Monday, May 24, 2010

ducks (64-66)

I had been holding off on posting these ducks since I was hoping for better pics, but I haven't seen these types around lately so I'm just going to go ahead and post now.

#64: Common merganser; April 2, 2010; Westport Road
Someone once described the female merganser to me as "the one with the bad haircut."
#65: Bufflehead; April 5, 2010; AI

#66: Red-breasted mergansers; April 4, 2010, Lake Ontario off Bath
I shot this, thinking they were common mergansers. Once I got it on the computer, I realized they were different. Sweet!

may two-four part iii - AI shorebirds (60-63)

Dad and I followed the eastern shore of the island. I guess I expected these guys to be be bigger, but they are so tiny, and fast. It's not until now that I realized they are all different kinds!

#60: Wilson's Phalarope; May 23, 2010; AI (KFN)
So, with this bird, the female is actually the more colourful one. So beautiful!
#61: Least Sandpiper; May 23, 2010; AI (KFN)

#62: Spotted Sandpiper; May 23, 2010; AI (KFN)
This one was sooo tricky to photograph!

#63: Black-bellied Plover; May 23, 2010; AI (KFN)
I realize that this is a crummy shot, but I only saw one of these and I think it's so cool looking, and I don't imagine I'll see another one anytime soon.
I also saw a snipe, and shot it!! (with my camera :P). Dad spotted it on a post. Unfortunately I didn't get enough info to tell if it was a common or a Wilson's, so I guess it doesn't count. Here's the pic anyway.

may two-four part ii (54-59)

#54: Barn Swallow; May 22, 2010; somewhere along County Road 10
I saw barn swallows at Bill Mason too, and yesterday on AI. Seems that I am seeing tons of them all of a sudden.

AI: Guest starring: Bonnie and her friend Sharon and Dad.
Another early morning. I headed to the island on Sunday, catching the first boat of the day (just me and one other person on it!) at 6:30 am, since Bonnie (she lives just down the road from Dad), who is helping out with a study of short-eared owls on the island, said that the best time to catch the owls aside from dusk is between 6:30 and 7:30 am. We drove along Front Road to try and spot them. I *think* I saw them but to me they were really just little brown specks off in the distance. There were also harriers flying around. Bonnie said there were around a dozen of them a little while ago but there are only a few left this time of year. I will definitely try and get there for the right time of year next time! Well, nothing was wasted since we saw lots of other birds. There was a red-tailed hawk on 40 Foot Road that was standing guard. Normally they flush when you approach, but he made it quite clear we were not welcome and stood his ground, shouting at us.
Bonnie had to leave but Dad and I spent the day stomping around the island...and we saw over 30 kinds of birds in just a few hours!

#55: Bobolink; May 23, 2010; AI
AH! This is one of those birds I didn't think I was going to see, but there were tons all over the island. How cool are they? They sound amazing too!

#56: Eastern Kingbird; May 23, 2010; AI (40 foot rd)
These guys were also all over the place, but tough to shoot. FINALLY when we were just about done for the day, one posed nicely for me!

#57: American Wigeon; May 23, 2010; AI (south shore)
Dad spotted this duck. It doesn't look exactly like in the book since it's not full plumage and the drake (hey now, look at me using bird terminology!) doesn't have the green stripe on the back of his head right now.

#58: Brant; May 23, 2010; AI (KFN property, southeast corner shore)
Well, there is a long story that goes with this one, and this bird I certainly did not expect to see. Brant don't live here and only migrate through, and they are a rare sight. This Brant was sitting on the shore alone, and didn't even try to move as we approached. I guess it was injured because I got even closer and it just made this really sad sound. I ran all the way to the car and back (got birdwatching and a run in all before 9 am....that's a first) to get my cell phone and try and figure out who the heck to call. I called Bonnie, and got some other numbers to call. We decided to move on, and left some messages a few places in the meantime. I got a call back from a serious birder on the island, Janet, and someone from KFN. I was mentally preparing and trying to figure out how I was going to catch a wild goose without a towel/box/gloves/anything, carry it a few km to the car, put it in the back, ferry it for half an hour and drive it the Sandy Pines Wildlife Centre in Napanee. Well, we headed back to where it was about an hour later, and we couldn't find it. We asked some of the few birders we saw that day and they said that it had flown off when they approached. So, I'm pretty sure it was injured (so strange that it was not with its flock and sitting that way), but there wasn't much I could do. I hope it's ok :( Gawd, I'm such a softie; I understand the survival of the fittest thing, but not much kills me more than injured animals. I guess that's why I'm vegetarian. Anyways, here it is. Please say a little prayer to the goose gods!

#59; Purple Martin; May 23, 2010; AI (KFN)
There are a whole bunch of purple martins in purple martin houses at the KFN property.
When we got back to my dad's, there was a giant pileated woodpecker, and it was so handsome. I miss that little island....wish I could just spend forever on there!
Next post (coming shortly) will be shorebirds from the island, but it's so nice out I'm going to bike to Shirley's Bay and see what's around there. And I have a few assignments to work on for my photo class tomorrow. Sigh. Back in a bit.

may two-four part i (49-53)

On Saturday morning I met up with another nature enthusiast/photographer and we hit Bill Mason (3rd time's a charm for me I guess). It was a pretty quiet morning, and I thought we'd see more given the hour we were there at (first time I ever birded before 10 I think!). Anyways, we got pretty lucky and saw a few very sneaky birds!

#49: Virginia Rail; May 22, 2010; Bill Mason Centre
I was totally not expecting to see this one, although I knew they were there. We didn't spot it for forever, but once it got comfortable with us, it stayed around for quite a bit, while still staying super skittish. (I think he's looking right at me in this shot) Cool!

#50: Sora; May 22, 2010; Bill Mason Centre
OH hey, did you happen to notice I'm HALFWAY?!?! Well before the halfway point of the year...booyah!!
This one we could hear but we couldn't seem to find anywhere...finally I saw him scuttle across the boardwalk right in front of us! He didn't stay long.....long enough to quickly get a grainy, blurry shot though!

All morning we had been hearing this "ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh" sound, kind of like a ghost, and couldn't seem to find it anywhere because it seemed like it was moving. Finally we realized it was flying around above our heads. I thought it was a snipe but did some more research...turns out it was male snipes courting mates. Anyways...never got a shot of that one, because they weren't in the place I had seen them before. Does this mean I have to go back AGAIN?

#51: American Goldfinch; May 22, 2010; Bill Mason Centre
If you read my last post, you will know that I've been trying to get a decent shot of a goldfinch for ages. Still not the best, but not too bad. The female and the male were hanging out...I did get a few shots of them together as well. Pretty birds...they look almost tropical since they are so bright!

#52: Swamp Sparrow; May 22, 2010; Bill Mason
Yet another in a seemingly endless list of different kinds of sparrows. I think this is maybe 7th type of sparrow I've spotted....and there are more I've yet to see.

#53: Osprey; May 22, 2010; Riddell Road
Woot! I had been to the osprey nest twice, three times on Thomas A. Dolan with no success. I was tipped off as to the location of another nest and they were there. I think maybe I got a bit too close as one left the nest and started making that osprey sound and another started circling over my head....not making any sound or anything, but definitely watching me closely. We got out of there and left them alone...but awesome birds. My dad had one that lived close to his place and we would watch it fish over the bay. It would hover for a bit and then...wham! dive straight down feet first and come up with a fish. Wicked cool. I actually saw another osprey nest by accident the same day driving to Kingston on CR 10---I stopped to look at something else and I didn't realize I parked my car right underneath an osprey nest. When I came back they seemed a little peeved! Those ones weren't on a nesting platform like the ones on Riddell...they had actually made one on a giant tree, which was cool. And, yesterday I saw ANOTHER osprey on AI. It had made a nest in a light post in the schoolyard. So I saw 5 osprey on the weekend. All or nothing!

Well, I've got lots more to post...I had a wicked past few days.

Friday, May 21, 2010

the birds that continue to elude me...

This post is dedicated to birds that I really have no excuse for not having shots of by now....

Quite some time ago, shortly after this all started out, I bought a finch feeder after observing a whole bunch of them in a backyard close to mine. Much to my dismay, this feeder sat unattended for a very long time, with all the birds clearly preferring the "yummier stuff" in the other feeder (you know, the black, more expensive, makes a huge mess, gets eaten in .2 seconds by squirrels and grackles stuff). Well, I got a little lazy and stopped refilling the yummy stuff. I had a little song sparrow and some chickadees that started to visit the finch feeder occassionally. Still, I haven't had to refill it since I bought it. But, today, FINALLY! I got my first finch! Woot! But, wrong lens in the camera, memory card plugged into the computer upstairs--didn't get my shot as he was gone by the time I was ready. At least, I think now one has found it so he should be back, now that the lilac tree has filled out enough to block my view of it. So I've seen these guys all around lots, and now in my very own yard, but am still waiting for the (good) shot.

I've also seen quite a few Great Blue Herons (GBHs), but they have all flown off, or I've been in on the bus or something. Hopefully later in the summer I will have more luck with them. I have tons of pics of these suckers from previous years, but that doesn't count!

There's a peregrine falcon that is often on the building across from my work. It's not always around, and the glass is not very clear (despite the window-washing that seems to be going on all the time), and you can't see if from my floor so I have to do this complicated dance to get up to the higher floors since the elevator doesn't go there from where I work. Anyways, despite a much appreciated team effort, I'm still waiting for the money shot (although Sandy took a passable one for me...thanks!). On Thursday night while I was walking downtown I thought I saw it on the top of the roof....I ran into work, grabbed my camera, my tripod, did the dance up to the 23rd...and found none other than...a satellite dish.

Turkey vultures: If the darn things would ever come down to the ground, I might get a shot!

American Crow: I just haven't even bothered.

Alrighty folks, I suppose part of this weekend will be relentlessly pursuing all of the above and more! Hopefully by Tuesday I will have hit 50 :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

weekend briding....part 2 ( close to halfway!)

After my field trip on Wednesday with the OFNC, I was hoping to do another on Sunday at Mud Lake to catch migrators. Well, getting there for 7 am was feeling a little impossible at 6 I skipped out and went by myself later 11! I was only there for an hour and then I had to leave for dragonboating practice, but there was so much going on that I had to head back and put in a few more hours. I ended up leaving at 7:30 pm. Anyways, lots going on, and there are a few pics I'm holding back either because I'm not 100% sure of the ID (vireos of some sort) and a few pics that are just too fuzzy for me (great-crested flycatcher and yellow-rumped warbler). Also saw a bunch of cedar waxwings, a hummingbird (!) that I wasn't able to photograph because I didn't catch it on time, and a black-crowned nightheron way way off in the distance.

#45: Baltimore Oriole; May 16, 2010; Mud Lake beautiful right?
#46: Northern Flicker, May 16, 2010; Mud Lake
I have lots of flickers but they are soooo hard to photograph. This one was hanging out a nesting cavity in this tree. I was just about to leave and wouldn't have even seen it if it hadn't been for another photographer that had his gear set up pointing at it.

#47: Gray Catbird: May 16, 2010; Mud Lake
This bird was in the field part of the Mud Lake area. I almost walked by but he kept making these crazy calls, so I knew it was a bird I hadn't seen and I decided to set up and wait for him.
So close to's driving me nuts!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

weekend birding, part 1 (#41-44)

On Wednesday I got my OFNC membership in the mail, and I was so happy because that meant I could finally go on a field trip! That night there was a field trip to the Bill Mason Centre in Dunrobin. It was incredible the knowledge that some people had. They would just hear a bird and know immediately what it was. Ok, I will admit that there wasn't much representation from my age group, but I think it's good to start young while your senses are their best! Plus, I'm sure if I wait till I'm that old, most of the species I could have seen will be extinct or endangered....which is sad, but I believe true.

So, on the excursion we saw yellow warbler, snipes (most likely), barn swallows, a Baltimore oriole, a female rose-breasted grosbeak, Purple finch, and American Goldfinch. We also heard (so they tell me) Virginia Rail, Sora, and Wood Thrush. Not bad!

Anyways, I was dying to go back the next day and shoot the stuff we missed. Ended up seeing even more than on the trip because we took our time. Matt came along even though he was dying with strep throat and sat in the car most of the time...poor guy! Couldn't get the snipe (way too sneaky), but came away with a few pics acceptable enough for the blog (except the finch, which is definitely not my best work)!

#41: Rose-breasted Grosbeak (male); May 15, 2010; Bill Mason Centre, Dunrobin
We saw a pretty lady rose-breasted grosbeak the first time we went to Bill Mason Centre.

#42: White-crowned Sparrow; May 15, 2010; Bill Mason Centre, Dunrobin
Hello! How cool am I?

#43: Yellow Warbler; May 15, 2010; Bill Mason Centre, Dunrobin

#44: Purple finch; May 15, 2010; Bill Mason Centre, Dunrobin
The purple finch looks kind of similar to the house finch which was in an earlier post. The hous finch is like this guy's urban cousin. The purple finch is red all over, but the house finch only has isolated red parts.

I still have more birds to post from today, but I'm going to need to figure a few of them out first!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

looking for tulips....finding birds (#40!)

Well, doesn't it always happen that when you aren't looking something, you find it? So I was at the tulip festival, all set up to shoot flowers, and all of a sudden this new bird just pops up. So, wrong lens on, of course. Anyways, I managed to get her, and it took me a little while to figure this one out (how do you go about finding a bird that is just brown, with hardly any markings at all?). It's a female brown-headed cowbird. If you are interested in seeing what the male looks like (quite a grackle but with the colours reversed), look here.

On another note, I hit a nice even number....40!

#40: Brown-headed Cowbird; May 10, 2010; Dow's Lake

So, today I got to thinking of random things like I usually do, and I wondered, if you had to choose between

-opposable thumbs,

-wings, or

- fins + the ability to breathe underwater,

what would you choose?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

and another sparrow (#39)

another sparrow to add to the list....
You might say, "Hey Jenna, this guy looks a lot like the last guy, with the yellow eyebrows." Well, you would be right. Sparrows are a pain in the butt to distinguish. But anyways, you will see that they do look different.

#39: Savannah Sparrow; May 1, 2010; Corkstown Road (near Moodie)
Also saw the largest turtle I think I have ever seen in my life at Mud Lake....its shell was easily 12-14 inches long.
I got thoroughly soaked on my bike on the way home. But I was +1 for birds for the day so that's ok.