Saturday 24 February 2018

St. Clair Sightings

Today I went down to Wallaceburg with family to run some errands. Afterwards we went to check out the St. Clair National Wildlife Area and the surrounding fields for migrating waterfowl. 

Heron Line proved to be most productive. I managed to see my first Killdeer of the year pretty quickly in a flooded field.

We soon came across a huge flooded field, filled with waterfowl, including my first Tundra Swans of 2018. There were well over a hundred!

As I was scoping out the field, I quickly got on a Greater White-fronted Goose! These geese have been showing up all over the place as of late. In all I counted 14, but there were no doubt more hiding in among the corn stubble.

I was also pleased to find two Sandhill Cranes, another first for the year, in the field.

Ducks, including Mallard, Northern Pintail, Redhead, and Ring-necked Duck, were quite numerous. At one point they all got up and flew around a bit.

After scanning the field until nothing new could be found, we went and checked out the St. Clair NWA. I didn't walk the whole thing, in interest of time, but I did walk the first portion of the trail. I found things such as Northern Shoveler, American Coot, Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, Cackling Goose, and some more Canada Geese.

Hooded Merganser

Canada Goose (apparent "Giant" subspecies)

Red-winged Blackbirds were singing throughout.

On our way home, we found a cooperative Sandhill Crane on Town Line Road.

As we were driving down Belle Rose Line, my grandma said "was that an owl?"

Sure enough, it was a Snowy Owl, my first for Chatham-Kent (finally!)

I was very happy with the outing! Spring is coming!

Friday 23 February 2018

More Blackbirds!

The blackbirds continue to increase! Tonight at the local blackbird roost I saw about 100 Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles. Pretty good numbers for late February!

Hopefully I can go out and find some more signs of spring this weekend!

Tuesday 20 February 2018

Blackbird Bonanza!

This morning started like any other school day. I got up, went and ate breakfast, then walked to my bus stop. On the walk, I couldn't help but notice just how mild it was. I made a mental note to go look for blackbirds after school, because I just knew that today would be the day they started their advance into my neighborhood.

I waited at the bus stop for five minutes, completely alone. I waited a bit longer before getting a text from my mom saying that the buses had a two hour fog delay. I guess I would get to go look for blackbirds sooner than I thought!

Not 10 minutes into my search I heard it. Off in the distance I could hear one of my favourite sounds of early spring...the distinctive "Conk-a-REE!" of a Red-winged Blackbird! I tried locating the bird, however I had to abandon the search because it started to rain quite heavily. I figured I could go back after school and try to get a visual and maybe some photos.

As soon as I got home, I was told that buses hadn't been delayed...they were cancelled! I have no idea why, as it was completely clear out where I was, but I wasn't I could spend the whole day looking for blackbirds!

The rain didn't give up until about twenty after ten, but as soon as it stopped I was out the door (without a camera...whoops!). Almost immediately four Red-winged Blackbirds flew over, followed by two more. I found a seventh male loudly singing at the top of a tree. Awesome!

I returned about an hour later with a camera, and although I was only able to find two Red-wingeds, I was happy to watch them singing and interacting with each other.

Long story short, I spent the next few hours riding my bike around, finding Red-winged Blackbirds everywhere I went.

Late in the afternoon, as I was heading home I happened across a group of six flyover Red-winged Blackbirds. Cool, I thought, and decided to stop and see if anymore flew over. Shortly after, I saw about 12 fly over. I realized that they had come from the direction of a marsh which serves as a congregation spot of sorts for blackbirds in spring and fall, so I went to check it out.

I came across a single male Red-winged on a wire.

As I was watching him I noticed a flock of Common Grackles had just taken off from a nearby tree! I looked over and realized that there were more of them! All in all, I counted a total of 41 Common Grackles and 43 Red-winged Blackbirds, exceptional numbers given the date and location.

Common Grackles and European Starings

Although I was thoroughly soaked, it was a great day of birding! I'm sure the Killdeer aren't far behind!

Saturday 3 February 2018

Sparrows Galore!

Yesterday I went to Fanshawe Conservation Area with my aunt. There were plently of birds feeding on seeds left by a trail head, including the overwintering Fox Sparrow I first found a few weeks back. Also present feeding on the seeds were Dark-eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, White-throated Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches, and a Downy Woodpecker.

White-throated Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Dark-eyed Junco

Black-capped Chickadee

Dark-eyed Junco

Downy Woodpecker

Dark-eyed Juncos

Friday 2 February 2018

Some Springbank Photos

Yesterday I went on a short walk in Springbank Park. I managed to catch up with a few ducks that have been frequenting the river this winter, along with a very photogenic Northern Cardinal. I also encountered my first Cackling Goose of the year.

Cackling Goose

Black-capped Chickadee

Northern Cardinal


American Wigeon