Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fall Sparrows

In Fall, a nice assortment of native Sparrows pass through, including : Lincoln's, Harris's, White-crowned & White Throated , Swamp Sparrow & the often harder to find Fox Sparrow. Dark-eyed Juncos will also be found in parks and backyards right now. Many of the field Sparrows will be on their way south with maybe the occasional Song Sparrow lurking by water.
What is great about birding, is that any of these native Sparrows could show up on a Christmas Bird Count, throwing the rule book out the window !

Here are a few that I have managed to photograph this Autumn...

Harris's Sparrow :

White-throated Sparrow :

White-crowned Sparrow :

Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow :

Swamp Sparrow - this is an unpublished one from Spring :

Dark-eyed Junco :

Sunday, September 28, 2008

American Pipit

A bird that passes through our birding area in the Fall is the American Pipit. Formally known as the Water Pipit, it loves to forage at the edges of lakes and sloughs. At this time of year there may be some pretty big flocks of this Thrush-like species coming through, occasionally alongside Horned Larks and Lapland Longspurs.
Here are some recent images of some found near Clavet :

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sandhills and Shorebirds

Here are some recent photos taken on a few trips to some wetlands and sloughs fairly close to town, including places such as Clavet, Blucher and Blackstrap.

Sandhill Crane :

Baird's Sandpiper :

Pectoral Sandpiper :

Long-billed Dowicher :

American Avocet (in Fall plumage)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Rusty Blackbird

This morning a friend and I went out to Clavet, Cheviot and Blackstrap lakes to see what we could find.
Here are the highlights :

Rusty Blackbird - all together around 45 birds in 3 separate flocks. These are new for the year.
Lapland Longspur - 400 +. Some along the shore of Blackstrap Lake and many flying over grain fields.
Pectoral Sandpiper - 5 at Cheviot Lake
Baird's Sandpiper - 20 at Cheviot Lake
Long-billed Dowicher - 25 at Cheviot
Killdeer - 3 at Clavet
Black-bellied Plover - 2 at Cheviot
Semipalmated Plover - 1 at Cheviot
American Avocet - 20 at Blutcher
Greater Yellowlegs - 5 at Blackstrap , 2 at Clavet
Bald Eagle - 3 juveniles flying low over Cheviot Lake
Northern Harrier - 1 at Blackstrap
Merlin - 1 at Blackstrap
American kestrel - 2 at Clavet roosting in some trees at the cemetery
Harris's Sparrow - 1 in some shrubs at Clavet
White-throated Sparrow - 1 at the cemetery at Clavet
Song, Vesper and Savannah Sparrows - many flocking together
European Starling - 35 on the powerlines at a Clavet farmstead
Mourning Dove - 3 at Blackstrap
Sandhill Crane - 300+ around Blucher
Snow Goose - 200+ at Cheviot

There were still a few small pockets of waterfowl, including Green and Blue-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Redhead and Lesser Scaup situated at many of the aforementioned locations.

I will post more photos from this trip later, but for now, here's one of the Rusty Blackbirds:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Blue Jay In The Backyard

We recently put some shelled peanuts out in the backyard and its almost as if these birds can smell them.
We might not see a Blue Jay in our neighborhood for weeks, even months. Now we have three regulars that come every day.

Here's one of them :

Monday, September 22, 2008

Swainson's Hawk

On a recent drive with a friend, this Swainson's Hawk was kind enough to pose for a little while.
Many birders will tell you, that this species is a lot more tolerant of us humans than the other common raptor of the prairies, the Red-tailed Hawk :

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Black-crowned Night Heron

Just when I was beginning to think I wouldn't see one of these small Herons at all this year, a friend and I found two juveniles perched on the shore of the fishing pond at the Forestry Farm Park last week.

This is the 225th species I have seen in Saskatchewan this year. I hope there are still a few more to add before 2008 is over :-)

I had to be very careful not to spook this one as they can be quite flighty. He was on the corner of the pond, so I hid behind some bushes from a fair distance away :

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Autumn is here

I really do love this time of year. The trees and shrubs along the river are quite spectacular right now with yellow and reds as the predominant hue.
In a few weeks many of the trees will be bare and their leaves will cover the ground.

Here are some recent bird pictures, taken along the east side of the river and also at the Forestry Farm Park, where you can see some of the fall colours behind them :

As always , left click to enlarge.

Red-eyed Vireo :

Orange-crowned Warbler :

Clay-colored Sparrow :

Yellow-rumped Warbler :

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Riverbank Mammals

Many of the smaller mammals found along the riverbank are stockpiling food , or 'pigging out ' so they have enough fat reserves to survive hibernation during the Winter.
Last year, there was a Beaver Lodge along the lower banks of Cosmopolitan Park, but that seems to have been moved and I haven't seen a single one there this year.

Every once in a while I will notice the grass move beneath my feet as a Meadow Vole scurries away. These are most often found along the east bank of the river near the Weir.
Chipmunks are very noticeable in the Fall as they find suitable 'eating platforms', often returning to the same favorite 'perch' to consume yet another berry.

Least Chipmunk - In the first photo , it looks like he's wearing a pair of purple gloves thanks to the juice of the Chokecherry he's munching on :

Thirteen-lined Ground Squirrel - This little guy had just finished eating and was sunbathing next to it's burrow. This is the 4th one I have seen along the river this year. They are usually far outnumbered by their cousins, the Richardson's Ground Squirrel, so it is always a pleasure to see this ( in my humble opinion )prettier species :

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Least Flycatcher

I've been taking so many photos recently, that I will start to post some individually as I go through them and bunch others together from the same location where possible.

Here is a Least Flycatcher from along the riverbank taken last week :

Two species from Buena Vista Park

I often take a stroll over to my local park to see what's there. Last week I found a few Warblers that I've already since posted.
Here is a White-throated Sparrow and some of the many Pine Siskins that were busy eating high up in the tops of the Spruce Trees :

White-throated Sparrow - I've often seen this species eat Red Osier Dogwood berries. I'm now beginning to think its their favorite food :

Pine Siskin : Eating, funnily enough, Pine seeds :-)

Actually , make that three species ...

Northern Flicker - There were also many of these around. Here's a male with a female in the background :

Monday, September 15, 2008

White-footed Mouse

My friend discovered this tiny White-footed Mouse on the ground as we were crossing a road while birding.
This is a new mammal species for me, although I know that it is fairly widespread over Canada and the US. Further research has revealed that it is also known as a Deer Mouse, a name I have heard of many times.
My other friend who was with us gently put it under some bushes and hopefully it stayed out of the way of traffic or cats.
It's pretty cute isn't it :-)

Friday, September 12, 2008

More Fall Warblers

Many of the Warblers that pass through Saskatoon on their journey south have already gone, but if you look hard enough along the riverbank and some of the parks within town, you might locate a few stragglers.

Here are some found over the past week :

Orange-crowned Warbler - I found this one on the east side of the river yesterday morning :

Bay-breasted Warbler - This was found with some friends at President Murray Park :

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle)Warbler - These are one of the Warblers that are still hanging around. This was taken at Buena Vista Park this week :

Black & White Warbler - My friend and I found this female at President Murray Park :

Magnolia Warbler - Always a nice one to find, This male was at Buena Vista Park this week :

Yellow Warbler - I found this 1st year female eating flower seeds at Gabriel Dumont Park last Saturday on the day of the Fall bird count :

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Forestry Farm Park

The Forestry Farm Park where the Saskatoon Zoo is situated, is one of my favorite places to look for birds & wildlife in the city.
Some highlights of the day were :

Philadelphia Vireo, Osprey, Western Wood Pewee, Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Sparrow , White-winged Crossbill, Northern Waterthrush and Palm Warbler.

Here are some photos taken there last week ( left click to enlarge ) :

Philadelphia Vireo - Not always an easy bird to find in town:

Osprey - This majestic raptor was catching fish at the trout pond. When I first got to the park I found him perched atop a tall power pole and at one point he stooped to look down at me:

Brown Thrasher - I found four of these at the park. Its not too often you can get a shot of them out in the open:

Northern Waterthrush - Its a good day when you can get one of these Warblers actually in the water as their name implies:

Yellow-rumped Warbler - This time of year the Yellow-rumps become the most abundant Warbler around..

Blue-winged Teal - She was swimming in the trout pond.

Alder Flycatcher - I found this guy in the trees near the entrance: