|Snowy Owl being mobbed by a 'murder' of Crows|
|Snowy Owl trying to lose the Crow mob. (Heavily Cropped)|
A recent Ontbirds posting from Paul Pratt mentioned that a Snowy Owl was seen in Chatham. Having some time off (Jan 2nd), I ventured off to see it while checking out some other hotspots. Upon arriving at the intersection described in the posting, I did not see anything. So I got out of the car and really scanned every telephone post/tree etc but no Owl. With a fresh recent snowfall, I realized that there is probably no way I'm going to find this owl if its sitting in a snowy field. As I was about to give up, I pointed my scope to a large group of American Crows in the corn-stubble field Paul described and noticed a white creature in the middle of the pack of Crows. I felt bad for the Owl... but - Chatham is like the capital of Winter-roosting Crows in North America (this is un-official and off-the-cuff but I have heard similar statements from media etc). The Owl was distant in the field (200m) and very isolated from any roads allowing only scoped views. Then I noticed the Owl was trying to lose the Crows but they followed close behind. Seconds later, I lost the Owl as it went over a cedar hedge along the southern perimeter of this field.
|Can you find a Glaucous Gull in this photo?? *|
Later at Wheatley Harbor, I followed up on another recent Ontbirds posting about a long-staying Iceland Gull. Upon arriving at the Harbor, I saw another birder with scope, Richard Carr. We both made an effort to find "white-winged gulls", and one that we found seemed to have a dual-toned bill, so I 'ignored it' until I found one with with a solid black bill (which is consistent with a first year Iceland Gull). So I believe the leftmost gull in the photo above is an Iceland Gull. In hindsight, could the other white-winged gull have been a second-year Iceland or a first year Glaucous? I did not really make size comparisons of this second gull we found so I guess its not worth deliberating over. I had to call it a day so I did not have time to re-find the other gull for further study.
Today, the family went out to Colasanti's in Leamington, so after we left, we took a quick detour through the Onion Fields to see a recently reported owl. I dipped on the owl, but found an overwintering Red-headed Woodpecker! Its undulating flight caught my eye as I was driving and it landed in a tree right next to the road. I was in total amazement!
Iceland Gull #316
Bonus: A few random photos from the last week of 2012...Just for fun...