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

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Insanity on the Lake This Week

I have spent more time than I'll ever admit to along the Durham waterfront this week to see what local lovelies are on show, and I was not disappointed, even with the more common birds, beginning with a Ring-billed Gull!

A female Mallard has to keep up appearances, especially during courtship season, and what an abfab job she's doing!

A female Greater Scaup in Newcastle investigated me:

This White-winged Scoter came precariously close to getting caught in fishing line at Newcastle as I watched in horror...

...until he decided to dive for some mollusks instead, phew!

Long-tailed Ducks are still in the area, amazingly beautiful and a joy to watch as they frolic in the water before they head off north again:

The chestnut brown colour is much more noticeable on this handsome fellow, what gorgeous ducks we're so lucky to see here!


Footnote: just as I was writing this post, I got word of a Trumpeter Swan in Newcastle tangled up in fishing line, arghhh, TWC to the rescue??

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Return Trip to Nanticoke and Fisherville

Last Tuesday Ann and I showed Chris what total idiots we are on our road trips as we went back for Bald Eagles in the Nanticoke area. The roads were clear and dry, a welcome change from the whiteout conditions we suffered through the last time we were there.

It was an excellent trip, despite not having many photos to show for it, but the target bird was succesfully viewed a few times, here's an adult Bald Eagle:

It would appear that a lot of the eagles that over-winter here had already left the area, as they certainly were not as plentiful as last time, but we were thrilled that Chris was able to get good views of them. 

Turkey Vultures were migrating through in good numbers, and we saw them on the wing, roosting in trees, or on the ground in fields. One thing I just learned about Turkey Vultures from last night's Durham Region Field Naturalists' meeting with Wild Ontario is interesting. They will gorge themselves so much on carrion that at times they're unable to fly until their digestive system works its magic, so it's possible that when they're at rest on the ground, they're in fact unable to fly! So their defense mechanism against any possible predators that stumble upon them is to projectile vomit. Yeah, that would certainly stop a coyote in its tracks, dontcha think??!! To put this in better perspective, and I paraphrase loosely here, Turkey Vulture vomit makes skunk stench seem like Chanel No. 5  by comparison, so you figure it out!  Let's just hope that I never have a first-hand experience with this when volunteering at the Toronto Wildlife Centre, yikes!

A Great Horned Owl was being mobbed by Crows...

...but safely returned to its nest, the head can be seen on the left, with a huge wing to its right:

We also saw lots of deer, including this one on a berm:

We then went to Fisherville and en route were shocked by a mid-day R.I.D.E. check in Selkirk, which I passed with flying colours, despite Ann's protests to linger longer so she could spend more time with the uniformed officers.

Of course the "it's-only-ten-minutes-to-Fisherville" trip took twice that (perhaps due to my driving skills that have been under fire recently??), but it was all worthwhile in the end to see more bird porn. Yes, ladies and gentleman, we have a new species to add to our collection, Kildeer, yippeee!!!

...getting in the mood:

...and they're off, there was lots of vocalizations to begin with...

...and then it was over before they knew it!

So it was a great day in the end, although I have my doubts if Chris will venture out with us again together anytime soon!

Thanks for a great day, ladies!

Lynde Shores Antics from Last Week

Last Monday Chris and I were both independently scouting out the Durham Region area. As I dipped on the Ashburn Tundra Swans, Chris called me about some courtship action with Hooded Mergansers at Lynde Shores, so off I went, especially with the potential promise of more bird porn to add to our collection. In total I saw nine Hoodies, five males and four females:

The females didn't really have a chance as they were constantly pursued, but for the most part they remained aloof, always maintaining a poker face as to who the Lucky Guy would be:

So here's a sampling of what Chris and I enjoyed watching, voyeurs that we were:

The males raise and lower their head crest as they do this ridiculous head toss, in an attempt to prove to The Gal that looks do indeed matter ;-)  :

...she's clearly not impressed, though, despite their best moves on the dance floor:

A female Mallard was oblivious to the Hoodie action on the pond... was a Great Blue Heron that flew overhead, giving me my first photo opportunity for the season:

Thanks for the call, Chris, what an enjoyable morning it was to see!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kawartha Critters

Two visits to the area this past week yielded more furry versus feathered critters, much to my delight!

The first visit with Ann last Tuesday began with a sighting of this beautiful coyote, or possible coywolf hybrid in the morning fog:

A single herd of  White-tailed Deer were seen next, and again on my return visit on Thursday:

...hence why they're called "white-tailed", off they go:

A second herd was seen further along the road. Initially they were curious about me, but quickly lost interest and casually wandered off:

But back to Tuesday's run with Ann: we decided to check out some new areas and back roads, and at times it was interesting to see how far my car could go off-road shift around in the mud. Ann tests out the suction capabilities of her boots in it:

A female Pileated Woodpecker was heard and eventually seen on one of these back roads, as was this club. We're always on the look-out for new accommodations, especially as the Kawarthas are so rich an area, it's a relief to know that we have a place to stay down the line.

Please forgive me the photo, though, it's grossly over-exposed:  


Our final stop for the day was at Anne and Brian's beautiful home overlooking a river where each spring the Otters go ice-fishing through holes that magically appear in the ice overnight. Just as we were about to pack it in, the Otters began to feed and regale us with their fishing expertise, as each and every time they came up for air, they had a fish in their mouth. They're typically nocturnal, but seem to be more active through the day in the winter, how lucky for us!

...success, a good-sized fish in its mouth:

Double-click on the photos for better views, as they were quite a distance out from us, and hit the "back" button to return to the blog:

...down the hatch, check out the choppers on this one!

Three of them deciding whether or not to venture out on the ice for us....they voted NO

Many thanks to Anne and Brian for sharing their local critters with Ann and I, as well as Dan for putting us in touch with them, what a memorable afternoon!

During my return visit on Thursday, a Muskrat  where, oh where were all the birds???  scooted across the road right in front of me into a water-filled ditch, it was great fun to observe this member of the rodent family:

The only feathered highlight of my day, as well as a year bird, was a noisy Merlin at the cottage, could last year's family be back on the nest again? Here's hoping!!

So as we enthusiastically  sadly bid adieu to winter in a few hours, this past week was proof that the seasons are indeed changing, based upon the number of new migrants reported on Ontbirds. I can't wait to see what's around the bend in the coming weeks! I finally saw my first Turkey Vultures for the year yesterday, and as mentioned before, the Merlin was another year bird for the week. 

In the oddity category, though, here's an interesting Red-tailed Hawk seen in Toronto last week, its bold white head stripe caught my eye, even though these photos were taken through a fence!

And on the last full day of winter, here is last night's so-called "supermoon", I sure can't tell the difference, can you??