We aren’t certain when or how it happened, but the Horned Owls are no longer occupying the Osprey nest. We stopped one morning to have a look at how the little ones were doing, and we were shocked to see the Ospreys enjoying their old home. All kinds of emotions ran through us; fear that the owlets were tossed over the side when mommy wasn’t there, and shock when we considered that maybe they were eaten! We were happy of course for the Osprey, seeing as how they seemed to be clueless as to how to build a new nest.
A few days later, we stopped again to check out the nest, and just as we were leaving, my lady noticed what looked like a plastic bag in a nearby tree. When we put our binoculars on it, we realized that it was one of the fledged owls! Big sigh of relief. After posting it to our local birding group, we learned that the owls actually come in early in order to use other bird’s nests, and then leave before the residents arrive (usually).
Point Pelee is closed. Hillman Marsh is closed. Provincial parks are closed. Fortunately for us, our local conservation area is still open for walking in, but there are no facilities available. The birds don’t care, they are coming in bit by bit. So far we’ve see the Yellow Warblers, Yellow Rumps, Black and White Warblers, Blue Grey Gnatcatchers, Flycatchers, Cowbirds, Catbirds, Herons and Egrets, a couple of Sandhill Cranes are hanging out nearby, a pair of Prothonetary Warblers are trying to get into the Tree Swallow nests, the hummingbird and Baltimore Oriole have returned to our backyard, and we have seen some Warbling Vireos around as well.
We had a pretty nice day late last week, we were over at our favourite spot, and met a couple of our birding friends who brought us some extra luck. We were able to see a few Summer Tanagers, a Female Scarlet Tanager, and even a Woodcock out in the daytime.
The weather is getting warmer, but we are all still under physical distancing restrictions. The area we live in is pretty close knit, so lately a few of us have been having “end of the driveway” meet ups. We sit around, at a safe distance, and shoot the breeze with each other. Such is the new normal I guess.
So, once again this is a short one and hopefully we can get this pandemic over with and return to some semblance of real life once more.
In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and we’ll talk again soon.
Welcome to all of my new readers, and thanks again for everyone who continues to follow our little escapades.
Point Pelee is closed, and as of May so is Hillman Marsh, effectively shutting down the local birding season for this year. The birds are coming in, and they are going to have the parks to themselves without all the paparazzi. This is just so sad. How are we going to know when the Cerulean Warbler comes in?
Fortunately a couple of conservation areas near to us are still open (for now) as long as people follow the distancing rules, so we can get out once in a while to check things out. Likely won’t get as many photos as last year, but hey, I can hope can’t I?
We have been keeping an eye on the Horned Owls squatting in the Osprey nest, and there are now 2 young fluffballs keeping their eyes on us. We were watching them one afternoon, and noticed an Osprey sitting in a tree a short distance away. As we waited, it took off and started circling around and rising up to the height of the tower, before finally doing a strafing run showing off its talons. As quickly as it started, it ended with the Osprey flying away right after.
On another day, we watched as the 3 original occupants flew in, and we got excited for some real action, but the same damn thing happened. What a letdown. Couldn’t even get all 3 Ospreys together.
Now 2 of the Osprey are thinking of setting up house on top of the light stand at a ballpark across the road from their old home. Sadly, for every 2 twigs they bring in, 1 falls down to the ground. At this rate, it will take a couple of years before they can bring up a family there.
The little ones are starting to come in now. We’ve seen Kinglets flitting gingerly in the trees, as well as an Eastern Towhee, Yellow Rump, Carolina Wren, a couple of Wood Ducks in the trees, Coopers Hawks building a nest, a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, as well as some of the bigger guys returning, such as Cormorants, Herons and Egrets.
Eagles have been plentiful this spring and we have a couple hanging out pretty close to our home.
As for the Astrophotography, it’s taking a little while to learn what part of the night sky to take photos of, and how to get worthwhile shots, so this time I have nothing new. Hopefully in the next couple of months I might be able to get some Milky Way shots, and maybe the Andromeda Galaxy.
Well, that’s all for now.
Till next time, just stay safe and healthy, and let’s get through these interesting times that we are currently cursed with, and look forward to brighter times soon.
Overall, it has been a fairly gentle one down here, other than the constant cloud cover, and the occasional snowfall that we have to sweep away. But hey, the sun has actually been making an appearance a little more often nowadays. We have even had the front and back doors open a few days, and the freshness of the air is exhilarating.
Just had a silly thought, if 1 year in human time, is equal to 7 years in dog time, how old is the dog if it celebrates its birthday on February 29. Since it only comes around every 4 years, that dog could live forever!
And what about cats? If they have 9 lives, and are born on Leap Day, do they automatically get 4 times as many?
My brain hurts.
And now for something completely different ,,, Birds. You knew it was coming.
We had a Snow Goose hanging out with all of the Canada Geese in a field across the road. Then one day we were driving alongside the river into town, and my Lady says to stop, there’s something different on someone’s riverfront yard. Sure enough, there’s our little Snow Goose, up nice and close.
Then we got word of some Snow Buntings out near Point Pelee. Into the car we go and eventually find them out distant in the field where we first saw the Black Bellied Whistling Duck in the summer. It was beautiful to see a few hundred of these little birds dancing from spot to spot.
We also got word of 6 Meadowlark sticking around a field about 20 minutes away, so we packed up a cup of tea and headed over to see if we could find them. As we approached the area, they flew out of the trees on the left and into the field on the right. Of course, they flew a good way out into the field, but a bit of patience allowed us to get a couple of good photos. Not only that, we had some Snow Buntings playing around nice and close. Not close enough to get single birds, but a wonderful display of them flying.
We wandered over to Wheatley harbor a week or so ago, and we were graced with a beautiful display from some Bald Eagles. They mostly paired off and did their aerial gymnastics, but at one point we counted 7 spread out across the lakefront.
I almost forgot, we were out for a walk at Holiday Beach last week, and as we were passing an area where we had seen deer before, my Lady stops me and looks through her binoculars. I look through my camera, and get off a couple of shots of a little Fox out sunning itself. It didn’t like the fact that we had stopped, so it quickly got up and moved further into the trees.
As for everything else, we are going through photos of the birds from last year’s migration, and are trying to be able to identify them quickly, just in case we get put on a spot, or maybe even tested.
Sorry for the long time between posts, but it’s been a bit hard to sit down and put my mind into writing, when there has been so much wildlife outside to keep us busy.
Welcome to 2020. I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s.
So, I didn’t make any resolutions for this year. I suppose one of them would have been to get this blog updated every week, but based on the current date, I would have blown that one already.
First off, how about some bird sightings. There still seem to be a lot of Kestrels and Red-Tailed Hawks hanging around these parts. We see a lot of them as we are out and about. Went over to Holiday Beach a couple days ago and actually saw about 4 Carolina Wrens searching for food in some brush on the ground. Went to the tower there the next day and there were some Goldfinches bouncing around from tree to tree. When we were in Toronto we would only see these little ones in the spring and summer.
There have been a couple of Egrets still visiting the waters nearby, and the Eagles are making their way back in as well.
Have you ever on the spur of the moment thrown some clothes into a bag, jumped in the car and just go somewhere, without knowing where you will end up. A few days before Christmas, we did just that. Since we are fairly close to the border, we crossed the bridge and made our way south on I75. Ended up spending the night just south of Dayton, and the next morning pointed the car southwest and eventually ended up in Nashville. We made sure to stop at the visitors info centre and made our plans for the next few days.
Honky Tonks – check Belle Mead – check Hop On Hop Off – check Country Music Hall Of Fame – check and of course The Grand Ole Opry – check
We also visited some other sites around the city, and eventually worked our way back home for Christmas. What’s nice about travelling on Christmas Day is that there is hardly anyone on the road, and the border crossing is pretty fast.
We did the same spur of the moment thing, and visited Sarnia the weekend before New Year’s and found out that there was a Snowy Owl being spotted occasionally in the fields nearby. We decided to take a walk along one of the trails, and sure enough, way out in a field we saw a white blob. I tried to take a couple of photos to see what it was, and couldn’t really tell. I ran back to the car and grabbed my stronger binoculars, and walked quickly back to my Lady who was keeping an eye on the blob. After a few moments of trying to catch my breath (hey I’m an old guy now you know), I was able to confirm it was indeed a Snowy Owl, and it was actually facing our direction. I placed my lens on my Lady’s shoulder and fired off a number of shots, hoping that at least one would come out (this is called spray and pray). It took a bit of cropping in but I feel this might be the best shot.
We had also heard that a Harlequin Duck had been seen by the Bluewater Bridge that morning, so we zipped over there, but the water was running so fast, nothing was sitting around. We then wandered over to the Sarnia harbor, and checked out the waterfowl taking refuge in the docks area. Sadly, the Harlequin wasn’t around, but this little guy came over to see if I had any food for him.
There were also a few Long Tail Ducks out on the river.
As we were getting ready to move on, this Eagle came to harass some of the ducks, before flying off to a tree out on an island in the river.
So the weather here has been on and off lately. Sometimes cool, sometimes a bit warmer, but you can tell the seasons have changed. Hey, we even had snow for an hour. Then, within 30 minutes, it was gone. We had some ice cover on the marsh for a few days, but it too has melted again.
The sky though has been a different matter. It feels like weeks have gone by where there is either cloud cover, or just overall grey. The sky has been covered in some way for so long, that when I looked outside the other day, I was almost blinded by a strange bright light shining down from a weird coloured sky. Believe it or not, the sky was BLUE! I went online to see what that light was, and found out that it was The SUN! What a day for celebration! Sadly, it has disappeared again though.
Anyhooo, it’s only a few months before the season changes, and the birds start to make their way back north, and we are out traipsing around our favourite birding areas again.
In the meantime, please leave me a comment below and let me know what you like or don’t like about my verbal meanderings, and don’t forget to click Follow to get email notifications when I put up another post.
And if you aren’t getting notifications, please be sure to check your Junk mail. You might have to put me as Not Junk.
I’ll try to get another post out sooner, rather than later, but until then, thanks for reading.
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.
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.
We had a very busy day during the election, starting at 8:00
in the morning, right through to 1:00 the next morning. We spent our day locked
up in a school gym, working with Elections Canada, confirming voters, giving
the ballots, and eventually counting the ballots. Really a very interesting
Funny thing, when we were in Toronto, my Lady often said
that she would like to work an election one day. Sure enough, the first
election to come around in our new place, and we get asked to work it. Kind of
bizarre if you ask me.
Yup, it’s Fall. The trees have almost lost all of their
leaves, the weather is cooler, the birds are on their way to somewhere warm,
and the days are getting short.
Speaking of birds, we had a really cool sighting recently.
It was reported that there was a Nelson’s Sparrow hanging around the Holiday
Beach Hawk Tower. We were able to get over to see it, and after some time it
showed itself to us. This was exciting as we learned that it was a very rare
bird in our area. So of course, I start taking photographs from the top of the
tower, into the grass at the base, and was fortunate to get at least a couple
of good photos.
After cropping and sending them to one of our very knowledgeable friends, he confirmed with the original spotter, that it actually wasn’t a Nelson’s, but in fact something even more rare, a Le Conte’s Sparrow. It’s strange to think that my photos helped to determine an extremely rare bird in our area.
We have had a Snowy Egret hanging out in our little Egret roost just a couple minutes walk from our place. Much smaller than a Great Egret, it comes in every night before the big ones arrive, and it seems to have claimed it’s own little spot.
Went for a drive a couple weeks ago and came across a large flock of Starlings on the road. They started off on a sideroad, and then moved to a paved road. We stopped and opened the windows and listened to them as they talked to each other and flew off. I forgot my camera so had to use the cell phone.
The hunters have been out recently. We can hear the guns going off in the morning and even at Holiday Beach there are duck hunters around. We would be at the tower, and suddenly, Bang Bang. All the wildlife on the marsh suddenly take to wing and fly off to a different area. Even going for a walk can be restricted on some trails. There are signs out in some areas, warning not to hike during certain times and days due to hunters in the area. Personally, I prefer to hunt with a camera, so I try to stay far away from the guys with the guns. Mind you though, since moving down, we have learned that the most common colour to wear is Camouflage.
How was Halloween in your area? We live on a small street
where there are still a few homes up for sale, and only a few people have
children. We didn’t have any idea how many kids would come around, and this
year the weather really sucked. It was wet all day, stopped for a couple hours
during trick or treat time, but that’s when the cold winds blew in strong. As
such, we had a total of 12 visitors. Oh well, I guess there’s still more chips
and chocolates for me to eat.
So, that’s what we have for this episode.
Thanks for reading, and if you like, don’t forget to tell
your friends about this little blog, and get them to sign up too.
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
Sure, some Warblers are being seen, but not in the numbers
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.
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.