Saturday, June 22, 2013

Finally into the field!

Last week I was sent out into the field to do some bird surveys. It's the first field work I've gotten to do so far this summer, so needless to say I was pretty darn excited about it. Myself and a coworker headed up to Orillia area to station ourselves and head out from there to our various sites.  Although I adore being in the field, I always find it so difficult to adjust my sleeping schedule. I've always been a night owl, so bat surveys last summer...no problemo! But waking up at 3am to look for birds, well there is another story. I can barely wake up at 5:45am to catch my subway for work on a good day!

Our first location was following the breeding bird atlas to port McNicoll, which faces the Georgian
American Redstart
Bay.  This is such a gorgeous area of the province so I was excited to be here. It was a pretty quiet day for birds although TONS of Great Crested Flycatchers were calling, along with red-eyed vireos. An American Redstart was also intensely curious as to who we were and came up for a wonderful photo shoot!  We unfortunately did not find any of the birds we were hoping to spot here, but the others were pretty cool!  The funny part from this excursion was while doing play-back calls there was a Veery in the recording, suddenly we have an actual Veery calling to us in the distance! Took us a moment to realize...hey! That's an actual bird!

Callbacks: A form of surveying where you play a bird call for a designated amount of time, then listen for another amount of time to hear if it calls back to you. MNR (or whatever natural resource ministry will set out protocols for how long/many per species).

On our way back after this day I helped my first snapping turtle of the season cross the road! It was just a few years old probably, but boy was it ever feisty! If only they'd know you were helping the cross the street and not try and have your fingers for supper!  We also got to see three broadwinged hawks calling feverishly at one another as they flew overhead.  A few times over the course of the day, we even were able to see a porcupine cross the road!!  
Porcupine!


Snapping Turtle 















Later that evening I got to go out for supper with Mike, which was so exciting we got to say hi! We drive around for a bit to try and find...well anything cool. We ended up driving to this little park and ended up finding a female merganser with babies and also a American Widgeon just hanging out with some mallards! 
Common Merganser family

The next day we headed in the opposite direction. We found ourselves at a 3,500acre forest in the Kwartha Lakes called Somerville Tract.  We, again, didn't spot or hear our target bird, but we heard a range if ovenbirds, black-throated blue and green warblers, veerys, amongst some other species. The Mosquitos here were utterly horrible!! We barely could hear the birds from all the buzzing! Although it wasn't as bad as when I was up north, ugh!

Pink Lady Slipper

On our way out we noticed a sign for an orchid field. Here we saw numerous pink lady slippers! Oh they were just so beautiful! A little after we noticed another sign that said "natural culvert". For those who don't know a culvert is what is places under roadways so that water can still pass freely under the road without having it cave in. Usually, they are made out of concrete, but since this one was natural, water ran under the road through natural bedrock and came out the otherside emptying into a river. Looking into it, it was almost like a cave! 


Upland Sandpiper



On the way back to Orillia we took a route that went through the Carden Plain since I had never seen it before! I most certainly NEED to go back! The first species I was able to spot was an upload sandpiper! It was perched high on a fence. These guys have one if my favorite bird sounds, it is so melodic and spiralling, something I certainly never expected to come out of a bird!




Golden-Winged Warbler
Turning the corner, we went down another road area only to see two birds I had hoped to this year (well, and ever really since learning about them!). The first was a Golden-winged Warbler. A beautiful small bird with a golden crown and a golden streak on it's wing.   This little guy is on the Species at Risk list now as much of their habitat is declining.  Unfortunately the photo I took of it had to be exposed a lot in order for the bird to actually be seen, it's a little crappy but at least I got it!  The second exciting bird we saw was a Loggerhead Shrike!  These are one of the coolest birds I've ever learned about.  This small bird is a predator who hunts insects, small reptiles and amphibians, small mammals, and also other birds.  They used barbed wire and other thorns to puncture their prey and hold it up while they eat it.  What a feisty little bird!  Unfortunately I was not able to get a good photo of one as it was too far away, but, I hope one day I will!!

I've been tinkering with an application I downloaded to place watermarks on my photos (finally).  Unfortunately along with the watermark of my own, it also comes out with the applications watermark since I'm too cheap to but the actual full program.  If anyone knows of applications for Macs that are free (or cheaper) where I can place a watermark....I'd be interested to hear about it!!

Prairie Smoke