Sunday, December 30, 2012

Informally Birding the Holiday Beach CBC

(Note:This is an old posting from Dec 27th that I never got around to publishing until today)

Holiday Beach (in Amherstburg) had its CBC on Dec 27, 2012. I had participated in last's year's CBC but this year, I couldn't commit to the full morning. I still wanted to get out there though in the early afternoon, even just to walk the area on my own and enjoy the nice weather. As I approached Holiday Beach, I noticed a several fields with Snow Buntings and Horned Larks, and got a quick glimpse of at least two Lapland Longspurs (see photo above).

Here are some of the birds I saw while informally birding HBMO-CBC*:

Amherstburg side roads leading to HBMO
75 Snow Buntings
50 Horned Larks
2 Lapland Longspurs

Holiday Beach Memorial Forest
1 Northern Harrier
2 Red tailed Hawks
10 Black capped Chickadees
4 Red breasted Nuthatches
3 Tundra Swans (flyover)

HBMO Main Forest Pathway
6 White throated Sparrows
2 Downy Woodpeckers
1 Red bellied Woodpecker
3 Red breasted Nuthatches
1 Hermit Thrush
3 Northern Cardinals
3 American Goldfinches
1 Carolina Wren

On the way home, I took a detour through Harrow and found the following:

4 American Kestrels
2 Northern Shrikes
1 Short eared Owl
1 Rough legged Hawk
4 Red tailed Hawks
120 Snow Buntings
30 Morning Doves

Northern Shrike !

And another Northern Shrike !
I was really excited about seeing a Northern Shrike again today, and then, another shortly after! I totally missed seeing one in 2011... They are so rare in my opinion but this is my third this month! Hermit Thrush and Fox Sparrow** were pretty nice to see, not mega-rarities, but still good birds to see in the last week of December.

I plan on doing a 2012 year in review as my first posting in 2013.  I will also try to join the Detroit River (Ojibway Park) CBC on Jan 1 2013.  Happy New Year!

Good birding!

*PS:I am going to officially start using Ebird in 2013.

**PSS: On boxing day, we had a really nice snowstorm, so I figured I would head over to Ojibway Park to see if I could get some nice photos in the snow. The usual feeder birds were present, (House Finch, Tufted Titmouse, Cardinals etc) but to my astonishment, a Fox Sparrow perched into a tree next to the feeders where I was standing!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Lakeshore CBC and Season's Greetings

This past Saturday, I joined two excellent birders, Kory Renaud and Jeremey Bensette to assist in counting birds for the Lakeshore CBC.  Our group did the South end of the circle (yellow bottom in the picture above). One area of the circle we were happy to bird was the Maidstone Conservation Area. It turns out, the twenty hectare site was a little bit of a dud, but was still interesting to walk. We saw common seasonal species such as Chickadees, Red bellied woodpecker, Morning Doves and Downy Woodpeckers. The site boasts an old Indian Signal Tree (see below).

Indian Signal Tree
Some highlights of our counting was an adult Bald Eagle, and two or three run-ins with major flocks of Snow Buntings. One or two of the fields we stopped by had 120+ Horned Larks. At our post-CBC luncheon, we learned that one of our star birders, Tom Hince found some major rarities near Peche Island, including a Black legged Kittiwake and a Northern Waterthrush. Our final species count for the CBC was 69.

Amazing photo of Snow Buntings and a few Horned Larks
I was hoping to find a Lapland Longspur in this flock, but no dice. Last January, I found a flock of Snow Buntings, Horned Larks and Lapland Longspur while viewing the Mountain Bluebird in Shetland Ontario. Here was a flashback video from that morning:

Last night, I drove out to an area which is reputed for Short Eared Owls, and saw them. Of course, they start to fly at dusk so photographing them is difficult and might require better staging techniques than I am privy to. I noticed a dog-like creature which may have been a Coyote walking through this field as I was observing the Owls. Some photos below have horrible white-balance settings taken as dusk:

Short Eared Owl... Amazing winter specialty. 
I hope to put together a good summary for 2012. I also want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy, Healthy and Birdy New Year to everyone! December 21st of course was the Winter Solstice which marks the shortest amount of daylight in the year. So Happy Winter Solstice as well!

Good birding!

Bonus Photo: Eastern Bluebirds... Just for Karen :-)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Birds of Prey - Stamps?

A woman from Michigan recently purchased one of my photos and I could not help but notice on the envelope she sent me... A Northern Goshawk Stamp!!! [larger view]

USPS Raptor Stamps Press Release:

Or order a set for $6.45

I've also noticed that the Canadian Mint is producing a series of bird-related coins. Each of these are about $30. They sell these at the Post Office and a recent trip to a small post-office in a Shopper's Drug Mart had a Rose-breasted Grosbeak coin. Oddly enough, they are $0.25 cent face value, but larger than quarters, ... silver-dollar sized.

Evening Grosbeak -
Rose breasted Grosbeak  - 
Goldfinch -

Here are some Random Hawk Photos from the last month:
Red Tailed Hawk

Cooper's Hawk

Rough legged Hawk (dark morph)

Good birding,

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Northern Shrike at Ojibway & Ridgetown Geese Diversity V2

Ross's Geese
Happy 12/12/12! Due to an exam I wrote this morning, I took a personal day from work and was lucky enough to enjoy a gorgeous, sunny day today. I figured I would try my luck at Ridgetown Lagoons and wow... three lifers today! Upon arrival to the lagoon, I saw a friendly birder with a scope and he pointed out some of the highlights. Ross's Goose and Great White-fronted Goose made for two lifers in the span of 10 or so minutes. Ken Burrell arrived on the scene a few minutes later and pointed out a few Cackling Geese amongst the Canada Geese (Lifer 311, 312 & 313).

Greater White-fronted was a really nice surprise!
Ridgetown Lagoons is where I saw Snow Geese back in March of this year.

Do you see the Cackling Goose in comparison to Canada Geese?
I think the middle goose is a Cackling Goose. Thanks to Ken Burrell for pointing them out to me. 

On the way home, I drove by Ojibway Park and found this Northern Shrike sitting on a telephone wire! This was reported earlier this week, so hopefully it stays around. The last time I saw one was Nov 2010! Read more about this awesome bird here:

Northern Shrike - Lanius excubitor ... Literally means Butcher Watchman!

Cackling Geese were only 'recognized' in 2004 ... Prior to that, they were thought of as a sub-species of Canada Geese. Genetic differences were big enough to warrant a new species! Pretty cool!

Oddly enough, at the time I posted this posting, David Sibley's blog had an entry on indentifying Cackling Geese. Check it out here: .

Alternative titles for this blog posting could have been:

"What's Good for the Goose is Good For My Life List"
"I'm Grinnin' Like a Snow Goose - Three Lifers at Ridgetown"
"Duck... Duck... Ross's Goose, White Fronted Goose, Cackling Goose"

The birding gods smiled upon me today.

Goose Birding,

Lifer Summary:
311 - Ross's Goose,
312 - Great White-fronted Goose
313 - Cackling Geese


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