Wednesday 15 February 2017

Eastern Ontario Boreals

Every now and then you get on a hot streak and can't seem to miss.  My friend and co-worker James Barber and I had one of those streaks from Monday-Tuesday while doing some field work in eastern Ontario in Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry (near Cornwall).  

Our luck began when we stumbled across a Great Gray Owl perched on a road sign!  It was completely indifferent to our presence, and I manged to get a few decent shots out the window of the car.  It eventually flew from its perch to a nearby fence post where it perched.  We watched it for a few minutes and then continued on our way, finding another just a few hundred metres down the road!  We decided to press our luck and actually made a few wrong turns in our state of 'owl fog' before coming back to the honey hole.  We discovered possibly a third Great Gray a bit further down the road.

Great Gray Owl

The third (or second) bird hunting as it was getting dark
The next day we got an early start, and checked the owl spot on our way up to our work site.  We were unable to locate any of the owls.  I think that the best time is between 4pm to dusk.  However, we did find a Northern Shrike (one of two we saw that day).  Shortly thereafter we discovered a flock of robins and starlings eating crab apples beside a quiet road and found three Bohemian Waxwings! 

Bohemian Waxwing

Our luck continued as James picked out an Evening Grosbeak among a flock of several hundred robins flying over!

As we were standing there looking for the grosbeak, a Northern Shrike flew right up to us and perched in a nearby tree!  It eventually flew off over head, making the nearby starling nervous.  

Northern Shrike - note the hooked beak

After work we decided to press our luck further by driving 20 minutes up to the Lafleche Landfill to look for Gyrfalcon.  Although unsuccessful, we did see over 100 Glaucous Gulls!  What a spectacle! Our hearts skipped a beat as we saw a large falcon perched way off in the distance, but upon closer examination it turned out to be a Peregrine Falcon.  It treated us to an entertaining few moments after it flew from its perch, taking a swipe at a nearby Rough-legged Hawk before gaining serious altitude thousands of feet in the air before plummeting down to the earth, splitting a flock of starlings in half and narrowly missing its target.  A great cap on a wonderful 24 hours of birding!  

Lafleche Landfill
We also came across some interesting winter tracks in the snow, anyone want to take a guess what made them (we saw the animal that made it).

What made these imprints in the snow?


  1. Nice shots, an action packed couple of days!

  2. Nice photos Nathan. That must have been amazing to get such close views of those great gray owls.

    Would that last photo belong to a ruffed grouse?

    1. Yup, you guessed it! The grouse was hiding in the snow and burst out when it heard us!