Two weeks ago we took a drive to the north-east part of Alberta where we had not explored before. Fay, my reliable critter spotter cried out, "An owl! I think." As I turned the truck around to go back we watched along the fenceline in the bush and sure enough, a Great Grey Owl sat watching us. I managed a couple of quick shots before another vehicle came along and we had to move.
|Great Grey Owl|
Right in the town of Bonneville is a large wetland lake alive with the cacophony of bird calls. We were immediately attacked by a pair of Black Terns that were protecting their three precious eggs laid on a shallow mat of old cattails. I was promptly bombed by an accurate "crap bomber" who shot a white streak across my eye-glasses.
|Black Tern with Eggs|
A little further down the boardwalk we noticed what appeared to be a dead muskrat laying on top of a pile of reeds, then two more. I was becoming alarmed about what was happening to the furry critters when one suddenly moved in Fay's binoculars. "It's alive!" she exclaimed and sure enough,with a bit of time each dozzy muskrat woke from their siesta and went about muskrat business.
|Muskrat Pretending to Sleep|
In the distance, on a floating reed island a very large flock of Franklin Gulls were packing sticks and reeds, darting in and out of sight with frenzied activity. Through shimmering heat waves we could see hundreds of nests and scruffy looking babies crying for food and attention. Grebe sand ducks also paddled and dove and dipped while American Coots called and darted in and out of reedy cover with tiny red-beaked black babies in tow.
Over there a muskrat dragged a freshly peeled cattail to a reed platform for it's snack.
|Muskrat Feeding on a Cattail|
Yesterday I took a short, half-hour drive to Elk Island National Park to relax for a couple hours. Within a few minutes I stumbled upon a young American Bittern trying to hide amongst the cattails.
|American Bittern Hiding|
This is one bird that has teased me with its distant booming call but I could not see it well enough to photograph. This day was my lucky day. I spent over an hour with it as it made its way to various cattail perches to groom and preen. It is no wonder that they are difficult to photograph. When they stand still they hide in plain sight behind a cattail or down amongst the old, bent-over mat of decaying reeds.
|Young American Bittern Stepping Out|
|Mule Deer Doe|