Monday, December 29, 2008

Backyard Woodpeckers

Here is a male Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker that has been visiting the backyard every day for the past week, for a drink at the heated birdbath :

This male Hairy Woodpecker is now a regular visitor. The unsalted Peanut Butter is still proving to be a big hit :

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Eve Birding

On Christmas Eve, seeing as it wasn't quite as cold as I was used to, I thought I'd walk around my neighborhood and see what I could find.
My biggest surprise was to find a Red-tailed Hawk that flew over the city, heading towards the general direction of the river.
This was a dark-phased bird that looked very similar to the one I saw last December at Holiday Park.
Maybe this will become a tradition and I will see these every December ! :-)

Here are my other findings for the day :

White-breasted Nuthatch - This is not a common bird in our area of town , so I was pleased to see this bird at a front yard feeder fairly close to home.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Black-capped Chickadee

White-winged Crossbill

Hairy Woodpecker - another fairly uncommon bird in our local vicinity.

Downy Woodpecker - 1 male

Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) - 3

House Finch - 2 flocks of about 10-15 birds.

Common Raven - 1

House Sparrow - 10-20 in almost every alley I looked.

Here are some photos :

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-winged Crossbill

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas !

Here's a male House Finch I photographed today on an enjoyable walk around my neighborhood. I had some other nice sightings that I will put up over the next few days.
I'd like to thank all my blog visitors & friends for all their kind comments and emails during 2008.

I look forward to sharing more photos & stories with you all in 2009.

Here's wishing you a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year !

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Yet another White-winged Crossbill

And to think I didn't have a single photo of this species last year in my files.
This seems to be the year for them. At least around our birding area anyway.
I'm surprised I haven't seen any of their bigger cousins the Red Crossbill yet.
This male WW CR ( the only one we saw all day ) was taken on the Clarke's Crossing Bird Count :

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Clarke's Crossing Bird Count

Today was another cold one, and this time it was the Clarke's Crossing CBC (Christmas bird count).
There were a few teams in designated areas, and our team, despite the nasty weather and blowing snow, managed to get the following 13 species :

Great Horned Owl
Hairy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Black-capped Chickadee
House Sparrow
Black-billed Magpie
Common Raven
Common Redpoll
European Starling
Brown Creeper
White-winged Crossbill
Rock Pigeon

Here are some photos I managed before my fingers froze up !

Common Redpoll

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-billed Magpie

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Bird Counts

Well, its that time of year again. It looks like I have another 5 bird counts on my agenda this year, and 2 more in January.
This weekend was absolutely freezing, with temperatures not getting much higher than minus 29 degrees celsius and with the wind-chill it was almost minus 50.
Still, even that didn't stop myself and a hardy ( or is that crazy ? )group of local birders who all took part on counts at the Qu'Appelle Dam/ Elbow region.
The following day, another 4 of us braved the weather again for Gardiner Dam and the surrounding areas.
The total number of species for the Elbow count was 34 and we found 32 for Gardiner which under those conditions, I think is pretty darn respectable !

Some highlights for both were :

Glaucous Gull
Townsend's Solitaire
American Robin
Northern Shrike
Pine Siskin
Cedar Waxwing
White-winged Crossbill
Pine Grosbeak
Prairie Falcon
Snowy Owl
Great Horned Owl
Common Redpoll
Horned Lark
Gray Partridge
Sharp-tailed Grouse
Eurasian Collared Dove
Golden Eagle
Bald Eagle

Here is one of 15 American Robins that has not decided to migrate this year. There was also another small flock at Douglas Provincial Park on the Elbow Count. This male was at Coldwell Park yesterday :

And a male White-winged Crossbill from the town of Elbow :

Here is a Nuttal's Cottontail Rabbit , taken at an abandoned farmstead near Elbow.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Another White-winged Crossbill

Here is another male White-winged Crossbill from President Murray Park :

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Straggling Chipping Sparrow

Here is the extremely late, winter plumage Chipping Sparrow that we found at the Forsburg Farm near Gardiner Dam last week.
Usually, Chippers depart our area by late September !
I wonder if it'll still be hanging around in time for the bird count next week...

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

House Finch

Here is a male House Finch that was in a back alley close to President Murray Park yesterday :

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

White-winged Crossbills at President Murray Park

Today, I foolishly braved minus 19 degree conditions to see what was hanging around President Murray Park and some nearby back alleys.
I hoped to find the Varied Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet and Brown Creeper, but none of those made an appearance during the 2 hours I was there.
I did however get a fleeting glimpse of a female Pine Grosbeak ( I still think this is the same bird I found awhile back).
I also had some nice binocular views of feeding White-winged Crossbills, intent on eating pine seeds.
Here is a full list of what I found plus a couple of photos :

House Finch - 15+
White-winged Crossbill - 20+
Pine Grosbeak - 1
Blue Jay - 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 5
Black-capped Chickadee - 6
Black-billed Magpie - 2
Merlin - 1

White-winged Crossbill - Once again, these proved extremely hard to photograph, seeing as they were at the very tips of the spruce trees for the most part :

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Here is a Sharp-tailed Grouse that we found in Danielson Provincial Park last Saturday.
I've yet to see a Partridge in a pear tree, so this will have to do for now :-)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Northern Mockingbird

Yesterday morning I accompanied friends from the Saskatoon Nature Society on a trip to Gardiner Dam and surrounding areas.
I have been joking a few times this year and on past years , that " we might get a Mockingbird " on this or that trip, as very occasionally one will venture north from its home in the United States and linger in our Province for awhile.
Well, today I got my first ever Mockingbird :-)
It just goes to show that even on a bitterly cold, snowy day in December , you can still add to your life, and year lists !

Here is a photo of the bird, followed by a list of all the species seen..

In all, we found 29 bird species this trip, and also met up with a porcupine at Danielson Provincial Park that seemed to be missing quills and fur from its backside.
I will be posting more photos from this trip later .

Species list:

Canada Goose
Mallard - a flock of several 1000s of birds north of bank, flying around
Scaup species - 4
Bufflehead - 2 female
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Merganser - 3 female, 1 male
Common Merganser - 1 or 2
Gray Partridge - 1 covey north of Broderick
Sharp-tailed Grouse - several at Danielson Provincial Park
Bald Eagle - 16+
Golden Eagle - 1 at Lake Diefenbaker above dam
Herring Gull - several
Glaucous Gull - 1
Rock Pigeon
Great Horned Owl - near Broderick, also Coldwell Park
Snowy Owl - North of Cutbank and another near Broderick
Downy Woodpecker - 2
Hairy Woodpecker - 1 at Cutbank
Blue Jay
Black-billed Magpie
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Northern Mockingbird (see above)
Chipping Sparrow - a very late bird and the other highlight of the day
Snow Bunting - several flocks
White-winged Crossbill - a couple at Danielson Provincial Park
Common Redpoll- several small flocks
House Sparrow

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

White-breasted Nuthatch

Here's another one from Pike Lake taken last month :

Monday, December 1, 2008

Birding The Nisbet Forest

Yesterday morning I set out with a friend to the Nisbet Forest , about 80 mins north of Saskatoon.

Once again I was treated to spring-like weather and the wind was almost non-existent.
There were many criss-crossing animal tracks on the ground , including Coyote , Fox , Squirrel, Snowshoe Hare, vole and Weasel.

Here is a list of the birds found :

Pileated Woodpecker - 1 bird made a quick fly-over us.
Black-backed Woodpecker - 1 male & one female
Hairy Woodpecker - 1 male
Boreal Chickadee - 2 heard
Gray Jay - 5
Blue Jay - 1
White-winged Crossbill - small flock of 10 flying overhead
Redpoll Species - small flock of around 20 flying overhead
Evening Grosbeak - 1 calling bird flying over
Pine Grosbeak - 5-6 birds flying over
Common Raven - 6
Black-capped Chickadee - 2 heard
Black-billed Magpie - 3

Here are three new photos ( click to see full size )

Gray Jay

Black-backed Woodpecker

Red Squirrel