Until recently, the Barred Owl was just another critter in the forest that was more often heard than seen due to it’s nocturnal nature. After succesfully reproducing it’s way across north America over the last century, the Barred Owl waded into controversy as it now shares habitat with the endangered Spotted Owl. The overlap has created a turf-war and being a bit larger and more aggressive, the Barred Owl has started to push the smaller/more timid Spotted Owl out of the remaining old growth forest in Oregon, Washington and southwest British Columbia. After a large campaign to protect Spotted Owls in the 1990’s, the Spotted Owl has a healthier population on the south side of the border but only 10-20 Spotted Owls remain in southwest British Columbia. Although a captive breeding program was put in place in British Columbia, this new threat to the Spotted Owl has caught the attention of wildlife managers and brought forth some controversial management practices in both Canada and the USA. Although the Barred Owl has a detrimental effect on the Spotted Owl, seeing a family of Barred Owls in Abbotsford BC this past week was still a rewarding experience that won’t be soon forgotten. Although one encounter was sans camera, the following morning the curiousity of this juvenile kept it around long enough to obtain a photo.
It was a short walk last week to check on some Great Horned Owls on county land just outside west Calgary. After seeing the young owls were doing fine, a walk through what looked like your average field of grass/shrubs revealed on closer inspection to contain a gorgeous small flower called Starry False Solomon’s Seal.
Over the years the Red Fox has been one of a few critters that have been a challenge for me to find and obtain decent photos. On top of personal efforts, reminding friends and colleagues to keep their eyes and ears open about den sites eventually paid off this spring with a den site being located not too far from my home in west Calgary. The landowners at the site were very welcoming, shared their experiences and were quite willing to put up with some strange guy laying in their horse pasture for a few hours at a time. Now being there when the foxes were out exploring their surroundings was all that needed to happen. After a few visits, the wind was on my side yesterday and after laying in the field watching Swainson’s Hawks fly overhead and photographing a few spring flowers, 2 of this years young ventured from the den for a few moments. While one was cautious and held back at the entrance to the den, the other made its way through the grass and stopped briefly allowing this photo.
Managed to capture a few signs of spring today. This male Mountain Bluebird sat on a rusty fence wire which made its striking blue color stand out even more than usual. The day also included some Great Horned Owl chicks and one very nervous Canadian Goose hunkered down on a nest. A brief sighting of a Red Fox today will hopefully become the subject of a future post, fingers crossed on obtaining good pics in the near future.
As a blast of arctic air embraced southern Alberta this past week, many Albertans no doubt found themselves thinking of warmer climates. One warm place that stood out among other experiences for me was a visit to Spitzkoppe, Namibia in May of 2010. As the warmth of the African day continued into the evening, my group and I ascended one of the many rock outcrops that rose up from the desert floor to watch the sun set; this photo was one of many taken that evening.