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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bohemian Rhapsody

I began the final day of autumn with Rosemary at Hall's Road yesterday morning, and two coyotes greeted us in the fields, accompanied by the wild banshee screams of a dog-owner who seemed a tad concerned for the safety of her loose dog once she spotted the coyotes. Both coyotes, that is, not the dog seemed quite healthy and well-fed, this is the first time I've seen them here:

The resident White-tailed Deer were not impressed by their presence either, swiftly departing into the bush, giving the coyotes "The Tail", like white flags bouncing up and down, what a sight!

From there we tried for and dipped on the reported Wood Thrush at Lynde Shores Conservation Area, but instead settled for close views of a Red-bellied Woodpecker by the parking lot. Our next stop was the Kortright Centre for Conservation in Woodbridge, a first for both Rosemary and I:

We had a wonderful time checking out this new hotspot together, despite dipping on suspected Pine
Grosbeaks, but my attainable, shhhh target birds were Cedar Waxwings for my Winter List, as well as less-common Bohemian Waxwings. Other than a group of students and exuberant sled dogs (!), the only others that we encountered on the trails were Lev Frid's parents who told us that "our son's just up the trail a bit, looking at Bohemians". Rosemary and I tried to act nonchalant, but once we were out of sight of his parents, we both did a fifty yard dash to find him, as we knew if we found him, we would find birds. End of story. And sure enough, once we found Lev, we found both the Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings in trees. The larger ones are the Bohemians:

My field guides refer to both Bohemians and Cedars as "common but irregular" and "gregarious", as they travel around to wherever the food is (not unlike me at this time of year, where's the nearest buffet- hah!). Once they devour any berries and fruit, they will move on, which they did, as when we returned to the same area later on, they were gone. 

Let's  start with the Cedar Waxwings, these first two photos are of a juvenile, notice the streaking:

An adult Cedar Waxwing is equally interested in feeding on berries:

But now for the Main Event: the Bohemians have no yellow on the belly, and instead are all gray below:

The other main identification feature is their cinnamon undertail coverts, clearly seen here as we watched them eating snow off the tree branches!

It was truly delightful to see them cleanse their palates with snow after eating up all the berries!

This was definitely the highlight of our day thus far, but we also saw numerous Northern Cardinals, Dark-eyed Juncos, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, House and Goldfinches, and a pair of Wild Turkeys. Kortright is also home to the Canadian Peregrine Foundation, so we saw but did not count a captive Bald Eagle, Gyrfalcon, Great Horned Owl, and a European Eagle Owl.

Other owls have been seen roosting on the property, but not by us yesterday, despite valiant attempts on our part...

On our way home along highway 407, I lost count of the number of Red-tailed Hawks we saw perched along the roadside. After I left Rosemary in Pickering, I stopped off at Hall's Road at dusk and was thrilled to see this beautiful buck in the same fields where in the morning I had seen the pair of coyotes:

...that "lump" on the left-hand side is a hawk, if you can believe it! I had seen it fly in, but only realized where it had landed when I downloaded my photos:

The buck has hooked up with another deer on the left, it's amazing how well they blend in:

...and off he goes, only his antlers are visible now, if you look hard enough:

But my light was now gone, here's the final sunset of autumn, 2010...

...and freak that I am, here's a really, and I mean REALLY bad photo of the lunar eclipse at 3:00 a.m.:

So today on limited sleep, damn eclipse! I once again began my day at Hall's Road. There were no coyotes, but a few deer were on the road before darting off into the fields on the east side.

After re-stocking the feeders at the north entrance to the marsh, I ran into Murray. As we shivered in the wicked first-day-of-winter temps, a Cooper's Hawk flew into a tree beside us, scoping out its first meal of the day. My birdseed brought in the small birds, which in turn brought in the larger birds that wanted to literally feed on the smaller birds:

Murray and I said our farewells as I was meeting John at Lynde Shores for my second attempt at the Wood Thrush, which we dipped on, only to hear later that it was found, grrrr. For the longest time our BOTD was this White-throated Sparrow which was frozen in place:

After warming up at the local Timmie's, we wisely decided on car side birding, so we drove around various concessions and side roads in Pickering, adding Eastern Bluebirds to our Winter Lists. We continued to dip on Common Redpolls, and quite frankly, I'm beginning to get ticked off at those jaded birders in the province who are suggesting that they're trash birds. Even so, my winter tally now stands at sixty-five, yay!!  

A male Hairy Woodpecker is proof of a desperate day:

My return trip through Whitevale, Greenwood, Kinsale, and north Oshawa came up empty, so at dusk I returned to Hall's Road and was amazed by the thousands of Canada Geese staging in the cornfields before taking off for the lake, the noise of them all when they took to the air was like an airplane!

The few deer that I saw were even taken aback by the commotion of the geese:

And so begins our Canadian winter now!

Tomorrow I'm off to the Ravenshoe area with Ann in search of our first Snowy Owls for the season.

Camera batteries charged? Check.
Memory cards cleared? Check.
Elmer Fudd gear packed? Check.  

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