Monday, 2 January 2017

Christmas Birding

I had the pleasure of spending several days with the in-laws in Stevensville over the Christmas break and of course had some time to do some bird watching! Highlights for me included re-finding the Black-headed Gull at the Whirlpool!, seeing multiple Little Gulls, Harlequin Ducks and a close encounter with a Screech Owl with Caitlyn.  As usual on the river, most of the interesting observations were beyond camera range.

Whirlpool - note the hundreds of Bonaparte's Gulls, photographing the Black-headed Gull on the wing was next to impossible at this range.
 I followed the Black-headed Gull in flight for quite a while and eventually saw it sitting on the water. I tried to snap some shots of the bird but the bright sunlight washed out my photos. In the shot below I think the Black-headed is the centre-top bird that looks slightly larger.  It was great watching it through the scope for so long, what a treat to see!

 Above the falls was loaded with gulls including numerous Little Gulls (at least two adults were present) although there could have been three. I may have to go back to try to find the Slaty-backed Gull!

One of many Tundra Swans
Common Loon at the fly pass in Niagara-on-the-lake
 On boxing day it poured rain all night in Stevensville and the creek in the conservation area was swollen and almost burst the banks.  We saw lots of birds including Tufted Titmouse, robins and lots of Eastern Bluebirds!

The bluebirds were very accommodating and perched in the trees right beside us, offering excellent views!

This female was happily munching on grubs and worms in the grass

While at my folks in Kingston, Caitlyn and I did the Amherst Island Christmas Bird Count with some of my good friends from NRSI.  It was a great day spent with great people but the birding was lackluster.  I have never seen so few raptors on the island.  I was on the island most of the day and didn't find a single owl, Red-tailed Hawk, Rough-legged Hawk or Northern Harrier and we had a large group of birders.  I think the ferocious winds kept a lot of stuff low, but the numbers were still surprising nonetheless.  Last year I observed 20 Snowy Owls in a single day on the island, what a difference a year can make!

I also had lots of fun with my niece and Caitlyn at Lemoine Point in Kingston on New Years day feeding chickadees!  Thanks Emma!

Happy New Year!

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