Thursday, May 28, 2009

Warblers, More Migrants & The May Day Bird Count

Well, its catch up time again. I've been birding like crazy lately, trying to see and document as many migrants as possible, and also attempting to take better photos of existing species for my files.
There will many more updates to come, with lots more photos, as they are all mounting up, in particular a new series on Shorebirds and some other recent outings.

My friend Guy and I did our 4th consecutive May bird count together last Saturday and had a pretty spectacular day.
Starting at around 7am and finishing at 10pm we clocked up 140 different species when it was all over, beating our previous record last year of 125.
Our sector encompasses Pike Lake, Delisle, Laura, Tessier & Goose Lake and has some nice spots to find shorebirds and occasionally Warblers.
I still even managed to take some photos along the way, and one of those will feature in this post, with more will follow later.

Some highlights from that particular trip included :

Ferruginous Hawk, Ruddy Turnstone, Red-necked Phalarope, Long-billed Curlew, Black-necked Stilt, American Golden Plover, Common Nighthawk, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Veery, Turkey Vulture, Mourning Warbler, Cape May Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Ovenbird, Black & White Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroat,
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Marsh Wren, Black-crowned Night Heron, American Bittern, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Le Conte's Sparrow, Lapland Longspur, Snow Bunting, Belted Kingfisher, Snow Goose, Sandhill Crane.

Now for some photos :

Cape May Warbler - This was taken at the property of some friends north of Pike Lake.
This lovely male had been drinking sugar water from a hanging Oriole Feeder, and was resting fpr maybe a second or two on the tree between sips.

Blackpoll Warbler - This male was found on our May Bird Count at Pike Lake

Mourning Warbler - I had the pleasure of seeing this male in my own backyard. I took the photo just as he hopped atop our compost heap :

Orange-crowned Warbler - This bird pays daily visits to our barrel pond , either having a drink or bathing :

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - For a little while, everyone was seeing these in town. We had this male and also two females for about a week in our backyard :

Swainson's Thrush - As well as Oranges, some birds are partial to watermelon !

Monday, May 25, 2009

Baltimore Orioles

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting a friends very famous yard, north of Pike Lake where we were treated to excellent views of 15 newly arrived Baltimore Orioles and 3 Cape May Warblers that were enjoying slices of orange that was set out for them.
The following day, I looked out of our kitchen window and saw a male Oriole in our apple tree, so I went outside with some orange and hoped he'd come back ( which he very kindly did, and stuck around till near dark )

Here are the photos from our yard :

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Scarlet Tanager

Yesterday afternoon I received several phone calls and emails from friends with the news that a male Scarlet Tanager was visiting the backyard of a couple of bird watchers here in Saskatoon.
Of course, I had to be there and thanks to the kind hospitality of the house owners and the friends I went with, I got great views of this life bird through the main dining room window.
This is only the 7th record for the Saskatoon area in 50 years.
What an absolute treat ! I have only waited 7 years to see one :-)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spring Migrants Part 2

The weather right now is pretty miserable , with gale force winds and overcast skies. The yard has been alive with migrants so expect to see more photos soon!
In the meantime, here are some more Spring birds I have seen and photographed over the past week or so...

Gray-cheeked Thrush - Another one from a recent walk around the neighborhood :

Yellow-rumped Warbler - These are still hanging around :

Orange-crowned Warbler - Nice to actually SEE the Orange Crown on this bird, as its not always visible :

Ovenbird - a different view of the Ovenbird I recently found :

Palm Warbler - I found this new arrival close to home :

Harris's Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow
- These are everyday visitors at this time of year :

Lincoln's Sparrow - This individual has been in the yard for many days now :

And finally, here are some new photos from along the river...

Snowshoe Hare

Lesser Canada Goose :

Lacking the larger body, long neck of a Canada Goose , and the shorter bill of a Cackling Goose , this small individual was along the river recently, dwarfed by his bigger cousins :

Gapper's Red-backed Vole :

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Broad-winged Hawk and more at P.A.N.P

I have many new photos to post, but I'll leave them for next time as I wanted to post the most up-to date sightings, which happened yesterday around Prince Albert National Park...

Myself and two friends set out to P.A.N.P where the plan was to do a big day.
Sometimes , plans don't always work out and unfortunately we had to cut the big day short into only a 'little day', but nevertheless, a wonderful time was had by all.
Just hearing the morning song kick in about 4am is one of the best birding experiences you could wish for.
We had Ruffed Grouse drumming right behind us, that felt as if the ground was moving beneath our feet.
The sky was clear and the stars were shining brightly.
Pileated Woodpeckers seemed to be everywhere, with hammering so loud that could wake the entire park up.
Choruses of frogs were all around, beavers were slapping their tails into the calm waters and there was not a breath of wind as Loons gave their eerie calls that carried right across the lake.

Here are the highlights (in no particular order) :

Barred owl - 1 ( New for the year )
Boreal Owl - 1
Broad-winged Hawk - 1 ( New for the year )
Northern Goshawk - 1 ( New for the year )
Wislon's Snipe - 2 or 3
Winter Wren - 2 or 3 ( New for the year )
Swamp Sparrow - 4 ( New for the year )
Bonaparte's Gull - 2
Bald Eagle - 1
Ovenbird - 2
Magnolia Warbler - 1( at a park in Prince Albert - New for the year )
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 5
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 2
Barn Swallow - 4 ( New for the year )
Rose-breasted Grosbeak - 1 male
Pine Grosbeak - 1 male
Eastern Phoebe - 2
Belted Kingfisher - 1
American Three-toed Woodpecker - 1
Pileated Woodpecker - 4 or more
Gray Jay - 3
Ruffed Grouse - 3 or 4
Great Blue Heron - 2
Hermit Thrush - 2
Swainson's Thrush - 3
Boreal Chickadee - 6
Tundra Swan - 20
Snow Goose - several loose flocks
Ross's Goose - 1

Broad-winged Hawk - This is a species I don't often see, and you have to know where to find them. Luckily they do occur regularly in this park.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Spring Migrants Arrive - Part One

Since my last update we've had a mixed bag of weather here in Saskatchewan.
Today it got down to a measly 1°C and it pretty much snowed all day. Snow.. in May !
There have been a few new arrivals here in town , most noticeably Thrushes, Sparrows and a few Warblers.

Yesterday I saw the following species:

Swainson's Thrush - 25
Gray-cheeked Thrush - 2 ( New for the year )
Ovenbird - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 2 ( New for the year )
Palm Warbler - 3 ( New for the year )
Yellow Warbler - 1 in my own backyard ( New for the year )
Yellow-rumped Warbler - 20+
Orange-crowned Warbler - 4
Chipping Sparrow - 11
Lincoln's Sparrow - 2
White-throated Sparrow - 1
White-crowned Sparrow - 3
Clay-colored Sparrow - 2
Pine Siskin - 2

On a drive on Monday morning I also saw 18 Whooping Cranes flying over the highway to Prince Albert not far from Duck Lake.

Here are some new photos, some are from my backyard and others, I found while on a few walks around the neighbourhood ( Click to see full size )

Here you can compare the differences between a Gray-cheeked and a Swainson's Thrush:

Swainson's Thrush

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Ovenbird - While it looks like a Thrush with a snazzy Orange crown, this ground foraging Warbler can sometimes be hard to spot, until you hear it sing !

Harris's Sparrow - I don't often see this species in its breeding plumage, so this lone bird that showed up yesterday was a nice treat :

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Still, by far the most common Warbler here right now. These can be found in most parks and neighbourhoods flitting from tree to tree or sometimes foraging on the ground:

Blackpoll Warbler - A Warbler I have only seen a few times in its breeding plumage, these usually visit the yard in fall, but by then are much plainer than this one:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Say's Phoebe and more

We don't see too many of these handsome flycatchers in our area, in fact I only saw one all last year.
This morning while on a drive with a friend. This Say's Phoebe appeared seemingly out of nowhere, fairly close to the Dundurn miltary range.

There were many of the usual suspects to be found in nearby sloughs , most of the Grebe's,Ducks and a few shorebirds were present, and at Blackstrap I got my first Belted Kingfisher of the year.

Here is a Tree Swallow that I captured during take off from a fence post :

This Savannah Sparrow was singing to a potential mate in a nearby field :

Friday, May 8, 2009

A few more recent photos

Here are some more photos from the Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek , plus a couple of others from the river...

Sharp-tailed Grouse

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Compton's Tortoise-shell


Rock Pigeon

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Sharp-tailed Grouse Dancing

I recently went back to a community pasture I had previously visited last year to photograph the courtship and stand-offs between Sharp-tailed Grouse.
I took a few photos on Monday , and I will post more from the set later.
Here is my favourite from the day :

( Click to see full size version )

Monday, May 4, 2009

More Migrants Arrive

Well , I've been very busy the past few days, and so have the birds it seems.
There are more new species to add to my year list and I've had some nice sightings, so this is quite a big update with lots of pictures.
I often take several shots of one particular species and won't always post those photos here on the blog, as it will take up a lot of space.
I will add those shots to my Saskatchewan Wildlife Gallery as seen on the sidebar to the right.
As always, click to see full size...

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Eastern Phoebe

American Kestrel

Hermit Thrush

Purple Finch

Fox Sparrow

Common Grackle

Orange-crowned Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Franklins Ground Squirrel

New year birds :
Wilson's Snipe
Sprague's Pipit
Fox Sparrow
Orange-crowned Warbler
Glaucous Gull
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Brown-headed Cowbird
Chipping Sparrow

New year wildlife :
Franklins Ground Squirrel
Garter Snake