Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Amherst owling #114

So.....I'd been looking forward to this for soooo long...owl season at owl woods on AI. What a great way to end off the birding year!

Saw a few more gadwalls off the south shore...Isn't it always like that? Spot your first one after so long and then see them everywhere!

Bonnie joined me, Matt and Mary over on the island.  It was Mary's birthday so it was a nice way for Matt to spend the day with his mom. We ran into someone else in there who hadn't seen anything, and I thought, here we go again! We didn't see anything other than chickadees and doves at the feeders, and nothing in the first part of the trail. Then we got into the cedars and were scouting around for a while until I thought I saw something that could be an owl....tried a few more angles and...yep!! Bonnie came over, decided it looked like a saw-whet, but thought it was a little big. We consulted with a few other birders who thought it was a boreal, but we weren't too sure. when we got back to the car, it was pretty obvious that it was a that's how we roll: we go for the rarer ones first and then go for the easy ones.

#114: Boreal Owl; Amherst Island; December 28, 2010

It was actually the only owl we saw that day, but I've got a hunger for more and will probably head back in the near future. As we were leaving people seemed to be coming in and drives and were definitely NOT heeding the signs everywhere that say to be QUIET. It's no wonder the owners are having so many problems...seriously people, let's not be idiots and be respectful so that we (and the owls especially!!!) can continue to enjoy this very special place! I missed the AI Christmas bird count by a few days...have to keep it in mind for next year.

I'm thinking this is going to be the last post of I want to wish you a happy new year, and here's to a great birding year in 2011! You can bet I'll be out that first weekend in January for more!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas birding! #113

Matt and I quickly took a bit of time to scan the lakeshore along Bath before Christmas festivities began...and saw one new one! We also saw 15-20 more tundra swans. Since the water is almost all open here there are still lots of waterbirds around!

#113: Gadwall; December 24, 2010; Millhaven/Bath

Immature Goldeneye

Buffleheads...not how I've normally seen them! immature or female?

Looking forward to heading to the Island in a few days to hopefully see some owls!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

wicked weekend! #110-112

Oh boy, where to start!

In the paper!
Ok, let's start with the exciting bit. I just found out that one of heron pics from a few weeks ago was used as the cover photo for the Ottawa Citizen's World of Birds column! Here's the link to the article and a screenshot...
Perfect weather this weekend ...

On Saturday Matt and I did a loop of the farmfields to the south of Kanata with not much luck (just saw a few hawks). After that we took a trail that is part of the greenbelt near Shirley's Bay. It was relatively quiet, but we did see chickadees, a robin, deer, a raven and crows, and some woodpeckers.
Here's a hairy woodpecker...Hairy indeed, as she had a feather sticking up on the top of her head...looked pretty funny!

This was the hawk (merlin?) we saw...After seeing mostly red-tailed and rough-legged hawks lately, it was really nice to see this one! It didn't seem to mind us at all. There was a woodpecker in the same tree completely oblivious to the hawk. Once it finally realized it had company, it was squawking and flying off...that's when the hawk turned his head as if to ask, "what the heck is going on, you nut?"

whatchu lookin at??

what u doinggggg???

Since we were in the area, we also checked out the Hilda Road feeders. Busy as usual but nothing out of the ordinary. Did see some other wildlife...

Sunday I went out with Sandy and it was hugely successful! I'd been trying forever to hunt down some buntings so he finally showed me where some were....three flocks of them in fact!

#110: Snow Bunting; December 19, 2010

DOF a little short on this one... 

So here came the big surprise of the day---and one I certainly wasn't expecting to see. We both noticed this bird that seemed really big...dark but too big to be a crow and even a raven. So we followed it and it turned out to be a bald eagle! holy jeez!

#111: Bald Eagle; December 19, 2010
Ok, so it doesn't stop there. Then we were totally creeping on some person's feeders that had so many birds...including common redpolls and evening grosbeaks (firsts for me). Don't think I'll post the pics...but I'll be loooking for them again.

Finally, on the way back to my place, saw a Northern Shrike on March Valley. This is a terrible shot but I FINALLY saw one!! I'll try to find another one to get a better picture.

#112: Northern Shrike; December 19, 2010; March Valley Road.

So, all in all....a great birding weekend!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

a good day for hunting!

No newbies to report, but did see some interesting action today!
First was a Great Blue Heron on March Valley Road (there were actually two of them there). It seemed to me kind of late for them to be around, but I'm no expert on that. Anyways, the one sticks its head into the grass and pulls out what looked like a clump of mud. He gives it a shake, dunks it in the water, lifts his head, gives it another shake (it's squirming), dunks it again, and swallows it whole. So what was it? A mouse! I didn't realize they don't just eat it turns out, they will eat small animals and are even known to choke on prey that is too big! I was kind of shocked to witness this!

 Some of us like to dunk our cookies in milk. Some of us like to dunk our mice in the stream...
wet rat.
Here's a close-up! Poor guy!
 Not long after, this red-tailed hawk swoops down onto a golf course. Looks like it got a tasty treat too!
As always, lots of hawks out and about. I'm thinking this one is a rough-legged hawk.
The quest continues for bohemian waxwings, snow buntings and northern shrikes....

Saturday, December 4, 2010

More big white birds. #109

I came down to Kingston last night for my grandma's 96th (!!!!) birthday. The weather is so much milder here and there are tons of ducks on the lake all along Bath Road, and there was a huge flock of ducks in Collins Bay. Unfortunately it was getting pretty dark by the time I got around to them and at that point they were a little out of reach (wish I'd still had S.M.'s scope!) so I might try and get back there tomorrow to see what was in there because it seemed to be a huge mix and I'm sure some I haven't counted among them. I also noticed some big white birds on the far side of the bay and remembered there were reports of tundra swans in Kingston so we went over to check it out...and success! There were five there, including one juvenile. Pretty cool...could see the yellow spots on their bills and they were "talking."
Also tried Parrot's luck in the woods. Some stuff in the bay, but too far away.

#109: Tundra Swan; Collins Bay from Lemoine's Point (Kingston); December 4, 2010

Sunday, November 21, 2010

holy smokes...2 in a row (#108)

Got in a few hours today; not sure why I wait until the sun is practically hanging over the horizon before I go out, so these pics are all in low light/backlit....i.e. not great. Anyways, it was like hawk central on Moodie (as always it seems). Saw a really nice red-tailed right beside the road that took off before I could get a good shot. Also saw this one. Not sure what it is, but it's too beautiful of a bird not to post!

Saw this little Kestrel along was just gorgeous.
 So there were reports of a Ross's Goose among a bunch of Canada Geese on Fallowfield Road. I figured why not, even though I saw all those Snow Geese yesterday. Anyways, it was definitely the only white one in this field full of Canada Geese (and a few bucks too).
However, I'm not 100% sure I can tell that's is actually a Ross's. I took a ton of pics but it was really dark at that point...this is the best one out of all I took that you can see that it could be Ross's (from the bill). It's cropped right down and I've posted at actual pixels. Well, I'll leave this one to the experts, but I guess it's a potential 108. I'll keep an eye on any more reports and wait for someone else to confirm!
UPDATE: This one is #108! With a little help and more reports of a Ross's Goose at this location, I think I'll retroactively count this!
#108: Ross's Goose; Fallowfield at Greenbank, Ottawa; November 28, 2010

east-end re-try (#106-107)

First try in the east end last weekend was unsuccessful so I tried again this weekend since I was going to the German Christmas Market. There was a flock of Snow Geese on the cover of the Citizen on Friday so I thought I'd try to catch them too. They weren't anywhere near where it reported them to be so thank god for Blackberrys..was able to find another report of them near St. Isidore. They were in a huge flock of pure white making a lot of noise. More would keep landing, and we were like, where the heck are they coming from? So we look up and there are more huge flocks of them WAY up in the sky getting ready to land. I guess they fly a lot higher up than other birds do. It was really awesome to watch them, but it was crazy windy cold and my eyes were tearing up so badly that I couldn't even tell if the focus was accurate. So I think Matt took maybe all of these pictures since he decided he wasn't leaving until he got perfect shots. 

106: Snow Goose; St. Isidore, Ontario; November 20, 2010

Think these might be Blues?

Also went out to see the Sandhill Cranes...missed them by about 300 metres last week. They were pretty close to the side of the road and make the most wicked noises (listen to them at below). There were only about 10 but supppsedly there are more like 100 around...but we didn't look for the rest of them because I was stocked enough to see these. It was sort of weird to see them in this environment (farm fields) since they look a lot like herons, which are always in marshes. Matt and I had seen some in Algonquin flyin way over head so it was good to finally see them up close and personal. You can't see them too well in this pic, but they have wicked red caps!

107: Sandhill Crane; Carlsbad Springs; November 20, 2010

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Was about to post to make excuses about why I haven't had any new birds in a month, but I was just going through the pics on my card and remembered that I saw these guys last week, but didn't take the time to look them up. My mom visited last weekend, and any poor person that visits me gets dragged out birding, like it or not. Anyways, I've been wanting to scout out the river because I've been seeing lots of birds on the bus in/home from work between Lincoln Fields and Dominion stations, but you have to set some time aside to do it since it's a long walk between the two, and there aren't many places to park if you drive.

#105: Common Goldeneye; Ottawa River; November 6, 2010
Today I tried the Hilda Road feeders--very active but nothing unexpected.

I'll make sure I get out and try to see some stuff this weekend. If nothing new, hopefully I'll at least have something to post! Hoping for a sandhill crane or a cattle egret or something?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Foxy! 104

Sorry if I've been MIA for a little while. I haven't had a ton of time to dedicate to birding, but the other day I went back to Emerald Meadows to see if the egret was still hanging around---it was, along with a couple of juvenile black-crowned night herons and a great blue. And yesterday we checked out Petrie Island and saw hardly any birds at all!

Today it was super nice so I decided to check out some familiar territory...first Sarsaparilla Trail and Jack Pine Trail. It was totally packed with a gazillion families, and all the kids with their arms stretched out to feed the chickadees.

I camped out in one spot and finally saw a fox sparrow. I've seen lots of song sparrows and wondered if I was somehow not able to tell them apart, but as soon as I saw this one I knew for sure. It looked almost red and you can't miss the grey bits on its head. Was quite pleased, since it posed nicely too!
#104: Fox Sparrow; Sarsaparilla Trail, Ottawa; October 11, 2010
There were tons of dark-eyed juncos today. Here's a pic, a  re-do from the first junco pic I took! And some nice fall colours in the background too.
Happy thanksgiving everyone!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

100 Birds in review

We celebrated the achievement of 100 birds in less than year with a bottle of bubbly on the weekend!

The stats:
It started: March 6, 2010
Projected end date: December 31, 2010
Actual end date: September 25, 2010
It took: 203 days (7 months), Over 2 months ahead of schedule

What's my next goal? 200 birds? Highest # of birds I can get in an actual year (by March 6, 2010)? Think I'll just relax and get my bird on without any more deadlines!

I'm really surprised that there are still so many common birds even right here in Ottawa that I have yet to see! I'm really looking forward to my next vacation south and to spring migration. It would be nice to make a trip to Point Pelee! I think I'm becoming one of those nuts that will travel for birds!

I guess I will need a new name for my blog now! Maybe a little revamp is in order.

Anyway, stick around, because I sure will!

Monday, September 27, 2010

I DID IT! the great one (99), the one that almost was, the one that was (100), and more (101-103)

Well, on Friday, I saw some crows as I usually do and decided it was probably time to photograph these birds to hit 99! So I did, and here ya go. I was hoping to include crows and ravens in the same post, but I guess it didn't work out that way!

#99: American Crow; Jacques Cartier Park, Gatineau; September 24, 2010

Later on in the day, we saw this beautiful hawk and there was a tentative celebration, since I really wasn't sure on the ID. I didn't feel comfortable calling this 100 in case I was wrong. But I really think it's a Broad-Winged Hawk. And then I got to thinking about hawks, and I started to doubt #31. Still unsure...but I'm well over 100 now so no worries!

Look at his pants!

There's this stormwater pond on Eagleson right in the middle of housing developments where a GBH is always hanging out. Well, we drove by the pond, and instead of a heron, saw 2 cormorants and a great egret! I thought it was a bizarre place for it, but it was much closer than the other ones I've seen at so I could get a better picture!

Then I looked over to this grate over to the side and saw the Great Blue in front of it, and in front of it, another heron....but not a Great Blue! At first I thought for sure it was a bittern, but after looking into it, I think it was actually a juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron, which was perfect since I had seen one before at Mud Lake but it was super far away.

This is it!
#100: Black-Crowned Night Heron; Eagleson at Bridgestone, September 25, 2010

I headed over to the other side of the street, and there was a little shore bird in the pond there. I was kind of amazed at all the birds in this pond off Eagleson in the middle of Kanata. I guess anything can happen during migration. Anyways, I saw this guy, and there was no looking 100 and apparently I wasn't going to get out of stopping there!!

#101: Lesser Yellowlegs; Eagleson at Bridgestone, September 25, 2010
He was doing these crazy jerky little movements and making was kind of funny so I took a video! I'll share it when I upload it.

Oh wait, geez, I guess I'm not done. Saw this one on the weekend too. I was looking for herons/bitterns/etc. in a pond when I heard an unfamiliar bird in the trees. Walked towards it not expecting to see anything. Sorry for the crap pic.

#102: Eastern Towhee; near Godfrey; September 26, 2010.

And finally...been trying to get these guys for ages. There were 6 of them eating a deer carcass on the side of the road. This silly turkey ended up costing me $10 since I forgot my lens cap on the hood of the car and drove off without it!
#103: Turkey Vulture; somewhere between Kingston and Ottawa (ha!); September 26, 2010

OK, so it might seem like I kind of glossed over a major milestone here. But don't you worry, the next post will include some pondering and reflection on a year seven months of birding.


Monday, September 20, 2010

quick after work birding (97-98)

Since I got off an hour early today, I thought I'd take advantage of the extra hour of daylight. Went to Andrew Hayden Park for something different (worked out well!) and it was GORGEOUS outside.

#97: Semipalmated Plover; Andrew Hayden Park, Ottawa; September 20, 2010
I kind of always assumed these guys were killdeer. Look closer silly girl! These are funny little birds!

#98: American Pipit; Andrew Hayden Park, Ottawa; September 20, 2010
Really didn't know what this one was and wasn't expecting to see it! I'll take it!

And here's another bird that's going to take some research (maybe too much...not sure if I'll figure this one out), but they let me get decently close so it would be shame not to post a pic.

2 more....any bets on how much longer it's going to take me?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

95 (UPDATE: and 96!)

It's been nice to finally have nice weather for the weekend and get back out to bird. Didn't have a ton of time, but found one of these guys, which I have been trying to shoot since the spring!

#95: Yellow-Rumped Warbler; Mud Lake; September 19, 2010
Also managed to get quite close to a GBH
I haven't had the timeto figure out what this one is yet, but I'll keep looking and maybe it will be 96? It was really underexposed, but I did manage to pull it out a bit and hopefully I've got enough info for an ID. I think it might be a scarlet tanager (female or male nonbreeding), but I'll have to make sure! If it is, it will be bittersweet, since I really wanted to see one but was hoping for red!
Mystery bird; Mud Lake; September 19, 2010

UPDATE: This one is indeed a Scarlet Tanager. That makes 96!

It's getting a lot harder with the sun going down so much earlier...losing birding hours fast!