One of my favourite places to visit is the Ann & Sandy Cross Conservation Area near Spruce Meadows which was a former working farm that was donated by the owners to be turned over to a nature preserve. The area is sprawling and I have only ever done one trail (Aspen Trail), but I’ve never been disappointed with the abundant wildflowers and bug life in summer. However, this was the first time I’d gone with birds as the primary target as a specific species at that – the Long-Eared Owl – which had been reported there in recent weeks. Well, it was too early for bugs, but there a number of birds but mainly heard & not seen, except for a lone Tennessee Warbler which I eventually located hidden in the treetops.
However I was very pleased when at the end of the Aspen Trail a Great Gray Owl flew out of the forest and perched at the edge of the clearing allowing us both to check each other out. My previous encounter with GGOs showed them to be rather unconcerned with human presence and this one was no exception as I was able to get within several meters as ‘he’ went about his business – intently observing the ground for prey and letting out the occasional low ‘hoot’. All up, a nice surprise and satisfying end to the trip.