Wednesday, May 28, 2008

White-faced Ibis , Ferruginous Hawk etc...

I recently went to Luck Lake,a great place to look for shorebirds as they pass through during migration to their breeding grounds.
What seems to be a tradition now,is that every time I go there, it seems to rain or the weather is overcast!
So, many of these photos may reflect that, but regardless of the weather or lighting conditions, if there's a chance to get up close and personal with some of these species,then I'll always do my best to try and get a photo.
Some of the species seen on the day were just too far out for any kind of photo, this includes one of my favorite shorebirds,the Black-bellied Plover.
At least I still got to add them to my year list!
On the way home we got a bonus bird that could have been at Luck Lake, but instead was all alone in a slough not far from Gardiner Dam. This was a White-faced Ibis and I'd only ever seen these once before so that was a lucky find.
I've also included a couple of photos from a spectacular day I had for the 'May Day' bird count with my partner in crime Guy W, who I've done this same count with now for the last 3 years.
We found a total of 124 different species in our sector, which included both Pike and Goose Lake and was the best result we've ever had.
Highlights on the day icluded a Turkey Vulture , a pair of Ferruginous Hawk and 5 Black-necked Stilt.
My camera hardly left its case the whole day as I was so intent on looking for birds to count, so I'm only posting the best few.

Pectoral Sandpiper - Taken near Goose Lake :

Sanderling - These were at Luck Lake

Wilson's Phalarope - Also at Luck Lake

American Avocet - This highly vocal bird was along the causeway at Luck Lake :

Dowichers- I think this is a group of Long, and Short-billed, although its hard to see any markings for a clear ID. There is also a lone Wislon's Phalarope among them:

Swainson's Hawk - on the way to Luck Lake

White-faced Ibis - A nice surprise to find him all alone near Gardiner Dam. Note the one legged pose in the second photo:

Eastern Kingbird - This handsome Flycatcher was perched near Pike Lake

Ferruginous Hawks at Goose Lake - I wish I had better light for these beautiful raptors. I had to overexpose these shots as the sun was right behind them making them almost appear as silhouettes.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Owl Extravaganza

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of accompanying 2 friends. One called Marten, the other one called Martin. 2 great guys passionate about Owls and bird banding.
On the first day , Marten, took me and my wife out to see a bird that I have wanted to see in Canada ever since I moved here, The Long-eared Owl.

Here is the female , sat on her nest :

The following day I went out with Martin, and his son Stephane to band Great Horned Owl chicks down south in the region of Kyle.
The day was a long one, but great fun.
The guys banded young from 10 different nest sites, and made it look easy.
The weather was a mix of sunshine and showers and after the day was over, I had another 2 lifers to add to my list.
The first, was yet another species I had longed to see , and that was the Burrowing Owl. We were lucky enough to see 2 pairs, in 2 burrow sites.
I also saw my first couple of Ring-necked Pheasants in Canada, having only ever seen them in Europe before.
Other highlights were a few pairs of Loggerhead Shrikes . It seemed that almost every shelter belt or Farmstead had a pair nesting there.
I also got to see a nesting Golden Eagle.

Here are some photos :

Great Horned Owl Owlets

This is what happens when one decides to jump out of the nest ! Luckily they tend to bounce when they hit the ground and are absolutely fine.

Here are 2 more Owlets from 2 other nest sites :

2 of the parents, note the very pale colour of these 'Taiga race' Owls :

Burrowing Owls ( These guys were just wonderful to watch ):

Keeping an eye out for intruders..

A pair, late in the afternoon :

And lastly, one of the Loggerhead Shrikes :

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some recent backyard birds...

This selection of photos represents what has been visiting our backyard since around the beginning of May.

White-crowned Sparrow :

White-throated Sparrow :

Chipping Sparrow :

Lincoln's Sparrow :

Swainson's Thrush :

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - Finally a Male visited the yard :

House Finch :



Purple Finch. You can compare the difference in plumage to the House Finch :



Saturday, May 17, 2008

Say's Phoebe , American Bittern etc...

I recently went out with my friend Ron and did a 'dry run' for his bird-count sector which covers part of the Beaver Creek region and surrounding area.

The weather was pretty fantastic and we had a great day out with a few nice surprises, one of which was my 2nd time ever seeing a Say's Phoebe.
You can go out many times and never see one, so it was a real treat.

Say's Phoebe :

This American Bittern was doing its best 'you can't see me, I'm just part of the background' impression :

Here's a Mountain Bluebird seen on the day :

And the Bluebirds competitor for the nest boxes along many roadsides, a Tree Swallow:

This Krider's Red-tailed Hawk was over Blackstrap Lake :

Here's a Female Brewer's Blackbird in pretty harsh light:

And lastly, a Franklin's Gull :

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wading birds and more near Goose lake

I recently took a couple of trips around part of Goose Lake & the sloughs near the town of Laura, Saskatchewan.
My Wife had never seen a Stilt before , so we were happy to find 2 on one particular evening, after finding out they were back in the area .
These elegant waders are not very common here, so it's always a treat to see them.

Here are some photos from those 2 trips :

Black-necked Stilt :
Shot around 6pm in fairly poor light so I opted to use my flash. Sometimes you have to just take what you can at the time and hope for the best. .

American Avocet :

Willet :

Marbled Godwit :

Upland Sandpiper - these are not that common either, so seeing this made me happy :

Horned Lark :

Western Meadowlark :

And lastly, the 2 most common Sparrows you will see on a drive in the country...

Vesper Sparrow :

Savannah Sparrow :