Saturday, January 7, 2012

A New Year (#191-192)

Alright, so it's 2012, and the beginning of another birding year. My birding has definitely slowed down since I started my 100 Birds in Year Challenge back in 2010. The wee winged ones still have a very special place in my heart, though I'm not nearly as obsessive about my outings and seeking them out. Still I have managed to add many lifers to my list, and have had some amazing birding experiences this past year, and I'm stoked for my upcoming trip to Mexico where I'm sure to see even more fantastic birdies! I still have to get a copy of a field guide (thinking of this one), but here are some of my target birds, which I think I'll be likely to see right where I'm staying:
  • Yucatan Jay (wicked looking bird, in the Corvidae family. Guess what I just realized? Jays are in the Corvidae family. Doh!)
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Hooded Oriole
  • Pelicans (*heart* *heart* *heart*)
  • If I'm REALLY lucky, a blue-crowned motmot

For the most part over the holidays we stayed at Matt's mom's, Mary's, in Bath. She has an amazing new house on the water, and there are a ton of birds there all the time. We were treated to a huge group of swans right out front every single day, along with lots of other ducks, and woodland birds too.
This was pretty frustrating: This little nuthatch kept perching on this branch right in front of the swan sitting out in the lake. I wanted to juxtapose the two but the swans were so far back, and the focal length just really does not give you any depth of field. I cranked the ISO to close down, but there just wasn't enough light to get both and a clear shot! Anyways, here is my best effort!

I headed to AI over the holidays and paid a visit to the Owl Woods. We actually didn't see any owls in the woods that day, only a snowy along the south shore. Either an unlucky day, or maybe too early in the year. Well, if there's one thing I learned about owls, is that it takes some patience if you want to see them!

View of the Wolfe Island windmills from Amherst. They are putting windmills on Amherst too. Sadly, this is not going to be good for the birds :( I totally understand the desire to come up with alternative energy sources, but we can't do it at the expense of wildlife! Well, the main thing I liked was the wind and the waves--the colour was an awesome colour of blue. I probably should have taken the time to put the wide angle on to get the full effect.

I do have to go back just a bit to late fall to mention a very important bird for me. We hadn't been out birding in quite some time but Matt mentioned that a purple sandpiper had been spotted in Andrew Hayden Park. He asked me if I wanted to go...usually the bird chasing ends in frustration (like the razorbill we tried to see on the Ottawa River...all I saw through the x60s was a black speck that may or may not have been a razorbill...not hugely satisfying...).

So out we went, and saw a bunch of birders on the shore all looking out in the river. Naturally, we looked where they looked, to see some of the expected ducks and geese. So we ask, "have you seen the purple sandpiper?" They replied, "Oh sure, it's right there," and they point 5 metres to their left. I was a bit floored--they were already done with that one, already had their looks. Huh! Birders are weird sometimes.

Anyways, the purple sandpiper, an Arctic bird (and therefore less accustomed to people), was anything but timid and let us get extremely close. When I saw it, it actually made sense as to why it's called purple--it definitely seemed to have a purple tinge to it. There is something very striking about the bird, and I think it's that it appears to have eye whites. Since that's what we're used to seeing in humans, it looks almost "knowing," or something.

# 191: Purple Sandpiper; Andrew Hayden Park (Ottawa), November 26, 2011
We also saw many ducks in the pond. As it turns out, I never claimed a lesser scaup, so I will now! There were lots that day.

#192: Lesser Scaup; Andrew Hayden Park (Ottawa), November 26, 2011
and another one, scratching the head!

On an earlier stop in the Britannia area in the fall, we'd seen some sandpipers, but I'm still working on my ID skills. I definitely need to brush up and get better at observing and knowing what to look for. Maybe next Christmas I need to ask Santa for a scope.
unidentified...anybody want a challenge?

So by the end of 2012, I hit 192. Dad had said to me at the start of the year, "maybe you'll get to 200 in 2 years?" Not quite, but I'll take it!

Today we visited the Hilda Road feeders for the first time in a while. Just as many birds as ever...saw a beautiful pileated, which is always a treat (saw one out skiing yesterday too...that's 2 days in a row!).
Ok good, I'm all caught up and it didn't even hurt that much! Hope everyone is off to a great start in 2012!!


Jeremy Medina said...

That's a great image of the Purple Sandpiper! My guess of your mystery bird would be a juvenile White-rumped Sandpiper.

deepdowndawn said...

Hi Jeremy! White-rumped was what I was suspecting as well, though I wasn't feeling really confident. Thanks, I appreciate your input!

Funkysandman said...

"only a snowy"... I think that one sighting would make may day! In fact I'd probably go there just to see one if I don't see one here soon.
Colour of the water/waves looks deceivingly tropical...