Saturday, December 31, 2011

I am in love with a Great Gray Owl :)

I went out this morning with my best friend Betsy, and her daughter Lydia to see the owl.  Apparently seeing an owl in the wild is on Betsy's bucket list.....CHECK!  I picked them up at 7:00 am and by 8:10 am we had our first sighting of the Great Gray!  We spent three hours following, watching and photographing the owl before leaving the owl (our bladders couldn't hold out any longer....Tim Horton's and birding are not the best match!)  The best thing today....the owl flew directly at and over us....we could have literally touched him!  Seeing him eat a mouse was pretty cool too :)  We then drove around the onion fields hoping to check Snowy Owls off of Betsy's bucket list, but all we saw were shopping bags and white cats.  By the way, I have no idea if the owl is male or female...I am using "him" in a generic sense.  Enjoy these pictures....I never tire of looking at this handsome guy :)


From here, he flew right at and over us!  Amazing and dead silent!

I love that you can see his feet :)

That blurry bit in his mouth is a mouse!

If you look close, you can see a foot on either side of the beak and the mouses' tail!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Great Gray Owl!!!

I first heard about a Great Gray Owl being in the area here.  A full week later (today, December 30, 2011), I finally got a chance to try to see him for myself and was ecstatic to find he was still there!  These aren't the greatest pictures I have seen of this owl, but they are my pictures, and I couldn't be happier!  This is the first owl I have seen in the wild!  A lifer for me :) 

My first picture of the Great Gray :)

Isn't he beautiful?

Not sure if he caught anything...

Flew to a tree a little way off...

Taking off toward the woods at the back of the field..

Not the clearest picture, but love his wings!
 Once he went into the woods, I waited around for a bit, hoping he would come back, but he didn' least not yet!  He totally made my day :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Juncos....and a Squirrel :)

Here are a couple of pictures from my backyard the other day.  This is the best shot I have of Dark-Eyed Juncos....thanks to my new lens :) 
Such cute little birds :)

Peaking around the corner at me :)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Life Ducks!

Today was an exciting day all the way least for a bird nerd :)  First off, I got my early birthday/Christmas present today!  My husband bought me a 70-300mm lens for my camera!  The rest of the afternoon was busy at my Dad's...Mike (my husband) fixed his truck and helped my Dad with some of the heavier yard work items.  When we left there, we had about half an hour to scout for birds.  On the way home, I spotted a rather large bird sitting on a power wire on Hwy 22, so I zoomed in on him through the window of the truck and was excited to see it was an American Kestrel.  We then stopped by Lakeview Marina to see if any ducks were in the water, but there weren't any...just lots of people fishing.  I said to my husband that I had seen some ducks that were new to me at Goose Bay, so we headed there.  Well, we didn't that far.  I saw some ducks as we passed St. Rose Park, we we pulled over to check it out.  I was thrilled!!!  There were lots of Buffleheads (life bird!!) and at least a couple of Hooded Mergansers (life bird!!!).  Below are a few pictures from my new lens!
American Kestrel on Hwy 22

Hooded Merganser, St. Rose Park

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, St. Rose Park

Bufflehead, St. Rose Park

A bunch of Buffleheads, St. Rose Park

Scared Buffleheads...a little blurry, but I love that they are running on the water :)

Monday, October 31, 2011


This past Saturday, during one of my daughter's swim practices, my husband and I made a quick visit to the piers at Erieau, then we walked along the marsh trail just outside Erieau.  We saw some birds that I have seen before, like Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Herring Gulls, an Osprey with a fish in its talons (couldn't get a decent picture...the sun was in the wrong place), Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ring-billed Gulls, Double-crested Cormorants.  As usual, there were several birds that completly eluded me...not only do I not recoginize many songs and calls, but fall leaves crunch underfoot, drowning out the rustling about of little birds.  That said, I did see two life birds.... :)

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher!! Life Bird!  Got to watch it eating a bug of some kind :)

Yellow-rumped Warbler...not a life bird, but first time I've seen one in this plumage.

I think this is a Bonaparte's Gull (life bird!!)...there were at least two flying around.  At first I thought it was a Black-headed Gull, but the bill on this bird is all black.  It has orange/red feet and one of them has a black tail band...reading about it, it seems that the one with the tail band is a juvenile.  As usual, if I have misidentified this bird, please let me know.

McGeachy Pond

Well, it is back-to-school time....two months ago.  That means far less freetime for me.  My schedule now totally revolves around my daughter's schooling and swim schedule (thankfully my son drives and is essentially done school!).  I haven't really had the opportunity to go out birding, but I try to take advantage of the odd hour or so that I occasionally get.  This post is about such an opportunity!  My daughter swims in Blenheim, so I decided to go check out Erieau.  On my way there, I was totally side tracked by a marshy-pond, so I stopped to have a look.  It is really nice....there is a path between the marsh/pond and Lake Erie.  This day, there were several monarchs enjoying some asters, there were Caspian Terns flying above the lake, Mute Swans were swimming in the pond.  There were numerous other birds that eluded me....I could hear a lot of bird songs/calls that I didn't recognize....I am waiting to for the library copy of Birding by Ear.  I saw one life bird, a Belted Kingfisher, using its wings to remain in one spot while looking for fish.  By the time I put down my binoculars and grabbed the camera, he (or she) dove out of sight.  The following pictures aren't birds, but will give you an idea of what it is like at McGeachy pond, if you haven't been.

One of several rabbits I saw along the path.

Four Monarchs on this plant!  There were more, but this was the most I could capture in a photograph...they kept spooking and returning.


Boardwalk into the pond from the path between the pond and Lake Erie.

The path and lake as seen from the tower by the "parking lot".

This was down the road from the pond...tobacco recently picked.

A tobacco drying barn on the other side of the street.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Holiday Beach Festival of Hawks

On Saturday, September 17, I attended the annual Holiday Beach Festival of Hawks for the first time.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!  It was nice to see and hear from very knowledgable birders!  I was especially excited to get to release a Black-throated Blue Warbler, thanks to the generous man who adopted the bird but allowed someone else to release it.  He initially offered a child standing near me and upon refusal, I got the opportunity :)  I found the Raptor Identification class put on by Bob Pettit of the HBMO to be quite informatitve.  I also learned two other things: 1) I really need a good pair of binoculars, and 2) an 18-105mm lens just doesn't cut it.  A gentleman standing next to us shot a picture of a Juv. Bald Eagle, as did my husband with my my husband's shot, the eagle is just spec on a blue background...the man beside us captured a fanastic close-up!  I will be looking into upgrading to at least a 300mm lens before spring.

As for counting "lifers"...what are the rules?  Most of the birds I saw at the Festival (all but the Turkey Vulture and Bald Eagle) were birds I had never seen before.  Do I count the birds in the demonstrations as lifers or do they have to be seen in their natural habitat?  In the meantime, I am not counting including them on my list because it feels like cheating.  I hope you enjoy the pictures :)

Barred Owl on display...beautiful!

Broad-winged Hawk on display

One of several kettles of Broad-winged Hawks that flew overhead.

Redstart that had been banded that day.

Northern Parula that was banded and now ready for release.

This is the Black-throated Blue Warbler I got to release :D

One of many Sharp-shinned Hawks that were banded.

An Osprey that flew overhead...those who kept their eyes on it saw it dive into the trout pond...I missed it :(

American cute :) 

Look at that face :)  Bander pointing out the baffles on his nostrils.

Eastern Screech Owl on display.

Gray-cheeked Thrush banded that day.

Red-tailed Hawk that had been caught at the Airport, but released at the Festival.

Red-tailed Hawk.  Notice the trachea in his tongue!

Female Peregrine Falcon caught at the Airport.  It had already been banded, but they didn't yet know where it was from.

Female Peregrine, again.

We saw this Bald Eagle on the way home, soaring over Ojibway Parkway.  My husband pulled over so I could get some shots of it.