Wednesday, March 31, 2010

OMG! ID#22

Such a happy girl right now! Birdwatching is such a funny can be so busy looking for one thing (unsucessfully) that you can't see something else that's plain as day and right in front of you.

I had been really hoping I would encounter these beauties but never imagined that it would be in my own backard! (ok, my extended backyard, since my backyard is only 18x20, but it backs onto a huge, amazing park!). I hardly noticed them since NONE of them were moving (maybe they were sleeping?) and they were kind of hidden in with these clumps of berries. The weird thing is that they were not even remotely fazed by me....I was practically standing right underneath them (they were at the very top of the tree). I saw at least 16 of them. After this spotting, I also picked up a new lens that should help me out getting closer shots, and that also makes me very happy. YAY! What a great day. :)

ID#22: Cedar Waxwing; March 31, 2010 (6 pm); Cattail Creek Park in Kanata

Since my pics aren't great, find more info about this bird here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

lots of birds, no photos

This week I have spotted quite a few birds that could have made the list, but I didn't get photos (or at least decent ones...those darn birds, either too fast, too far or too sneaky!). Aside from the backyard regulars (a pair of cardinals, mourning doves, dark-eyed juncos, song sparrows, a blue jay, black-capped chickadees, grackles), birds I have spotted this week are common mergansers, hooded mergansers (maybe?), goldeneyes (maybe?), starlings (how did I not even get a picture of a starling?!), a peregrine falcon that nests on the roof of the building next to the one where I work, and 2 hawks (one on Moodie, one just east of the Split on the 417, of all places). And more yellow ones, singing to their heart's content way way way way at the top of trees in the park behind my house. Anyways, that's the latest. Hoping I have a little more luck getting the shots this week!

The closest I got to getting a decent shot of a bird this week:

Monday, March 22, 2010

a couple of sparrows (IDs 20-21)

ID#20: Song Sparrow; March 21, 2010; my backyard (Kanata)

ID#21: House Sparrow; March 22, 2010; Sparks Street, Ottawa

Saturday, March 20, 2010

IDs 14-19

This weekend I tried out a new place to go birdwatching: Mud Lake in Ottawa. I have no idea how I have lived in Ottawa for 6 years and not known about this place. It is a small conservation area right in the city.

I was lucky enough to spot a hawk of some kind, but I wasn't able to figure out what it was. I am guessing either a Cooper's Hawk or a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. If anyone reading this knows hawks, have a look here and let me know if you can help me out.

Sometimes it's really hard to identify a bird, even when you have a decently clear picture and the bird doesn't fly off so you can have a good luck at it. I had to call my dad to confirm this one, even though I was almost certain what it was (hey...gotta be sure, right?) However, it is a little frustrating when a bird is totally new to you, and you think you have found some rarity, and the OFNC website tells you that it's "Common to Abundant."
ID#14: American Black Duck (male:right, female:left); March 19, 2010; Mud Lake, Ottawa

If you are new to birding like me, you would probably also be surprised to realize that there are actually many different kinds of seagulls. This one is pretty much the most common here, and the only one I've spotted so far.
ID#15: Ring-billed Gulls; March 20, 2010; Andrew Hayden Park, Ottawa

While walking around Mud Lake, we spotted a Red-winged blackbird and frantically started taking pictures (they just showed up this week). He finally flew off, but then we realized we were completely surrounded by them!
ID#16: Red-Winged blackbird; March 19, 2010; Mud Lake, Ottawa

It wasn't too hard to get a shot of one these....
ID#17: Rock Pigeon; March 20, 2010; Ottawa River Parkway

How can I not include my unofficial national bird? The Canada Goose is making its way back home, ready to spread its little treats all over our lawns.
ID#18: Canada Goose; March 20, 2010; Mud Lake, Ottawa

You know it's spring for sure when the robins show up. I've been seeing them around for a few days now, but finally got close enough for a decent picture today (actually Matt took this one!). Next time I'll try to get a shot of him with a nice juicy worm!
ID#19: American Robin; March 20, 2010; Kanata

That's it for now. Let's hope for another productive week of birding!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

the problem with birds …. (IDs 12-13)

is that they can fly and I cannot. So just as I crawl into the middle of a bunch of bushes to get closer to a Blue Jay, it flies to the other side of the creek. They also like to crawl all the way to the top of trees, far away from the reach of my zoom. This makes my life very difficult!

Well, I did warn you that I’m a beginner. Remember I said I heard an owl the other day? Yeah…the reason I didn’t find it is because, as I learned today, mourning doves make calls that sound pretty much exactly like owls. OK, so this is definitely an educational experience!

And indeed it is. This morning a new bird showed up in the backyard. It was mostly black, and looks all black from a distance, but up close, its head is a brilliant and quite an impressive blue. And, I never actually knew what these birds were. It took me quite a while trying to find it in my 512-page bird book (since my neighbours all hate this bird, I looked under all the headings of “annoying” birds…crows, starlings, etc.) until finally I found him…the Common Grackle. For me, I was not so annoyed: one more ID down!

ID#12: Common Grackle; March 17, 2010; my backyard (Kanata)

So it seems like the park became infested with Common Grackles overnight. It’s bizarre how quickly the bird scene changes.

Today was teleworking day which means I got to watch birds all day from my living room, and roam out in the park at lunch. A great day for my count. I figure with the time I have left this year, I need to average one ID every 3 days. And I had 2 new IDs today (okay, very common birds, so what?). Ya!

ID#13: Mallard duck; March 17, 2010; Cattail Creek Park, Kanata

I saw a few other new birds today (lots of pretty yellow ones!), but no pictures good enough to ID them for sure. I’ll be out again tomorrow to find them!

P.S. Thank god for rain boots.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

So? Let's get started! IDs 1-11

So, this all started on March 3, and here is what I have seen since then. I figure the first birds are easy, as I get the common ones under my belt.

ID#1: Wild Turkeys; March 7, 2010; near Carp

ID#2: White-breasted nuthatch; Mar 6, 2010; Sarsaparilla Trail, Ottawa

ID#3: Red-breasted nuthatch; March 6, 2010; Sarsaparilla trail, Ottawa

ID#4: Two Northern Cardinals; March 10, 2010; my backyard (Kanata)


ID#5: Pileated woodpecker; March 6, 2010; Kanata

ID#6: Hairy Woodpecker; March 6, 2010; Sarsaparilla Trail, Ottawa

ID#7: Downy Woodpecker; March 7, 2010; Kanata

ID#8: Mourning Dove; March 3, 2010; my backyard (Kanata)

ID#9: Dark-eyed Junco (I think?); March 3, 2010; my backyard (Kanata)

ID#10: Blue Jay; March 7, 2010; Jack Pine Trail, Ottawa

ID#11: Black-capped Chickadee; March 6, 2010; Sarsaparilla Trail, Ottawa

The last few days I've been wandering around my neighbourhood looking for more birds. So far, I've only seen more of the ones I've seen so far, and ones that are too far away to ID (for example, a reddish one that I don't think was a cardinal, what could have been 2 robins). Then there's the crows...and some birds I think are sparrow. I've also heard an owl 2 days in a row but he is very good at hiding! Also today, a few red-winged blackbirds on Moodie Drive from the bus, some Canada geese migrating and some ducks. Guess they'll have to wait tough until I can get my shots!

100 Birds in a Year

Well, if you weren't already aware before, let it now be made public how much of a nerd I am.

A couple of weeks ago, I got the bird-watching bug. I always loved birds, but it wasn't until just recently I realized this wonderful, diverse world I had been completely ignorant of.

Today I had an idea, and I'm getting a late start. I've decided to try and find different 100 different types of birds by the end of the year. I have made a couple of criteria for this challenge:

1. All birds must be seen in their natural habitat

2. all birds that count must be photographed. The photo is my proof, and it's a way to incorporate one of my other hobbies: photography. The photo doesn't have to be superb, but the bird needs to be identifiable.

3. all birds must be spotted in 2010.

Every bird I sight will be included...the good, the bad and the ugly...all from the majestic to the downright ugly.

Birding is still pretty new to me so anyone who is familiar can feel free to correct me if I make any incorrect identifications. You can also help me out by giving me tips! Being a true beginner, I'm not even sure if this 100 number is realistic or not, but I'm going to go for it!

I've been wandering around my neighbourhood all week with a giant camera in my hand and my head to the sky. My neighbours must think I am crazy as a loon (ahem...sorry).