Tuesday 25 December 2018

Merry Christmas!

Have yourself a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

One of my Christmas gifts today was this little Screech Owl sleeping away the day from his own cozy house.

Friday 21 December 2018

The Owl Island Delivers Again!

I was out on Amherst Island this past week and had a chance to view the incredible abundance of raptors wintering on this island!  Snowy Owls were in abundances that I have never seen before (despite growing up in Kingston and birding the island often).  I counted 35 Snowy Owls in a single day, and this was likely a conservative estimate.  If I had to guess I would say there are likely between 50-75 Snowy Owls on the island.

The owls were everywhere, sitting in fields, perched on telephone poles and construction equipment and hunting voles.

It was also obvious what is attracting and keeping these birds on the island.  Vole populations are amazingly high.  Walking around the island it is hard to avoid stepping on them at times as they scatter from clumps of grass, running along their narrow tunnels.

I was able to get a lot of decent pictures with my super telephoto P900, allowing the birds to remain undisturbed.

In addition to Snowy Owls, I also had the great fortune of finding other species including a few Barred Owls and a single tiny Northern Saw-whet Owl!

Saw-whet Owls can be difficult to find due to their tiny size and habit of perching in dense clumps of cedars and other conifers.  This little guy looked me over for a few seconds before going back to sleep.

I found this Saw-whet a few hundred metres from a pair of Barred Owls.  Hopefully it doesn't end up a meal!

What a wonderful chance to view these birds on one of my favourite birding locations!

Saturday 15 December 2018

A Dump Bird but not a Dirt Bird! Slaty-backed Gull

Today was the day I finally caught up with a Slaty-backed Gull!  A species I have tried for a few times now, but always came up short. Amazingly, two Slaty-backed Gulls have been down near the Brantford dump for a few days, so I decided to make the trip down today to try my luck.  I signed in at the weigh scales and drove to the designated viewing area.  I ran into Dan Riley and Josh Vandermeulen as I was pulling in and we went looking for the birds together.  We quickly picked one out among the hundreds of other gulls.

This is a very rare (but increasingly more regular) vagrant from northeastern Asia! 

I snapped a few photos.

bird on the left is Slaty-backed, bird on the right is a Great Black-backed

In addition to the star attraction, there were a few other interesting species including several Glaucous, Iceland and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.

Sunday 2 December 2018

Backyard Birds - Common Redpoll

Although I have yet to get a bird feeder up and running at my new place in Fergus, I still have seen a few birds of interest out the window.  Yesterday, I had a flock of 16 Common Redpolls that were foraging right at the edge of my lawn in some weeds.  This winter has already been a really exciting one for winter birds, including finches.  These Common Redpolls all appeared to be of the most common subspecies: The "Southern" or Flammea subspecies that breeds in the low arctic.

I snapped a few pictures through the window, so they didn't turn out too clear, but still fun to watch!