Monday 28 January 2019

Late January Along the River

Yesterday I went on the Nature London trip to Sarnia and the St. Clair River.

We headed out in the morning, and saw the Snowy Owls in the usual location.

Not too long after, we faced heavy snow squalls. The decision was made to cancel the trip and turn back. I of course, was determined to continue and see what we could see, so we my vehicle continued on towards Sarnia. Turned out to be a good decision because only five minutes later things cleared and it was blue skies and sun!

A highlight of the day was this beautiful Rough-legged Hawk on Michigan Line. 

Also saw another Snowy Owl further down the road.

We stopped briefly into Wawanosh Wetlands, though as usual not too much was there.

Next up was Canatara Park in Sarnia. There was a calling Carolina Wren, but not much else. I found this little fungi, Hysterobrevium mori, on the fence in the children's farm.

We went to eat lunch and watch the lake at the Point Edward Lighthouse afterwards, which proved fruitful. We found many Long-tailed Ducks, Common Goldeneye, mergansers, and a couple White-winged Scoters.

Long-tailed Ducks

The ice was quite impressive!

The Sarnia Bay was completely frozen, so no gulls or ducks there! After that we began the trek down the St. Clair River. Our first stop was Guthrie Park, which was productive.


Great Black-backed Gull


Common Merganser

Just as we were leaving, I noticed two Coyotes out on the ice. One wonders what they were doing. Perhaps they were trying to cross from the island (Stag Island) to the mainland, or maybe they were trying to hunt waterfowl.

One last stop was Cathcart Park near Sombra, where there is often an assortment of waterfowl and other things.

Bald Eagle

Three species of swans were present. Mute, Tundra, and a single Trumpeter.

Mute Swan

Trumpeter Swan

Overall, a fun, but cold, day along the river. It is amazing how the accumulation of ice can make or break a day. Gulls were very limited today. I only saw Herring and a few Great Black-backs!

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Pictures of the Moon

Just a couple photos of the moon from the last couple nights, including Sunday's "Blood Moon" lunar eclipse. The red wash photos didn't turn out quite how I would have wanted, but hey, it was -20 outside so my focusing skills were lacking.

Apparently the next total lunar eclipse is in 2021, so I guess I'll have to try again then. It is in May, so cold fingers won't be an issue (hopefully!)

Sunday 20 January 2019

Another Week, I Guess

It is a busy time of year for a student! Outings have been far and few between this week, but I got out for a short while a couple times. Yesterday I popped into Fanshawe Conservation Area briefly to see what was hanging out at the seed pile. Always seems to be something! Yesterday it was a White-crowned Sparrow, an uncommon bird in this parts during winter. I actually don't think I have seen a White-crowned during the winter months since 2016!

Of course there were the usual suspects, including decent numbers of White-throated Sparrows. They seem to be fairly numerous this winter.

Dark-eyed Junco

White-breasted Nuthatch

Black-capped Chickadee

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

A couple plants...

Scots Pine

European Swallow-Wort

Sunday 13 January 2019

Early January Odds and Ends

While many naturalists are out getting a start to their 2019 bird year list, I have been focusing on other things. Admittedly, I think last weekend when I went to Rondeau was my only time "properly" birding so far this year, and even then I quickly got distracted by other things! (cue moss)

Hedwigia ciliata

I guess I am in a way doing a year list of sorts, but not just here

Anyways, I''ll detail some highlights from the last couple weeks. I have seen some cool stuff, if I do say so myself! (note: I'll be using common names for a lot of stuff, however some common names change depending on who you ask!)

On January 1st I found a couple things just after midnight, starting the year off right!

Common Earthworm

Common Sac Spider

That morning I went on a bird hike, however I quickly got off track.

Biting Stonecrop

Maritime Sunburst Lichen

Silvery Bryum

Later that day I went to find some fish (and other things).

Smallmouth Bass

Johnny Darter

Spotfin Shiner

Striped Shiner

Black Sooty Mold

A couple days later I went out again in search of fish. I dipnetted a little stream near me and caught a bunch of Brook Sticklebacks. I caught this species up on James Bay so it seemed strange to be seeing them down here!

Brook Stickleback

Creek Chub

Central Stoneroller

Despite it being January, I have actually come across two amphibians, and adult and a tadpole Green Frog, both caught accidentally with my dipnet.

Fish and frogs are not the only thing caught with my net, sometimes I pull up some aquatic plants.

Crisp-leaved Pondweed

I have also crossed paths with two species of moths, although they weren't adults.

Virginia Ctenucha 

Gypsy Moth (eggs)

Finally, as of late I have been attempting to look at lichens. Lichens may just be one of the hardest groups to identify in Ontario! I'll try to keep from being discouraged.

Candleflame Lichen

Illosporiopsis christiasenii

I have found it very rewarding to stop and take time to seek out and appreciate all the little things around us.

I came across this short article on being a "100% Naturalist" a few months ago, and found it very interesting. You may have seen it, but if you haven't, I strongly urge that you read it. I think we should all try and be as much as a 100% Naturalist as we can be! You can read it here.

Saturday 5 January 2019

A hOWLing Good Time at Rondeau

I went on a little bit of an impromptu trip to Rondeau today. My target? Barred Owl. The Barred has apparently been around since December 1st, but went unnoticed to most birders until the Christmas Bird Count in December 16th, which is where I narrowly missed seeing it by leaving the park too early. Thankfully, it has been seen numerous times since then, so I was hoping to luck out today.

I arrived in the late morning, where I quickly met up with others scouring the area. The news they gave me was not good: They'd spent the last three hours looking at every tree with no luck. Not wanting to give up, we continued to search a part of the campground which hadn't been checked too thoroughly. An Eastern Phoebe made an appearance. One wonders what it is eating, but with this weather I'm sure it is finding something.

Basically as soon as I snapped the above photo, I heard Blake yell he had found the owl! I had been in the park for 15 minutes, what luck!

It was perched not too far away in a pine.

Eventually it got up and flew away, however we were able to relocate it, although much further away and much more obstructed. Most birders that were in the area were able to see it.

I was expecting to spend hours looking for the owl, so I was truly at a loss of what to do afterwards! I decided to check the north part of the campground, despite others saying it had been quiet. It was somewhat productive, no Baltimore Oriole (one has been seen for several weeks), but there was a nice group of chickadees, kinglets (Golden-crowned and one Ruby-crowned), Brown Creepers, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler, one of two on this day.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

I went out to the lake, where there was a large raft of Ruddy Ducks.

I walked down the beach a bit afterwards. There were quite a few Canada Geese.

Of interest was this odd looking fellow. I believe it is a Greylag x Canada Goose hybrid. Not entirely sure.

I spent the next little while wandering the campground. It finally paid off with the female Baltimore Oriole flying overhead and landing briefly in a tree.

After wandering a bit more (and missing an Orange-crowned Warbler by the sounds of it!), I finally decided to go quickly check a couple other areas of the park before heading home. First stop was the Visitor Centre, where I scoped a group of four Red-throated Loons out on the lake.

Next up was Maintenance and Pony Barn. Both were quiet bird wise. No White-eyed Vireo today!

Common Script Lichen (not a bird)

Red-tailed Hawk

Finally, I took a quick look at the bay. A few ducks such as Redhead, scaups, and Canvasback.

A successful day!