Saturday, May 21, 2011

Red Tailed Hawk?

Soaring above my backyard!  Really don't want these as backyard birds :(

I have seen quite a few Red-Tailed Hawks, mostly while driving along the 401.  We have a wooded area very close to our home and I can often see hawks soaring in the distance above it and the neighbouring park.  This is the first time I have see one (or at least I think it is a Red-Tailed Hawk) soaring over my backyard!  This was taken from the comfort of my patio about a week ago.  I hope I never see feathers scattered over my backyard indicating a visit :(

More First from Mother's Day at Point Pelee

I have been reluctant to post all my "firsts" from Point Pelee because I fear I won't have any new bird pictures to post for a while.  However, here are some more firsts from Point Pelee, May 8, 2011. 
I am not sure what this is...we were walking along the beach to the Tip and saw about 10-12 of these beauties perched in the tree tops.  As we approached, they left.  If you know what it is, could you let me know?

I am pretty sure this is a Red-Breasted Nuthatch.  We watched as he (I think?) searched for food, however, he went up the tree trunk head first instead of coming down head first.  From my very limited knowledge, that is typical activity of a Creeper, but this bird doesn't look like a Creeper to me.

The best I can tell, this is a Yellow Warbler.  This is the second warbler I have ever seen in my entire life and was thrilled to get pictures of both (see my earlier post).  This is very cropped as I saw him out of the corner of my eye and had just enough time to snap a couple pictures before he flew away.  I am using "he" and "him" generically as way to refer to the birds.  I am still learning to identify the birds I see.  If any of my posts wrongly identify a bird, please let me know :)

If you are counting (not including the hawk-like bird), that is 31 birds! 

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Weekend's Visitors

This weekend was a wet, soggy, cold weekend.  I did a little bit of backyard birdwatching from a window and was thrilled to see a Baltimore Oriole found the orange halves I had nailed to the took about two weeks (and a few oranges later) for someone to find them. 

While enjoying the numerous goldfinches, my daughter and I got a really good look at a female Ruby-throated hummingbird who was just sitting in the tree.  I was surprised how long she stood still, blowing in the breeze on that branch.  Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something blue fly past.  About five minutes later an Indigo Bunting flew to the Rose of Sharon in the backyard, perched for a few moments then headed into the tree, where he (I am guessing) stayed for a bit.  All we had were binoculars (and the window was filthy anyway) so I got no pictures of these visitors.  They made my day :)

I had seen an Oriole before, but not this clearly to be able to certainly identify it, and I had never seen an Indigo Bunting before so I consider both of these firsts :)  It is nice that both stuck around long enough to really study them so I could identify them.  I think that makes 29 birds!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Yellow Rumped Warbler (Myrtle Warbler)

Point Pelee, May 8, 2011

I don't have a lot of photographed "first" birds left.  Not only is the first Yellow Rumped Warbler I have ever seen, it is the very first warbler I have ever seen!  I had heard of them but didn't understand the fascination in them until looked through a field guide recently...then I saw the incredible variety and was excited to go to Point Pelee and try my luck.  I saw this guy flying out of the corner of my eye when I was taking pictures of the Ruby Crowned Kinglet and was thrilled to discover that I got at least a somewhat decent photo of him, given the circumstances.  This makes bird specie number 27!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Essex County "carved" in Stone

Found near the Tip, Point Pelee, May 8, 2011

I found this rock on the way to the Tip....doesn't it look like Essex County?  :)

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Point Pelee, May 8, 2011

On the way back from the Tip, I noticed this tiny bird flitting around on the branches alongside the trail.  He had absolutely no fear!  He got within a few feet of me, but kept a watchful eye on me.  I took lots of pictures of this little guy, but ended up with lots of back and head shots.  I am thankful for the head shots as they helped me to figure out what he was.  Although this blog is out of order, this is specie 26 listed on the blog (more for my sake than yours :) ).

Monday, May 9, 2011

White Throated Sparrow

White Throated Sparrow, May 9, 2011

Forgive my blurry photo, but I couldn't believe it!  Another new species in my backyard :)  I was watching my new found sparrow friends and found this guy in the mix.  Clearly a White-Throated Sparrow....I was thrilled!  It was almost as if God was showing me the difference in these two birds.  This makes 25!

White-Crowned Sparrow....I think????

Possible White Crowned Sparrow, backyard, May 8, 2011

I spotted 3-4 of these in the backyard yesterday.  Thankfully, I had my binoculars and my camera outside with me.  I got a good look at this bird and took a few pictures then grabbed my field guide.  The birds stuck around for most of the evening so I was able to really study him.  I originally thought it must be a White-throated Sparrow, but there is no yellow on him by his eyes.  His head stripes were definitely black and much so they almost looked painted on.  I'm a bit nervous about saying this IS a White-Crowned Sparrow because they are not common in the this area, but may winter here (Windsor), and I am not an experience birder.  Can anyone recognize this bird? keep count...this makes bird number 24 for me!
This picture, highly cropped, was taken May 9, 2011.

American Coot

On Mother's Day, we headed out to Point Pelee for the day.  When walking along the Marsh Boardwalk, I spotted a duck-like bird I had never seen before.  He (or she) swam fairly close to where we were standing and stood up on a clump of ???? to groom (probably not the right birding term).  I couldn't get over his feet...they are HUGE!!!  I was able to get lots of pictures of him.  Later along the board walk, I spotted a more experienced birdwatcher (he and his wife both sported binoculars and were watching something far off in the distance).  I asked him about this bird and he thought I had described an American Coot and said that they weren't all that common.  When I got home, I zoomed in on his head and consulted one of my field guides, and it confirmed that this was in fact an American Coot :)

Forster Tern

Forster Tern, May 2, 2011, Goose Bay

On Monday, May 2, 2011, my daughter and I headed out on a photography day.  We stopped at a couple of parks to take pictures of spring flowers and birds.  I wanted to stop at Goose Bay because I had noticed some birds that I couldn't recognize on my drive by each day.  We sat down on the rocks right at the edge of the Detroit River and stopped these birds on the dock of the house next to the park. Eventually, they left the dock to do some fishing.  I had never seen diving birds before and was thrilled to see them soaring and diving!  I got a couple of clear shots...most were somewhat blurry as they were moving quite quickly.  I was thrilled to see that I caught this bird on his way into the water!  I also got one when he came out....when I zoom it in on my computer, you can see a fish in his mouth!  Another lucky day for me :)

Mute Swans

Mute Swan, Summer 2010

I had seen swans before, but only in Stratford.  In the summer of 2010, I noticed these massive beauties in the Detroit River, but wasn't able to stop and enjoy them.  Driving my son to his friends house, I drove past a pond in the Little River Wetlands/Ganatchio Trail area and stopped to see them.  As soon as I stepped new the edge of the pond, two of these beauties swam right up to me, allowing me to get some great pictures!  This one reminded me of the "Tunnel of Love" rides where you ride in the giant swans (that I've only seen in movies).  When they realized I didn't have food to give them, they eventually swam away.

Juvenille Cooper's Hawk

Juvenille Cooper's Hawk, December 3, 2010

Driving home from work one afternoon, I saw what I initially thought was a duck on the side of the road.  As I got closer, I saw that this was no duck!  I parked the car in the driveway, grabbed my camera and headed around the corner, hoping the bird was still there.  As you can see, he was!  He allowed me to get within six feet of him (or her??) before flying up into a tree.  I had no idea what I was looking at so I posted the picture on the Birds and Blooms facebook wall and it was quickly identified as a Juvenille Cooper's Hawk. I was thrilled to get such a good shot of this magnificent predator the first time I ever saw one! 

Birds I've (almost) Always Known

My first recollection of finding enjoyment in birdwatching dates back to my childhood.  My grandfather was an avid backyard birdwatcher.  He had a bird feeder that always bustled with birds!  I remember pouring over the pictures of birds in his 1976 copy of "The Birds of Canada" by W. Earl Godfrey (which I now have in my possession).  I was happy to find that he had tucked into this book an article he clipped out of the Windsor Star on November 25, 1980 that pictured the bird feeder he built and used in his backyard.  One day, I will have someone build me one just like it.  It was thanks to my grandfather that I was able to identify several common bird species very early on in life.

In the last couple of years, I have taken to feeding birds in my backyard.  I now have three feeders (blackoil, nyger seed and hummingbird) that attract several species of birds:

 1) Northern Cardinal
 2) American Goldfinch
 3) Ruby-throated Hummingbird
 4) House Sparrows (what backyard feeder doesn't have lots of these?)
 5) House Finches (saw for the first time in 2010)
 6) Mourning Doves
 7) Red-winged Blackbirds (one of my grandfather's favourites)
 8) Brown-headed Cowbirds
 9) Common Grackles
 10) Black-capped Chickadee (saw for the first time in summer 2010)
 11) American Robin
 12) European Starling
 13) Dark-eyed Juncos (saw for the first time winter 2010/2011)

Most of these birds, I cannot remember seeing for the "first time"...they've always been around.  We also see the occasional:

 14) Blue Jay
 15) Mallard (who sometimes visits our pool)

If you ask me, that's not too bad for an urban backyard :)  Of course, living in Essex County, I've also seen more than my fair share of:

 16) Canada Goose
 17) Ring-billed Gulls (although I incorrectly lumped all gulls into the "seagull" category)
 18) Barn Swallows
 19) Tree Swallows

I am now on a quest to see and photograph as many birds as I can (at least locally).  I am just starting out, so I expect my list will grow quickly for awhile as I make a conscious effort to spot new birds.  I hope you enjoy my sightings :)