This wild, male burrowing owl which was was not baited, called or otherwise enticed to come perched right next to me, gave me several opportunities to get some unique images. The owl decided I was nothing to worry about and picked up one leg as it gazed in my direction. Soon after, it relaxed its head and neck creating a crease of feathers under its beak, giving the otherwise grumpy looking character the appearance of having a smile.
Often the deciding factor of whether the public and governments give money for wildlife conservation comes down to looks. Charismatic wildlife like bears, rhinos and big cats get a disproportionate amount of resources while birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish and the bottom of the barrel invertebrates struggle to even be noticed.
Here’s hoping that the burrowing owl, with all of its personality and character can get a federal recovery strategy to go along with its listing under the Species At Risk Act (SARA).
It was the worst of times. With the wet spring and summer it was a very good year for amphibians in Western Canada but it wasn’t all great news for them. Each morning I would find many of them squashed on the roads, particularly in Banff National Park. They were too mutilated to be able to ID, but on one of the late nights returning from photographing the night sky I eventually came across one that was alive and well. It was a western toad; a species of “special concern” under the Species At Risk Act (SARA).
I pulled over to the side of the road and got out to take a few photographs. While laying on the road to get the perspective I wanted, a couple with a truck and camper came around the corner in the opposite direction. I used the opportunity to take a photograph that tells the fate of many of these toads on the roads this year. However, I didn’t anticipate the reaction from the people in the vehicle!
As they passed by they must have looked down and saw me laying on the road directly in front of my parked car. I assumed they saw me photographing something and wondering what it was I assumed they started backing up in my direction to find out what it was. I continued taking photos until they were right beside me, at which point I got up. Almost immediately the driver yelled at me that I had just given him the scare of his life! He explained that he thought there had been an accident, that I had been hit or thrown from my vehicle and that he thought I was dead on the road! I apologized several times, but I think he was still in shock because he kept repeating the same refrain. I apologized once more before he slowly drove off towards the campground shaking his head. Not wanting to cause any more concern, I quickly coaxed the toad off the road, got back in my car and drove away.