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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Another Day of Unexpected Surprises with Ann

Ann and I met at the SCC this morning at 9 a.m. for a half-day of whatever, having no expectations yet in the end we reaped a few excellent birds and some amazing photo opps. There was no sign of any Red-tailed Hawks, and as indicated on Ann's blog of late, their territory has significantly expanded in the past few weeks, so any sightings of them, near or far, are a gift.

Ann had already tracked down the American Kestrels that have been frequenting the area this week:

We saw this one take out a small bird in a nearby spruce tree, but upon closer inspection, it's in fact a cicada that it's eating:

We decided to move on but something caught Hawkeye (!) Ann's attention and sure enough, it was the male Red-tailed Hawk, we were thrilled! We enjoyed his morning antics as he wandered around on the ground looking for some protein (=insects), as well as flying from tree branches to man-made objects in the area. I was so pleased to see how adept his flying skills are now, not once did he misjudge his chosen flight path:

I have no idea what that bug thingy is in his mouth, but he sure enjoyed scarfing it down!

We reluctantly left him to his feeding routine, and our next stop was at a marsh near the Highland Creek, the footing was quite a challenge but it was well worth the effort, thanks for sharing, Ann!

There were several Eastern Kingbirds and Phoebes, Common Grackles, American Goldfinches, Mourning Doves, and Belted Kingfishers:


But our Jewel of the Day was this Black-crowned Night-Heron that was right in front of us, I still cannot believe our good fortune:

Here's a different one in another part of the marsh:

This one did move further away from flight shots of it were a disgrace (I think Ann may have some killer flight shots that perhaps will be shared on her blog??), but here is its landing, at least, on a dead log:

Our next stop was Morningside Park but it was quiet there (other than several hundred family picnics underway on the long week-end, grrrrrrrrrrr). The highlights were a stunning male Baltimore Oriole and a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak, but the water levels in the marshy area were quite low, so we didn't stay there for very long. Ann headed off for home while I stopped by at Reesor Pond (dead) and then the marsh in north Pickering, just in case the Green Heron was out-and-about. There was an eerie silence as I parked my car, not even the usual Wood Ducks were around....odd.

Then I saw him, the Tiger of the Sky, a roosting Great Horned Owl (sorry, Les!) on the far side of the marsh, no wonder the marsh was so vacant:

So ended another day of summer nebirding, maybe going forward my philosophy should be:

"Expect nothing, so if anything turns up, it's a TREAT".

Ain't Nothin' Common about THESE Terns!

Okfine, Ann enticed me out of the house yesterday afternoon on short notice to go birding, as she felt it had been far too long since she and I had filled up numerous memory cards together, so off I went, meeting her at 1:30 p.m. in north Pickering. The marsh was dead, as was Cranberry Marsh in Whitby, although we did see Pied-billed Grebes, Common Moorhens, Canada Geese (whoopdeedoo), Black-capped Chickadees, Blue Jays, blahblahblah.

So out of desperation we stopped in at Lynde Shores CA for a family of Mute Swans, and ended up hitting pay dirt with a family of Common Terns that was so close to us we were hard-pressed at times to get the entire bird in our photos, so here goes... 

This juvenile spent most of his time on the railing:

The male eventually joined him, and pretty much contributed nothing to the party other than preening himself, grrrrr:

Then mom arrived on the scene:

Admittedly she's preening too, but she has good reason to, as she would fly off and execute these magnificent plunge-dives into the water hunting for small fish to bring back to feed the juvie right before our eyes, over and over again!

Ann and I quickly figured out the process: the juvie would start screaming as the mother flew in with the fish, so we would ready ourselves to "let 'er rip" with our cameras, it was insane. Here's the deal:

Juvie is screaming and opens up wide so mom has a better chance at hitting her mark...

...incoming meal...

...down the you think it tickles on the way down??

And there you have it, here are some more sequences:

And another:

This was probably the most amusing feeding session: the food transfer didn't quite go as planned, and it all happened so fast we weren't sure if mom knocked the juvie over, or if he simply lost his balance when the transfer happened. You'll have to be the judge as Ann and I were howling when it happened:

There's no way that juvie is giving up that fish, but he made a quick and safe recovery, though:

Ahhh yes, about those Mute Swans with the cygnets...

Check out the cygnet in the left rear, air-drying its foot!

A closer look at that foot, it almost looks prehistoric:

So between the Mute Swans and the Common Terns, I was well over several hundred photos to edit, but it was truly worth the effort, what a fabulous afternoon, thanks, Ann!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Doldrums Again...

I returned to the marsh again this morning in search of my Green Heron with no luck... This is what makes birding so interesting or not as one never knows what to expect! The usual suspects were there, though, including Wood Ducks, Spotted Sandpipers, Eastern Kingbirds, Eastern Phoebes, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, and Virginia Rail.

My next stop was the Claremont Conservation Area, and yup, it was quiet there too, but I was pleased to at least get some good walking in! 

A Red-tailed Hawk was chilling on a utility pole, but was chased off by mobbing American Crows, look how messed up both birds are with their feathers, yikes:

Other than Black-capped Chickadees chattering away and Cedar Waxwings zzz-zzz-zzz'g away, some Indigo Buntings entertained me with their midday songs and call notes:

The pale-brown female has faint streaks on her breast:

Am off to meet Ann tonight at the Red-tailed Hawk's nest, so I'm assuming that the photos will be more plentiful later on...