Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Life Birds of Cape Cod....

I have so much to tell/show you!!  I could make this post really wordy, but, for the most part, I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

On April 11th, Mike (my husband) and I headed toward Boston, MA for the 117th Boston Marathon!  Mike had qualified for the 116th Marathon, but when he tried to register, it was full.  He was able to get in the Marathon this year.  God protected us in a huge way by keeping us out of the bombing and the mayhem that followed.  Mike finished in 3:30.33 and as you know, the bombs went off at 4:09.  At that time, we were safely away from the downtown core, on our way to our car via subway. We got on the subway to head to the car at 2:25...had we been delayed by a mere 25 minutes, we would have stuck in downtown Boston. We didn`t even know about the bombings until we were halfway back to the resort on Cape Cod, when our family started calling our cell phones.  There are so many small details in the planning of this vacation and our plan for the day of the marathon that I am still amazed when I think about it...and get goose bumps thinking about what may have been.  I am forever grateful for God`s hand of protection over us!

Because we made reservations on Cape Cod, we got to enjoy an incredibly beautiful, relaxing week.  We spent a lot of time walking beaches and scanning for birds.  Because my husband isn`t a birder, I was content to wear my binoculars almost everywhere we went hoping to see some new birds.  He was much more patient than I would have been if I were in his shoes :)  Here are some of the birds I (we) saw:

The first life bird I saw was a Great Black-backed Gull (April 13th at Swan Pond)....we accidentally trespassed on private property (it looked like the end of the road had a path to this "pond").  The man was really nice :)
Very, very large bird!

Why it is called "black-backed".

Different locale...Provincetown, MA.  

Looks like disco dancing, but really just taking off :)
The next life bird I saw a Common Eider (April 13th, Parker's River).  This duck was just swimming down the river...unfortunately, the pictures aren't as clear as I would like because I failed to adjust the settings.
Interesting looking duck, wouldn't you say?

We walked along Nantucket Sound from Parker's River Beach to Smuggler's Beach and saw the following:

About 10-15 Brant swimming in the surf along the shore, feeding in the water.  This is my best shot of any of them.
A little way off shore, we noticed several Red-breasted Merganser...we ended up seeing them all over the place!
Red-breasted Merganser (taken in Provincetown, MA)

Feeding...I thought this was interesting.
When we got to Smuggler's Beach, I was absolutely ecstatic to see this next bird....
Northern Gannet!!!!

Diving Northern Gannet

We ended up seeing a lot of these...I have so many pictures from this trip, it will take multiple posts ;)

On April 16th, we went to West Dennis Beach.  I had read in "Birding Cape Cod" that West Dennis Beach was a great birding spot...again, because Mike isn't a birder, we didn't necessarily go to bird, but it was nice to go for a nice walk :)  West Dennis Beach has a parking lot that is between the beach/Nantucket Sound and a large salt marsh.  I would have loved to spend hours here!  Here are the life birds I found here:
A sign just off the beach...
 I read the sign and scanned the grasses, hoping to find one of these birds nesting, but it was fruitless...and I didn't want to take too much time..Mike was being really patient.  Then I heard this bird....
Piping Plover!
and quickly grabbed my camera.  This is highly, highly cropped.  It quickly landed in the grass area, well beyond my eye sight.  I compared the sound I heard to the audio clip on the Audubon app on my phone...thrilled!

In the salt marsh, I saw a Great Egret and an Egret that looked a little bit was quite a way off, but when it flushed, I caught a confirming picture....Snowy Egret!
Check out those yellow feet!
At some point during the day, we went to the super market to pick up some food for a couple of days and found this bird in the parking lot...
Laughing Gull
On April 17th, we went on a whale-watching cruise off Provincetown.  I saw these life-birds on that trip...

Common Murre
Well, these are the birds I was able to ID quickly...I have lots of other pictures that may hide a hidden gem :)  I also have a lot of other pictures of non-life birds that I will share soon...

Friday, March 29, 2013

An Hour of Birding

Now that Daylight Savings Time has begun and the weather is a bit nicer, I am hoping to do more birding in the Blenheim area while my daughter swims.  Yesterday, I had about an hour of birding before the light was too low to really make anything out, so I went to the closest place, the Lagoons.  I am not a person who uses a tri-pod and the whole time I was at the Lagoons, I could hear Les (a man from the photography club I belong to) chastising me about "gluing the tri-pod to the camera".  I had some awesome opportunities to photograph a little songster and the pictures turned out nothing like I was hoping.  Maybe I will follow his advice next time.  Keeping that in mind, please enjoy the spirit in which the pictures are posted, not the actual photography.

I have learned, from previous experience, not to rush up over the berms, but instead to somewhat sneak up to the ponds.  My patience paid off...

Ring-necked Ducks
Although they are not crisp shots, they are clear enough for a positive ID, which is good since they are a lifer for me :) I had a possible ID of these ducks here, but didn't list them because I wasn't sure. Aside from quite a few of these ducks, there were many Northern Shoveler, Bufflehead and either Canvasback or Redheads (or both..can't tell from such a great distance).  Once the ducks spot you, they take off to the area farthest from you!

There were several male Red-winged Blackbirds staking out there territory too...
Red-winged Blackbird
My biggest disappointment today was photographing a little Song Sparrow who was singing up a storm!  I had a seat on a rock as it flitted about the garbage pile at the end of one of the ponds.  I was close enough to get a decent shot with my lens but my lack of steadiness greatly reduced the quality that could have been.

Song Sparrow
This picture has been sharpened, which is better than it was, but nowhere near what I was hoping for.  Lesson learned...let's hope :)

Friday, March 8, 2013

It`s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.....well, almost.

Finally!!  Nice sunny day, mild temps and a day off!  I have been itching to get outside!  I started a second part-time job this January and have had absolutely no time to get outside and see what is happening bird-wise in the area.

I slept in a little later than I had planned, but still managed to get out of the house by 10am.  I decided to head to Lakeview Marina to see if there were any nice ducks hanging around.  When I got there, I was surprised to see a few photographers with their cameras set up on tri-pods, pointed at Peche Island.  There had to be at least 20 Bald Eagles, in various plumage!  Some were on the ice, some flying, some perched in trees on the island.  I was also quite happy to see a Trumpeter Swan (life bird)!  All of these birds were too far off for my camera, so please forgive the grainy-ness of these pictures...
5 Bald Eagles (the ones on the ice) and a Trumpter (far right)

Adult Bald Eagle
As for ducks, the only duck I could make out were Common Mergansers and all attempts to photograph them turned out horrible!  I did manage a couple shots of other birds that were plentiful...
The Gull managed to sneak in the shot at the last minute!

Gulls are fun to photograph :)
After the Marina, I went to Hillman Marsh where I heard my first Red-winged Blackbird of the season...spring really is coming :)  There were lots of Canada Geese, Mallards and even a pair of Northern Pintails (life bird) in the water.  As I approached the water from the trees, the Canada Geese sounded the alarm and this is what I got...

A mass exodus of all the waterfowl :(
Anything that did stick around was quite a ways out in the water and by now, the sun was in the wrong spot to get any decent pictures.

I then decided to head to Point Pelee.  This is the first time I have been this winter, which is unusual...normally I have been 3-4 times since January.  I didn`t see any birds of note but enjoying walking the trails, even if they were really muddy.  All in all, a great day!

Here are the birds I remember seeing today, in no particular order:
1) Bald Eagles
2) Great Blue Heron
3) Common Merganser
4) Canada Geese
5) Ring-billed Gull
6) Trumpeter Swan
7) Mute Swan
8) Red-tailed Hawk
9) Northern Harrier
10) Red-winged Blackbird
11) Northern Cardinal
12) Black-capped Chickadee
13) Downy Woodpecker
14) Wild Turkey
15) Mallards
16) Northern Pintail

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

My Deer Friend

Today was a gorgeous day so I decided to spend about an hour and half at Ojibway today after work.  I brought my camera and binoculars (of course) and a baggie of bird seed.  I love feeding the Chickadees :)  I checked out the feeders when I first got there and there were the usual suspects....House Sparrows, White-breasted Nuthatches, Downy Woodpeckers, Cardinals, Chickadees, American Tree Sparrow, Mourning Doves, House Finch and Tufted Titmouse.  There was still a fair amount of food in the feeder, so no one was interested in feeding from my hand.  Here is my favourite bird picture from today.
American Tree Sparrow
I then headed out on one of the paths.  I heard some Chickadees in the branches after about 10 minutes of walking, so I stopped to offer some seed.  I soon had some eager takers flitting in and out of my hand with seed.  After they moved on, I turned around to continue in the direction I was heading and I saw this gorgeous deer in the trees.  I took this picture at 1:23pm according to the data on my card.
First view of the deer.
  It continued to walk toward me, watching me intently, but not scared off.  It paused on the way over toward me at a clearing on the ground looking for food so I took more pictures.

When I saw it still wasn`t spooked, I decided to see if I could get it to come I threw bird seed on the ground in front of me.  It came right to me!
Check out the squireel in the background...wanting in on the seed but never brave enough ;)
My favourite shot of the day!

Bird seed is good!

I took about 150 pictures of this deer!  There could have been a Gyrfalcon perched on the tree beside me and I wouldn`t have noticed....this was such an amazing experience for me!  The deer eventually was distracted by something and began to look around.  It was looking at this...
Another deer!
The above picture was taken at 1:42.  The first deer walked off toward this deer and paused to look back at me.  I decided to continue down the path and at the first step, the second deer bounded into the woods, while my friend stayed put, watching me as I left.  This was the most amazing 19 minutes of my year so far :)  The first deer was within 3 feet of me at one point, but was feeding about 6 feet from me for almost that entire time!  Wow!

As I walked the loop back toward the visitor centre, I couldn`t help but offer praises to God for such an awesome encounter!  I then heard a lot of birds protesting and was hoping to see an owl (that would have been the icing on the cake), but instead I saw a nice Red-tailed Hawk, but there were too many branches between us to get a good shot.  Rounding the corner, I saw these guys all lined up and it made me think of banding at the East Harrow station this past Saturday...
Mourning Doves
I headed back to the feeders and finally was able to coax some of those Chickadees to take some seed.  I headed for home very grateful I stopped by the park today :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How I spent my Day Off...

I have this entire week off for vacation, so today, I decided to spend the day outside, birding.  With both Dwayne and Karen finding White-winged Crossbills at Holiday Beach Memorial Forest, I thought I would check there since I missed them on Saturday.  While I was there, I thought I would try looking for an owl on my own too.  Well, I didn't see any Crossbills and the closest glimpse I got of an owl (possibly) was flying away from me.  Oh well. 

The Pines
From there, I headed to Holiday Beach, hoping some raptors were flying today.  Again, no such luck.
I did manage to get a really good look at a Belted Kingfisher.  I watched it for quite some time hoping I would get to see it fish...wasn't meant to be. I did see a couple flocks of Common Redpolls (life bird!) fly over...thanks to the hawk counter (Jason, I beleive) for pointing them out.  The Wilson's Snipe were still around, so on my way back to my car, I tried to sneak up on them to get a picture, but all I managed to do was flush them.

From there, I drove County Rd. 20, stopping a couple of times (Memorial Forest, Big Creek Site and Pettite Cote) but didn't see anything noteworthy.  I decided I would stop in at Ojibway and at least check the feeders since I didn't have a lot of time left before needing to be home.  I am so glad I did!  I didn't see anything new, but I got some great pictures...

Northern Cardinal, female

Black-capped Chickadee...not in my hand, although I did have a few eating from my hand today :D

American Tree Sparrow

White-breasted Nuthatch...I could have a whole post just from this one many great shots of this one!

Same bird..with some corn.
I managed to see a lot of birds today...this is what I remember:

Mallard Duck (lot of them!)
Great Blue Heron
Bald Eagle
Northern Shoveler
American Coot
Belted Kingfisher
Carolina Wren
Wilson's Snipe
Mute Swan
Common Redpoll (2 flocks!)
Red-tailed Hawk
Fox Sparrow
Black-capped Chickadee
American Tree Sparrow
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breased Nuthatch
Northern Cardinal
Tufted Titmouse
Downy Woodpecker
Mourning Dove
Blue Jay
House Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco (slate coloured)
Cooper's Hawk

Not a bad day off if you ask me :)

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Backyard Fun and Four Life Birds!

DISCLAIMER:  If you are hoping to see some great pictures of birds on this post, you will be sadly mistaken...the pictures included are not the best I have taken, but I felt like sharing them anyway :)

I wasn`t able to get out this week and bird, but I did enjoy watching some birds in my backyard.  I added a few birds to my Backyard List...White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch and Pine Siskin.  That was cool.  I watched a Red-breasted Nuthatch hide seeds all around my patio, including tucking a seed into the liner of a pair of running shoes sitting right outside the door :)

On Wednesday, I was looking out at the back feeder and noticed this guy on the fence...I think it is a Sharpie.  I included a picture of just its tail will see why in a moment...
Don`t look at the ugly belongs to my neighbour.

The white tip looks quite narrow to me.
After it left, the birds came back and went I back to doing what I was doing around the house.  A couple hours later, I heard Blue Jays making a racket outside and when to go to the spare room window (where I have a better view of the feeder) and upon opening the door, I was eye-to-eye with this bird...
Look at the wider looking white tip
The "second" bird on the fence.
I am not sure if this is a Sharpie or a Coop...the tail tip looks much wider in the second bird....could be my imagination and the angle of the picture.  For all I know, it is the same bird that visited earlier.  Either way, it was cool to see them in my backyard and get pictures of them.

On Saturday (today), I went out to Holiday Beach for my last day of banding for the fall.  It was a really slow day (read...1 bird banded, a Winter Wren).  During the time between a couple of net runs, we headed over to the Tower to see what was flying and met up with Paul Pratt's birding group.  While on the tower, I spotted my first Green-winged Teal!  Paul pointed out a Wilson's Snipe and a Northern Shrike to everyone on the cool are those birds??  When it was time to go back and check the nets (and still had no birds), we started to take down the nets for the season.  During this period, Caroline called Bob and said that the birding group had found five Long-eared owls in the pines across from Holiday Beach.  Bob said he would go check it out, so I tagged along.  After looking for about an hour, Bob spotted one of the Long-eared Owls and I tried my best to get a picture of it while craning my neck to the canopy of the trees while trying to steady my is what I managed to capture...
Long-eared cool!!!
What a thrill to see four life birds today when I had no intention of birding...gotta love when that happens :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Ojibway Park

I woke up this morning at 5am and couldn`t get back to sleep, so I did the housework that HAD to be done and headed to Ojibway.  I had never walked through the Tallgrass Prairie or the Woodlot on the south side of Matchette, so I went there first.  I almost didn`t walk through the Tallgrass Prairie area because of warning signs for Massassauga Rattlesnakes.  I really don`t like snakes!  A man walking his dogs assured me he has never seen them before.  I decided to walk through the wood instead.  Didn`t see much...Bluejays, Chickadees, Red-bellied Woodpeckers and Downy Woodpeckers.  On the way back, I walked through the prairie and thankfully didn`t see any snakes, but I also didn`t see any birds.

I walked back across the street to walk the pond and savannah loop.  I managed to flush a Great Blue Heron before I even knew he was there.  Walking along this trail, I saw more Red-bellied Woodpeckers and some Dark-eyed Juncos (Slate-coloured).
Red-bellied Woodpecker

You can see a bit of the red belly this bird is named for.
Walking through the woods, past the pond, I heard a rustle in the distance and was shocked to see a deer with a large rack!  I fumbled to grab my camera and got this horrible shot before it darted out of sight.
Looks a bit ghost-like, in the centre of the shot.
Once I looped back around, I could see the feeders at the back of the visitor centre and managed to capture a horrible shot of an Eastern my defence, it was fairly far away and I obeyed the regeneration signs.
The one on the rights is a Bluebird...not sure about the one on the left.
I then went to the feeders by the shed....if I had started there, it would have saved me a lot of time!    There were a lot of birds at the are a few pictures of some of what was there...
American Tree Sparrow

Black-capped this shot!  Not even cropped :)

Fox bird!!

White-throated Sparrow

Pine bird!!

Snobby Tufted Titmouse
Since it was still early, I decided to walk the Pin Oak Trail...another first for me.  Well, I got lost!  It took me what felt like an eternity to get back to the parking lot!  Just a few minutes shy of the parking lot, I spotted this bird....

I am really hoping this is a was much larger than the Downy Woodpeckers I had seen earlier and the bill looks about the length of its head....please let me know what you think.  Here is another shot at a different angle of the same bird.
What do you think?
Well, aside from these birds, I also saw Mourning Doves, House Sparrows, White-breasted Nuthatch,  and lots of American Goldfinches.  It was a nice morning with a slow start.

Oh...on another note, I have decided to take Nashville Warbler off my life list...I keep going back and looking at those pictures (and others I captured but haven't posted).  This bird has been haunting me!  Those little dark patches on the cheek (visible in one of the shots) just calls the whole ID into question.  My goal in keeping this blog is not a competition or to mislead everyone, so I am taking it off my list.  Maybe now it won't haunt me :s

I almost forgot!  I went to the Blenheim Lagoons last Thursday and got a few shots of birds I have seen before, but better pictures than I had captured before.  Here are a few...
Female Ruddy Duck

Pair of Bufflehead

Northern Shovellers

Sparrow of some sort...but I liked the shot.  I was surprised to see it turned out clear :)