Saturday, January 22, 2011

#121 - frigid field trip

alright, headed out to the OFO field trip this morning and was shivering pretty much the whole time. I don't know if it was the sleeping for only 5 hours, or the -20 temperature, or maybe I needed to wear a THIRD pair pants and my battery-operated socks? (for real...get yer own at CT, but warning: they take giant double D batteries. and no, I don't know if that is a real battery size, I must be thinking in bra terms)

So, after completely losing the group, we finally found some interesting birds. Sandy and I saw a guy pulled over on the road and realized he was looking at a whole bunch of horned larks. Score! They were hilarious to watch...they had dug these little holes in the snow where they had presumably found something good to munch on...but they were kind of hoarding these little holes, and every once in a while another one would come scooping in and shoo one out of his little hole. And they would eat and pop their little knoggins out every few seconds as if to say, "hey, i'm watching you...get your own hole!"

#121: Horned Lark; Kinburn Side Road, Kinburn/Antrim; January 22, 2011.

these horns are darn cute but they were actually really hard to discern when you're watching them. (ok, just read in my trusty field guide that the females have no or reduced horns. noted!)
outta here!

So I'm really happy to get a new bird this weekend. The question now is do I brave a wind chill warning for tomorrow of -35/-40 to find some lapland longspurs/gray partridge? might have to find those socks....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

#120 - i can barely keep up with myself

I really wasn't expecting to have so much to post this winter, and certainly not any new birds. I don't really know what's going on...I feel like I'm posting all the time!
I worked on Friday while Matt got to scamper around the island, and I'm a leeetle bit jealous that he saw a ring-necked pheasant. Ok, now that's a pretty bird!
Saturday the weather was terrible and we didn't really think the birding would be any good but the tripod was with dad so we went to pick it up. We went to the owl woods, but only as far as the feeders since I was feeling pretty satisfied with the owls I'd seen there...and because the weather was terrible. Still a few interesting things...
Firstly, this one chickadee that had been there the last time. Something weird is going on with its feathers. Anybody know what's going on? Is it just immature? Or molting? Or sick?

Also saw a white-throated sparrow (immature). Haven't seen one of those in a while!
Finally, we started to head back and that's when I noticed that a red-bellied woodpecker had come to the feeders too. This was a real treat for me a) because it's a new one and b) because they don't generally come as far north as my normal stomping grounds. It flew off, but I found it again, and got a less-than-stellar shot, but I'm good with that!
#120: Red-bellied woodpecker; Amherst Island, Ontario; December 15, 2010.

Today I went for a ski and actually (gasp!) risked it and left my camera at home. In the end, it was ok because I didn't see anything and I didn't have to haul it around for nothing (except I missed lots of pretty snowy scenes)!

I decided to go through some old pics from trips and stuff before this whole thing started. This may be my unrelenting wanderlust exerting itself I'm trying to get my travel fix by going through old trip photos or something. Obviously I wasn't really into birds at the time, but it's pretty obvious that I took pictures of things that looked unfamiliar or unusual or cute, so I've found quite a lot. Anyway, I've got this little collection of birds that I didn't even realize I'd's actually really interesting for me!

Identifying them is a little bit of a challenge...since almost none of them are in my North American bird guide. So far I've been using, but I don't like it as much as some of the North American sites. I don't know, is retroactive bird counting frowned upon? I'll dedicate a post to them in the near future...some of them are pretty cool!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Another round of Amherst owls #118-119

Matt and I made a last-minute decision to make a run over to the Island late yesterday afternoon since we had to be in Kingston. It was nice and quiet over there, and we made it just about an hour before dusk. Saw one long-eared close the feeders.

#118: Long-eared Owl; Amherst Island; January 13, 2011

Saw two saw-whets as well. such precious little things...they were both sleeping, and I could see their little bodies breathing. they were very very sweet and I kind of fell in love all over again after the bohemians.

#119: Northern Saw-Whet Owl; Amherst Island; January 13, 2011

Only one other birder that we saw in the woods...I later saw in the ferry line-up that he had a Kanata license cover. 
Apparently there was a harlequin off the south shore. I didn't realize until we got back to the mainland.  I called dad to let him know and he's going to see if he can find it.

On the way out, we fed the chickadees for a  bit. They had a feast like I've never seen before. Sometimes I had 4 on my hands at a time! I took a video so maybe I'll post it sometime.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

I think I'm in love... #117

Headed to Hilda again today around noon. Was it ever busy! The birds didn't seem to mind at all. I was boggled by the monetary value of the photographic equipment around me in such a small area!
Much the same spread of birds as yesterday, with the addition of blue jays and at least one downy.

I really wanted to see more redpolls, firstly because they are so cute, and secondly, because reading about the difference between commons and hoaries had me so confused and I needed a better look. I thought I did have a potential for a hoary in my pictures from yesterday. Anyways, it's still as clear as muck, but I did at least get a male common today, along with some friends:

While I am still confused, I am definitely starting to appreciate the finer skills of birding. For example, this has forced me to figure out what the heck "undertail coverts" and "scapulars" and "primaries" mean.

I left to ski for an hour and came glad...there was only one birder left and a HUGE FLOCK OF BOHEMIANS! Did I not just mention yesterday how badly I wanted to see them? Ok, what a treat!!! I've been waiting for this day for a long time. I can die happy now.

#117: Bohemian waxwing; Hilda Road feeders; January 9, 2011
gorgeous and knows it.

So they aren't camera-shy, and they were still hanging out when I left half an hour later. I would say there were 30-40 at the very least. I noticed that some don't have any of the orange or yellow "wax" yet on their wings. Apparently these markings increase with age.

 Eating snow...getting some fluids!

Which brings me to a terminological issue. As it turns out I have been using "immature" and "juvenile" rather loosely (uh, as synonyms), and my bird book informs me that they mean two different things.
juvenile = bird that has the plumage in which it fledges
immature = a bird that is no longer in its fledged plumage but does not yet have adult plumage
So I'll be a little more careful with that from now on! Never stop learning with this hobby!
Matt got the money shot.

I got a little worried, thinking I might not have any new birds for a while now, since I've now seen most of the winter birds on my radar  But I checked the Ottawa checklist and there is definitely more out there. It won't be easy, but this is what I'll be keeping an eye out for over the rest of the winter: gray partridge, horned larks, lapland longspurs, black-backed woodpeckers, pine siskins, evening grosbeaks, pine grosbeaks, red-crossbills, white-winged crossbills, and owls, owls, owls. Well, that should keep me busy!

As for the software question I posed yesterday, as it turns out, if you submit your observations to, it will generate a variety of lists for you. I'm not totally sure that this is what I want, but I think I'll at least give it a try.

Ok, ending off an a funny note. I'm sure some of you have seen this. I've included the ones that made me smile the most.

You might be a birder if...
You might be a birder if someone yells "duck!" and you shout "where?"
You might be a birder if your vacations are planned to maximize your lifers.
You might be a birder if your neck hurts except when you're looking up.
You might be a birder if there are days when getting up at 4:30 a.m. is something you’ve looked forward to.
You might be a birder if more than half your male friends have beards.
You might be a birder if for you the "tele" is silent in telescope, despite what your dictionary says.
You might be a birder if you understand why you need to see some warblers today even though you saw 31 different kinds of them yesterday.
You might be a birder if you criticize television programs and commercials that depict a bald eagle but play a red-tailed hawk call.
You might be a birder if your spouse says, “It's either me or the birds,” and you have to think about it.
You might be a birder if preparing for trips to visit out-of-state relatives involves contacting local birders, securing local bird lists, and buying the appropriate guide.
You might be a birder if you don’t blush when you say Bushtit or Woodcock.
You might be a birder if your friends have tennis elbow, but you have warbler neck.
You might be a birder if your binoculars/camera cost more than your car.
You might be a birder if you buy 8 kinds of suet but only one kind of breakfast cereal.
You might be a birder if you lose friends, and perhaps even your spouse, from fighting over the pronunciation of “pileated.”
You might be a birder if it's a northeaster, the rain is horizontal, a small craft advisory has been issued, but it’s birdathon and you need to up the day’s list.
You might be a birder if your spouse doesn't understand why you must keep a yard list, a county list, a state list, a U.S. list, a lower-48 list, a Canada list, an ABA list (whatever that is), a world list, and an escrow list.
You might be a birder if you stop the car frequently, and your riders say "What are you stopping for?"
You might be a birder if you can say exactly where you saw a dozens of lifebirds but don't recall exactly where you first met your spouse.
You might be a birder if "nemesis bird" means something to you.
You might be a birder if you can find Pt. Pelee, Pt. Reyes, and Cape May on a map in less than five seconds.
You might be a birder if you've got better things to do than watch "the big game."
You might be a birder if you've got better things to do than attend your birthday party.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

new birds #115-116

BEAUTIFUL snow falling this morning when I woke up. Sigh.

Today was not really meant to be a birding day, but I wanted to stop at the Hilda feeders before heading out to ski this afternoon. It's a great spot for winter birding. There was a raven perched in a tree closeby, puffing itself up once in a while and making this call that is so hard to a gurgly bell...does that even make sense? Cornell has a very interesting assortment of Raven calls on its website. I wanted to video it, but flew out of sight before I got the chance. HUGE bird. Anyway, it was nice because it's a counter for me! (which I differentiate from lifer, since I only "count" if I've got a picture!). Oh yeah, and I'll spare you from the Poe references.

#115: Common Raven; Hilda Road, Ottawa; January 8, 2011
There were some redpolls at the feeders so I was finally able to get somewhat close. Didn't see the hoary that was reported though.

#116: Common redpoll, female(right); Hilda Road, Ottawa; January 8, 2011 (hanging out with an AT sparrow)
There were lots of cardinals too. Is it just me or do they get more red in winter? Their colour was just POPPING against the white. It was so beautiful to see!
nice haircut!

All in all, seen today: mourning doves, northern cardinals, common raven, black-capped chickadees, american tree sparrows, hairy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatch, american goldfinch, and a northern shrike at carling/rifle.

So we're there and then I just look over and there's a doe staring right at, "did you bring carrots or what?" it sort of snuck away, but came back with a friend. next time I go, I'll be better prepared. But Matt got this AMAZING shot while he was hogging my camera (credit comes at a price Matt!).

other wildlife seen today: a cute red squirrel and a porcupine.

didn't end up skiing!

So I started to wonder to myself if there was some birding software out there that could make keeping track of things easier. I'm sort of been using the pen and paper technology up until now. So I just did a quick google search and found this: I'm sure there is more out there, so I'm going to research into this. Does anybody use any software and which one? Free is always good....

I haven't really made any birding resolutions but there are a few birds that I would like to see this year that shouldn't be hard. Bohemian waxwings, saw-whet owl, green heron, common moorhen to name a few...

i'm designing birding tshirts for the next spring birding season. nerd city over here!