Tag Archive | Calgary Mammals

Sunday Showcase: Birds and Mammals of Fish Creek Park

All of the photos below were taken by Tony LePrieur in Fish Creek Park on November 3, 9, and 11.

image

 

image_6

 

 

image_4

 

image_3

 

image_7

 

image_7

 

image_8

 

image_5

 

image_1

 

image_2

 

 

image_3

 

image

 

image_5

 

 

image_7

 

image_2

 

image

 

 

 

 

Furry Friday: More Weasels

You have to be amazingly lucky and very quick with a camera to get a photograph of a wild weasel. Glenn Alexon has managed to snap not one but two excellent portraits of local weasel species.

Here is a Long-tailed Weasel seen by the administration building at the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary on one of our Friends of Fish Creek birding walks, September 9, 2011.

Long-tailed Weasel

The most widespread weasel in the western hemisphere, Long-tailed Weasels are sleek, long bodied hunters 20-26 cm long, with a tail measuring half to two thirds of their body length. Summer coats vary from rich chocolate to rusty brown, with creamy white to yellowish underparts. Northern populations moult to pure white in winter, but their tail always has a black tip, regardless of coat colour. Southern populations do not change colour in winter.

Living from southern Canada to northwestern Brazil, these animals have the greatest habitat tolerance of any American weasels. They can be found in virtually all habitats, from Arctic-alpine to tropical, and are absent only from true desert and agricultural areas. They are most abundant in open woodland, brushland, and grasses and meadows near water.

Glenn has also managed to photograph a Short-tailed Weasel on the back of Sulphur Mountain in Banff.

short-tailed-weasel

Called Ermine or Stoat in Europe, Short-tailed Weasels measure 17-34 cm.  Their coats are rusty to chocolate brown with white undersides, and the tail has a black tip. Northern populations moult to white in the winter, but retain the black tail tip. In North America, they are smaller than the Long-tailed Weasel with a proportionately shorter tail, and the two species occupy the same geographic areas.

Found throughout the northern hemisphere in North America, Eurasia and Greenland, Short-tailed Weasels occur in a wide range of habitats from Arctic tundra to semi-desert, and sea level to 3,000 m. Unlike the Long-tailed Weasel, the Short-tailed can also be found on farmland and pasture, preying on the abundant rodent population.

To see more wonderful wildlife photos from Glenn, have a look at his Wildlife of Alberta Flickr page, and be sure and see the kissing marmot photo while you’re there!

Did you miss Weasel Wednesday?  See our most popular post ever here!

Sunday Showcase: Muskrat & Killdeer

Photos taken in Carburn Park by Rob English on Dec 6/11. Even in the depths of a Calgary winter, there’s always lots to see in our natural areas! Click to enlarge photos.

Weasel Wednesday

Sometimes when you go birding you don’t find what you hope to see.  But sometimes you see something unexpected that is just as great.  And sometimes it’s not even a bird.

Last Saturday the Friends of Fish Creek Society birders explored the Votier’s Flats area of Fish Creek Park.  Our goal was to find a Northern Pygmy-Owl, which is always a treat to see, and which several members of the group had never seen.  The owl has not yet been reported in the park this fall but in the last few years it has first been sighted at about this time.

We didn’t find an owl, but someone spotted a writhing mass at the side of the path that turned out to be a family of Least Weasels – a mother with eight young.

Photo by Dan Arndt

The nine little mammals moved through the undergrowth in a mass, over and under each other, but always in contact.  In his report on Albertabird, Gus Yaki described them as “travelling together so close that they seemed to be a single organism.”  Pat Bumstead says that they probably were making one of their first forays outside their natal den, and were exploring their surroundings.

Photo by Wayne Walker

The mother crossed the trail near us, and the young separated amongst our feet.  They showed no fear of us.  I put my hand down, and briefly had one in my gloved hand.  The shots below show just how small Least Weasels are.  These young are as big as an adult, or nearly so.

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

The juveniles eventually crossed the trail to reunite with their mother.

Photo by Dan Arndt

Although they are impossibly cute, weasels are carnivores, capable of killing animals many times their size.  In these photos they show off their teeth.

Photo  by Wayne Walker

Photo by Anne Elliott

We were very lucky to see such an amazing sight.  If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of looking at these little guys, so below there are some more pictures for you to enjoy.

(To see an additional Birdscalgary post about another species of weasel, click here.)

(To see a YouTube video that uses some of these pictures, with music, click below:)

YouTube Preview Image

Here are the rest of the photos:

 

Photo by Dan Arndt

Photo by Dan Arndt

Photo by Anne Elliott

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Photo by Wayne Walker

Thanks to the three photographers who contributed these great pictures:  Wayne Walker, Dan Arndt, and Anne Elliott.

Posted by Bob Lefebvre

Coyote and Beaver

Guest Post: Coyote and Beaver

The amazing sequence of photographs below was taken last week by Rob English, who kindly shared them with us.  This interaction between a Coyote and a Beaver took place at the large pond just North of the highway 22X bridge, on the west side of the Bow River in Fish Creek Park.  The photos were taken on two consecutive days, so this is a persistent Coyote (assuming it is the same one both days).

Although this is a birding blog, we are interested in all aspects of nature, and we particularly love mammals.  One just doesn’t get the chance to see and photograph mammals as often as birds.  And one is rarely lucky enough to see an encounter like this.

If you have interesting nature photos that you’d like to share, please send them to us and we may post them here.

Thanks again to Rob English.

He got away.

Maybe if I sneak up from this angle…

He looks pretty big…

How about a sudden attack from this side?

Pretty big from this side, too.

Back to Meadow Voles…

Coyotes are very opportunistic feeders, and have been known to eat Beavers.  But a lone Coyote would have quite a bit of trouble with a full-grown Beaver like this one.  As you can see, the Coyote is quite hesitant to attack.

Photos by Rob English

Posted by Bob Lefebvre