Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Winter Drive to St. Clair NWA

Well!  Finally home in Chatham and decided last Friday to take a little drive around the area.  I set out originally to find some Snowy Owls that might be around, but unfortunately had no luck!  But just because there were no Snowys, certainly didn't mean that it was a wasted trip, there were so many other birds that I was able to see, and firsts for this year!

I left Chatham and headed West towards Pain Court.  The first birds I saw were a flock of Snow Buntings!  They were very, very skittish around my car so I was unable to get an actual nice photo of them, but instead caught them in flight! Which is actually pretty amusing to see.

A little further down the road, the sound of vehicles passing flushed a pair of Northern Harriers! I was actually quite surprised to see them for some reason, but their flight patter and the iconic white rump patch gave them away almost instantly!

I then found myself practically right beside St. Clair National Wildlife Area.  As I worked here in the past, I've really fallen in love with this place.  It's really a Chatham-Kent Treasure that not many people actually know exists!  As I drove through the driveway, the first bird I spotted was a juvenile bald eagle.  I wish I had been able to see it from a little closer of a distance, but it was a pretty cool find either way!  Certainly much different looking than it's adult counterpart.

I continued along the trails towards the footbridge. I heard and saw a flock of Goldfinches fly by and land in nearby trees.  A Downy Woodpecker also began calling from high up...it took quite a while to finally pinpoint where he was, even with the trees bare I find Downy's to be quite difficult to spot with their fast and almost constant movements.  While looking around in the same area, I spotted some little birds jumping around in the Phragmites. These ended up being American Tree Sparrows!  I held one of these in the hand this past fall while banding, so I was actually quite excited to spot one and ID it in the field by myself! 
American Tree Sparrow

I unfortunately had to turn around at the bridge so that I would be able to drive home while it was still fairly light out, but it was certainly a beautiful winter walk.   There were quite a few trails on the ice of various critters.  A particular track I was able to easily see were Turkey tracks (or possibly pheasant too I suppose!).  Looking around all else was seemingly still and quiet, just incredibly peaceful!
Hopefully I will be able to make it back there once more before the big move to Peterborough!  The drive home didn't have any Snowy's in sight either, but another trip yesterday did prove to be more successful!  Hopefully I'll get a few moments today or tomorrow for another post.

Happy Naturing!

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