Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Fields of White

Well, it's back to Chatham for the Christmas break! 

On one of my first days home my father and I decided to go and check out to see if we could find any Snowy owls.  There have been so many bird alerts coming to my email of them that I just couldn't resist trying to show him one of these awesome birds!  Snowy owls seem to be having an interruption year again where many of them are moving further south for the winter than they usually do. This is pretty darn exciting for those of us who are pretty infatuated with owls (which is..who are we kidding...most of us!).

Dad and I started by driving from Chatham all along Bearline Road, pretty much up until the very end which leads into the Bear Creek Unit, part of the St. Clair National Wildlife Area. On the part of the road that becomes the driveway to the unit, our first Snow Goose was seen with about 400 Canada geese!  The picture, of course, makes it super hard to see, however it is that small white speck!

We then drove up and down a bunch of different concession line that were running east to west.  Quite a number of farms has large numbers of Tundra Swans in them, with in one field counting approximately 600 overall!  I might guess that at this point there was probably close to 1000 that I was able to see throughout our drive. 

I had quite a lot of fun using my camera and trying to capture some of the Tundra Swans who were coming in for a landing. It was really entertaining seeing them coming in. The angle that they were at made them look so goofy and yet still so majestic with their wings fully spread and their legs flopping around behind!

We then drove down to Winterline Road and where it intersects with Mallard line. We managed to finally find our very first Snowy Owl of the excursion. My dad and I actually spotted it at the exact same time, except it ended up being that they were two entirely separate birds! We took out a scope that I had borrowed over the Christmas break, as well as our binoculars and cameras. After about 20 minutes we ended up counting approximately nine of them in the field, a total which is absolutely crazy!  It seemed as if everywhere we looked there was always another one.  About four of them seemed to be adult males (they were all pure white), and a couple others seemed to be either young male or female adult (mostly white but also with prominent black barring).

A few days later the boyfriend came to visit and the two of us set out on a little excursion both to Rondeau Provincial Park and Pain Court to see if any exciting birds were around. We saw the usual hundreds and hundreds of Tundra Swans and Canada Geese; some ducks were out in the bay, but we were unable to fully ID them as they are too far away.  We then went to the visitors centre to see if the feeders had any Tufted Titmice yet this year, but the feeders were actually empty of any bird! Out along the dunes I did see as large number of American Tree Sparrows and through the scope found a Horned Grebe and one lone Goldeneye.  We did check around dog beach for the Dunlin and Purple Sandpiper that was reported, however we couldn't seem to find it.

We then left Rondeau and drove down towards Pain Court again to see if there were any Snowy's around.  Luckily within minutes we spotted a beautiful snowy owl perched on top of the telephone pole and we were lucky enough to get really great photos of him! 

A few days after this my Mom and I were driving to Windsor when we spotted two more Snowy Owls.  We stupidly didn't stop to look at them but it was so exciting none-the-less, especially since they were her very first ones!  Looking forward to seeing many more this winter!

Happy Naturing!