Saturday, March 09, 2013

Algonquin Park triple score (Great Gray Owl, Pine Marten, Boreal Chickadee)

Great Gray Owl in Algonquin Park, Ontario. Canon 1D mk IV and 500/4 IS lens. 
When the alarm clock went off at 5:30 this morning, I desperately wanted to go back to sleep. But the weather forecast was too fantastic to allow it, so my girlfriend kicked me out of bed. We made it to Algonquin Provincial Park shortly after sunrise and started working our way east across the park. It wasn't long before we found a half dozen cars scattered along the highway with cameras trained on something next to the road. It turned out to be a Great Gray Owl hunting a small bog. The bird was working its way westwards, flying from one telephone post to the next. All of the photographers were following it from behind (shooting into the sun) and instead of joining the pack, I walked down the road, anticipating the direction the owl was moving. Sure enough, after a few minutes it flew right past me and I got the above shot. What a great way to start the day!
We hit a bunch of the bird photography hot-spots in the park and were excited when this Pine Marten came out in the open along Opeongo Lake road several times at close range. I've photographed martens here before, but today was the most cooperative one I've seen and I ended up with my best shots of the species.

Pine Marten, Algonquin Park. Canon 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS & 1.4x extender. 
Our last stop of the day was at the Spruce Bog, which has become an excellent bird photography location since park staff started putting out a suet feeder each winter (huge kudos to the park for doing this!!). This is the best spot I know to photograph Boreal Chickadees.... they come in regularly to the suet feeders and are quite tame (one landed on the end of my lens this afternoon; others were being hand-fed by birders). As the light was fading this evening, I got my best shot of a Boreal Chickadee so far. What a great way to end the day!

Boreal Chickadee, Algonquin Park. Canon 1D mk IV, 500/4 IS.