sheep live in social groups, but rams and ewes typically meet only to mate. Rams live in bachelor groups and females live in herds with other females and their young rams. When fall mating arrives, rams gather in larger groups and ram fighting escalates. Usually only stronger, older rams with bigger horns are able to mate.
In winter, bighorn herds move to lower-elevation mountain pastures. In all seasons, these animals eat available grass, seeds, and plants. They regurgitate their food to chew it as cud before swallowing it for final digestion.
Lambs are born each spring on high, secluded ledges protected from bighorn predators such as wolves, coyotes, and mountain lions—though not the golden eagles which target lambs. Young can walk soon after birth, and at one week old each lamb and its mother join others in a herd. Lambs are playful and independent, though their mothers nurse them occasionally for four to six months.
Music by Kevin Macleod.....thanks Kevin!
Here are 18 photographs of an adult Snowy Owl just up the road and down an abandoned CN railway line. If i remember correctly it was in early December 2009 that i came across this wonderful specimen and was indeed very fortunate to come across such a fine and tolerant bird. I think i felt elated for days afterwords and considered this an early and delightful Christmas gift!
"Music: Kevin MacLeod"
Here is a young Male Taiga Merlin from Lockerby. It was a pleasure to locate this young fellow and i found he was tolerant and patient. I even left my truck and approached him to within 50' with his permission in plain sight. When you can stalk this close to a wild falcon in plain sight it is both exciting and very peaceful at the same time. This young male falcon made my day......very very cool bird......cheers...dave.
I took these shots of what i thought was a light morph Redtail in southern Saskatchewan in between rains. It rained for 10 days out of the 14 i spent in the western grasslands of the prairies. The light was changing so often that i simply exposed for the bird and let the sky go to almost white. The Prairie weather this past summer has been very changeable and many farmers and ranchers were just getting their crops in while in southern Ontario some had already finished a first cut haying. There was so much rain in the west that low lying areas ponded out and became havens for ducks and water birds.
I was in the process of photographing the waterbirds when this unusual redtail hawk appeared soaring and hunting out over the prairie landscape about 300 yards out. I consider myself to be extremely lucky to have captured such a wonderful rarity. Here in Southern Saskatchewan i was treated to one of nature's surprises that make my interest in raptors exciting.
The description of this redtail hawk as Leucistic is derived from a Greek word "Leucos" which means colorless or white in color.
Music by Kevin Macleod.....thanks Kevin!
This is the largest hawk in North America. It inhabits the major dry areas of Southern Saskatchewan and Alberta and many dry areas of Western United States. In spite of the fact that it is such a striking and large bird of prey it, like all raptors, is harassed by many smaller birds to move on when it enters their nesting areas.
This Ferruginous Hawk is a light morph and seems to prefer to spend a lot of time observing from small elevated hills and as all hawks conserves energy whenever possible.
A wonderful bird to observe.....cheers....dave.
Music by Deuter and thank you sir!
In the following 50 photos we see exactly how a small hawk strikes and dispatches prey.
The interesting part is that the Northern Flicker is no push over and the Hawk knew exactly what his prey was capable of.
It is apparent that the hawk had developed tactics to dispatch a bird of almost equal size equipped with a very effective weapon and consequently made sure to neutralize it immediately and refused to release it during the 20 minute struggle.
"Music: Kevin MacLeod"
I have included a photo at the beginning of the gallery and a photo at the end of the gallery of the territory and terrain of the area where i located this fine bird of prey and as you can see it is in "old-order" Mennonite country where they still hand-stook their corn into shocks in the field to dry.
I hope you enjoy this impromptu gallery of shots of an unexpected and wonderful bird.
Do feel free to comment....
It is strange to ask yourself such simple questions such as...do Birds of Prey drink water or do Birds of Prey bath and it is very cool to actually see the answers with your own eyes and capture this on camera.
What is perhaps as equally interesting is that when a large bird is bathing and thoroughly soaked it appears to be very tolerant of close observation as though the bird is resigned to the fact that flying is difficult when flight feathers are heavy with water and the birds becomes less than aerodynamic and sleek. This gallery is perhaps too large but it is impossible for me to not record as great a number of shots as i can.
For instance in photos ..16,17,19,20,21&48...you will see the young hawk stretch its beak as wide open as possible and it did not at anytime make a sound. Now that is odd...so why would they do this? I have not a clue why they do this but if i had to guess i would say ....what happens when you get water in your ears when swimming or bathing....you lose the ability to hear clearly....and you make every effort to get that water out by shaking your head or using your finger gently to try to remove it and because the water in the ear will cause an annoying pressure buildup sometimes one might actually pinch the nose and take a deep breath, close the mouth securely and try to put pressure on the ear by blocking the mouth and the nose and blowing. Since it is a very serious handicap if a bird of prey has impaired hearing....is it possible the Hawk here has water in the ear and can only try to relieve the pressure by numerous big yawns and by stretching those muscles the Hawk might help release water and pressure there....this to restore his hearing to its normal excellent level.
I don't know so i will do some reading.....i'll rewrite this caption when i find out.....cheers.....dave.