Winding Down The Year

So, once again time rampaged through another month, and now November is done, and we are counting down the days until Christmas.

We spent some time helping out with the raptor count at Holiday Beach, and that too has come to an end for the year. We had some days when almost nothing went through the area, but a couple of days when it was extremely busy. One day was so busy in fact that there was an urgent request for assistant counters to help out.

It just so happened that morning when my Lady and I woke up, I opened the blinds and watched as thousands of crows traveled past our house and made their way up river. It literally went on for over an hour. Then, just after the crows, the raptors started going by. It was not as busy as the crows, but it was an amazing sight none the less.

Steady stream of Crows flying past our back yard, just over by the river.

I made a point to go to the tower in the early afternoon, and arrived just as the request for help was going out. I got to the tower and just stood dumbfounded as the birds just kept coming by in waves. I am still not confident enough to call out what I was seeing, but I know that most were Red Tailed Hawks. I tried to count the crows that mixed in, since I was fairly certain of what they were.

At the end of the day, it turned out to be the 3rd largest Red Tail Hawk migration day on record at Holiday Beach, with 2,414 Red Tails. Total number was 3,069 various raptors, and around 15,000 crows. All I remember saying was “Oh My God” as they kept flying overhead. Truly awesome to see. A multitude of ducks and other waterfowl were counted as well that day.

Now here it is, early December, and the skies have been pretty gloomy and cloud covered for at least a week or so. Not too many larger birds visible in the sky and most of the waterfowl have left the area. Our little egret roost just up the road sits empty.

We did get a nice view of a large group of Swans in a field a couple of days ago, and just this afternoon we had 2 Bald Eagles fly almost 50 feet directly overhead.

The snows have started blowing through. We had a couple of inches fall a few weeks back, but within a day or two, it was all gone. Nothing like what it sounds like Toronto is getting. Thank goodness for moving down to the “Banana Belt”. I guess we’ll see what this winter brings.

Anyhow, this might be the last entry for 2019, unless something really interesting comes up.

We hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a safe and Happy New Year.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll talk again next year.

OMG, I’ve Never Seen It Like This Before!

Let’s get this straight; the inbound migration in Spring is very different from the outbound Fall migration.

In May we spent a lot of time at Point Pelee watching the little Warblers coming in. We had a few really great days, but we actually had to wander around looking for all the different birds, most of the time.

This is Fall, and we are spending a lot of our time at Holiday Beach, not only during the couple of weekends for the Hawk Festival, but during the rest of September and October, and will carry on through November.

Sure, some Warblers are being seen, but not in the numbers from May.

What’s really keeping us going out, are the various types of Raptors, the Turkey Vultures, and Blue Jays.

These guys are just passing through, but it’s a lot easier to find them than the little guys, considering they are travelling through in massive groups, or Kettles. We have observed a few thousand Broad-Winged Hawks going through on one day. Then, just a few days ago, I looked out our back door, and noticed lines and lines of Turkey Vultures going by. I grabbed my camera, ran outside and looked off to the south and saw more and more coming through.

I made a quick decision and hopped into the car and found myself at the Hawk Tower, and helped to observe and count the various birds that flew by. Vultures, Blue Jays, Kestrels, Sharp-Shinned Hawks, Harriers, a Peregrine Falcon, a Merlin, and lots of Starlings. One of our resident Eagles and Ospreys even buzzed the tower

And on October 8, we heard that there were over 55,000 Blue Jays counted going past Holiday Beach. We couldn’t be there to see it, but we did observe a lot of Jays going upriver from our back yard.

So now, the majority of Turkey Vultures appear to have migrated out, but some still hang around, and believe it or not, the Jays are still passing through.

One day, my lady and I were at the tower, and one of the Hawk Banding members came by with a Merlin. When asked if anyone wanted to adopt it, my lady quickly said that she would. The gentleman said that it would scream at her when they took it out of the protective covering, but the bird sat nice and quiet the whole time my lady held it, as we all took photos. As soon as she released it, it flew into a nearby tree and promptly told us all off.

This is one of the special times that we looked forward to when we decided to move to our little piece of heaven. Last year when we came down, we missed the outbound Monarch Butterflies as they pushed through Pelee, and again this year we haven’t been there at the right time (about 1000 were roosting on a tree near the tip a couple evenings ago, but we couldn’t make it). We did manage to see a small number resting on top of a tree one day, took a few photos, watched one that had a tag on it, and when we looked back to the group, they were all gone. Just like that.

A handful of migrating Monarch Butterflies

None the less, we have so much going on around here, it’s difficult to decide where to go and when. We might be in one place, and whatever might pass through somewhere else. Luck of the draw, but so much fun anyway.

Remember, we have an election coming up, and the polls are open pretty late. Be sure to get out and vote.

Anyway, thanks for reading, and don’t forget to click follow if you haven’t already.

Take care till next time.