51 American Kestrel - or is it a Merlin?
Photo taken on 9 September 2016 and posted on Flickr on 17 October 2016.
For some reason, I find these two species difficult to identify sometimes, and I can't for the life of me remember if I photographed a Kestrel outdoors as well as a Merlin. Male or female?
This particular bird resides at the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale, southern Alberta, a wonderful place that rehabilitates and releases (whenever possible) various birds of prey - hawks, falcons, owls, Bald Eagles, Turkey Vultures, and Golden Eagles. Some of these birds act as Wildlife Ambassadors, too, educating the public.
It had been a few years since my last visit there - I've been maybe three or four times - and I had been longing to go back. Much too far and all new driving territory for me to even think about driving there myself. However, about six weeks ago, on 9 September 2016, that is exactly what I did. A friend had said she would come along, too, but she emailed me at 1:00 am to say that she assumed the trip had been cancelled, as she hadn't heard back about the time to meet. In fact, I had sent two emails giving the time, so I don't know what happened there. Very unfortunate, as it would have been great to have had company on such a long drive and I know she would have had lots of fun with her camera.
I knew it would be a long day and further than I would normally drive - and in a brand new car that I have yet to learn to drive! It didn't look or feel quite as new after travelling 481 km! Only got lost twice, one minor and the other major. Must have taken a wrong turn somewhere way down south and I ended up in the city of Lethbridge, that I had very carefully planned to avoid. After three and three-quarter hours, I finally arrived, to my enormous relief.
Despite getting there later than I had hoped, I still had more than enough time to wander round the grounds and photograph the various raptors. Some were tethered out in a couple of grassy areas and others were in large outdoor cages. Wonderful to get such a close look at the various majestic birds.
I took a slightly different way home via #845 (?) making absolutely sure that I didn't accidentally find myself in Lethbridge again and it wasn't too long before I found myself in the area that I had driven a few weeks before, when I went SW of Vulcan to look for Common NIghthawks (without any luck). Just so happy that I finally made myself do this drive. When I had Googled the Centre's website, I discovered that they were closing two days later for the winter. So, it was either a case of going the next day or not at all till next May onward.
The very next day, 10 September 2016, I took my daughter on a long drive in Kananaskis. This was yet another place that I had longed to be able to drive for many years - and finally I did it! I had been lots of times with various friends, but this was the very first time I had ever done the drive myself.
AlbertaCanadasouthern Albertanear LethbridgeCoaldaleAlberta Birds of Prey Centrewildlife rehabilitationcaptivenatureornithologyavianbirdbirdsbird of preyraptorfalconfront viewcloseupportraitgrassoutdoorsummer9 September 2016FZ200FZ200number4annkelliottAnne Elliott© Anne Elliott 2016© All Rights ReservedAnne Elliott, from