Last week Ann and I did the mandatory annual Nanticoke and Fisherville trip looking for raptors, specifically Bald Eagles and Short-eared Owls and we were thrilled with the results for the day.
Our first stop was at a private feeder in Cayuga where the kind homeowner graciously offered us closer access to his backyard birds. We enjoyed a Red-bellied Woodpecker, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Tree Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Northern Cardinals, and a lone White-throated Sparrow:
I was also pleasantly surprised to see my second Carolina Wren for the week:
Our next stop was at Fisherville for Short-eared Owls, which we found after much patience and perseverance. Thanks go to Ann for breaking my losing streak for seeing Shorties at Fisherville, as my two prior visits there both yielded nothing! ...for a while there, I even thought I was a victim of Les' Owl Plague!
These photos are all tightly cropped as the owls were out in the middle of a field, so I'd recommend double-clicking on them for better views, then hit the "back" button to return to the blog:
The owl, much to my surprise, was regurgitating a pellet in this next photo:
In flight their markings are just gorgeous:
A second Short-eared Owl makes a landing on the left-hand side of the wood pile:
They're so well camouflaged that had we not seen it fly in, we never would have noticed it there!
Other raptors for the day included Red-tailed and Rough-legged Hawks:
Around the Nanticoke power plant on Lake Erie, we saw at least three different adult Bald Eagles, this one is a subadult, based on the dark tips on the tail feathers:
We we thrilled when we watched six of them soaring overhead as they slowly drifted across the sky, Ann and I were almost screaming with joy to see so many of them. For me, it was an all-time high to see this many together in Ontario, admittedly I'm spoiled by my Bald Eagle adventures in Surrey, British Columbia! I was only able to get two of them in the same field of view here:
It takes four to five years for them to acquire their adult plumage, ie white heads, tail coverts, and tails, so all of these next photos are of young eagles:
We also saw a few Horned Larks in some fields, but they took a back seat to these spectacular Bald Eagles:
Things began to wind down here, though, so on our way home we returned to Fisherville in the middle of a snowsquall what was to be the first of many on the drive home, arghhhhhh to see the Short-eared Owls one last time:
They were much more active this time, and were oblivious to the snowy conditions. Can you spot one on the left-hand side, while another one comes in for a landing??
On a negative note, though, the white-out road conditions were pretty brutal for the first part of the drive home. Anyone who knows me well is already aware of my
fear aversion to winter driving at the first sign of a snowflake, let alone what we drove through, but we managed to safely do so and live to tell the tale, phew!
Certainly the number of raptors made the day totally worthwhile, though, it was a day we'll never forget.