One of the best places that Kathi had on our itinerary was Badlands National Park in South Dakota. The landscape was breathtaking, but due to the overcast and drizzly conditions my landscape shots didn't do it justice.

In addition to the amazing geological features here, we had some great encounters with mammals. First was a site where the Black-tailed Prairie Dogs were incredibly tame. Carina even touched one of the baby prairie dogs on the head! As you can see from the image below, they really are super cute!

We also had some great mammal encounters at nearby Custer State Park. Even though it was a mammal I had photographed many times before, this image of a male Pronghorn is probably my personal favourite.


One of the neatest places we visited on this trip was the Great Salt Lake in Utah. The local Audubon society has a great website with birding info and we used this to choose Antelope Island as a site to visit as we had only a few hours. This proved to be an excellent choice. The causeway provides is almost six miles long and takes you to Antelope Island - the largest island in the Great Salt Lake.

There were lots of mud flats on the east side of the lake as we entered the causeway. In addition to hundreds of Willets and Avocets there were thousands of Wilson's Phalaropes (mostly females) flying around in large flocks. At peak in July this lake holds over half a million of this species!

In the fall and winter this site is well known for attracting huge numbers of shorebirds and waterfowl. Although it was mid summer, there were still some interesting water birds including this Clark's Grebe, a species I have only seen a few times before.

On the island itself we had a nice selection of birds including Burrowing Owls, Rock Wrens, Sage Thrashers, Lark Sparrrows and a single Chukar. This game bird is an introduced species, like the Ring-necked Pheasant and Gray Partridge, but it is a truly striking bird.



Kathi and I just finished several great days in Yellowstone National Park. This site is truly one of the most incredible protected areas I have ever visited. There were many people but it still was an outstanding experience. For me, two of the things I most wanted to see were wolves and grizzly bears. I had seen both before a number of times but with these mammals - more is always better!

On our first evening we had distant views of a very dark Wolf and a Grizzly grazing in a meadow. They were exciting moments but I was really hoping for a killer view of both. On our second full day we opted for an earlier start - hoping that we might luck into a close encounter with either species before the roads got busy. Not twenty minutes after we entered the park, there was an almost white Wolf walking along the roadside right beside us!!! We watched as the Wolf walked steadily along the roadside for several minutes. I drove alongside shooting images from the car window as I kept pace driving. The Wolf was carrying food in its mouth (looked like a bunch of bones and meat from a kill) and probably heading back to a den to feed some pups. Here are two of my best images below:

The Wolf sighting alone made our visit to Yellowstone a huge success. However, we had one more memorable moment to come. About an hour later we were driving northeast of Madison corner when we spotted a huge old Grizzly (male?) walking towards the road. It was perfect timing as the Grizzly slowly walked towards us following the edge of a meadow, turning over small logs and searching for food. He was really beat up, with scarred ears, eyes and a large wound on his shoulder - an old warrior to be sure! As he moved along we slowed closed the ground between him and us until he was only about 15 feet away! It was a thrilling moment as he crossed the road right in front of us, his breathe steaming in the cool clear morning air. We were the first car to find him but by the time he crossed the road there were about four other cars on the scene, including one that was appeared panicked as he crossed right behind them!



Kathi, Carina, her girlfriend Sam and I just started a road trip/vacation and we were passing through Iowa today. We took a brief time out from passing through the many cornfields to spend a little time birding in a small park in the nw portion of the state. Even at midday there was a nice selection of birds including Barred Owl, both Orchard and Baltimore Orioles, three or four Red-headed Woodpeckers, several Yellow-throated Vireos, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and many other great birds. For Kathi the top bird was Dickcissel, which was a lifer. We had seen many 'possible' Dickcissels at high speed as we drove along interstates, but at the end of this park we came across a nice close co-operative pair. Here is the best image I got of the male. Later we would see dozens of males as we drove west towards out next stop in South Dakota!



The beginning of June found me on Primrose Lake Road northwest of Cold Lake. It was a crisp cold morning with virtually no wind. I was hoping this might be the day I got some decent pics of CONNECTICUT WARBLER. As luck would have it there four singing males in one small and soon I had one male in the scope singing high from the treetops. I spent twenty minutes watching it in the scope obtaining incredible views as it sang repeatedly. Here is a photo of this great bird.

Other great finds around Cold Lake included scope views of Nelson's and Le Conte's Sparrows, White-winged Crossbills, a point blank male American Three-toed Woodpecker, many warblers including Mourning and Canada at point blank range, heard Yellow Rail, great views of Virginia and Sora rails, distant Sabine's Gulls and a great view of a Fisher. My next stop is Luck Lake, Saskatchewan where hopefully there will be good numbers of shorebirds.


On June 1st Paul Pratt and myself made our third attempt at a big day in Alberta. In 2009 we tallied 207 species and in 2010 we tallied 213. After the success of these days we firmly believed it was possible that a new Canadian big day record might be achievable in Alberta. Since 1987, the province of Manitoba has held the national big day record. For most of that time it was 205 species until Paul and I tallied 212 species in Manitoba five years ago. That record was best by a team from Manitoba that reached 214 species three years later.

We are happy to report that on June 1st we tallied 218 species wholly within the province of Alberta to establish a new Canadian big day record. Our route took us from the boreal forest in the Cold Lake area to Waterton National Park in the southwest. Full details of the big day will appear in the 2011 ABA list and big day report.

The day was so intense that I had virtually no chance to take any photos. Here are two that document some memorable moments (sunrise over English bay picnic site on the west side of Cold Lake and a White-rumped Sandpiper).