Monday, 17 February 2014

First box build of the year!

So far 11 boreal owl boxes are ready to be placed just 2 days into the building process. The goal this season is somewhere around the  40-50+ range. The boxes we build out of 10"x48" boards of knotty pine. We use black painted screws so they do not rust and we place the screws so the front is able to hinge open for cleaning and check-ups. This season we have tried a slightly smaller design which allows us to make more boxes. The dimensions  of our boxes this season are as follows:

Back- 20"
Top- 12"
Sides(3)- 16"
Bottom- 7.5"


The hole size we use is roughly 4" but you can make them slightly smaller if you don't have a 4" circular saw or a jig-saw.


The finishing touches on our boxes consist of sanding down the entrance hole and pre-drilling some holes to attach the box to a tree as this is hard to do when your twenty feet up a tree. Finally we add 3-4 inches of wood shavings (NOT sawdust) and that's it, the box is ready to be placed.
When we go to place our boxes we do so always before the end of march because by that time the owls are already searching for nest sites. Look for thick stands of trees with openings or cut-overs near by which is where the owls will most likely hunt. We try and place our boxes as high up as we can but in our first few years we had most of our boxes fairly close to the ground 7-8 feet. This year we are aiming to get the boxes 10-15 feet up as we think it may increase the chances occupancy.

So far we have 22 boxes out across the island so if all goes as planed we can build more then that this season.

We would like to thank the many people who help manage or observe our boxes for us in the provincial parks and also people who have suggested sites to place boxes. Let's make this the season we get some action in our boxes!

Below are a few shots of some resident Common Goldeneye in CBS, they seldom come close enough for interesting images but i like the look of these.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

It's building time again!

Just a quick upload of a few boreal owl boxes. These are just the tip of the iceberg. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

February: A month of preparations

February for Brad and i is looking like a month of preparing for upcoming ideas and projects.
Yesterday we headed to Butterpot Provincial Park to set-up a feeding station in the hopes of photographing some boreal species such as the Northern-Three toed woodpecker or Boreal Chickadees. The resident park ranger Keith is going to keep a eye to our feeders and report to us if he gets anything of interest. Yesterday when we were setting up the new feeders birds were already taking to them and feeding. Thus far (1 day) there are juncos, black-capped chickadees, american goldfinch and pine siskins!

In addition to the seed feeders we set-up we also placed out some suet for woodpeckers like Northern Flicker, Downy and Hairy woodpeckers and possibly Northern Three-toed Woodpeckers. Now its just having patience and waiting for something good to show up to our little buffet in the woods.

After we got everything placed and set-up at Butterpot, we headed to Quidi Vidi Lake. 
Nothing new to report from the lake besides the nice Female Ring neck duck that has shown up. Other then that we got a few photos of the resident tufted ducks and Scaup. The peregrine was happily eating a starling in a near by tree and an otter made a short appearance and flushed almost everything in the pond. 
A beautiful drake Tufted Duck

When photographing Waterfowl one thing that i find is VERY important is your point of view. Too often i see people with great gear, probably better then mine shooting standing up; creating regular drab images with mostly water as the background.  I mean thats fine everyone has their own shooting style but for me and brad alike getting eye level with what we are shooting is a must. Even if that means lying in duck droppings, getting in the water or having rocks driving in our knees.
Both the images above and below were shot lying on the ice with our lenses as low as we can get them, the background in both images is a flock of gulls resting on the ice but because i am eye level with my subject the background is then further away allowing my 3000mm F2.8 ii to work its magic and create that nice out of focus blur for the background.

Hen Greater Scaup 

Black-headed Gull

Later this month if all goes well we will begin building nest boxes for this upcoming nesting season. 
Just like in past years we are building boxes for tree swallows and Boreal/Saw-Whet Owls.
Soon we will begin a video series involving reviews on some of the gear we both use and some of our photography techniques