Sunday, February 10, 2013

Birding burns #234

I'll try to stay optimistic and not to let the rotten mood that I am ruin this post. I was having a great day until...well, I'll get to that.

It was a beautiful day winter day and we had a few birds on our radar today. First we drove some of the farm fields not far outside of Kanata looking for snowy/northern hawk owls. We didn't look too long before heading to the Lime Kiln Trail, which I had actually been avoiding since it was closed this summer after a large, 100-acre brush fire on NCC lands. Bad birder though, not recalling the woodpeckers that actually seek out recent burn areas. Luckily, someone else reported the black-backed (actually quite some time ago, when my bird radar was off...luckily it kicked back in on time!).

We parked at P10 and started the walk into the burn area, stopping about 50m in after 20 or so chickadees made clear it was time for lunch. Stopped to feed them for a bit, and then continued on.

Once we were close, we started stopping to listen every 50m or so for pecking, and following the source if we heard it. This method found several woodpeckers. As it turns out, it seems hairies are fans of burn sites too. Hairy peckers still get me...who came up with that anyway?! I brushed up on the differentiating features between hairies and downies after a man said he saw huge downies...but I'm pretty sure they were hairies. I usually guesstimate based on size, but you never know if you are looking at a large downy or a small hairy--so the key is the length of the bill and whether there are (downy) or are not (hairy) dark spots on the outer tail feathers.
Tree damage from fire

Then we were looking at a hairy on a tree, when I realized that there was a second woodpecker on the same tree further up...only its back was all black! Found it!

The birds didn't seem to mind observers at all and would go about their business until they moved on to a new tree. I only observed one black-backed, a female (I believe that's all that's been reported). Lifer!

 #234: Black-backed Woodpecker; Lime Kiln Trail area; February 10, 2013
Pretty lady. Love the fine bars on her side. Only the males have the yellow on top of the head.

Stopped to do a little preening. Nice to watch!
Today I learned a few things about me and my lens:
1. I need to develop some stronger shoulder/arm muscles to hold that sucker up for any length of time
2. I experienced a crazy thing that hasn't happened to me birding...I was TOO close to focus.Well, that doesn't happen often.
Was really hoping a bird would perch in that little spot, but no such luck today so I made Matt do it instead

Things started to go a little sour when we got back when I went to get in the car and realized something was wrong with the window--mainly that it wasn't there. And that all that was left was little shards. There was also a drill hole near the handle. It's unfortunate that people are getting out there outside, enjoying nature, and this is what they get. So, if this can be a reminder of anything to you birders, whenever you leave your car in an isolated parking lot (or anywhere really), do not leave things in your car! We didn't even have any valuables in sight, but we had a lot of junk that was in bags/boxes and could look like there might be something worth grabbing.
people are jerks. because this is just what I needed.

If you go to check out the BBW, don't forget your sunflower seeds, and if you must take valuables, take them with you on the trail. Snowshoes would help once you are off the main trail, but we just trudged it. Good little cardio workout that was, after the snowfall the night before!

On the way home we drove down Rushmore and spotted a snowy on a far-off pole. i wasn't keen to hang around though, since I was freezing with no window!

This morning I headed to March Valley to see if I could spot some of the west-end greys. I did, beautifully silhouetted by the rising sun. It was so nice to see them in a more peaceful setting being left alone! Didn't stay long though in the classy garbage-bag-over-the-window car.

Here's another really nice, informative post with great shots from another Ottawa blogger on the BBW at Lime Kiln.


Anonymous said...

I heard about this from another photographer. I didn't know it was you. Sorry to hear about that. I was thinking about going to the Lime Kiln to look for the BBW until I heard the story. I am assuming it is a chance occurence. A few years ago, something similar happened in the Jack Pine parking lot up the road on Thanksgiving to a couple from Toronto.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the lifer, Jenna! I'm glad to hear that she's still around although I'm shocked to hear what happened to your car. I've meaning to go back and see the BBWO again but after hearing what happened to your car I'm rethinking that. :(

By the way, thanks for the link back to my blog. Funny, I actually came across your blog post about the owl baiting while researching the subject for a not-too-future blog post on the same issue. I may link your post to mine, if that's okay with you.


Anonymous said...

Although we have a few boreal species in Ottawa, I was wondering where all the boreal owls had gone. Sure, there have been a few sightings here and there but nothing like in Duluth where people are seeing 15 and they are hunting during daylight hours too. They must really be famished to do that.