Sunday 29 January 2017

Sarnia and the St. Clair

Today was the annual Nature London field trip to the St. Clair River.  We met this morning at 7:30, and started the day by heading to the traditional Snowy Owl spot. I spotted one on top of a hill on the way, however only the cars behind us got to see the bird as the rest of the group didn’t notice us stop, so they kept on driving.

20 minutes later we came back with everyone else, but the owl was nowhere to be seen.

The drive to Sarnia was quite uneventful in the beginning, but as we neared our first destination, things picked up. One of the channels held hundreds of waterfowl, and we managed to pick-out such birds as American Black Duck,  Northern Pintail,  and a Black Duck x Mallard hybrid among the geese and Mallards.
European Starlings

Canada Geese

Wawanosh Wetlands didn’t yield the Northern Shrike we were hoping for, but Downy Woodpeckers kept us entertained.

Upon leaving the wetlands, we picked out a Green-winged Teal in one of the channels leading out of the Conservation Area. It’s a great bird for this time of year.

We couldn’t find much in the way of birds in Canatara Park. We were counting on seeing the Eastern Screech Owl that usually overwinters in the petting zoo, but it wasn’t to be.

Long-tailed Ducks and Mergansers could be found on the lake and under Bluewater Bridge.
Long-tailed Ducks

The marina is usually the best bet to finding something good, and it didn’t let us down today. Despite us only finding 3 species of gulls (and one HERG x GBBG hybrid), we found most of our waterfowl here, and a couple other goodies such as two American Coots, and eight Cackling Geese swimming in a line, a lifer for many of those present.
American Coot

Cackling Geese

After lunch, we headed back to the marina where we found a small raft of Redheads close to shore with Canvasback, Greater Scaup, and a Ring-necked Duck mixed in.

Ring-necked Duck

American Black Ducks provided better views than earlier in the day.

Heading down river, we were awarded with decent looks at various ducks. The only new waterfowl species we added were White-winged Scoter and Mute Swan.

Redheads and Scaup

Common Goldeneye and Herring Gull

Mute Swan

Sombra wasn't as spectacular as we thought it would be, probably due to the snow moving in. I didn't take any photos here as it was pretty boring.

We bid farewell to half the group, then some of us went down Bentpath Line. Instead of a Short-eared Owl at the solar farm, we found a nice female Northern Harrier.

46 (give or take) Wild Turkeys were a nice surprise. Sure beats the groups of 3 or 4 we see around London! There was a group about this size along the road last year was well.

Our first Rough-legged Hawk of the trip was spotted about 20 minutes later.

Our first and only Bald Eagle soon followed. The trip leader was pleased.

Snow Buntings are always a joy to come across, and we observed a large group on Nauvoo Rd.

The group tried the Snowy Owl spot one last time before calling it quits. We quickly located one on a telephone pole.

"I'm Outta Here!"

All in all, it was a "slow" day, but it was filled with great birds.

Trip List:

Cackling Goose
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
American Black Duck
Northern Pintail
Green-winged Teal
Ring-necked Duck
Greater Scaup
White-winged Scoter
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Red-breasted Merganser
Wild Turkey
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk
American Coot
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Snowy Owl
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
American Kestrel
Blue Jay
American Crow
Horned Lark
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
European Starling
Snow Bunting
American Tree Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Common Grackle
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Total: 51 species

Friday 20 January 2017

Algonquin Live Cam: Wolves

Today (January 20th), was a great day for wolves at the moose carcass. Although it's most likely just the same two ones coming back, they made multiple appearances throughout the day.

My aunt has yet to lay her eyes on one. (I called her when one was at the carcass, but the line was busy. 20 minutes later, I called again when the two were resting and tussling at the top of the frame, but they left just mere seconds before she got on.)

Watch for wolves and other scavengers like ravens, foxes, and Fishers here.

All images are screen captures from the EarthCam at the Algonquin Visitor center. I unfortunately wasn't there to witness these magnificent beasts myself.

Thursday 19 January 2017

Algonquin Park Live Cam: Moose Carcass

For those of you who are not aware, there is a live camera perched on the roof of the Algonquin Park visitor center. It broadcasts the happenings in the valley below the observation deck year round.

January 18th, 2017

Recently, they put out a moose carcass that they found in mid-December. Although the carcass wasn't touched for the first few days, activity has really picked up. So far I've seen Red Foxes, Common Ravens, Fishers, and most recently, Eastern Wolves.

The cam has this cool function where you can take a screen shot of the live feed, and I've been taking full advantage of it. The only species I haven't been able to get a decent capture of is Fisher.

Here are some of my cropped captures:

Eastern Wolf (Jan. 18)

Common Ravens (Jan. 18)

Red Fox (Jan. 17)

Red Fox (Jan. 17)

Red Fox (Jan. 17)

Common Ravens and Eastern Wolves (Jan. 18)
Common Ravens and Eastern Wolves (Jan. 18)
Common Ravens and Eastern Wolves (Jan. 18)
Red Fox (Jan 18.)

Red Fox (Jan. 18)

The live feed is quite fun (and addicting) to watch. It's also a great way to pass the time. I would definitely recommend checking it out!
Algonquin Park Live Webcam

Also, I plan to be in Algonquin on February 11th and 12th. While the main purpose of the trip is to see winter finches and Gray Jays, I'm hoping I can add a few mammal species to my life list as well!

Additional Links that you may find interesting:
Feeder Friday - Live from Algonquin (January 20, February 10, and February 24)
Winter Finch Forecast 2016-2017
Algonquin Birding Report
Pack of Wolves on Moose Carcass in Algonquin (2010)

Saturday 14 January 2017

In-the-Hand Chickadees and Nuthatches

When the birding is slow, nothing beats grabbing a bag of seed and hand-feeding (or head-feeding) Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Springbank Park in London is an easy and accessible place to do this.