Sunday, January 29, 2012

On Hiatus...

After work on Friday, I stopped by Lakeview Marina. Not much happening this winter compared to the last two years at this time.  Last year, lots of rarities were spotted, but this year, the conditions are much different. Without a scope, I was really unable to find any rarities even though I did try with my 10x42 binoculars.

While looking out at the waterfowl, I realized Kelly M was looking out over the water we talked about the various birds around Peche Island. Several Bald Eagles were seen, along with four Great Blue Herons, some Swans, and thousands of ducks, mainly Common Mergansers. Some Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead along with others were present. Just as I was about to leave, Kelly pointed out the resident Fox which was trotting way out on the ice! (See photo above. Click photo to see full size. How often does one see a Fox with Mergansers?)

One must ask, how did a Fox get on Peche Island? Was it placed there in some ecological experiment, or did it swim or walk amongst the ice flows? I wonder how long a small island with only a few square KM's of surface area, (mainly Carolinean Forest) will sustain this cunning mammal?

Here, the Fox trots by two Great Blue Herons. Even though Fox is common, its been years since I've seen one! I guess my parents have a small Fox-den in their 5 acre field (in south Windsor) but I'm yet to see that one. Last Winter, instead of a Fox, a Racoon was often seen walking out on the ice looking for Shad fish.

I'm still really excited about seeing the Mountain Bluebird last weekend. What a beautiful bird. Last weeks posting was rushed as I was trying to put something up on my blog before submitting my 'MOBL Yes' posting to Ontbirds.  Photographing this Bluebird was pretty challenging. The bluebird below was about 30m away from the road, and I was in my car photographing them. Some challenges that morning included the fact that the birds were East of the road, so they were backlit. To accommodate, I increased exposure, and had to switch to manual focus because the camera cant really 'sense' a bird 30+ meters away on some corn stubble.

This gorgeous bird is not a lifer for me. I saw several Mountain Bluebirds in the Okanogan Valley this summer,  in what might have been the single best birding walk I've taken in my life. If you didn't read that posting, I recommend following the link. That might be one of my favorite blog entries on this blog, as well as the Lewis's Woodpecker story that precedes it.
Even though its backlit and a poor photo... Isn't it beautiful? Its Sky blue back with grey and white breast along with its calm demeanor make this a pleasure to behold. At one point, the two bluebirds were in a tree close to the road and I could hear them singing... How Awesome.

This range map from shows where Mountain Bluebirds are typically found. Other range maps in field guides show a little more of the eastward vagrancy these birds tend to do quite frequently (especially in Winter).
Image Source:

You may have been wondering why this posting is titled: "Hiatus".

According to
hi·a·tus - [hahy-ey-tuhs] noun, plural -tus·es, -tus.

1. a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.

So, I'm going to honestly spend the next two months (February & March) focusing on my night-school commitments, and less time birding & blogging. I might try to get out if I have a good chance of seeing a lifer. Blake's posting yesterday which featured Common Redpolls and White winged Crossbills has me thinking of getting out to Rondeau (just as I announce my hiatus). Its tough for me to do this because I've been blogging at least weekly for two years in a row! I feel an obligation to post at least weekly!

Send me an email if you see any winter finches between Rondeau and Windsor! :-)

Good birding,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Mountain Bluebird and Other Winter Specialties

This morning, I twitched a Mountain Bluebird that was recently found by Pete Chapman in Shetland Ontario. All week, great Ontbird postings were submitted giving generous information on the location and foraging habits of these female Eastern and Mountain Bluebirds. Luckily, Blake Mann mentioned he was going to see this bird today and I made an effort to meet him on Kerry Rd this morning.

As the postings suggested, the birds were found pretty close to the road on the east side, either perched on corn stubble or in a roadside Cedar or Maple tree.  These photos are not that great. I was in my car and looking eastward in the early morning. Again... Backlit Bluebirds!!! On the west side of the road, there was a really close flock of Horned Larks, Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs (see photos below).


Below I have three photos of a nice flock of Horned Larks, Snow Buntings and singles of Lapland Longspur in the mix. All three of these birds are not rare, but to me a nice seasonal treat that I only see on a few occasions per year. Can you find the Lapland Longspur?

Good Birding,

Sunday, January 8, 2012

They Come in Threes

My last horrah of my Christmas vacation took place last Friday with a trip out to Point Pelee in search of White Winged Crossbills. Where are they??? :-)  I did see a three pack of Owls (Great Grey, Snowy and Screech) along with a three-pack of Falcons (Merlin, American Kestrel and the resident Bridge Peregrines) in my futile search for the Crossbills.

It was 50 degrees (F) out (Jan 6th) and sunny. Not much was seen at Point Pelee bird wise with the exception of some Red Breasted Mergansers at the tip. The tip of Point Pelee is really eroded!!! Its really up to the PPNP staff to figure this out, but I think foot-traffic along the 3'-4' erosion wall near the tip is a bad idea. As people approach this ledge, the wall seems to crumble due to the predominate sand content in the soil there.

I reluctantly stopped for 5 minutes at the GGOW site on the way to PPNP and got a chance to see Rick, my birding friend from Leamington. Check out this photo below of the GGOW. It crossed the road on McCain side road at one point, just 1'-2'  above the roadway. The GGOW has evolved its senses to hear lemmings under snow, but not to deal with a Chevy barreling down the road at 60km. Lets hope he makes it!

I met some birders today looking for Short-eared Owls out in the county. These guys from Virginia knew about birding hotspots in the county that took me almost three years to find out about. They told me that Northern Shrikes were seen yesterday in a location not far from the GGOW. My search for them today netted some Eastern Bluebirds and an obliging Merlin. American Kestrels were seen in a few places, but this one near the Onion Fields was not as shy as the others. The Snowy Owl above was also seen in the Onion Fields near Rd 19 and Rd D. Point Pelee was very quiet... a few Red Breasted Mergansers near the tip, a few Horned Larks in the onion fields but not much else was seen.

Merlin is really the star of this posting. I rarely see them. Kestrels are easy enough to find out in the county, although they can be very camera shy. I got home thinking it would be cool to see a Peregrine Falcon to make a "Falcon Hat-trick" (for the day) but I was thinking that the few people who read this blog would not really care if I did or not. Then it dawned on me that I needed to go to Canadian Tire (near the bridge) to pick something up anyway... So there you go... Falcon Three-Pack.

Good Birding,

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Orange Crowned Warbler... In January!

On January 3rd this week, I went looking for White Winged Crossbills and came up short at the coniferous stand at  Holiday Beach.  I decided to park at Holiday Beach and walk the nature trail at the entrance gate. The walk gave good looks at the expected wintering birds that included Northern Flickers, Cardinals, Chickadees and Kinglets, but as I approached my car on my way out, a small flock of Juncos and Sparrows had a fluorescent-green bird in the mix. Orange Crowned Warbler! The camera can't seem to pick up the unique colour of these little warblers.Its a beautiful Greenish-yellow that is unmistakable!

Today stopped by the Lakeview Marina where Lake St Clair flows into the Detroit River but did not see anything noteworthy. A birder with a scope shared views of some of the distant ducks closer to Peche Island that included all three Mergansers, Common Golden eye, Black Ducks and a general mix of other common birds.A Juv Bald Eagle was flying above Peche Island which is not unexpected.

Back to my list of chores!  :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...