Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Victoria Day Weekend 2012

I had a great time this weekend visiting with family and friends, as well as sneaking in a little birding.  On Sunday, after church, we stopped by the Ambassador Bridge to see the Peregrine Falcons that have been nesting there for a number of years...it was my first time going to see them.  We were blessed with seeing both parents and glimpses of a couple of the youngsters.  They have four this year!

On Monday we went to Point Pelee with a truckload of kayaks...the kids and a friend headed out into the marsh as we walked Centennial Trail across the road.  I got fleeting glimpses of a few birds I didn`t recognize, but we did see a female Wood Duck (life bird) leave a tree cavity and saw a few Wild Turkey (life bird) in the woods.  There were a lot of Orioles, Yellow Warblers, Red-winged Blackbirds.  We then headed to the marsh to see if the kids were done...they weren`t, so we walked a bit of the boardwalk and spotted a Common Yellow-throat (life bird) in the reeds as well as some Black Terns (life bird) fishing. Afterwards, we headed to a friend`s house in Essex and were blessed with spotting a Chipping Sparrow (life bird) chipping away on the fence and tree.  Here are a few pictures from this weekend....enjoy!

Peregrine parent at nest box.

The other parent...flew here from side of bridge when the other went to the nest box.

Fleeting glimpses of a couple of young...completely out of sight until parent returned.

Barn Swallow...so beautiful!!

Black Tern

Robin on nest.

What I think of when I think of Red-winged Blackbirds...perched on a reed :)

Wild Turkey

Chipping Sparrow at dusk.

By the way...I have added a gadget on the side of the blog that shows my life list, if you are interested.  It is amazing how fast it is growing :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Owl Mobbing and Other Birds

Today. Was. Awesome!!!!!!  I dropped the girls off at the pool in Blenheim and headed to Erieau.  I was debating between stopping at the Lagoons or the Erieau Marsh, but I am sooooooo glad I went to the Marsh!  I got to witness what looked like a Great Horned Owl (not 100% of the ID) get mobbed by lots of Red-winged Blackbirds and Killdeer!  I heard all kinds of racket, looked and saw an owl being chased by a large flock!  I instantly put my bins down and grabbed my camera to capture the action...not the sharpest pictures, but show the scene quite well.

Just after I first heard the racket and saw the owl.  He ducked down below the reeds for a bit.

When he took off...the racket continued and many more birds than pictured were chasing him...

If you look closely, you can see a Red-winged Blackbird right on his tail!

The owl, now perched, got dive-bombed constantly, until he took off.

Just before the owl mobbing, this poor duck (Mallard female...I think), was being chased too!  The bird has his legs out like he was grabbing at the duck!

More harrassment!
The trees were dripping with Cedar Waxwings!  This is a life bird for me...they are probably the most elegant looking bird I have laid eyes on.

Cedar Waxwing
Three on one branch...there were TONNES!
Here are a few other shots I got today that I liked...

Killdeer cruising over the marsh.

Eastern Kingbird

Great Blue Heron
What an exciting day! 

Mother's Day Birding

 Following tradition, we headed out to Point Pelee for Mother's Day...myself, my husband and kids. The weather didn't look promising when we headed out, but it turned out to be a beautiful day! After reading "A Birder's Guide to Point Pelee" by Tom Hince, I decided to stray from our normal routine and walk a trail I had never walked before...the Tilden's Woods Trail. We normally do the Marsh Boardwalk, the trail behind the visitor's centre and the Tip. I was happy to spot, on my own, a beautiful male Rose-breasted Grosbeak (a life bird for me) and a couple Wood Thrushes (also a life bird).  We later found a Rose-breasted Grosbeak pair that I managed some half-decent pictures of.

For the most part though, I found birding that day to be very frustrating! We bumped into a group with a guide who was calling out warbler species left and right (maybe 7 different species!), but I only managed to get my binoculars on four....my husband, without binolculars, saw more than I did!  My children thought it was torture....see the picture my daughter snapped of the group.  I was happy to see a Black-throated Blue, a Black-throated Green, a Tenessee and a Northerrn Parula, thanks to Scott, the guide. I did see lots of Yellow Warblers...very abundant! I have a couple of pictures to show, but none of the warblers...they were too far off for my lens and I had a difficult time finding them in the first place!  Top that with the fact that I don't know warblers well in general...bought a book to fix that though....ran into its author in the woods...that was cool!

To top off the frustration, we ran into a couple of guys doing a Big Day and asked them how there day was going.  They had seen 90 species so far that day and told us to go check out the Little Gull that was hanging around near the beach...they gave us "directions", but we got lost and never did find the beach.  As frustrating as the birding was, I did enjoy the day.  The weather was wonderful, there were a lot of birds (got to show my husband his first Gray Catbird...found it myself!),  I was excited to see 6 new life birds...and of course, spending time with my family :)  Enjoy the few pics I got...

Male Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak

One of two Wood Thrushes we found on a footpath.

Can you guess which is my son???  I am between my husband (in the red) and Scott the Guide in the plaid..not visible..just like the warblers :/

Thursday, May 10, 2012

McGeachy Pond

I dropped the girls off at the pool and headed to McGeachy Pond.  I love that place!  Today was perfect.....it was sunny, the lake was still (rare for Lake Erie in my experience) and I could hear more birds than I could possibly track and spot.  There were lots of Yellow Warblers, but they gave me a run for my money...apparently they are camera shy :)
Two fast-flying Yellow Warblers :)
 This Gray Catbird tried not to be photographed as well, but I really like this picture...I think it turned out really good.
Beautiful Gray Catbird
 There were a bunch of Terns flying around and I initially thought this was a Caspian Tern...orange bill, black feet...but the dark wings seem odd for a Caspian Tern...what are your thoughts?  I have photos of other terns from today (not on the blog) that don't have these dark wings...

A Tern of some variety....

 There were also a lot of butterlies...here are a couple varieties I managed to get clear pictures of.

Today was a great birding day for me!  Here is a list of species noted at McGeachy Pond:
Great Blue Heron, Canada Geese, Barn Swallows, Tree Swallows, Yellow Warblers, Gray Catbird, Red-Winged Blackbird, Brown Thrasher (life bird!!), Baltimore Oriole, Grackle, Robin, Gulls (not sure the variety), Terns (one or two species), a Sandpiper of some variety (or something that looks like that), Mute Swans, Killdeer.  I left the pond at the time I was supposed to be at the pool....but the girls didn't even notice :)

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Today's Visitors :)

Today was a perfect day to sit outside and see who came to my yard. An interesting assortment....

House Sparrows
Mourning Doves
A pair of Mallards (flew about two feet away from where I was sitting, passing through)
Red-winged Blackbirds
Downy Woodpecker
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Indigo Bunting (saw twice today!!)
House Finches
Blue Jay

The only regular visitors I haven't seen yet are Chickadees and Goldfinch (I ran out of their favourite seed :))

Not bad for a backyard birdwatching day :D

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Heather`s Paradise and Ojibway

I was invited to birdwatch in my friend Heather`s paradise of a backyard.  They are fortunate to have a lot that backs onto a forested area and are blessed with many species of birds and other animals.  We heard a lot of birds, but very few showed themselves to us (and we were talking, so we probably missed a bunch).  Aside from the few pictures below we also saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler flitting about in the trees.  Two life birds for me were a Tufted Titmouse and a Carolina Wren :)
Female Baltimore Oriole

Best we could tell, this is a Carolina Wren...by markings and song. Life bird!
Tufted Titmouse!  Life bird!!
 After leaving Heather`s, I decided to stop by Ojibway.  I don`t have  alot of luck there...Dwayne always has beautiful shots of a large variety of birds there...   Anyway, I still enjoyed my time there and had to chuckle at the Red-bellied Woodpecker who insisted on drinking from the hummingbird feeder.
A turtle sunning itself.  Ì don`t know the variety...need more field guides :)

A couple of Canada Goose chicks...so adorable :)

This one makes me laugh...it`s like the ones on the logs are trying to show the one in the water what to do :)

Two of about 6 White-throated Sparrows along the path.  These two had a blast splashing around.

A butterfly who posed for me....need another field guide :)

Red-bellied Woodpecker a.k.a The Contortionist.

Hanging upside down to get at the hummingbird feeder....

Twisting to get his bill in the hole.
All in all, it was a wonderful day :)