Sunday, January 26, 2014

First lifer of the year (#280)

I wanted to get out birding this weekend, but it wasn't until there was only about an hour left of sunlight left that I was ready to go. I already had it in mind that I wanted to look for the Barrow's Goldeneyes but hadn't mentioned it, so I had to laugh when I asked Matt where he wanted to go and he said "I was thinking of looking for the Barrow's Goldeneyes." Seriously, in what normal couple does this conversation happen?

"Barrow's goldeneyes."
"Yeah, that's just what I was thinking."

So we thought we'd pass through snowy territory on the way (which, by the way, is pretty much anywhere in Ottawa right now). The first spotting was on a tall hydro pole way out in the middle of the field--so far out you probably wouldn't see it, but I knew to look from the last time. Just around the bend, there were a bunch of parked cars, and no surprise, a perched snowy nearby.

The key to spotting a snowy owl? Look for a whole bunch of parked cars and expensive optics. 

I watched from the car and was extremely pleased with the behavior of the birders/photographers at this particular location--everyone was respecting property boundaries, keeping distance, being quiet and no flying rodents. The only thing that eventually flushed the owl was the behemoth snowplow that came down the street.




So we headed to our intended destination--one of few locations of open water in Ottawa. The patch of water in the Jock River is only about 100 metres long, so it didn't take long to find the five ducks bobbing about. They took off out of the water but only flew to the beginning of the patch of water, and they were busy ducking and diving and preening and generally being ducks, surfing the current backwards. It didn't seem to bother them at all that the water must be totally frigid! There were two female Barrow's, one male Barrow's and two male common goldeneyes. It's always pretty exciting to get a life bird on home turf--it doesn't happen so often anymore!

#280: Barrow's Goldeneye; January 2014; Ottawa, Ontario
I do worry what these ducks are going to do when the river freezes over! It's only going to get worse here before it gets better. It seems that -30 Celsius is the new normal in Ottawa.
Male Barrow's wit Common. Neat to see side-by-side!

At this point it was quite dark and shots were getting blurry even with the tripod, so we headed home. I spotted two more stories, one of which we practically drove right under, but didn't notice until the last minute. Not shy at all, these ones...
All in all, a life bird and four snowies in about an hour--not bad at all!

1 comment:

deepdowndawn said...

Oops! I just realized that the females are more likely common goldeneyes. See: http://www.sibleyguides.com/2010/01/distinguishing-female-barrows-and-common-goldeneyes/. I'll look at the full-rez images again when I get home.