Tuesday, April 26, 2011

island adventures (131-133) long weekend

Easter took us to Kingston, and of course I jump at any opportunity to bird the island these days.
I promised my dad I would catch the 8:30 boat, but the 7:30 alarm hit me like a sack of potatoes. I really just wanted to stay in that blissful state of lying in bed and dreaming of wonderful things (including but not limited to birds). I dunno, maybe I should rename this blog "the afternoon birder" or something because I just hate getting up early (the other option was "the naked birdwatcher," a la jamie oliver*). Well, I always keep my word, so off to the ferry it was. There was a common loon a ways out from the ferry docks, and a great blue heron cruising over the water along Bath Road on the way there.

*Side note: No lie, Jamie Oliver named his kids Poppy Honey Rosie Oliver, Daisy Boo Pamela Oliver, Petal Blossom Rainbow Oliver and Buddy Bear Maurice Oliver.*

So, right off the bat, we get off the boat and it's bird overload (joking! we all know bird overload isn't possible, unless we're talking starlings). I'm beginning to think maybe it really is worth getting up earlier because it did seem much more active than usual. But I would only get up early for the next little while because once the sun starts rising ridiculously early, you can fuhgetaboutit.

The intention was to head to dad's, but right on the 40-foot there was a little birdie singing away close to the road. I had my hopes up for an eastern meadowlark because I know there are lots on the island and I've somehow managed to miss them up until this point. Not a meadowlark, but a bird with some yellow...Savannah Sparrow. Saw lots of these throughout the day.

From there, we noticed across the field two osprey nesting at the school, so turned around to get to Front Road. How they are okay with a yard full of screaming kids is beyond me...!!!
There were also lots of swallows flitting about and I found these neat nests built into the school wall/roof.

AND THEN....dun dun dun dun....I saw something, something a little different, something with a flash of yellow....I followed it to where it went, but darn, it was so far off. Looked through the mini-bins that mom gave me for my birthday (thanks mom!) and YES! I caught sight of his yellow belly and black bib. But so far away....

So at this point I was really having a hard time with a birding dilemma...being that I hate to stop when the going is so good, but I knew that dad was missing out on this wonderful adventure and would be wondering how I managed to stretch a 10-minute drive into an hour on a 4 km-wide island. So we slowly tried to at least head in the right direction.

HOWEVER, next thing we know, there is this wicked fox running in the field, so of course Mr. Pursue The Animals At All Costs What Do You Mean It's Private Property Adventure Man in the driver's seat sets off to pursue it...while Ms. Leave the Poor Wildlife Alone yells in the passenger seat "Leave the poor thing alone!!" Well, this fox goes from the field to the road and is just running down the road--whether away from us or in pursuit of something I'm not sure. Then, there's a flash of white above it, and we realize there is a very interesting episode of Hey-that-fox-is-chasing-a-hawk-isn't-he-silly-wait-maybe-that-hawk-is-hunting-that-fox-but-actually-maybe-they-are-chasing-not-after-each-other-but-something-else-entirely-like-perhaps-a-juicy-mouse? Well, it was all very entertaining until finally Mr. Fox took off out of sight and we left him alone much to Ms. Leave the Poor Wildlife Alone's content.

Further up the forty footer (btw, where the heck they came up with that name is beyond me; the last time I checked 4km 40ft), a hawk was cruising along the road...Adventure Man just kept driving at the same speed as the raptor and it really felt like we were shooting an action movie...me hanging out the window trying to keep that sucker of a camera in focus and Mr. Stunt Driver trying to stay on the road. To be honest, I hate shooting in a moving vehicle and kept shouting STOP!!! But I can't say I'm not pleased with the results....and Mr. Hawk did his part to make the action film analogy work by catching a nice tasty something in the field as this all went down. No big deal...he likes an audience.

Finally we arrive at dad's and witnessed a brown creeper while eating breakfast. Funny, I've had such a hard time finding them but saw 4 this weekend: one at Mud Lake on Friday, one on the island and 2 (ok, the same one twice) at Mary's. And yet I didn't get a photo of any of them!

So, we decide to take the silver bullet (ford focus wagon) instead of dad's red dragon (chrysler minivan), despite the bullet being packed to the hilt with stuff, since going in the van means (for me) sitting on the floor with no seatbelt and barreling along with the doors open on both sides so I can get full views of everything. So we set to re-organizing the whole car and are finally on our way.

What do you know, not too far up the South Shore, a meadowlark is sitting on a wire.  I didn't expect this, but from a distance you could easily confuse it with a mourning dove (about that size, and the way it sits). So this is how I spent a good part of the day: Spot meadowlark, pull up as far as possible with caution, exit vehicle, approach, get just within a fair shooting distance and watch bird fly off before focusing/ensuring accurate height on monopod/pushing shutter button, REPEAT.

Let me take a moment now to tell you about a little thing that all islanders lament. Since plunging into the wild world of birding, dad has been much more observant of birds/birdwatchers on the island. He and the other islanders have expressed their frustration that visiting birdwatchers on Amherst
  1. stop in the middle of the road
  2. get out of their cars while their car is in the middle of the road
  3. are nowhere to be found (are traipsing through fields) while their car is in the middle of the road and they have taken their keys with them.
On a more serious note, I should mention that I heard some rumours about the owl woods and they are not good...

Across from the farm at the bottom of the 40-foot, there is a little pond and I noticed some small ducks. Blue-winged teals! They are so beautiful. Oh, and that's a LIFER!

#131: Blue-winged Teal; Amherst Island, April 25, 2011.
Right beside that pond there was bird that looked kind of like a robin, so I tried to get a better look. It was very quiet, and being very sneaky, but I did get a good enough look to tell that it was a Hermit Thrush. Lifer!
#132: Hermit Thrush; Amherst Island, April 25, 2011.

Then, I finally got a meadowlark. Facing the wrong way. Hey, another lifer!
#133: Eastern Meadowlark; Amherst Island; April 25, 2011.

Ok, I'm a little peeved that blogger will only give me 200 characters in the tags. So, I'm going to split this entry in two to get them all in...meet me after the jump!


dwaynejava said...

Great posting Jenna. I need to drink coffee if I ever re-read this though :-). Its exciting to rack up these lifers!

I am guilty of stopping in the middle of the road... I've done it once or twice.

Funkysandman said...

holy smokes, great post! I'll have to visit AI again. what was that hawk? what's the rumours?