A few days ago, I walked into my office and was halfway to my desk when I spotted a Great Horned Owl looking in my window. I deked to the right to hide behind the drapes. A few seconds later, I leaned to the left and peered out to see if it was still ...

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"Anita Mae Draper" - 5 new articles

  1. Nature Watch: Great Horned Owl
  2. Nature Watch March 2017
  3. Nature Watch: Meadowlark and Robin
  4. Nature Watch: Crane and Mallard
  5. Wildlife Watch: Duck and Heron
  6. More Recent Articles

Nature Watch: Great Horned Owl

A few days ago, I walked into my office and was halfway to my desk when I spotted a Great Horned Owl looking in my window. I deked to the right to hide behind the drapes. A few seconds later, I leaned to the left and peered out to see if it was still there...it was leaning to the right peering back at me.

I snapped back from view and reached for my camera...but I'd left it in the living room!

Since I didn't want to yell, I whipped out my phone and texted Nelson who was also in the houseā€¦

Moments later I heard him padding down the hall. I motioned him to stop before he reached the door and jabbed my finger in the owl's direction. Nelson peered around the corner and his eyes widened. I stepped into view, took the camera, and clicked away at the owl. Behind me, I heard Nelson retreat, and then he returned and I heard him taking pics, too. 

Great Horned Owl, Front View. Source: Nelson Draper

Great Horned Owl, Looking to side. Source: Anita Mae Draper

The owl looked around and at us for a minute or so, and then turned and hopped away to another branch. The last photo of the owl looking back reminds me of a 1950s chenille bedspread due to the unique feather placement.

Great Horned Owl, Looking Back. Source: Nelson Draper

The owl checked out the place for a minute or so, and then turned and hopped away to another branch. This last photo of the owl looking back at us reminds me of a 1950's chenille bedspread due to the unique feather placement. However, when I look at its extended back and down to its feathered legs and sharp talons, I'm reminded more of a wary cat than a comfy bed. As usual, I'm amazed at God's creativity when I see something as special as a Great Horned Owl. By the way, the use of the word, horned, refers to its ear tufts.

Here's a short clip of the owl before and after it had hopped to another branch. If the video doesn't work, you can find it at: https://youtu.be/8Mn1gjMma-s 


Of course, this owl encounter has given me ideas about including the scene in a story, similar to how I included the cranes in my novella, Sweet Love Grows. I enjoy adding wildlife to my stories and hope the readers can see that.

Do you have a favorite owl, whether real, virtual, or fiction? Have you had an encounter with one? Care to share? 

Note: Since it's my blogging day, this post is also published on Aug 16, 2017 at www.inkwellinspirations.com


Nature Watch March 2017

We're playing post catch-up at Draper's Acres with some photos we took in March of this year. I'll start off with this photo of a Sharp-Tailed Grouse taken by Nelson while out-and-about on March 5.

Sharp-tailed Grouse, Southeastern Saskatchewan, March 5, 2017

On March 8th, Nelson was greeted by a special sunrise called a sun dog, a rarity this year. It was also a milder winter and although we received a good amount of snow, it wasn't all at once. With the mild weather, what snow did fall melted and blew away so there wasn't a huge buildup like other years.

Sun Dog, Southeastern Saskatchewan, March 8, 2017 at 7:37 am

A week later, Nelson saw a herd of White-tailed deer trotting across the prairie, but it was this shot of three of them with the breath-taking sunrise in the background that caught my eye.

White-tailed Deer, Southeastern Saskatchewan, March 15, 2017 at 7:04 am

Meanwhile, back at Draper's Acres, I took dozens of shots of this Black-capped Chickadee this winter but he moved so fast while searching for food among the evergreens that I only managed a couple decent photographs. With that speed, I figure he deserves his chance to shine on our blog.

Black-Capped Chickadee, Mar 19, 2017, Montmartre, SK

On March 24th I saw a coyote running across the southern part of the field where it rises out of our small valley. The light was horrid at noon on that dreary day, but here's what I saw . . . from our living room, looking through the longest zoom on my P520 Nikon, the coyote had an ethereal quality as it crossed the stubble near the top of the rise with nothing but sky behind it.

Coyote, March 24, 2017, Montmartre, SK

The wind was playing havoc with the air currents between the coyote and the trees on the southwest corner of our land when the coyote crossed that portion. By that time I was standing on my porch and it stopped to get a look at me before continuing his trot to points west.

Coyote, March 24, 2017, Montmartre, SK

While washing dishes the next day, I looked out the window and saw a mouse darting out of a snow tunnel near the feeder stand. He latched onto a food particle, spent a couple minutes devouring it, then darted back into the tunnel. A small flock of migrating juncos landed and then hopped about feeding on dropped seeds. During one of the rodent's forays, I snapped this shot to use as a size comparison between the two amicable species.

Dark-eyed Junco and Mouse, March 25, 2017, Montmartre, SK

March 26 was a Sunday which gave us the chance to check out migrating waterfowl in the sloughs along the way. We saw Canada Geese and Mallards, and a special treat in the form of a regal pair of Northern Pintails.

Canada Goose and Northern Pintails, March 26, 2017, Mutrie, SK

A few hours later, I saw a Downy Woodpecker on the power pole beside this feeder full of Niger seeds. She spent some time on the side of the pole, and up near the top, and then finally flew down and latched onto the feeder. She hung there and ate for a long time while the feeder swung in the wind like a pendulum.

Downy Woodpecker, March 26, 2017, Montmartre, SK

After supper of the same Sunday, we saw the first American Robin of the season. I played with the settings to mute the branches in the photograph so that the robin as well as the caption were more visible, and then I explained how I did it on my photo blog.

American Robin, March 26, 2017, Montmartre, SK

European starlings usually come through this time of year in a mixed flock with Robins, Red-wing Blackbirds, and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, but this year a small flock of about half a dozen starlings were by themselves. They came on the worst weather days and so I didn't get a photo of them, but because they are so unusual, I'm providing a photo I took of one two years ago:

European Starling, April 2, 2015, Montmartre, SK

Flocks of snow geese also came through, flying high above our heads, including this fabulous formation taken by Nelson.

Snow Geese, Southeastern Saskatchewan, March 29, 2017

During March we also saw:

  • A Hawk in a blizzard on Mar 3
  • Another Coyote on Mar 20
  • Tree Sparrow on Mar 26 
  • Mallards on Mar 26
  • Moose on Mar 28
  • Horned Lark on Mar 29
  • Red-winged Blackbirds on Mar 30
  • *Black-billed Magpies
  • *House Sparrows

* Year-round residents at Draper's Acres

From our photo files, it appears that the migrating birds arrived one week earlier than last year, but it was a weird month as you'll see when the next Nature Watch post goes up here at Draper's Acres. We hope you'll check it out.


Nature Watch: Meadowlark and Robin

When Nelson handed me his camera on April 18th, I was hoping for one or two great shots to pick from. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw his meadowlark shot.

I love this image because of the Western Meadowlark's pose, the clarity of the image, and also its overall 3D effect.

Western Meadowlark, Southeastern Saskatchewan, April 18, 2016.
Photo Credit: Nelson Draper

One of the things we've noticed, however, is that our cell phones, messenger apps, Facebook timeline, etc seems to be tailored for square images. The horizontal or vertical ones don't fit right and look too small, or your device is locked so that it doesn't rotate and then you have to unlock it to see one photo, etc. Or you'll be skimming down your Facebook timeline and see half an image, or half a word, etc. Yes, you can click on it to see the larger version, but many people don't. To alleviate that, I'm playing around with using square images only like the ones below.

Western Meadowlark, Southeastern Saskatchewan, April 18, 2016.
Photo Credit: Nelson Draper

My contender for the best photo for April 18th is this robin sitting on an old hand pump. Although you can't see much detail in the robin, I like this photo because it reminds me of my earliest memories of when we lived with a hand pump in the kitchen. And then as a twelve year old, I wished we had one in the kitchen when we lived on a rented farm without any plumbing facilities at all. The pump sits on a huge boulder decorated with orange lichen. Whenever I see it I'm reminded of what used to be and how I am blessed with so much today.

American Robin on Hand Pump, Montmartre, Saskatchewan, 
April 18, 2016. Photo Credit: Anita Mae Draper

I'd like to point out that both of the above images can be used as Facebook birthday cards because they're square and there's lots of room for the sentiment.

Also, all of the images credited to me or Nelson are free to copy. Let us know if you'd like the location/date label deleted and we'll send you one without the extra info.


Nature Watch: Crane and Mallard

The wind on April 17th played havoc with our photography competition. Not only did it buffet our cameras, but it stirred up the air currents between our cameras and our subjects so that neither Nelson, nor myself got a detailed shot. We had a discussion about whether we should even show these, but in the end decided we have been blessed with some great shots, and there are going to be days when one, the other, or both of us don't do well.

On this day Nelson's shots were much better than mine, and he's chosen this Sandhill Crane as the one he thinks is the best of his lot. I'd like to point out the effect the wind had on a portion of the stubble field where it appears smeared.

Sandhill Crane, Southeast Saskatchewan, Apr 17, 2016. Photo credit: Nelson Draper

Meanwhile, I was out and about on the 17th as well and yes, all my shots were also blurred by the wind. The only decent one I have is this Mallard pair which, for whatever reason, decided to swim in the yuckiest part of the slough. I suspect that most of the stuff floating about had been dislodged by wave action--something that doesn't happen often out here unless the wind is fierce.

Mallard pair, Montmartre, SK, Apr 17, 2016. Photo credit: Anita Mae Draper

So there you have our windy images. For all you budding photographers... don't beat yourself up if you can't get great shots on a windy day. Minimize the wind damage by standing where the wind can't buffet your or tripod or arms while you hold the camera, but in the end, there's not much you can do - at least not with our level of equipment. (P500 and P520 Nikon CooPix cameras)

I believe Nelson has a great video clip of Sandhill Cranes practicing their mating dance. We'll get that set up soon. Until next time...


Wildlife Watch: Duck and Heron

Some days it's easy to pick the best image of the day from those taken by Nelson and myself, but April 16th was not one of those days.

Nelson had a neat duck shot and a great one of a prairie chicken, but his Great Blue Heron photo was really outstanding.

Great Blue Heron, Southeast Saskatchewan, Apr 16, 2016. Photo by Nelson Draper

My contribution to our little competition is this photo of a Northern Shoveler pair gaining altitude on take off.

Northern Shoveler, pair. Southeast Saskatchewan. Photo by Anita Mae Draper

Both water shots, both action shots, but it's hard to see my little ducks after looking at the large heron.

I wonder what we'll find in the next batch...


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