Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 08/26/2014

Photo taken on August 19, 2014

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Canadian Rockies
Panasonic DMC-FZ200
Anne Elliott
Red-tailed Hawk
Buteo jamaicensis
dead branch
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Buteo
Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes
Rocky Mountains
bird of prey
Order: Falconiformes (or Accipitriformes

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Red-tailed Hawk with tree bokeh

Red-tailed Hawk with tree bokeh
The weather forecast was not good for this day, 19 August 2014, but we were so lucky that, apart from a few raindrops, the rain stayed away. The sun actually came out at two locations we stopped at for a short while. Our 18-hour day (from 6;00 a.m. till midnight!) started off with the thrill of seeing two or three small American Pikas (also called Rock Rabbits) and ended with a brief sighting of a black Wolf (could it be Skoki?) crossing the road ahead of us in the dark. It disappeared into the blackness, but shortly afterwards, we heard three separate Wolves howling (possibly four). We just stood there, in total awe, listening to this amazing sound. The only wild Wolf I had ever seen before was when I was in Yellowstone National Park two years ago. Friends and I saw two Wolves feeding on a Bison carcass across a huge valley - so they were just distant specks that became larger specks when my camera was in full zoom, ha.

In between these two highlights, we saw several Deer, a small group of Mountain Sheep on the road, a tiny Chipmunk, a few Cedar Waxwings, Columbian Ground Squirrels, the beautiful Red-tailed Hawk in my photo above that sat on a branch out in the open for a long time, and two tiny Bats that flew very close over our heads when it was getting dark. We also saw a female and two young Spruce Grouse.

Then, of course, there is the scenery! Blue sky to go with the splendour of the mountains would have been wonderful, but we've been having cold and gloomy weather recently. Highway 40 and the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail both run through such spectacular scenery, so it was a real treat for me, especially as I won't drive those areas myself. Thanks so much, Cathy & Terry! Thanks, too, Terry, for spending at least an hour (?) removing one of the car wheels and fixing whatever was wrong with it!

"This is probably the most common hawk in North America. If you’ve got sharp eyes you’ll see several individuals on almost any long car ride, anywhere. Red-tailed Hawks soar above open fields, slowly turning circles on their broad, rounded wings. Other times you’ll see them atop telephone poles, eyes fixed on the ground to catch the movements of a vole or a rabbit, or simply waiting out cold weather before climbing a thermal updraft into the sky." From AllAboutBirds.