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

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Counting on the Kawarthas

Ann and I headed northeast on the first day of March for another killer day of birding and nature photography, resulting in three full memory cards to edit, for a total of one thousand nine hundred and ninety-four photos to sift through hence my delay in posting, gimme a break, people!! ;-)

We just knew it was going to be good when a pair of beautiful coyotes were spotted in a field not thirty minutes out of town, here's one of them:  

A third one was spotted further along the highway, but we continued to our first stop in Uphill for Ginny's famous collection of winter birds before they migrate back up north for the season. The resident female Pileated Woodpecker was the first one we saw upon exiting the van, but she remained aloof for the rest of our stay there. Check out her "worm tongue" as she eats some snow!!

Ginny's Common Redpolls continue to eat her out of house and home, and one day her count of them peaked at a whopping three hundred, can you imagine the amount of nyjer seed she goes through!!! We had fabulous views of the Redpolls all morning, and while editing my photos, I was struck by the small number of males seen, but the ones we saw were stunning, with their deep pink breast:

Certainly the female Common Redpolls dominated "the schoolyard", though, as they constantly fed on the nyjer seed:

...all fluffed up in the cold of winter:

A different angle revealed her dark rear scapulars:

A light breeze ruffled some of her head feathers:

Our other target species at Ginny's was also in fine form, the gregarious Evening Grosbeaks that only feed there in the morning hours, hence why it was our first stop for the day. The males, with their distinctive yellow eyebrow stripe, were outnumbered by the females, so we revelled in any close views of them:

This fellow had an unfortunate skirmish with a hawk of some sort, Ginny told us, but he lived to tell the tale...

...some of his feathers were quite tattered, but he was otherwise healthy:

The female Evening Grosbeaks are equally spectacular themselves, despite being a bit more subdued in colouration:

Despite the continuous food supply, there were still some "discussions" between them about butting in line:

We bid adieu to Ginny, thanking her once again for her hospitality, and continued back south in search of some open water for waterfowl. The Mallards were in mating mode again or still???   A female was preening herself... was what I think is a female Red-breasted Merganser Master John, what's your vote?? Last night I was convinced she was a COMMON, but now have changed my mind upon closer inspection of these :

One of the day's highlights for us was the closest views ever of a first year male White-winged Scoter that entertained us for an hour  (filling up one of my cards!) so sit back and enjoy him as much as Ann and I did!

The White-winged Scoter is the largest of the three Scoters that spend the winter in southern Ontario. His hind toe has a paddle like flap as seen below, who knew??!!

His right foot is curled up against his body...

...and then he stretches it out again, if you're able to see it:

Lots of preening going on...

...then a really good yawn:

We initially thought it was a female, but some colour on the bill changed our opinion:

Admittedly I'm totally out of control now with the number of photos I took, so these are the final ones I'll subject you to!

I was so focused on the Scoter that I totally missed a Ring-necked Duck mixed in with the Mallards, but Ann spotted him, and again we had our best views ever of this beautiful species:

This is another one of those annoying species names that messes me up, should it not be called a Ring-billed Duck?? Where's the neck ring, I ask you!!!

Whatever it's called, it's a beauty, though, with its purple head, black back, gray flanks, white "spur" before the wing, and of course, the white ring on the bill:

I have to say that the rest of my photos for the day pale in comparison to these ones, as all we saw on our way home were Wild Turkeys, both Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, lots of Black-capped Chickadees, American Goldfinch, a few Red-tailed Hawks basking in the sunshine, and a lone Horned Lark as we left the Kawarthas. It was one of our best days ever out in the field with some unexpected treasures revealing themselves to us. Thanks again to Ann for an excellent day, as well as the driving, and for not being too disappointed in me for staying upright all day and not humiliating myself in a snowdrift.

Enjoy Ann's account of the day with fabulous photos here:

One thing's for sure, though, we can always count on the Kawarthas for a good time!



Ann Brokelman said...

Great collection of photos Janice. Amazing birds and the ducks
were beautiful. My video of the mallards mating is well cool.
You are so right it was another crazy wonderful amazing day. Can' t wait till next week. Just think in one month ospreys and thousands of photos. Amazing photos girl.

Chris McConnell said...

Excellent shots Janice! Who knew about the paddle toe?!? I'm disappointed that you didn't take a tumble in the snow drift but there's always next time ;)

Angie in TO said...

Loved the photos and the Scoter lesson. I saw my first this year.

janice.melendez said...

Thanks for the comments, ladies, and congrats to Angie for her first Scoter, they're beautiful sea ducks, aren't they??!!

With all the recent rain, though, perhaps there will be less snow drifts to attack me...