Sunday, May 1, 2016

Birding can be a saving grace

What an eventful week it has been, bird wise at least!

Being able to bird from our windows and within the local area has been a bit of a saving grace for me the last two weeks.  Having moved to the area and not knowing anyone, much of my time has been spent glaring at my computer screen.  While you can only think so much in one day (thesis wise) and have limited internet access (good ol 5GB/mth router), you are bound to get a bit stir crazy!

White-breasted Nuthatch
So, to try and calm my mind down and curb internet usage, I've begun to take up run-birding (running with binoculars).  While it is more birding than running, it still gets me outside and more active than sitting on a couch does! Thanks to it I have not only inched my way into #1 on the Parry Sound Ebird list, but I've have also been able to start shedding some of this graduate student weight and become more productive with this mind-clearing method. Anyone who has chatted with me in the last few months, or anyone who has been in graduate school at all, will know that it's something I've is greatly needed. While I absolutely love my project and love the work I am doing, you can get a bit overwhelmed and lose yourself in the process. So the last few weeks I've not only been trying to work, but also trying to reset my sleep schedule and getting out to do things for myself too, and birding is my way of doing that.  Being here has been a complete blessing, resetting both my brain and my soul.

Beautiful Sunset over Deep Bay, Georgian Bay

So now onto the birds! Our backyard has been full of birds the last week, causing us to fill our bird feeders at least once a day.  The Pine Siskins, Juncos, Purple Finches and American Tree Sparrows are still around and make up the majority of the birds we see.  Grackles have since moved into our back yard in large numbers and more recently, so have the Brown-headed Cowbirds and Red-wing Blackbirds.

Pine Siskin

Purple Finch

American Tree Sparrow and two Chipping Sparrows

Over the last week we've noticed an increase in the number of White-throated Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows under the feeder!  Every morning I've been able to wake up to the sounds of "sweet home Canada, Canada, Canada" and it's been so pleasant!

White-throated Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Male Downy Woodpecker
Perched White-throated Sparrow
Two more species have made visits to our feeder and were a great surprise to us!  They were both a FOY (first of the year) species for me.  The first was a Fox Sparrow and the second was a Yellow-rumped Warbler!
Fox Sparrow
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Along with birding from my back window, I have also been able to get out a little bit every few days to check out the area.  Georgian Bay area has so far not been a disappointment when it has come to sightings.  We recently inherited a canoe from our neighbour and took it out on Raby Lake.  Here we saw Ring-necked Ducks, Wood Ducks, Lesser Scaup, and Bufflehead.  A few days after this, we noticed a flock of Blackbirds in a tree.  I got Mike to stop the car as recently I've been obsessed with trying to find Rusty Blackbirds. 
Ring-necked Ducks
Rusty Blackbirds

Rusty Blackbirds

A little further down the road, we were able to spot Green-winged Teal and Greater Yellowlegs in a flooded field.
Greater Yellowlegs
 Another day we spent an hour doing a loop in Killbear Park.  The day was pretty quiet, however that didn't stop some bird sightings!  The first bird of the day was the Yellow-rumped Warbler.  Two of them were chattering away along the lighthouse trail along with a Pine Warbler, who remained to be unseen!  Along another path we noticed that Great Blue Herons had begun nesting!  No matter how many times I see it, I'm always find it hilarious and baffling to see them high up nesting in a tree! It will never get old.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Great Blue Herons

As we were leaving the park, a beautiful Broad-winged Hawk made an appearance.  Lighting at the time was pretty awful, so I am hoping that either before I leave this week, or sometime throughout the summer I can get a better photo!  

Broad-winged Hawk

Turkey Vulture

Coming home from the park, we were super excited to see Sandhill Cranes so close to the road!  I have never actually seen a crane on the ground (only ever either seen them flying over or heard them) so it was pretty neat watching these dinosaur looking birds walk. 

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane playing Peek-a-boo
 One more week in this beautiful area before I head home for a visit (of course visit Pelee too!) and then back to Peterborough to finish up this degree *fingers crossed*.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!


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