Monday, March 28, 2016

Erieau Harlequin Ducks + Breeding Carolina Wrens?

Easter Monday is traditionally one of my first days of spring birding --- but this year, I had relatives visiting from Ottawa --- so an afternoon of viewing early migrants was not in the works for me. But as you might have guessed from the title of this posting, I woke up early (ok 8:30) and headed out to Erieau Point to see if I could luck out with the recently found Harlequin Ducks. Blake, Allen and Ken had described them well in their blogs and since this was a lifer - I was almost obligated to go out and find them.

When I got to Erieau, it was cold, windy and rainy. I scanned the watery lake Erie lakescape and pretty well assumed I was not going to see them. But somehow, I picked out some dark ducks that had white facial spots. There were some false alarms with some female buffleheads but I think I have diagnostic photos of Harlequins here. A life bird at 398!

Breeding Carolina Wren Habitat

On Easter Sunday, I was at my dads house in Windsor.... and while hanging out in the back yard with family, a Carolina Wren started belting out its tell tale Tea-Kettle Tea Kettle Tea Kettle song! I walked around to the back area of my dads yard (behind his shed) and saw a Carolina Wren singing its heart out! I ran to my car and grabbed my binoculars and Bino-scoped it singing. The first ten seconds of this video are blurry but the remaining twenty seconds after that are not too bad. The wren jumped down to a pile of twigs and I had great views of it in my binos when low and behold, a second wren was bouncing around as well (his lady friend perhaps?). Its quite probable that these birds are breeding somewhere in the messy piles of sticks and twigs in my dads back yard!

Its not a total surprise though... I've seen / heard Carolina Wren at my parents house in Windsor on several occasions. Some readers may remember this wren I photographed on an icicle. It was drinking water dropplets melting off the barn roof! That was back in 2011.

I think that whether you are a pro birder or just starting out --- if you are having a drink at a family get-together and find nesting Carolina Wrens in you back yard.... and you're in Canada.... thats pretty cool.

Shuster Trail at Point Pelee? Nope --- my parents' house

Good birding!

PS: I dropped my old honda civic off at a local junk yard in Windsor and could not help but notice a little yellow flower in the gravel driveway... Dandelion? No... I think it could be Colts - Foot! A chance botanical discovery!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mid March Nature Sightings

Do you see an Owl's Nest ? I've been looking at it all Winter!

For the last couple of months, I noticed a large "nest" about 80 meters directly behind my house. I had some free time last Saturday, I put the scope on the nest to find... a nesting pair of Great Horned Owls! Another great observation I've made is that there are tonnes of American Woodcock "peenting" and timberdoodling directly behind my house. Woodcocks are going crazy, and its gotten to the point that when I go outside after sunset, I will hear peenting and twittering flight displays.  I've had Song Sparrows and Killdear in my backyard for over a week now.

Today, I had the day off and I went to Point Pelee with my two boys. Upon arrival at the gate, I ended up buying a two year "Blue Pass" for $75 - letting me skip the line to get into the park for the next two years --- sweet!  Anyway, the woman at the gate informed me that there were "scavenger hunts", camp fires, marshmallows and crafts for the kids. I met up with my friend Rick from Leamington who  joined us on our scavenger hunt journey. At one point, Rick and I noticed a butterfly patrolling the path we were on and it soon landed about 20 feet away from us. Rick snapped this diagnostic photo - which is a record early sighting* for Point Pelee - and perhaps the province of Ontario (Thanks to Alan Wormington's meticulous record keeping). Thanks to Rick for sharing this photo! One usually sees a Red Admiral in May ---- Not mid March! Rick and I must have seen about 5-6 snakes sunning along the path as well.

Good Birding!

Cornell University's Ornithology Lab has some "Nest-Cam" video of a great horned owl nest.... much better than what I can obtain...

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Warwick Gyrfalcon & Merlin

Warwick Gyrfalcon
Blake's blog recently featured an excellent lingering rarity - the Warwick Gyrfalcon! As the work-week ended - I talked to Rick and Jeremy H about carpooling to see this bird and joined up with Jerermy H with high hopes of seeing this bird. I wanted to carpool to reduce my carbon footprint and also to have more eyes on the bird - not to mention good company. Soon after arriving in the prescribed area, we caught sight of this fantastic arctic beauty.  A life bird for Jeremy and myself!

Even though this photos are not too good, I had soul-satisfying views of this bird through Jeremy's scope. It soon flew off and even watching fly away was nice. Its a great bird!

An alternative post title was going to be: Gyr, Mer, Brr, & Jer!!!

Just as the Gyrfalcon flew off, a Merlin flew in for some nice looks though our scope.

Gyr, Jer and I spent some time looking for other good birds in the area such as Snowy Owl and Northern Shrike but were content to return home. Snow Buntings, Northern Harriers and Red tailed Hawks were abundant along the roadways. It has been a while since I've seen Snow Buntings so it was nice to see them. Did you know that the "all about birds" main photo for Snow Buntings is one of mine? See it here: .

Good Birding!

Recent Life List Additions:

Mississippi Kite 394
Grey Flycatcher 395
Sabine's Gull 396
Gyrfalcon 397


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