Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bluebirds and a bold Skunk

Despite a cold and bitter wind on Wednesday morning, I went for a little drive out to Beaver Creek with a friend straight from work .
Another friend who reads this blog informed me of some Mountain Bluebirds that had just arrived in that area , so I was hoping to find some and got lucky by finding 4 in one place and 3 more a bit later on.
Unfortunately they were very skittish and were quite a distance away for a decent photo , so I just enjoyed the fact that I'd found them and hope to get some photos another time.
There were not too many species around , probably because of the 25k gale that was blowing, but still, the Sun felt nice and warm .
Here's what was seen :

Red-tailed Hawk - a lone soaring bird . ( New for 2008)
Mountain Bluebird - 7 ( New for 2008)
American Crow - 2
Common Raven - 6
Black-billed Magpie - 19
Horned Lark - 8
European Starling - 3 at a farmstead
Black-capped Chickadee - 3
Common Redpoll - 12
Bohemian Waxwing - 45
Rock Dove - 3
Canada Geese - 25

I was hoping I'd see a mammal of some kind , as that always makes the day extra special, so I was extremely happy to find this Skunk on the way home . He certainly wasn't afraid of us , and I'm lucky he didn't decide to let rip with a blast of spray at me !

Friday, March 14, 2008

Horned Larks

This morning my friend and I took a drive out along a seldom used road and looked for Horned Larks that have been slowly trickling back into the area since last weekend .

It was a beautiful calm day without any wind, so you could clearly hear them singing.

Horned larks are often inquisitive enough that they will sit still and allow a car to roll up alongside them, or sometimes they will fly right across the road like a kamikazi pilot , almost colliding with the windshield, so we drove fairly slowly with the windows open and just enjoyed the songs .

Here is an adult male in full song :

And a female :

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Porcupine's & Partridge

Well, it sure looks like Spring has finally sprung !
This is the time of year when the snow melts, everything turns to slush and the birds seem to get louder & louder first thing in the morning.
I've had a nice couple of days birding over the weekend and again on Monday.
Saturday I spent a couple of hours hiking around the riverbank , walking even further than I usually do, and ending up right near Circle Bridge where I flushed 3 Gray Partridge from the side of a hill as I looked down at the cracking ice that would soon disappear and merge into the waters of the South Saskatchewan River.
On the way back I watched as 3 American Crows ( early arrivals maybe ) were mobbing an adult Bald Eagle near the Weir. It appeared to be eating a large fish high up in the confines of a tree and then soon took off down towards Goose Island . It was way too far for a decent photo unfortunately.
Another highlight was a lone Common Merganser and 3 Canada Geese on the water.
On Sunday my Wife and I went for a little afternoon drive and happened upon 2 Porcupines both in the area of Patience Lake . One was on the ground eating thawed out grass and another was stripping bark from a tree about 20ft up.
We also saw an adult Northern Goshawk and a few newly arrived Horned Larks along the roadside.
On Monday I went out with a friend and we too saw a Northern Goshawk close to Blackstrap Lake that made a very fast swoop across the road in front of us, 18 more Gray Partridge , 70+ Horned Larks , a pair of Great Horned Owls and 3 Canada Geese flying over the old Regina Highway.

Here are some new photos :

Porcupine - The one on the ground looks like it was fairly young . While the other one paused from its chewing to peek at me from behind the tree branch :

Gray Partridge - I managed to catch this flighty bird in full stride before it took off :

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Four Ravens born in the Winter

I received an email this week alerting me to a sighting of an active Raven nest close to St.Pauls Hospital here in the city.
Once at the site , we could see the nest about three quarters of the way up a tall Spruce tree.
At first it was unclear how many young were at the nest, but on further inspection , 4 healthy fledglings were counted.
Interestingly, the parent birds were already constructing a second nest under the existing one ! I don't know if they expect to have more young or are just adding an extension :-)
This is a very early record for breeding of this species in Saskatchewan. , 2 months earlier than a previous record.
Apparently the eggs hatched sometime in mid-January , so those Ravens were incubating eggs in some pretty horrible weather.
From my only decent vantage point , the Sun was glaring right at me , and the reflection bouncing back off a glass window didn't help matters , so photo opportunities were pretty dismal. At least you can make out the four young . One of them is pretty well fed as you can see . Both parents were keeping watch on the roof of a nearby building.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sleepy Waxwing

On the 28th of February I looked out of my bathroom window ( one of my favourite viewing spots ! ) and was surprised to see a Bohemian Waxwing asleep on our clothesline .
I took 2 photos towards some harsh sunlight with my old Fuji camera and some fill flash ( as it actually focuses closer than my Canon )

Here it is awake for a few seconds :

Then it went right back to sleep again :