Is Easter Cancelled?

The weather is starting to warm up and the ice is finally off the lake. As it broke up we found a few lake icebergs floating a little off shore.

It’s really nice to see some of the early birds working back into Essex County. We had a few Sandhill Cranes visiting our little area again, unfortunately they seem to be staying pretty far out in the fields, or higher up in the sky. They like to give a loud call similar to a turkey gobble, and as soon as we hear them our heads are up and swiveling all over.

All over the place we are seeing the Turkey Vultures, Killdeer (they tell you who they are when they fly), Redwing Blackbirds, Dark-Eyed Junko, Phoebe, Kinglets, and Robins. Herons and Egrets are finally showing up in small numbers. We’ve even had a flock of American Pelicans resting on the Detroit River just a 3 minute drive from our house. All kinds of ducks are starting to show up. We missed the Long Tailed Duck in Windsor, but Pintails are enjoying themselves at Hillman Marsh.

So last month we were chasing the Snow Buntings, but early March was all about the Redpolls. This time we got a message that they were at a park that we often visit for waterfowl and shorebirds. The initial post was about over 100 redpoll, so we hopped in our car and off we went. By the time we got there, they had either moved away, or were hiding from us.

We went back a couple days later and as we got to a small brush at the edge of the trail, we noticed the bushes almost seemed alive. We had struck Redpoll gold! In all we counted almost 70 in a couple of trees, and they were giving us quite a show. Although we couldn’t find a Hoary, we were giddy just seeing so many Common Redpolls so close.

My Lady and I were walking through Holiday Beach a couple days ago and spotted a strange bird. I took a photo, and was quite surprised to see a White Headed Robin! Right away I put it onto our birding group and went on taking far too many photos. After getting home and putting them onto the computer, it turns out I took just under 600 pics of this poor bird. After getting rid of the obvious bad ones, I am still left with about 90. I really should get rid of some more. We have found out that this is a pretty rare bird so it’s nice to see it again a few days later, and this time we showed it to a few other birder friends who were able to get their own photos.

And guess who’s back on the Osprey nest? Yup, those Horned Owl squatters. They are making it harder to see them this time, and we haven’t seen any babies yet, but we are keeping an eye out for them.

We had a Common Loon spending time in the Colchester Harbour for a few days. We stopped there a couple days and tried getting that perfect photo of it rising up with the wings out, head up and bill open in a call. Unfortunately it chose not to do that for us. We did show up one afternoon when the sun was shining nicely and got some close ups of it. Very happy with that.

Common Loon

On one of our many drives, we spotted 4 female Pheasants near the side of the road. We went back a few days later and found the male trying to hide, before it went running down the side of the field.

So I teased about the Pelicans earlier.

We were lying in bed one morning and our phone beeped with a bird group message. Someone had 40 Pelicans just off his back yard. Back and forth messages followed finding out where, and it was 3 minutes from our house. After receiving permission to go visit his back yard, we flew out of bed, threw on our clothes, grabbed a cup of tea to go and zipped over. We missed the large group but were quite entertained by the dozen or so that were left. The next day, they were there again, and off we went again. Sadly most had left by that time, but we managed to find a small group out on the lake just a short walk away. Later we heard they were in the marsh at Holiday Beach. We zoomed over there and found 4 of them close to the Hawk Tower where we spent so much time in the fall.

Quite a different experience than we had last year, when we had seen a few in flight, but couldn’t get any photos until the very end with only 1 directly overhead at Pelee.

BREAKING NEWS…

EASTER IS CANCELLED…?

Due to a hungry Eagle spotted by local photographers (My Lady and I), it has been confirmed that the Easter Bunny has met a sad demise.

Initially spotted in a farmer’s field, the young Eagle quickly flew into the trees in a guilty attempt to hide from prying eyes, but was soon again found enjoying a satisfying lunch of pulled rabbit. A basket of coloured eggs magically disappeared as the photographers tried to focus on them.

Considering that they breed like rabbits, we can only hope that at least one of his multiple offspring is willing to take up where this poor bunny’s place ended.

WARNING – GRAPHIC PHOTOS FOLLOW

So, that’s pretty well it for March, we are trying to see whatever we can, and hopefully April will start to bring in some of the warblers.

In the meantime, I am still trying to figure out how to take a few shots of the stars, and since Orion is the most prominent constellation in the sky from my back yard right now, the Orion Nebula has been my target of choice. One day I’ll be able to post something really cool, but for now, here’s Orion.

25 Second Exposure

Thanks for reading. Glad you are still with me.

Till next time.

What’s with this SNOW?

Welcome to my new readers. Always nice to see you here. Hope you continue to enjoy.

Well, originally we didn’t expect February to be anything interesting, but I guess in a way, it turned out to be alright.

The past few months have been pretty grey with a lot of cloud cover, but for some reason we actually got to see the sun a number of times in February. With this though came the colder weather. The ice on the river built up quickly so Lake Erie and Lake St Clair both froze over as far as the eye could see. A lot of the waterfowl moved in a bit closer so we visited the Lakeview Marina a few times to see what we could get photos of. Sadly we missed a couple of the different visitors, but we were always entertained by the good old regulars.

Early in the month we heard about a Mockingbird being seen in Ojibway Park in Windsor. So my Lady and I packed up our lunch and set off to see if we could find it. Thankfully it wasn’t too hard to find as it was just along the trail leading to the popular bird feeding bridge, and it was willing to give us a show. At one point it was chasing some Eastern Bluebirds out of the area while we were trying to photograph them as well.

And SNOW, geez did we get snow this year. Some of the residents in our area said they hadn’t seen this much in almost 10 years. We actually had to go out and shovel a few times, and when the plows came along we had to work hard to clear the end of the driveway. Thankfully, we have a great group of neighbours who are all willing to work together to help everyone out.

Sure, some people living in more traditional Snow Belts would laugh at us complaining of a “little bit of snow”, but we live in a Banana Belt down here at the bottom of Canada. I guess if Texas can get slammed by old man Winter, then it’s fitting that we get a bit here too in the Great White North, even if we don’t like it so much. Kids on the other hand were having a blast. With the marshes frozen over we saw a good number of skating and hockey rinks popping up, and even had a few parents out scooting over the fields in their snowmobiles.

One really nice thing about the snow was the arrival of thousands of Snow Buntings being seen all over the county. A few concessions over from us had the largest flock of Buntings that I have ever seen. Sure, I really haven’t seen a lot, but this one was really big. They hung around a couple of silos that must have had enough food scattered about to keep them satisfied, but they would be so far away from the road where I couldn’t really photograph them. I did manage to find other flocks that would kinda let me be close enough and have added a few photos below. A large number of Horned Larks and a very, very small number of Lapland Longspur would join in with the Snow Bunting feasts.

Just down the road is Big Creek which also was almost completely frozen over, except for a small area close to the road, about 50 feet across, where the ducks, geese, swans, a couple of herons, and the local Eagle family would all congregate and feed. One day we stopped to watch an eagle harass the other visitors, and eventually it caught a small fish and then flew off to a tree to enjoy it. It was snowing a fair bit at the time, as you can see in the photos.

Oddly, we had a few Virginia Rails that were trying to overwinter at the Point Pelee Marsh this year. We were fortunate to be able to get out to see them on a good day when at least one was feeding along the boardwalk. With the cold weather there was a lot of concern about whether or not they would survive and we aren’t sure if they made it, as we went back a few days after the heavy snowfalls and we couldn’t find any new tracks and nobody has seen them since. They nest in the marsh so we can always hope that they were able to find a new area to hunker down in and stay safe. It’s a big marsh after all.

While at Pelee, I climbed the tower at the tip to see how much ice had been building on the lake.

And here we have a few more of the Pelee residents

We went to the marina a couple days ago when it was getting warmer, and all the eagles were gone from Peche Island. Often there are over a dozen or more hanging out in the trees, but with the ice breaking up, and the lakes and rivers running again, they have either moved on, or found somewhere else to find food for now.

There were still a small number of the regulars close by, and I was really lucky to find a Hooded Merganser in the mix. At one point it was cleaning itself up, and I just sat there waiting for the inevitable rise up and flap wings motion. Finally, up it goes and my finger hits the button and click click click, and then it’s over in about 1 second. Fortunately, I got the shot I was waiting for.

So that’s about it for the February roundup. Hopefully March will begin to bring some of the early birds in. On the 28th we had some Killdeer flying around our heads as my Lady and I went for a walk in the neighbourhood. Maybe some of the other shore birds will start showing up too.

Remember, if you like the stories or photos, enter your email and click the Follow button to get notifications of any updates. Looks like I may have actually settled into a routine of doing a monthly roundup, so I think I will try to keep it that way, unless something really special happens.

Thanks for reading.

Till next time.