Totally captivated in 2007 by the live camera feed of the Hornby Island nesting Bald Eagles in B.C., I was drawn into birding and have never looked back. Thus begins my account of what I'm fortunate enough to discover each day and perhaps capture with my camera.

Unless otherwise stated, all images were taken by and are the property of Janice Melendez

Species Counts:

2014 Final Year List: 255; 2015 Year List a/o June 5, 2015: 235; Life List: 327

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

More from Wednesday in Surrey

...have yet to be interrogated by the local police department for wandering around the neighbourhood like a nerd, but here's a House Finch, in fact taken through my bedroom window:

Was amazed at how clean the windows were, then again, remember the amount of rain they get here! My uncle and aunt lived in North Van for decades, and 20 years ago they moved here, to Surrey. Story goes that North Van gets twice as much rainfall as downtown Vancouver, and Surrey gets half as much as downtown Vancouver, so is not surprising they moved this far south. 

Have spent the rest of the afternoon editing, deleting, or tagging photos on my notepad, a tedious task that I've managed to procrastinate about for months now, but is well worth the effort in the end. Still have thousands to go through, though, have barely made a dent. If I'm unable to get outside here, I may have to start posting some from my archives!

Nice Yard Bird, despite the image quality, pls forgive me!

As I wandered along Bryce's street this a.m., I found a House Finch and the neighbourhood White-crowned Sparrow that sings incessantly from dawn until dusk, I just adore him!

But my BOTD has to be this Bald Eagle, the image quality is despicable, but at this point I'll take what I can get:

Still hoping to get some decent photos of the Violet-green Swallows that are still constantly feeding on insects mid-air, but I packed it in out of fear of having neighbours call the cops on me for odd behaviour (in their minds, not mine!). Will probably park myself in a lawn chair in Bryce's driveway to get some pics so when the cops pull up I can readily explain myself and have him there to vouch for me.....

Sunday, April 25, 2010

First Full Day in Beautiful British Columbia...

...rewarded me with two Lifers, an unexpected treat, as I remained within walking distance of my "home" here. At dawn, I wandered over to the local park with a pond that is home year-round to American Wigeons, and was not disappointed, are as tame as our Mallards on Ontario, here they are foraging around in the grass:

This mystery fellow has been around for several years now, according to Bryce's neighbours, and is called WHITEY:

Ahhhh, but on to the Lifers, the first one was a STELLER'S JAY, it caught my attention because it was making quite a racket from a high treetop south of the pond. Fortunately I was able to get it in my binos before it took off, immediately noticing its crest and blue-black colouration. I committed to memory its call and sure enough, confirmed it as such when I returned home by listening to it on my iTouch (freak that I am). Too bad I could not get a photo, but it was a Lifer, whoohoo!!!! With any luck over the next few weeks, I'll come across another one to photograph, watch this space...

My second Lifer was perched on the eavestrough of Bryce's neighbour's place, and I almost didn't bother to look at them at the time, assuming they were just your run-of-the-mill Tree Swallows. Noooooooooooooo, once I down-loaded these pics, the violet-green colour of them jumped out, and I confirmed them as- ARE YOU READY FOR IT??? Violet-green Swallows. For once the guy who named them got it right (case in point: Ring-Necked Duck has a ringed bill; Red-bellied Woodpecker has a red crown, and barely any red on its belly). Another distinguishing field mark is some white above the eye, which is hard to tell from the photo below, but when I zoomed in on it, it's there, but it was too grainy for me to post. Another goal for me is to get a proper photo before I return to Ontario.  

Also saw and heard numerous White-crowned Sparrows (another Year bird) singing away. So today have added two Lifers and three Year birds to my lists, not bad!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Scarborough Day with Ann, then a Cottage Hit-and-Run

Spent a wonderful day with Ann on her home turf, here are the highlights of the day, an abridged version from ~1000 images, though, as I really should be prepping for B.C. More pics to follow, perhaps, if I edit on the plane??

Screech Owl

Blue-headed Vireo- nice "specs"

 Our "Flicker- in- the- hole" (inside joke):

Northern Cardinal:

Foxy Momma w her four Kits, thanks for sharing, Ann!
(and yes, people, I know it says BIRDING blog above, but it's my Blog and I can do what I want to) 

You'd be yawning too if you had to do what she's doing!

Ann's Red-tailed Hawk on the nest; we're hoping her mate returns soon:

From Scarborough, I headed to the cottage, and was thrilled to find this Belted Kingfisher basking in the sun:

So over and out for me as I fall off my perch!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Algonquin Outing on Sunday, April 18, 2010- Mission accomplished!

Spent the day at Algonquin Park for the OFO's 21st annual outing w Glenda and Doug, leaving home at 6 a.m., returning back before 10 p.m., saw all four target birds for the area, including Spruce Grouse, Gray Jays, Boreal Chickadees, and Black-backed Woodpecker, thanks to our leader Ron Tozer. Daily species total landed at 47, including a lifer for me with a perched Broad-winged Hawk, adding another 7 to my year list, bringing that total now up to 127. Almost 900 photos later, though, I now find myself considering most of these unusual species trash birds, how sad is that!!

We began our pursuit of the Black-backed Woodpecker at Km 8, but instead encountered a Blue-headed Vireo singing away, an unexpected treat! From there we went to Lake of Two Rivers Campground for two Pine Warblers, and then on to Spruce Bog Boardwalk for the elusive Spruce Grouse, and once again, Ron did his magic to entice a male out into the open, and a female later decided she wanted in on the action too. Unfortunately, the only semi-decent photo I managed was of another male on the side of Arowhon Road as we left the park around 6:15 p.m.:

By this time, we needed to stop for lunch at the Visitor Centre, where I went wild taking photos of these Purple Finches, it had been almost a year since I had last seen these beauties, the male is the more colourful of the pair- AGAIN:

Little did I know that this was only a warm-up for my camera, as next we tracked down the Black-backed Woodpecker on the north side of hwy 60, excavating a hole in a utiility pole. I will spare you the dozens of photos (one full 8 gig card later, arghhh) and only share with you a few of this male:

And here he disappears into the hole, give you an idea of its size:

Other stops we made included the Old Airfield (another first for me, which is why I enjoyed this visit so much, as I now know of several new birding hotspots), Opeongo Road, and finally the old railway line near West Rose Lake, east off of Arowhon Road. This last stop was probably the highlight of the day for me, thanks to the spectacular landscape and its absolute silence and tranquility.

It was here that we found at least three Boreal Chickadees flitting around in some spruces, and I was finally able to nab them in my binos for the first time ever for some excellent views. We also found a pair of nesting Gray Jays, she was on the nest, and he was bringing back take-out to her, notice the extended crop, if you're able to:

So here I am, now on my second 8 gig card:

We left the park around 6:15, and, as mentioned earlier, we came across a male Spruce Grouse, and then further along Arowhon Road, a female, this pair being an added bonus to the day. As per Ron's advice, our final drive-by feeder stop was at the Algonquin Inn on the west side of the park, nothing of particular note there, other than this adorable female Dark-eyed Junco, don't you just want to hug her??!!

Thanks to Doug and Glenda for a fabulous day (even if we dipped on a Moose, grrr), and especially to Glenda for driving all day! As for my BOTD, I know it should be either the Spruce Grouse or Black-backed Woodpecker, but I'm shamelessly going with the Gray Jay. So there.

Friday, April 16, 2010: Thickson's Woods- a Murder of Crows, amongst other things

Stayed local today between errands, but was able to add another bird to my Year List, ie an Eastern Towhee, and despite barely trying, I ended the day with 33 species. Ran into John at the entrance to the woods, so we wandered about, and found it very easy to find the Great Horned Owl by the mobbing crows. Here goes with some sequence shots, no wonder they are called "Tiger of the Sky", was intriguing to watch the change in his demeanour as he lost patience with his daytime roosting being so rudely interrupted:

His mouth is open here, is getting quite annoyed w these guys:

Notice the change in stance, is up on his legs now, grrrrrrrrrrrr:

Back to normal now, the crows eventually got bored and departed.

From there we headed over to the meadow side, where these Tree Swallows were flitting about if they weren't yelling at each other- I can only imagine what was being said here:

These next few shots I couldn't resist posting due to the amazing colour of these birds:

Then I wrapped up my visit to this area with two different sparrows, the Savannah Sparrow:

And finally, the White-throated Sparrow (my BOTD), I probably spent half an hour waiting on this lil guy who was foraging around on the ground under the evergreen hedge to come out into the open, but he was worth the wait, isn't he the sweetest thing EVER??!!

Carden Alvar Trip on Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Yesterday, John, Doug and I made the first trip of the season to the above area, which lies north of Kirkfield, and is habitat to numerous species, one of which is on the Ontario's Endangered list, the Loggerhead Shrike. Eagle-eye John finally discovered a pair of them on the south side of McNamee Road. My apologies for the image quality below, but I took what I could get:

Now don't be fooled by their diminutive appearance (well, not so much, as they measure ~9"), as these suckers are also known as butcher-birds, as they are quite adept at not only taking out insects, but also small birds, and rodents, impaling them on thorns or barbed wire for later consumption. That said, as per the most recent Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas, in 2006 there were only about 18 pairs, so it's always a special privilege and joy to see these birds each year as they return to breed in this alvar habitat.

But on to cheerier subject matter now, our first special BOTD was this Wilson's Snipe, many thanks to Driver John for his patience while I snapped about 2000 pics hanging out of the van:

We finally got a visual on an Eastern Meadowlark, after severeal teased us with their wonderful song from the grasslands:

Eastern Bluebirds were seen along the west side of Wylie Road, this is the male (sadly, the female was too far away for a decent shot- next time??). Also including a shot of the "blue", of course:

Eastern Phoebes were also prevalent:

Next was the Loggerhead Shrikes sightings, and for a change, we decided we would reward ourselves with a meal at someplace other than a Timmie's, ie the local restaurant in Kirkfield (Note to Self: it closes at 2 p.m., remember this for next time). Upon our arrival at 1:55 p.m., we were informed of the limited Healthy choices for lunch:
1. Wednesday's Trans fat special with an order of carbs on the side; extra sodium at no extra charge

2. Wednesday's Carbs special with an order of trans fat on the side; extra sodium at no extra charge

We were doomed, but somehow suffered through it, no doubt consuming 3000 times the recommended daily intake in a matter of minutes, followed by some of my home-made brownies, life was good. I secretly thanked god that my next cholesterol check-up wasn't until sometime in the fall....

We waddled our way back to the van swooning from our lo-cal meal and continued on to Prospect Marsh, where we found this perched Red-Tail Hawk:

We continued on to Canal Lake for the local Ospreys, and then returned back home in time for Robert to not know I had squandered away yet another day gallivanting around our glorious province. Added 3 new species to my year list; my BOTD was of course the Loggerhead Shrike.