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

Monday, May 30, 2011

"What happens in the field...."

Dan persuaded me to check out this private lake with him by canoe in the Kawarthas for some possible nesting birds a few weeks ago, so off I went at the crack of dawn to meet him, armed with my PFD, Deet, and a pair of rubber boots.  Looking back on it as I made it out alive, this is another one of those posts that I really don't want my family to see, so hopefully this won't come back to bite me.

We met with the kind landowner before hitting the trails to the lake, and as we were about to leave, he called Dan on the side and I managed to overhear the word "BEAR". Huh. How about that??!! In my usual subtle way, I barged into the conversation as Dan retrieved his bear spray out of the truck. I proudly beamed and told them both that I too had my own pepper spray (wow, how prepared was I, being such a city slicker, I'll show them!), so I rushed back to the car to retrieve it (THANK YOU, JEFF!!!). My pride was short-lived, though, as I was informed that my pepper spray would be hard-pressed to take out a squirrel, let alone a bear :-(  .

Okfine, I was a dork from the city, but at least I was an enthusiastic dork!

Dan and I left for the lake, and along the way heard and saw some good birds, even though I was furtively looking behind me for the better part of that time for those bears. On the tree trunks we saw signs of their claws, so whoever said to climb a tree to escape one is wrong-wrong-wrong:

We arrived at the lake, and a beautiful one it was:

A pair of Common Loons was seen off the shore, along with numerous Red-winged Blackbirds, Swamp Sparrows, a Great Blue Heron, and a few Ring-necked Ducks. We were pumped, I was thrilled, but only for a moment, as I cast my eyes upon our vessel:

Kidding!!! But not by much, in fact, as I patiently watched in horror  awe as Daniel Boone  worked his magic with a roll of duct tape and birch bark:

My only consolation was that the OPP would not be able to access the lake to pull us over for a safety spot check. Then again, nor would they be able to rescue us either....

Our water vessel was now in its final state, whew, that was a close one, I just knew we'd be safe now, especially as I had all of my camera equipment with me so we'd be ready for that National Geographic shot of a lifetime!!!!

So off we set into onto the lake in Dan's "Red Green" special, and we lived to tell the tale. The irony of it all, though, was that we saw no new birds other than what we had already seen from the shore, but if nothing else, it was another interesting misadventure! 

Afterwards, we met up with Susan for lunch and then headed off to a private woodlot to pick wild leeks, Dan went insane with a shovel as Susan and I sifted through the leeks to bring home with us to savour in some gourmet cooking.

How Dan managed to ever find this Wood Frog for me to photograph I'll never know, but look how tiny it is:

The call of this tiny little thing is a rolling quacking sound, not unlike that of a duck!

We also saw a few butterflies, but I'm not quite that desperate yet to get into flutterby mode, as there are still too many birds around to enjoy!

So all in all it was an interesting day, many thanks to Dan for sparing my life out on that lake, I'm still waiting for that duct tape wallet you promised me!

"What happens in the field stays in the field."

Until this post.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The "Yes, I'm still here" Post!

I've been totally overwhelmed with photo editing since my Point Pelee trip with Ann a few weeks ago (thank goodness it was a "quality-versus-quantity" trip, otherwise I'd be in worse shape!!), so am now trying to carve it all up into manageable chunks, especially since I've also been in cottage mode, so here goes!!

...and speaking of the cottage, the past few weeks up there have seen some really good birds, starting with some returning warblers. I continue to be amazed by the number of them that no doubt have been under our noses for decades, if only we had actually sought them out by following their singing as they forage in the trees! And yes, Master John, it sure is easier to identify them in the spring versus the fall!!

Besides the usual Yellow-rumped, Yellow, and Common Yellowthroats, I saw a Blackburnian, and this Chestnut-sided Warbler, a trash record shot only:

...along with these other trash record shots of a Bay-breasted Warbler...

...and a Magnolia Warbler that I desperately tried to turn into a Canada Warbler, but the distinct white wing patch and supercilium, as well as the streak pattern on the breast made it impossible:

Great-crested Flycatchers were seen and heard everywhere:

A male Blue-winged Teal at the Lindsay lagoons finally reveals its pale blue patch on the forewing!

My local Osprey pair continues to entertain us, even in the wet weather, look how bedraggled the male is:

While back in Whitby, this poor Osprey is being pursued by a gull for its catfish-of-the-day!

Our cottage pair add to their nest each day:

...and coming in for a landing at the Golden Hour:

Our first sunset for the year was truly a wicked one:

...followed by a few more spectacular ones during our first stay of the season there, does it get any better than this??

But with Spring of coruse comes the insects, and this season is particularly nasty due to the high amounts of rain we've seen this month. One morning I watched one of our Common Loons try to enjoy a peaceful morning swim on the lake, but even it was being harassed by the blackflies: 

...trying to shake off the bugs:

...but the'yre relentless little buggers (just couldn't resist, sorry):

I'm sure the insect population up there will have tripled by now, so stay tuned to see what's left of me next week so I can continue to sort through my photos to get caught up with my blog!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Return Trip to the Kawarthas

I returned to the cottage area on Saturday with Ann, and even though I was able to meet her outrageous demands find the target birds for her, the majority of them weren't nearly as close as we would have liked for photography. Perhaps this was due to the backdrop of chainsaws slicing through fallen trees, but it will just mean a return trip on another day!

The highlight for me was watching a group of five soaring Osprey high up in the sky, obvious migrants returning to the Kawarthas from their winter grounds to seek out nests. At one point in time even a Turkey Vulture got caught up in the action. Ann and I watched in awe as they soared back and forth, calling out and screaming at each other and at times upsetting the "early birds" who had already taken up residence in established nests along the shoreline. Here are a few photos of what we saw high up in the sky as they drifted overhead:

A male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker was heard before it was finally seen. Peterson's guide refers to its call as a "nasal mewing note", and as always, was bang on! This pic is included because it does indeed show the yellow belly, as well as the male's all-red throat patch:

A Belted Kingfisher perched on an overhanging branch was seen, so I dropped Ann off to get a shot while I safely parked the car. Instead, Ann selflessly sent it over to exactly where I was standing, landing in a tree in front of me. These incredibly skittish birds are a challenge to photograph, so I tried to remain calm AS IF and managed this pic before she took off again. Thanks, Ann!

A new pair of Osprey had taken up residence in an old tree nest that had been vacant for the past few years, so here's a few photos of the male bringing in nesting material from the marsh below, he was so close that we could almost reach up and touch him!

We also saw Common Loons and Mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks, Blue-winged Teal, Merlins, Barn Swallows, a Common Raven, Eastern Meadowlarks, and Brown Thrashers. My firsts for the year included an Eastern Kingbird, Yellow Warblers, Chipping Sparrows (near Blackstock) and a Common Moorhen (audio only, at the Lindsay lagoons).  My final count for the day was forty-three species, a nice warm-up to Point Pelee later in the week....