...well actually, it's far more than just one dreary month that I've been off the radar with my blog, so I'm now trying to get back on track with it as best I can, breaking it up into manageable chunks. I can't even say I've had too many bird and critter photos to sift through as generally it's been a quiet late-autumn, but now I'm back!
This will definitely be an odds 'n' sods posting, though, the only orderly thing about it is that it's in chronological order, going back to an early misty morning in the Kawarthas on November 1st:
The one advantage of reviewing my photos so long after the fact is that I am reminded of what good birds we've had in the area, as was the case with this immature lone Brant seen in Pickering on November 3rd, but only for a few days:
This was not a Lifer for me, having already seen them in great numbers at the ferry terminal in Tsawwassen, British Columbia, but it was a "province" bird for me!
It eventually got quite comfortable with me being so close to it and began to preen, perhaps beacuse I was lying flat on the ground in goose poop!
Never let it be said that I don't take photos of gulls! Here's a Ring-billed Gull that was checking me out as I fussed over the Brant:
I made several trips to the Oshawa harbour in early November for the annual Loon look-out, managing to see a Pacific (thanks, Jean!), some Red-throated and thousands of Common Loons that survived the severe botulism scourge that had ravaged the province. Here were some Common Loons seen on Friday, November 4th:
Monday, November 7th saw Ann and I on a road trip to the Kawarthas, and our first stop was at Mr. and Mrs. Corn's place, aka Sharon and Joe. The 902 Trumps were there in full force, eagerly awaiting their breakfast:
Ann's now hooked on them too!
...'twas a better day for the "outcast" cygnet, as the family allowed it a much closer approach without getting its butt kicked by mom, hooray!
Preening after the meal:
We said our farewells to The Trumps, Sharon, and Joe, and continued along back roads where we saw a lingering Great Blue Heron...
...a slaughtered Ruffed Grouse who's seen better days:
...and some beautiful landscapes to make up for the dead bird sighting:
On our way through the Carden area, we spotted my first White-winged Crossbills in nineteen months (!), this is a
garbage trash really, really bad record shot only:
We saw a perched Rough-legged Hawk (that are now few and far between this winter, I must say!) that was quietly minding its own business...
...until a Common Raven harassed it:
We dropped in at Ginny's place in Uphill and enjoyed a Hairy Woodpecker feasting on peanut butter:
On the Owl front, all we saw was this Barn Owl, sigh GOTCHA!:
It was still hunting season, so Ann and I were mindful of where we went on the back roads, and it seemed that the critters knew that too, as we really didn't see very much that day. A Northern Shrike at the Golden Hour was our last good sighting for the day, and my first for the season:
Master John has always told me that it becomes more and more difficult with time to add Lifers to one's list, and I now understand that, somuchso that when we read an ontbirds posting of a dark morph adult Pomarine Jaeger seen in Cobourg harbour, off we went on the afternoon of Sunday, November 13th. There was a distinct sense of urgency as the reported bird was suspected to be in its death throes from botulism.
We didn't make it in time, nor did the bird.
But John and I probably had our closest views ever of its field markings, sad to say, before it made its final journey to the ROM:
My next road trip with Ann was on Monday, November 14th, and we stayed local along Lake Ontario, preferring to avoid any hunting encounters up north. At Humber Bay, we readily saw the resident Northern Mockingbird:
House Sparrows were abundant:
My BOTD, though, had to be the Gadwall! I confess that I've never really paid that much attention to the different shades on the male's head, but also love the scalloping details on his breast:
Look at him, he has colours that I wasn't even aware of!
Ann snapped a secret shot of me not- so- gracefully "Gadwalling". Thanks, Ann!
We wrapped up our day at the Evergreen Brickworks in the Don Valley, a new area for us both. In its prior life, it was a quarry and industrial site, but has been converted over to a park with several ponds in the middle of the city:
The former Don Valley Brick Works was in business for almost a century, and supplied bricks to several Toronto landmarks, including Massey Hall, Osgoode Hall, and Casa Loma:
On the nature front it has great potential, but not so much in mid-November, other than a gorgeous Red-tailed Hawk that had been drenched a bit by the wet snow showers earlier that morning:
Working on those tail feathers:
Now that's a red tail!!!
My next Kawarthan road trip with Ann on Monday, November 21st was exciting, but not because of what we saw, but more on that later.... Our target bird was a reported Snowy Owl, but we dipped on that, and pretty much anything else that moved, so we enjoyed the views instead:
An early winter's thin sheet of ice on the surface of the water:
The subdued neutrals of the landscape almost made us beg for a snowfall:
On the outskirts of Fenelon Falls, we were surprised to spot a Coyote!
We stopped off for lunch in town and then headed for the north shore of the lake, and that's when
all hell broke loose I decided I had had enough of these boring road trips. The car needed a break, too:
Actually, it was all part of my master plan to spend some time with a local
tow truck driver fellow to glean some information on wildlife viewing in the area. If anyone tells you otherwise, they're just wrong!
Meanwhile back at the ranch, European Starlings were in a feeding frenzy by our garage. They're such noisy party birds, excelling at flash mobs on the ground or in the sky. And they're really quite attractive too, if only we paid more attention to them versus slamming them all the time!
The one on the left has a crossed bill, which may be either an injury or a genetic deformity:
A solo run to the cottage on Thursday, November 24th produced a pair of live (!) Ruffed Grouse...
...as well as this Common Loon off the Point, what an unexpected treat!
My final November road trip with Ann was on the 28th to the west end of Lake Ontario, starting off at Bronte Provincial Park where the best bird was this pretty young Cedar Waxwing:
At LaSalle Park in Burlington we saw lots of waterfowl, including this female Greater Scaup...
...a Red-breasted Merganser:
...a dashingly handsome Mallard drake:
...and American Coots:
Our next stop was at the lift bridge and it turned out to be one of my most memorable photography sessions ever, as the lighting was sweet, as were the birds, including thousands of Long-tailed Ducks:
A first year male (thanks Justin!):
The Red-breasted Mergansers were spectacular to see, and on subsequent return visits, I have never seen as many there as I did that day:
What a joy to see White-winged Scoters as well!
It was time to head east again, so we stopped off at Colonel Sam for Grebes, which were too far out for any decent shots, but this female Ruddy Duck was a good bird to see:
Our last stop of the day at Humber Bay gave us awesome views of Redheads, what gorgeous ducks!
A pair of delightful male Redheads are bookends to a single female, with a Mallard in the rear:
My final BOTM on the very last day of November was this Sharp-shinned Hawk perched in a tree over my feeders as I pulled into the driveway:
I have not replenished my feeders since.
So ends November, 2011, phew! This was a long overdue posting, and I now still have December and January to do, as well as some October stragglers, noooooooooooooooooo!!