Evicted?

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.

Cleaning up the nest after the squatters left

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).

Fledged Horned Owl

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.

Till then.

How was your Halloween?

So, did you get out and vote?

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 process.

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.

Le Conte’s Sparrow

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.

Till next time.

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.