Monday, 5 September 2016

Labour Day Weekend Bird Watching - Merlin vs. Kingfisher

On Saturday morning Ken Burrell and I headed down to Hamilton to do some bird watching.  We started out at Edgelake Park and had loads of warblers!  Magnolia Warblers were by far the most common, followed by redstarts.  We also had a Canada Warbler and a couple Wilson's Warblers.  We had some good luck with shorebirds at the Tollgate Ponds where we saw Whimbrel, Sanderling, White-rumped Sandpiper and American Golden Plover among others.  At Windermere we were surprised to see the Marbled Godwit! We saw over 80 species in a few hours, unfortunately most birds were too far (or quick) to get photos of.

I've been enjoying my new spotting scope, the Vortex Razor HD!

Lesser Yellowlegs
We spotted this cute Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at the Grimsby Sewage Lagoons.

This morning, Cait and I went to Luther Marsh to see what we could find.  Below are a few shots from the trip.

Sandhill Cranes
Trumpeter Swans
We stopped at our last spot before heading home and I saw a Merlin (a small but mighty falcon) fly across the pond.

I was just showing Caitlyn a Belted Kingfisher through the spotting scope when all of a sudden the Merlin appeared in view and tried to attack the Kingfisher, which dove into the water several times to escape.  This went on for about 30 seconds before they both perched in opposite trees.  In the shot below you can see the Merlin in the top right and the Kingfisher bottom left.

The Kingfisher got bold and flew directly into the tree and sat right above the Merlin!  I thought it was pretty ambitious of the Merlin since the Kingfisher is about the same size!  After a brief standoff, the Merlin darted out across the pond looking for easier fare and quickly caught a dragonfly.

Kingfisher sitting above the Merlin

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Red Knot - Tollgate Ponds

On my way home from Kingston this weekend I decided to swing by Hamilton to see if I could see some interesting birds, in part to test out my new spotting scope (Vortex Razor HD).  Many awesome shorebirds have been reported from Hamilton the past week or so.  My first stop was the Canada Centre of Inland Waters where a Red Knot had been reported.  I looked for a few minutes but with no luck, so I moved on to the Tollgate Ponds.  I had been there for 15 minutes when a stout shorebird popped up right in front of me, and there was the Red Knot!  It was great to see this species that I so infrequently find. The Rufa subspecies of Red Knot is considered an Endangered species in Ontario.

I also stopped by Windermere Basin, but didn't find the Marbled Godwit.  My last stop was the Redhill Stormwater Pond, which is an absolute death trap to get in and out of at rush hour.  But, I was rewarded with 10 Stilt Sandpipers, so it was all worthwhile.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Algonquin -Burnt Island Lake

Last weekend I went on an extended weekend getaway to Algonquin Park with Paul, Jen and Caitlyn for a canoe trip to Burnt Island Lake.  I have been to this part of the interior before and it was just as great as I remembered it.

Burnt Island Lake

View from our campsite for 3 nights.

Shiloh - He was a good dog except when he tried to get out of the canoe and nearly flipped it!
Anticipating heavy rain on Sunday, we decided to set up this tarp system.  We were limited by a lack of rope and suitable trees, but it held up somewhat.  There was a decent thunderstorm on Saturday night and the wind was so fierce it ripped the eyelets out of the tarp in several places.  We woke up around 5am and had to adjust some things to keep our stuff dry!

 The incredibly strong winds persisted on Sunday all day, and we decided to move the tents to a more sheltered spot in some trees.  We made a wall with the tarp.  You can see in the photo below, the force of the wind kept it suctioned to the trees on the right.

Surrey peeks over the log while Paul sterilizes some water.
 The last night was quite chilly, dipping down to around 10 degrees.  Late at night we woke up to the sounds of a wolf pack howling across the lake.  A beautiful sound, hearkening back to the days when I worked as a park naturalist in Algonquin and helped lead the wolf howls.  It was a great way to end a wonderful trip.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Vancouver Island - Victoria and Nanaimo

Most of our time on Vancouver Island was spent in the beautiful town of Victoria.  Victoria has a population of around 78,000, and is incredibly scenic.  We spent a lot of time walking around the downtown area as well as along the ocean front.  We also rented some bikes for an afternoon and biked the entire waterfront!  I have included some of my favourite shots of the town, below.

looking south across the Ocean to Washington State and the Olympic Mountains

I thought this view of Victoria looked particularly European

Water taxis were constantly shuttling people across the harbour.  Very neat, we will have to try them out next time!

The famed Empress Hotel, where we spent one night on our anniversary!

The legislature building all lit up

Beautiful Beacon Hill Park

One of my friends from NRSI, Chris Law, moved out to B.C last year to Nanaimo, and so we decided to go hang out with him for the day!  He was an awesome host and showed us all the local spots around the beautiful town of Nanaimo.  And yes, for the record we did eat Nanaimo bars (gluten free of course).

Those are all my photos from our week spent on the island, we can't wait to go back some day soon!

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Vancouver Island - Juan de Fuca Provincial Park

My trip to Vancouver Island was divided into 3 general locations: Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, Nanaimo and the Victoria area.  In this post I will show some of the shots from Juan de Fuca Provincial Park.  My friends Kyle, Mike, ALEX and I poked around this awesome park for a couple of days. I was most impressed with the large cedars, Sitka Spruce and Douglas Fir that towered over our heads!  This was my first time seeing the temperate rainforest.  Despite the dry conditions elsewhere, the forest was lush and green.

We camped at China Beach.  Looking across the strait of Juan de Fuca, the mountains of Washington rose up from the sea. 

We enjoyed exploring the tidal pools and saw all sorts of interesting critters including Sun Stars, Hermit Crabs, and various other critters.

On Sunday morning, we hiked from Botanic Beach to Parkinson's Creek.  The day started out misty and cool, but was the perfect temperature for hiking.

This is a beautiful stretch of Vancouver Island, and I would recommend it if you are in the area.