Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Country Drive

This morning I went out for a short drive with a friend, mainly to look for Bluebirds ( of which we found a grand total of 11 in two different locations )
We also found 8 Western Meadowlarks along a dirt road , and a juvenile Golden Eagle soaring high overhead, showing off its buffy under-tail patch in the sun.
There was also a Red-tailed Hawk sat in a field close to the hamlet of Furdale.
Unfortunately the Bluebirds were sitting in the shade and the light not good enough for a decent photo op, the same with the Meadowlarks so I thought I'd wait for a another time.
I did get some photos though today, after the list of birds and mammals...

Gray Partridge - 2
American Tree Sparrow - 1
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 1
Bohemian Waxwing - 20
Common Redpoll - 15
European Starling - 5 (New for 2009)
Mountain Bluebird - 11 (New for 2009)
Western Meadowlark - 8 (New for 2009)
Blue Jay - 2
American Crow - 6
Common Raven - 2
Black-billed Magpie - 8
American Robin - 2
Horned Lark - 5
Canada Goose - 9
Bald Eagle - 2
Golden Eagle - 1 (New for 2009)
Red-tailed Hawk - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 4
Rock Pigeon - 7
House Sparrow - 10

Common Porcupine - 1
White-tailed Deer - 7
Richardson's Ground Squirrel - 20+ (new for 2009)

Here are some photos :

Common Porcupine

Horned Lark

Canada Goose

Sunday, March 29, 2009

White-winged Crossbills & Cedar Waxwing

On my way down to the river last week, I stopped off at my local park and got some more shots of two male White-winged Crossbills that are still in the area, feeding on pine cone seeds.

It was nice to find this lone Cedar Waxwing at the Forestry Farm Zoo yesterday in the company of some Bohemian Waxwings :

Friday, March 27, 2009

Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk

Straight after work yesterday morning, I hiked over to Buena Vista, Gabriel Dumont & finally ended up at Diefenbaker Park.

Here is my list of findings ;

Common Redpoll - 10 at Gabriel Dumont
Bohemian Waxwing - heard not seen
Downy Woodpecker - A courting pair at Gabriel Dumont
Hairy Woodpecker - 1 heard across the river at the san site
Northern Flicker - 1 heard in Buena Vista Park
Common Raven - A very vocal pair, one of which was carrying a huge stick , presumably for its nest somewhere in the city.
American Crow - 20- the biggest flock I've seen this year.
Blue Jay - 5 at Gabe Dumont, and another 5 on 3rd St.
Black-billed Magpie - 5 at Gabriel Dumont
American Robin - 2 heard singing across the river near Holiday Park.
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 3
Black-capped Chickadee - 8
Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk - 1 soaring over Gabriel Dumont - new for the year and new for my park list.
White-winged Crossbill - 2 at Buena Vista , gleaning pine seeds.
House Finch - 5
House Sparrow - 60+
Rock Dove - 5
Common Goldeneye - 2
Mallard - 6
Canada Goose - 15

I also managed to call in a Red Fox at Diefenbaker Park by imitating the distress call of a Cottontail Rabbit while in some thicker woods at the southern end. I was hoping something would show up, but really wasn't expecting it.
He came bounding out of nowhere , then as soon as he saw me, he bolted off in the same direction he came from. Very neat, and the first Fox I've seen this year.
There is also an active skunk den in this park. I didn't find the culprit of the smell, but I know he's in there as there were fresh tracks. There were also many Snowshoe Hare tracks around.

Red-tailed Hawk ( Harlan's Race )

I initially though this handsome raptor was a Rough-legged Hawk, and hastily mis-identified it without consulting my guides. I should know better by now..
Thanks to a friend of mine Zoe, who alerted me by email, I was able to put two and two together!
This could very well be the same individual I found close to home on Christmas Eve last year, which funnily enough I identified as a Harlan's straight away!
Although similar to a Rough-legged Hawk at first glance , Harlan's lack the dark tail band and have a mottled/speckled pattern on the breast rather than a banded pattern :

Monday, March 23, 2009

Great Gray and Great Horned Owl

Here's one last image of the Great Gray Owl we recently saw up north.
Also, is one of a pair of Great Horned Owls I found last week sitting out as a sentinel not far from its nest.
Soon I hope to find Bluebirds and Tree Sparrows to photograph , if this crazy wind ever calms down and the sun decides to come out :-)

Great Gray Owl

Great Horned Owl

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Has Sprung !

While it doesn't look or particularly feel much like Spring here in town, it is certainly milder than it has been and the snow is definitely melting fast.
This morning during 30k winds and cloudy overcast skies ,I went out with a friend to Holiday park and then checked along the waters edge beside the QEII power plant to try and re-locate the Snow Goose seen last Tuesday.
While we dipped on that particular bird, we had a nice fly-over from a mature Bald Eagle and my first 3 Ring-billed Gulls of the year.
There were also approx 30 Canada Geese on the ice and 2 Common Goldeneye.
Holiday Park yielded several House Finch, 2 Common Redpolls, 4 Black-capped Chickadees and a Downy Woodpecker.

About 15 minutes ago while putting out some Garbage, I was serenaded by, and then glimpsed an American Crow ( my first look at one this year )as it flew over our street.

Bald Eagle - Here is the Bald Eagle from today. Unfortunately the sky really was this overcast, even though sunshine was forecast yesterday !
These birds are always a thrill to see in the city though :

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Common Redpoll

This Common Redpoll has been visiting our backyard for the last 2 days now.
Last night he was still feeding alone at 7pm.
I visited the Forestry Farm briefly yesterday and there were many Redpolls there, so hopefully he'll catch-up with a flock.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Northern Flicker

I was treated to a nice view of this female Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker on Monday afternoon as it picked berries outside my kitchen window from our Virgina Creeper vine:

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

American Goldfinch

While on a brisk walk around my 'local patch' Buena Vista Park this morning, I found 5 American Goldfinch trilling away in the confines of a newly budding deciduous tree.
This is the first time I have seen this species in the Winter, and its a shame they were not present in the city a couple of weeks ago, as they would have made a fine addition to the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Still waiting to see my first Mountain Bluebirds of the year , these Yellow beauties sure made it feel like spring, despite the minus 17 degrees celsius it was outside !

Other species seen were the usuals : Black-billed Magpie, Blue Jay, Downy Woodpecker, BC-Chickadee , House Finch , Red-breasted Nuthatch , Rock Dove and House Sparrow.

Also of note , this afternoon, I went out with a friend and found 12 Canada Geese and 1 Snow Goose near the QEII Power Plant.

American Goldfinch

This is more of a 'record shot' as the bird was so high up and very small in the frame . I hope to get better one's later in the year :

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Horned Larks

Yesterday I had an enjoyable trip with a friend around Blackstrap, Dundurn and the old Regina Highway.

Highlights were a female Pileated Woodpecker near the campsite at Blackstrap Lake , 3 adult Moose close to the same location and a pure white Snowy Owl near Sheilds sitting in the middle of a field.
There were also approx 24 American Robins at Blackstrap , 35 Bohemian Waxwings , 8 Sharp-tailed Grouse and 2 Blue Jay.
Throughout the day we also saw a total of 45 Horned Larks. It is great to see these birds gathering in numbers.
It won't be long before we see the first Mountain Bluebirds up here.

Other things of interest, were 10 White-tailed Deer , 1 Porcupine and 1 Skunk.

Horned Lark

Snowy Owl - This Owl was sitting quite a far distance away, and I zig-zagged my way towards him, then took the shot from about 60ft .

Friday, March 13, 2009

Northern Flicker

This is the male Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker that has been a frequent visitor to our yard for most of winter.
When the temperature dropped down to minus 30 degrees celsius a few days ago, I wasn't surprised to see him again :

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Northern Hawk Owl

Here is a Northern Hawk Owl we saw last Saturday :

Monday, March 9, 2009

Gyrfalcon & Great Gray Owl

Last Saturday , I joined a group from the Nature Society on a trip looking for Owls in the Shell Lake and Spiritwood areas.
My friend Marten picked me up at 6:35 and we were looking for Owls by 8am.
The weather , although promised to be sunny, ended up being windy and quite cold.
We ended up with a very respectable 26 species of birds and 3 mammals when we were all done, and I finally got to see my first ever Gyrfalcon and my 4th Great Gray Owl.

Other highlights on the trip include:

Northern Hawk Owl
Great Horned Owl
Northern Goshawk
Bald Eagle
Pine Grosbeak
Hoary Redpoll

Here are a couple of photos :

Gyrfalcon - My camera did not want to focus in the low light and the bird was a good distance away, but I did the best I could considering the poor conditions. I'm just happy I have proof of this fantastic Dark-morph Gyr.

Great Gray Owl - This owl swooped in close and I fired off 2 shots before it flew off into some trees to sit at its favorite perch :

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Striped Skunk On A Slippery Slope

Yesterday while on a drive with a friend, I noticed this skunk along the roadside.
Always wanting to add to my animal photos collection, I risked getting a new free blast of deodorant ' Eau de Skunk '.
I'm always careful when approaching any wild animal and tend to move very slowly , and in the case of these particular critters, never directly towards them.
I got behind a hill where he couldn't see me, and remained about 15 ft away, firing off 4 quick shots before he scuttled off, giving me a little glance, not really bothered by my presence.

(click photo for bigger version)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Boreal Owl

Here is another photo of the Boreal Owl found a few weeks ago, roosting in the trees of a local farm shelterbelt :

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hairy Woodpecker

Here is a male Hairy Woodpecker taken a couple of weeks ago :