...but instead of looking in on the family cottage on the south side of Sturgeon Lake, John and I had the pleasure of spending the day with Dan on the north side, in fact northeast of Fenelon Falls. It was a fabulous day, thanks to Dan's hospitality as he shared his local birding hotspots and expertise with us until almost 4:00 p.m.
Seven new species were added to my Winter List, beginning with several Evening Grosbeaks that were in a tree but eventually returned to feed on the ground under Dan's feeders:
The bright yellow eyebrow and forehead of the male, seen at the right rear, is maintained year-round. The female's colours are more muted, as seen on the two birds on the left:
It was a delight to see so many of these beautiful birds again, as the only other time I had seen one for a split second was during the OFO Algonquin outing in April 2009, their presence in southern Ontario each year is determined by the seed crops:
Another winter bird for me were Snow Buntings perched on a wire, as seen from Dan and Susan's kitchen window. Yesterday afternoon Dan counted ninety-eight of them on this same wire, yikes! Hope he knows where his power generator is!
He also had an amazing number of American Goldfinches at his feeder, including one that had an orange cast to it! I noticed that the dull winter plumage of these Goldfinches were brighter than the ones in my own backyard, so not sure what's up with that- as John suggested, maybe cleaner air up there?? We also saw both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Black-capped Chickadees, and Blue Jays.
From there we bundled up again in our winter gear and departed for a neighbour of Dan's who maintains over thirty feeders on his property, you have to see it to believe it! Here are just a few for you to count:
And this fellow also puts them away each night, I don't envy him that task, let alone the cost of maintaining their seed supply, based on the high numbers of birds we saw there, including numerous American Goldfinches mixed in with yet more Evening Grosbeaks verging on becoming our Trash BOTD:
These Evening Grosbeaks were much more vocal than the ones at Dan's home, the only way I could describe their chatter was like "House Sparrows on steroids":
From here Dan took us to another private home where we saw Red-breasted Nuthatches and more Goldfinches and Chickadees, and next we stopped on the side of a country road where we added a Common Raven, a Northern Shrike, and a Mad Maxine fly-by in a pick-up truck. Dan and John are grateful below:
We made a quick pit-stop back at Dan's and then tried for but dipped on Ruffed Grouse at two more of his neighbours, then if memory serves me well- how am I doing, guys??? drove north on highway 35 to the east side Balsam Lake to look for Bald Eagles on the edge of the ice, to no avail.
Yet another private home that Dan steered us to in the Glenarm area narrowed my lead on John for our Winter Lists, I was thrilled for him no I wasn't when he added a Red-bellied Woodpecker to his tally, appearing almost on command as we pulled into the driveway. En route a Red-tailed Hawk was seen perched in a tree and Wild Turkeys were in a field contemplating an escape route, especially with Christmas right around the bend.
We drove back through Fenelon Falls, and while I topped up my car with gas by the locks, Dan and John scoped out Cameron Lake for Mallards, a very black American Black Duck, Canada Geese, and best of all, an adult Bald Eagle off in the distance on the edge of the ice, whoohooo! It stayed put on the ice for a while, but eventually took flight, seriously spooking the geese, and flying directly over our heads, then over the falls (yes, there are falls in Fenelon Falls) and along the channel where we paddle our kayaks in the summer! I thanked both god and Dan, as John just stood there shaking his head at yet another episode of my temporary insanity. No photos, though don't ask
Now that Dan was in on my Dirty Little Secret re my addiction to Bald Eagles, he directed us to another spot where they were known to frequent, but no luck didn't matter, I'd already had my fix, so we returned to his place and called it a day. A wonderful day, full of Evening Grosbeaks and a Bald Eagle, my personal highlights.
My sincere thanks go to Dan for taking the time out to show two total strangers his home turf, and hopefully we can return the favour sometime when he's in our neck of the woods.
As for yesterday and today, I had to be content with some of the usual suspects from Thickson's Woods including a White-throated Sparrow
that I paid off in birdseed to hide from John, heheh:
A male Northern Cardinal:
This afternoon on Hall's Road, one of two White-tailed Deer who were grazing in a field:
I also made a quick stop at Whitby Harbour to look for and dip on my male Harlequin Duck, despite reported sightings of him this morning. But we now await a major storm system to hit the area, so let's see if he sticks around or bails on us. Then again, let's see what new treats may arrive, too!