Saturday, March 28, 2015 coming??

It may be hard to believe that spring is on its way, especially with it being March 27th yesterday and watching it snow!!   There have been a few slight signs of spring here in Peterborough, however my little visit to Sudbury was anything BUT spring.

My feeder hasn't seen too much action lately.  The typical chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatch, American Goldfinch...the Juncos don't seem to be around as much lately, although they did make an appearance today!  The newest member to my feeder has been a Chipmunk!  Last time I saw the little guy was probably back in November, so it was a nice sign of spring to set my eyes on the little critter!  Not to mention they can't climb and tip over my feeder!

Last weekend I made a quick weekend trip to Sudbury to visit the boyfriend.  I generally bird all along the 400/69 highway up there and try to make a little outing.  On the way there I noticed quite a few bufflehead on any sort of open water that they could find, but not much else was around to look at!  I made a quick stop at French River Provincial Park and walked along the bridge to see what was around.  I was really surprised at how much ice was everywhere and the fact that the only bird I actually saw were Black-capped Chickadees.

There was also a beautiful sun halo that I noticed while on my drive.  I was lucky enough to have been able to pull over and take a photo of it before it disappeared.  I had never really seen a sun halo like this before, so it was pretty neat!

While in Sudbury, Mike and I took a little hike out at Onaping Falls.  It was our first time visiting here and I must say, it's pretty beautiful in the winter!!  The falls were almost all still frozen over, although in some parts you could see (and hear) the water rushing past under all the ice.  Most of the path here was frozen over still, or full of incredibly deep snow (incredibly deep at least if you are as short as me!).  There was no sign of any wildlife here, not even the chirp of a Chickadee or the caw of a Raven.  It's amazing how I left Peterborough where birds were really moving, and drove up here where there isn't even a peep!  It was nice to have one last winter hike though, as now the drizzle of rain seems to be taking over the precipitation patterns.

Once back in Peterborough it looked a lot more like spring.  There was a bit of grass showing and definitely more birds out and about.   I even saw my 50th species of the year....a Song Sparrow!!   

Hoping that it starts to warm up even more and that everyone is having a great start to spring!
Happy Naturing!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Waterfowl Festival at Presqu'ile Provincial Park

This weekend marked the 39th Annual Waterfowl Weekend at Presqu'ile Provincial Park near Brighton.  This weekend is full of children's activities, vendors (such as Bushnell and Henry's!) and, of course, waterfowl viewing.

A group of us from Trent carpooled together to volunteer for the event and it definitely did not disappoint!

Walter Wehtje and I were stationed together at the Lighthouse Blind for most of the morning. Thankfully there was a little blind there as it was a pretty miserable day!  The rain was a constant mist and the wind wasn't strong...but it definitely wasn't still either.  We had a number of visitors despite the weather, some even travelling as far from Burlington, Ottawa, and Parry Sound for the event!

At the lighthouse there were quite a few ducks, but not the best variety.  Throughout the morning we watched Long-tailed Ducks, Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, and every-so-often a White-winged Scoter would pop up.  There was still quite a bit of ice on the bay and lake, however it didn't seem to be AS bad as last year and some of the ducks were able to come up a little closer to give visitors a great view.  There were quite a few dead ducks on the ice (of course with no head...) so it made us think that there must be some owls around!

We then all met back up after our shifts and took one last look out at the Lighthouse area.  Nothing two new showed up...but we did hear some talk about a Harlequin Duck that showed up earlier in the day, as well as the Red-throated Loon that had been around for a few days. 

We drove over to the Government Dock where a second set of scopes were set up.  There was definitely a lot more ice in this area, however further into the bay where it was open were a crap ton of ducks!!   The photo below doesn't even do it justice.
Ducks flying in Presqu'ile Bay
It was difficult to get every species of duck that was sitting out there on the ice, although the variety was superb!  Greater (and likely some Lesser) Scaup and Redhead were the most populous at this spot.  There was also a decent number of Canvasback, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Long-tailed Ducks and also a dappling of Hooded, Red-breasted and Common Mergansers!  We even had an appearance by the Red-throated Loon, which was a lifer for me!   Unfortunately, the Harlequin Duck wasn't there anymore by the time we arrived...but hopefully I'll see one sometime!

Overall, it was a fantastic day of birding!  Even with the misty rain and fog we were still able to see a great variety of ducks and a lifer. Best of all, it was a nice day away from the books where I got to spend time with some awesome fellow bird nerds!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Errands and birding do get along!

Today was a day full of errands.  Running to school for meetings, downtown for a bunch of little chores, grocery shopping, know those days.  I had been really hoping to set aside some time today to head up the river and take some photos of Goldeneye and a Long-tailed Duck that had been hanging around, but unfortunately, time seemed to have run out.

In Peterborough, the No Frills grocery store is right beside a section of the Otonobee River, very close to Millenium Park.  I will admit that I not only shop there for the lower prices....but also because I can park in the lot and make the excuse to bird a bit with the "but the river is just RIGHT THERE" excuse.  That reasoning came into play today and I hopped on over to the pathway by the river to see a lot of movement!  There were more mallards than I had seen all winter in this spot, as well as Gulls, and one lone Canada Goose.

I am not very good at gull ID, in fact it is probably my worst guild to ID.  My first step was to count how many Herring Gulls there were amongst the Ring-billed Gulls.  Check. As I was scanning I was very excited to note incredibly dark gulls!  Thankfully I had seen Great Black Backed Gulls before...however the question of is it a great or a lesser came into my mind?

Taking out my birding app I noted a key feature between these two species is leg colour.  As this one had pinkish legs I know that I could ID it with certainty as a Great Black Backed Gull (GBBG).  It is nice how these stand out so distinctly from the Ring-billed and Herring gulls.  From the limited number of gulls I have seen thus far, I think these may be one of my favourites!

As I scanned the ice to count the number of GBBG's I noticed a few incredibly white gulls.  In fact, they seemed to be almost pure white!   My initial thought was that they were Iceland Gulls, mainly because this is the only gull I knew to be pure white.  I took a variety of photos so that when I got home I could scan through my field guide and get a better idea of what it could be.

Looking through my field guide made me feel like Iceland Gull just wasn't quite right due to it's size, bill, etc.  So my next option was a Glaucous Gull.  This one is larger in size to a Herring (check) and as a friend of mine pointed out to me, had a bi-coloured bill (check!).  Through these I was able to fully verify it was indeed a few Glaucous Gulls, which is a lifer for me!!  Scanning one photo in particular (below) there is a perfect example of both an adult and a juvenile Glaucous Gull. The one on the left, is an adult. We can see that it looks remarkably like a Herring Gull, however it is larger and doesn't have the black wing tips.  The one beside it, which is almost pure white, is the juvenile.

Being one of the only spots of open water around Peterborough, grocery shopping has definitely been one of my favourite excuses to get out and bird, errr... I mean do

Hope everyone has been enjoying the last few days of warm weather!  Spring is on it's way!