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 back....at 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 noises...it 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!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

gullible me (94)

Didn't really have a chance to get much birding in this weekend. The only free time I had was on Sunday and it was raining, so this is all I got. 

There were tons of gulls in farmers' fields on the way home. Usually there aren't any that stick out but today there was. In a huge flock of gulls at the corner of Eagleson and Fallowfield, there were a few that weren't quite like the others....actually, once you picked them out, they stood out like sore thumbs.

So gulls are tricky too...spent quite a while looking at colours, wing colour patterns, bill/feet/eye colours, range maps, etc.!

94: Great Black-Backed Gull; Field at Eagleson/Fallowfield, Ontario; September 12, 2010

Also saw a Lesser Black-Backed Gull (I'm pretty sure...but didn't quite get the camera ready in time before it flew off and didn't come back.

Friday, September 10, 2010

on my way with wandering warblers! (90-93)

The bird frenzy continues in the yard. Yesterday I spotted chickadees, american goldfinches, song sparrows, blue jays, cardinals, hummingbirds, flycatchers, crows, black-throated green warblers, gulls (overhead), some birds that I couldn't figure out what they were (either sparrows or grosbeaks, which I know sounds ridiculous, but anyway...), PLUS the following. All without stepping foot outside the house. Wheeee!!

I know these shots are lousy...my house backs onto a public park  and the birds were a bit too far for my 300 mm (I shot from the living room...just call me the lazy birder; in general I am not like this but I have a nasty cold so I took it easy and could kind of keep an eye on the situation throughout the day from the couch!). These are cropped right in. Hmmm...wouldn't it be nice to rent a 600 mm for the weekend? Anyways, I'm so close to 100 that I have my eyes on the prize and I'm not looking back. There's always time to get better shots later! And trust me, I really would love to spend $2000-8000 on a lens, really, I would.

Some of these IDs were tough. First of all, they're all yellow! It's crazy how many variations of yellow birds there are. I think back to my pre-bird nerd years. I would have said, "Hey, there's a yellow bird." Now my friends who know about my birding craze say, "Hey, I saw a really cool duck and thought of you." And I say "Duck? What did it look like? Where was it? What colour was it? What markings did it have? What colour was its bill?" And they look at me like I'm nuts, which I kind of am.

I spent a long time studying the pics in my bird book carefully to pin the features of each one of these birds. Secondly, they're in non-breeding plumage now, so they don't even really look like the typical pictures of each bird. The Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's website was really helpful in its descriptions and photos of non-breeding plumage.

 90: Nashville Warbler; Kanata; September 9, 2010
Well, you kind of wonder why this called the Nashville Warbler. Does it looks like he likes country to you?

91: Northern Parula; Kanata; September 9, 2010

92: Chestnut-sided warbler (non-breeding); Kanata; September 9, 2010

93: Magnolia Warbler (non-breeding); Kanata; September 9, 2010
NB: Maybe the only bird that Wilson named NOT after himself.

It's interesting because these are all birds that I can see from my house in the park but that will not cross the invisible line of my yard (ok, not so invisible: there is a gate and a hedge). So there is a pretty limited number of birds I see in my backyard proper, but always new ones just on the other side of the hedge. Strange, right?

On another note, the hummers are still around, are coming in droves in fact. It's like they came out of nowhere and they're there throughout the days, sometimes 3 at a time (chasing each other away of course...territorial little buggers!). A few times they came up to the window and stared at me at eye level right through the glass. Finally I figured out they wanted to get to the tropical plant I had in front of me (here I was thinking they were attracted to my pretty face! Paf!) They are so great, they are like part bird, part insect, part fairy tale, part awesome.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

backyard birdfest....with hummers! (88-89)

This weekend would have been great for birding, but I was busy fulfilling briesmaid duties. So I was very lucky that I got to telework from home today to see what I was missing!

As soon as the weather warmed up this year, I thought I'd give my hummingbird feeder another go. I'd never had any luck before with it, and this spring was no different. I reluctantly took it back to the garage, until a few weeks ago, I saw a hummingbird zip by the window. I got it back out of the garage and filled it, and still no luck. One day last week, I saw another h-bird in the yard, and it was insistent on getting to the finch feeder, even though the hummingbird feeder was just on the other side of the yard waiting for it! The flowers were faded on it though and I think it liked the bright yellow of the finch feeder ports. At one point it even put its bill into one of the ports...what a disaster! I felt terrible. Matt ran out to the store to get a new feeder that we thought would be more attractive. I was gone for the weekend, and I guess that gave them plenty of time to find it, because today there were hummers chasing each other around just outside the yard, and hummers were visiting steadily throughout the day! Super exciting! Ruby-throats are the only hummingbirds in these parts. None of them actually had a ruby throat. (All females I guess? Where are the males?)

#88: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird; my backyard in Kanata; September 7, 2010

Find the hummer!
Check out those iridescent wings!

Birds were seriously buzzing around all over the place in that little park behind my place. Here's another one!
#89: Black-Throated Green Warbler; Cattail Creek Park; September 7, 2010

Finally, we put the sunflower feeder out again to attract some new stuff. I know we see Blue Jays every day, but seriously....how beautiful are these birds?

There were some firsts in the yard today. Matt saw a Northern Parula and American Redstarts from the window. I hope they'll stick around so I can see them too!