Monday, January 3, 2011

A lucky two hours

An unusually warm and sunny January day (-4 C). I borrowed two hours of afternoon time to be paid back with a very early morning start tomorrow to get my work done before the teaching term starts at the University of Alberta. The two hours were worth it.  I went to visit the male Snowy Owl again just north of St. Albert. He was in his usual area along RR261, the so-called "Egg Lake Road," perching on a rural power pole. I'm still waiting to catch him on the ground or on a tree perch or, if I'm lucky, in flight.

Male Snowy Owl
While watching Snowy from my truck a flock of Common Redpolls landed on some nearby bushes, then hopped onto the snow-covered range road looking for morsels. I have seen these guys before this winter, but this is the first photo of the season.

Common Redpolls foraging in snow banks beside a range road

On my way back home I could not resist making my usual loop through Hawrelak Park just to see if anything unusual is around. Again, I was lucky. I'd seen several Northern Goshawks in the river valley near the park before, but today one posed long enough to let me snap some shots from a long distance. Goshawks have been reported in numbers much larger than I recall from other years. Nice to add this mature adult to my photo album for 2011.

Northern Goshawk

I was about to pack up my equipment when a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers landed close by and posed in good light. These are not rare in this area, but always entertaining and beautiful birds. Like I said, a lucky two hours.

Male Hairy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker set for take off

Female Hairy Woodpecker

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