Wednesday, 11 October 2017

A Great Lake Watch - Van Wagner's Beach

I was down at Van Wagner's Beach this morning for about an hour and a half after Ken tipped me off about the excellent conditions for a lake watch.  The highlights included as many as 7 Parasitic Jaegers, 1 Long-tailed Jaeger, Red-throated Loon, Pacific Loon!, and a crazy Short-eared Owl trying to travel across wind tossed Lake Ontario.  I also went to Windermere and saw the continuing Hudsonian Godwit.  All of these were year birds for me.  As always, photographing jaegers is next to impossible most of the time with the gear I have, but I managed to get a few record shots.

Adult Parasitic Jaeger

Adult Parasitic Jaeger

Juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger

Juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger

Hudsonian Godwit

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Haldimund County Birds

This morning I was down in Haldimund County near Port Maitland for sunrise to do some bird surveys for work.  It was one of those great mornings where I was happy to work as a biologist!  Despite the heavy fog, the woodlot I was surveying was dripping with birds.  Hordes of sparrows were all over the place including dozens of White-throated, Swamp, Song, White-crowned as well as smaller numbers of Lincoln's and Field Sparrows.  There were also 9 species of warbler present, many of which are considered late for this time of year.  The highlight of the morning was a nice Yellow-billed Cuckoo.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo playing peek-a-boo

Tennessee Warbler

Tennessee Warbler in the Sumac

Palm Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Lincoln's Sparrow

House Wren

Monday, 9 October 2017

It's Thanksgiving!

Well, I was down in Stevensville near Fort Erie for Thanksgiving again this year, and we had a great time as usual!  On Saturday afternoon we spent a few hours hiking trails at Marcy's Woods (Point Abino area), which is a wonderful chunk of private land showing some really high-quality Carolinian forest.

This Eastern Towhee posed nicely for me on the trail.
Eastern Towhee

Yellow-rumped Warbler
On Sunday morning I decided to do a lake watch at Waverly Beach since they were forecasting strong southwest winds up to 80kph.  Although there were lots of gulls and waterfowl, I wasn't able to pick out anything too unusual, although I still had fun!

 Wave action at the beach

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Algonquin Park - Sunbeam Lake

This past weekend I was up in Algonquin for a brief fall canoe trip with my dad and brother to Sunbeam Lake, my favourite lake in the park.  The fall colours were certainly greatly subdued this year compared to what they normally are at this time of the year, but we still enjoyed the cool fall mornings and bright sunny afternoons.  It was warm enough to swim the one day, although the water was so cold I cut my knee trying to frantically get out!  Wildlife were quiet and well hidden on this trip, although I did enjoy hearing flocks of White-winged Crossbills and other finches fly over.

Water levels were much higher than 4 years ago when we were last in Vanishing Creek, which made it much easier to navigate!

We got the best site on the lake, the coveted island site!

Cool mornings made for misty photography!

Friday, 29 September 2017

September Miscellany

I have been lazy with the blog posts of late.  I have actually been bird watching, but September felt so busy that I didn't take the time to blog about it!  Below are a few of the highlights I was able to catch on camera.

I have spent a fair bit of time in September doing migration surveys for fun and for work.  With this recent cold front, lots of raptors are on the move.
Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Broad-winged Hawk
 Many Monarchs are also heading south too. It was fun to try and photograph this one as it glided like a leaf overhead.

Earlier in September, I was down near Erieau, and I always like to check the pier.

Semi-palmated Sandpiper
 I also got down to Hamilton to see the Marbled Godwit, but unfortunately, the Hudsonian Godwit had left!

While down in the Blenheim area for work I swung by to see if the American Avocet was still present and was excited to see that it was!  Particularly nice since I missed this bird during spring migration this year.

One of the perks of being up early for bird surveys is getting to see the sunrise.  I thought this shot of this wind farm rising out of the mist with the sun in the background was quite nice.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

California Backpacking Trip Video Compilation

Below is a compilation of various clips from our trip to Yosemite and the Sierra Nevadas.  It is my first time using a movie editor, I used Lightworks, it was a nightmare for me to figure out! Enjoy

Saturday, 26 August 2017

California Backpacking Trip Report Part 2/2: Ansel Adams Wilderness

After Yosemite, we started the 'real trip' which involved backpacking into the Ansel Adams Wilderness.  A shuttle bus in Mammoth Lakes dropped us off at the Agnew Meadows trailhead where we started our hike.  We spent our first night on Ruby Lake, followed by three nights on Thousand Island Lake and our last night at Badger Lakes.  We had approximately 2,000ft in elevation gain from the meadows to Ruby Lake, and as expected, it was a bit of a slog to get there, but not without spectacular scenery.

We hiked along the River Trail for quite some time and eventually had to cross one of the many rivers bisecting this area.  I crossed and then enjoyed watching my friends work their way across.  Mike lost his sandal and Jensen almost lost his boot! A move that could have had bad ramifications for our hiking trip!

Mike fords the river
 The trail climbed steeply up to Garnett Lake where we encountered our first snow of the trip.

We also had our first look at Banner Peak (right foreground) and Mount Ritter (left background).  The ever present sentinels of our stay.
Garnett Lake
 After crossing our final pass of the day we dropped down into Ruby Lake.  A beautiful little glacial lake.
View from our campsite on Ruby Lake
 Most of the area was steep and without many flat areas, but we made it work.

Steller's Jays were constant companions at the lower elevations below the treeline.
Steller's Jay
 The next day we headed north to Thousand Island Lake. On the way, we passed Emerald Lake

Thousand Island Lake did not disappoint.  Banner Peak towers over the crystal clear waters of this lake.

After setting up camp, Mike and I decided to scout ahead and started to climb up the broad shoulders of Banner Peak.  You can see below how Thousand Island Lake gets its name.

As we made our way up to higher elevations, we encountered more and more snow.

At higher elevations, Clark's Nutcrackers were everywhere.
Clark's Nutcracker
 As we got higher, a storm started to roll in, but we decided to press on to reach Lake Catherine.  We were rewarded with some stunning views of this little lake.

On the way back we decided to slide/ski down the slope in our boots.  It saved a lot of time and was great fun!

The entire alpine area was carpeted with wildflowers of all different colours.

Camp at Thousand Island Lake

Green-tailed Towhee hiding among the pine needles.
 The next day we explored a different section of the mountains with Alex and Kyle.  As luck would have it, the solar eclipse was happening! Mike had brought us each special glasses to view the eclipse.  I was happy to snap this one shot of the moon passing in front of the sun.
Solar eclipse
 Some areas of snow were tinged pink.  This is called 'watermelon snow' and is caused by a type of green algae with a carotenoid pigment.

Below is one of my favourite shots.  This flower is called White Mountain Heather.

 We decided to go back to Lake Catherine with Kyle and Jensen the next day.

Alpine Paintbrush
 Our last night was spent at the Badger Lakes area.  This area was much more heavily treed, as it was approximately 500m lower in elevation.  Badger Lake was beautiful, and we were the only ones camping in the area and had it all to ourselves!

Mike and I went swimming, but even at this lower elevation the water was frigid and left us gasping for air!
Badger Lake
 We climbed up on the cliffs beside the lake and watched the afternoon of our last day pass quietly by, a great ending to a wonderful trip.

Ansel Adams Wilderness is a special place, and one I would love to come back to some day. We made the drive back to Las Vegas where we stayed over one night before taking the redeye flight back to Toronto.