Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 27,2011 Massena, N.Y-Cornwall, ON Christmas Bird Count

The Massena-Cornwall Christmas Bird Count was held under ideal weather conditions with excellent visibility along the St.Lawrence River. With no rain or snow and limited amounts of ice and snow most participants had a great day in the field. I don't have the final results yet but overall at list 1 new species was found, a Winter Wren, on Moulinette Island. In fact Ben and I observed 2 wren species, the other a Carolina Wren on Ault island. Not bad for late December in eastern Ontario. Other higlights included 1 Red-throated Loon, 25+ Common Loon, 7 Red-necked Grebe, 1 Red-shouldered Hawk,  1 Snowy Owl, 400+ American Robin, 1 Song sparrow, 3 Northern Flicker to name a few! Other groups had impressive lists including Double-crested Cormorant, Horned Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Tundra Swan, American wigeion and Eastern Meadowlark. Lets hope we set a new record. I'll have the results availible end of first week of January. Heading to Dominican Republic soon!

One of the few Carolina Wren records for the count.

Pishing and squeaking played an important role for attracting species.

Ben hard at work looking for northern Flickers. Still no shoes!

The last of the freighters along the St. Lawrence before freeze up.

A female Pileated Woodpecker made a brief stop on a telephone pole at Upper Canada Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

Snowy Owls were found on the count for the first time in since 2008 reflecting the large southbound movement experienced this fall/winter.

A Winter Wren was new for the count. It was tricky to photograph since they don't sit still for very long.

Record numbers of American Robins were found, likley due to our mild fall and great berry crop.

Always a great bird to see on a Christmas bird count!

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26,2011 Gray Partridge

Hi Everyone
Today I observed a flock of 9 Gray Partridge along Terry Fox Drive just south of Richardson Side Road. The flock was feeding in a field before a Common Raven dive bombed them a couple of times and the flock flew off across the Carp River towards Huntmar Rd. and disappeared. This area is north of the Maple Grove Road site and bordered by Huntmar Road,, Richardson Side Road, Terry Fox Drive and Hwy. 417.
Good Birding, Bruce

Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 24,2011 Christmas Eve

Now with winter upon us now, the ground snow covered, be sure to have your bird feeders full for our winter resident species or a late lingerer. A suet feeder will attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees and any other insect eater that might be still hanging on. Both sunflower and nyger seeds work well for most local species. 

American Robins can overwinter in small numbers if there is an ample food supply of berries/fruit such as Mountain Ash, Buchthorn, Wild Grape, or Crab-apple. 

An American  Robin foraging on the ground. 

Buckthorn berries are still abundant this winter.

Over 100 American robins were counted at the Britannia Conservation Area on December 18th. 
The White-breasted Nuthatch  is a permanent resident in eastern Ontario. During the winter months it can be found associating with Black-capped Chickadees as they forage through city woodlots or visit bird feeders. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

December 21, 2011 Birding Presqu'ile Provincial Park

Had a good morning birding Owen Point, Gull Island and various locations within the park. On Gull Island a flock of Purple Sandpipers was a definite highlight as they fed along the southeast corner of Gull Island. Over on High Bluff Island  3 Snowy Owls were positioned for hunting as a large number of ducks as they  fed along the shoreline. A male Northern Harrier and a immature Cooper's Hawk were noted  hunting over the island as a Red-tailed Hawk circled overhead. There must be a high concentration of rodents on this island. At Calf Pasture an immature Bald Eagle perched in a tree while a Northern Shrike preened, a great day birding! 

Here are a variety of Purple Sandpiper photos I took on Gull Island. enjoy! 

December 20, 2011 Birding Amherst Island.

The birding today on Amherst Island was great. We observed 5 Snowy Owls at the east end of the island including 3 on the KFN property. At the gravel bar a single Purple Sandpiper was observed, a late Savannah Sparrow at the pond and the Marsh Wren seen on December 12, was still present in the cattails just west of the bar. Along the South Shore Road a very late Killdeer was noted. At dusk at least 12 Short-eared owls were feeding along Front Road between Stella and the east point.

Amherst Island Ferry. 

The Black -capped Chickadee will welcome you to the Owl Woods. 

A male Northern Cardinal waiting for the feeders to be filled. 

The Red-bellied Woodpecker continues to expand its range into eastern Ontario. 

Amherst Island  can be a great location for Short-eared Owls.

The Short-eared Owl normally feeds at dusk but this individual was out early!   

A Short-eared Owl fly's over investigating.

This Short-eared Owl was "wing clapping" which I thought was unusual for this time of year.. 

A male Snowy Owl  just east of the KFN property. 

Snowy Owls use a variety of perches while hunting. 

A White-breasted Nuthatch waits for an opportunity to be hand fed. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

December 18,2011 Birding on the Ottawa Christmas Bird Count.

It was a strange feeling this morning. I was the Ottawa Christmas Bird Count, no snow, and -12c! Not what you normally except in Ottawa. Over the 41 years I've been participating, this has happen only few times. It wasn't that long ago, December 16, 2007 that the count was finally canceled at noon due to a snow storm.  Unfortunately the lack of snow usually means the bird feeders will be slow and the birds will be dispersed over a large area making counting more difficult. With a lack of snow you can cover areas that are normally not accessible. During the morning the Ottawa River, Lake Deschenes had a thin layer of ice which forced many water birds to move to any open water and the Deschenes Rapids area had a good variety of ducks. Gull numbers were low due to the open waters, raptor number low, and most land birds too. A slow day in the field for most. Not to many highlights and no new species for the count. But it's always fun!

American Black Duck along the Ottawa River.

A male Barrow's Goldeneye near Mooney's Bay was a surprise find for the day. 

A great comparison of male Barrow's and Common Goldeneye.

A female Cooper's Hawk sitting on breakfast, a Rock Pigeon. 

Ready for take-off. 

A gray morph Eastern Screech-Owl at dusk.

The Eastern Screech-owl is an uncommon resident in the Ottawa area.  Due to its nocturnal native it goes undetected  in most areas. 

Ben scanning the open water off Britannia pier. On our first visit at dawn the river was many frozen with a thin layer of ice after dropping to -15c overnight. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 17, 2011 Renfrew County Birding

Ben and I spent most of the day birding on the Pembroke Christmas Bird Count with a quick side trip to Eganville and Lake Dore. Overall a great day, -9c, no snow and most rivers and lakes still wide open. For the Pembroke CBC it was very usual to have no snow and green grass! With the earlier mild conditions  they were still numerous late lingering species along the Ottawa River at Morrison Island. Highlights included a Common Loon, 1 Greater Scaup, 7 Bufflehead, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 1000+ Canada Geese and a Cackling Goose. On Lake Dore, with no ice,  we found 1 Common Loon, 2 Red-necked Grebe, 5 Horned Grebe, 5 Long-tailed Duck, 1 White-winged Scoter, 37 Lesser Scaup, 17 Hooded Merganser, 2 Iceland Gull, 1 Glaucous Gull and a immature Bald Eagle. An amazing variety for mid December on Lake Dore. Most years the lake is frozen solid by now. The Rufous hummingbird was still coming to the hummingbird feeder at Eganville and appeared in good condition. Tonight's  low is again -16c!

Sunrise along the Ottawa River at Morrison Island.

An adult Ring-billed Gull was a late lingerer at Pembroke.

A Ruffed Grouse showed no concern as it walked along a log. 

Despite -16c overnight, the Rufous Hummingbird is doing well. 

With no snow on the ground, a flock of Snow Bunting in flight were very conspicuous. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

December 16, 2011 Snowy Owls continue to move south!

The widespread southbound movement of Snowy Owl continues. Birds are being found throughout southern Canada and northern United States and it's only mid December. It's been awhile since we had a good number of  Snowy Owls  in the Ottawa area. With all the farmland south and east and good hunting, we may be looking at a record number. It will be interesting to see if Snowy Owls winter on Wolfe Island this season. Historically, Wolfe Island has been the best location to see numbers of Snowy Owl during irruption years. Now with 86 Wind Turbines on the west end of the island, it will be interesting to see if there will be any adverse effects on wintering owls and other raptors. 

Snowy Owls are on the move south in good numbers.

If you need  Snowy Owl for a "lifer" this is the winter you"ll be rewarded.

December 15, 2011 Rufous Hummingbird update.

 Rufous Hummingbird still doing well.
The Rufous Hummingbird at Eganville was banded on Tuesday, December 13th. It is a hatch-year female, in good condition, with lots of body fat. The hummer was first observed back in late September coming to the feeder and as the weeks past, the Peterson's kept filling the hummingbird feeder. So with our mild November and start in December the Rufous has survived. Now the question is, will the hummer migrate or expire to the extreme cold. If you are interested in learning more about Ontario hummingbirds, definitely check out The Ontario Hummingbird Project website at . 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

December 14,2011 Rufous Hummingbird and Snowy Owls .

The Rufous Hummingbird is still doing well and regularly visiting the Peterson's hummingbird feeder in Eganville. With a mild November and December so far, I'm sure there are other late lingering species in eastern Ontario. Numerous Christmas Bird Count start this weekend and it will be interesting to see what is found.  The forecast for the end of week is cold overnight, -10c, but no snow. Feeder watchers should have there feeders up and ready for the weekend. Anything is possible and have your camera ready!

The number of Snowy Owl sightings continue to rise throughout eastern Ontario. Numerous individuals  are being reported along rivers and lakes where they hunt water birds at dusk, mainly ducks and some gulls.      

With no snow cover these days, the Snowy Owl stands out  against the landscape.