I began a new year of birding on January 2nd, 2011 with the Pickering Naturalists club for my second Christmas Bird Count in less than a week, and what a fabulous day it was! Glenda, Janice yup, another Janice, can you imagine?? and I entered our count circle around 9:30 a.m. and left it at 4:30, so it was a long day but we had some excellent birds. Glenda did a wonderful job of driving the country back roads while I tested my navigational skills to ensure 100% coverage of our area, while the other Janice kept score of the birds.
Twenty minutes into our count circle I began to complain about the number of Canada Geese we saw in flight, poor Janice tried to keep us honest with the count while Glenda and I said: "yeah, add another hundred, blahblahblah". One such flock had a Cackling Goose at the lead, so that was our first good bird for the day, and throughout the rest of the day we saw a Peregrine Falcon, several Red-tailed Hawks, a couple of Northern Shrikes, an Eastern Bluebird, lots of Black-capped Chickadees, American Goldfinches, House Finches, American Tree Sparrows, a Brown-headed Cowbird, Northern Cardinals, Dark-eyed Juncos, European Starlings, Cedar Waxwings (no Bohemians, boohoo!), American Robins, a Common Raven, Blue Jays, and both Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers. Thanks to Dan and Stephen, I even attempted a new pishing method that seemed to amuse the smaller birds, even if I did humiliate myself in front of Janice and Glenda by hanging out of the car window making kissy-face noises, yikes :-(
Certainly the BOTD was this spectacular juvenile Bald Eagle that we had originally seen flying low from Westney Road, but then found it again visible from Concession 8 as it circled the area, how beauteous was that, especially as it was only the second day of 2011??!!
My species tally for the day was twenty-five, which was not a bad start for a quiet birding day. We returned to Rosemary and Jonathan's palace overlooking the Rouge to get warmed up, as well as consume obscene amounts of sugar and swap stories with the other participants, and a good day was had by all.
Speaking of which, we all became so enchanted by Rosemary and Jonathan's hospitality that we invited ourselves back there again this morning! Thanks to Doug's jinxing of the annual Feeder Tour by publicly promising Eastern Bluebirds to everyone at Thursday's club meeting, eight of us made a
hasty not-so-hasty retreat to the Olivers from the Pickering GO station, braving treacherous road conditions due to overnight snow that had not been cleaned up yet. How bad was it? It was so bad that even the GO bus honked at me as I slowly made my way along Bayley, Street, jeeez.
So instead of driving country back roads looking for well-stocked bird feeders that John, Doug, and I had already scoped out on Thursday, we found ourselves suffering inside here:
Their beautiful home overlooks the Rouge Valley and has one of the best feeder configurations known to man, so all ten of us in the end suffered through it, sipping on hot apple cider, freshly-brewed coffee, and eventually lunch!
Dan decides to punish Doug for jinxing the day by force-feeding him a chocolate mouse:
On the bird front, we tried to determine their feeding pattern, as there would be a feeding frenzy for half an hour not unlike us with the Oliver's lunch spread, then silence until they eventually returned to the yard. American Goldfinches, House Finches, and Pine Siskins entertained us, as did a few pairs of Northern Cardinals, Dark-eyed Juncos, Blue Jays, European Starlings by the dozens, and both Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers that gave us excellent side-by-side comparisons.
A Cooper's Hawk that flew into the feeder zone was one reason for a mass exodus of the smaller birds, as it perched on a nearby branch, salivating over which bird to take out. A pair of Red-tailed Hawks periodically flew in and out too, giving us some excitement as it pursued one of the feeder birds:
Certainly the BOTD, though, was the Red-bellied Woodpecker, there are four of them that Rosemary and Jonathan care for:
We actually can see the red belly here!
As we had already shamelessly invited ourselves to the Oliver's, we opted to not over-stay our welcome and left after lunch once the snow had stopped once and for all. Many thanks again to Rosemary and Jonathan for their hospitality, and rest assured that you can expect us all back again during the next snowfall ;-)
Mom, Doug and I made a brief stop into Hall's Road on our way home, running into Ann, Chris, and several other nature photographers along the way. The usual suspects were out in full force after the fresh snowfall, including Black-capped Chickadees...
...and these Mourning Doves:
After walking to the hawk watch platform and back, it wasn't quite clear to me who was holding up whom here, mom or Doug:
And so ends my first posting for 2011. I had fully intended to do a 2010 recap highlighting my best birds of the year, but alas, it is not to be, for now anyway.
All I can tell you is this, though:
my 2010 Year List ended with 253 species
my Life List is currently at 277 species
my Winter List is currently at 73 species
Both my Life and Winter Lists include a very special bird seen this week, but you'll have to wait for me to get caught up with my postings next week. Or perhaps the week after that, as I'm out and about with Ann over the next few weeks, and we all know what that means....