Thursday, December 24, 2020

Snowy Owls & Christmas Wishes

A pure-white Adult Male Snowy Owl! Lighting was horrible... I know...

I was driving through Essex County yesterday, and to my amazement, I had noticed a large owl atop a telephone wire along the road. I did not want to disturb the owl, so I quickly pulled over and shot some photos from my car! Its always a treat to see owls - and this one was a little extra special since it appears to be an adult male - almost completely white!  Its nice as well for me because its self found --- I have horrible luck finding owls and rare birds in general. 

I also want to wish my blog readers a very Merry Christmas! This time of year can be stressful at times, and the pandemic we are living through is (perhaps) making things even worse - but... Just remember that this time of year (even the solstice for the non-religious) can be a time to be thankful for what we have, to reflect on the year that just passed and year ahead of  us. For me - I like to think of ways that I can improve and become a better person. 

I think one thing that unites us (anyone reading this posting) --- is that we love nature. Nature is simply the greatest show on earth. We are blessed to simply be alive, part of nature and to be able to observe and appreciate nature. 

Seeing this owl absolutely made my day yesterday. Yes, it was getting dark out and I had poor photos but I can't help but share this special sighting. 

Good Birding, and Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2020

Winter Solstice 2020 & the Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn v2 (Dec 20th, & 22nd)


I have been increasingly interested in Astronomy this year. I am just a 'noob' with astronomy - but I do pride myself in making an effort to witness some of the bigger events that happen that the masses can partake in.  I think another factor is my recently acquired spotting scope - a Celestron 80mm spotting scope that affords me stunning looks at this celestial scene! Even last night (Dec 20th 2020) from the light-polluted city of Windsor --- I was able to photograph the above scene with my 400mm lens on my Canon 7D camera ( on a tripod of course). I had put a delay on the shutter button of 2 seconds to reduce the amount of shake that happens when one hits the shutter release button. One also needs to experiment with the exposure, ISO, aperture to get a nice exposure. 

I would encourage anyone with a scope to try to look out at the western horizon for the brightest 'star' and attempt to view it at 20-60x in their scopes. Even with a humble entry level Celestron Scope - I was able to see the rings of Saturn and the four largest moons of Jupiter!!!

I want to wish my blog readers a Happy Solstice ! Today is the day with the least amount of Sunlight. From this day through June 21st - the amount of sunlight will incrementally increase! I think more people should be aware of, and celebrate the Solstice. In this greatly divided world -- its one holiday that all people can celebrate. Regardless of your race, ethnicity, nationality, wealth, education ... everyone can appreciate that today is the bottom of the parabola in terms of angle of sunlight and day length.  Its also a day that Indiginous Peoples, farmers as well as Science minded people appreciate in particular. 

So,,, if you can get a chance to look out at the western horizon just after sunset, and your view is not obstructed by clouds --- I want to invite you to take a look. Especially if you have a spotting scope!

Good Stargazing,

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Northern Shrike Hunting at Ojibway Park in Windsor

A few days ago, someone had posted (ebird) seeing a Northern Shrike at Malden Park in Windsor ON.  After work, I went for a walk there with my binoculars and camera hoping to see this "butcher bird" from the north!

I did not see my target bird --- but still enjoyed the brisk walk at Malden. I figured I would drive down Matchette Road and try my luck near the Provincial Tallgrass Prairie area. The provincial tallgrass prairie is bordered by Matchette Road, and accross the road, you have the Coco Paving Mini mall with will be built on the former "Windsor Raceway Grounds". 

Sure enough, upon arriving to the area, I had seen a robin-sized bird perched at the top of a small tree at great distance. I could not tell from that distance what it was but sure enough ... I found my target bird! 
Sadly, I was only able to get about 50m from the bird, and the lighting and weather were crap. The photos are diagnostic at best... but its just nice to find a great bird once in a while. 

Good birding!


Saturday, December 12, 2020

Redpolls and Rough-leggeds + The Conjunction of Saturn & Jupiter


Chris Hadfield @Cmdr_Hadfield tweeted this image recently and I was intrigued to follow up with it. For several nights, its was cloudy at sunset, but just one or two evenings ago - I was pleasantly surprised two see two bright 'stars' above the western horizon just after sunset. To my absolute amazement - I had attempted to view the brighter star (Jupiter) through my recently aquired Celestron 80mm spotting scope and to my amazement - I was able to see jupiter and 4 of its moons though my new scope at 60x magnification. Then, I moved the scope onto the smaller 'star' (the planet Saturn) and to my absolute amazement ... I was able to see a small orb with rings --- yes--- Saturn and its rings through my $300 optical instrument!

I attempted to digiscope the scenes but I was unable to get any photos worth posting. I just thought I would mention though in case any readers have a decent 60x scope and had never attempted viewing these two planets through their scopes. 

Back to birding though - I had recently viewed a small group of about 20 Common Redpolls in Essex. Common Redpolls are one of my favorite winter finches. 

Common Redpoll on Evening Primrose

This afternoon - I went for a drive out in Essex, hoping to see a Rough legged Hawk --- and to my amazement I found one!  I had stopped my car to take a photo of a small flock of Eastern Bluebirds - and they flushed shortly after. As I was about to leave, a hawk flew by - a Rough legged! Sadly, many of these photos are over-exposed, and a little blurry... par for the course of course. 

Good birding, 

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Cave Swallow at Point Pelee !?!?!

Back in late October - I was at Point Pelee and enjoyed a nice sunny afternoon walk at the Delaurier Homestead pathway. I had a great walk --- I had seen Fox Sparrows, Pine Siskin, Eastern Bluebirds, Purple Finches, Rusty Blackbirds and Eastern Phoebes. At one point though, I looked up and noticed a swallow-like bird. I was not sure if it was a Cave Swallow - but I had made an attempt to capture it in photos --- flying around. I was eager to get home later and compare my photos to my fields guide photos. Luckily, Jeremy B had reported seeing this bird from Delaurier as I was driving home. 

Good Birding!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Shorebirding at Keith McLean Conservation Area, Essex West Lagoons - Aug 2020

This past week - I've had some time to followup on a few excellent birding finds in southwestern Ontario. In particular - I had seen a Western Sandpiper at Essex West Lagoons (Found by Jeremy Hatt) and a Red Knot at Keith McLean (Found by Steve Charbeneau). 

I share some photos below: 

A Western Sandpiper was seen at Essex West Lagoons - Some photos below: 

Good Birding!



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