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

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Carden Revisited, eventually...after a Lifer

I'm an admitted Chaser, so on fairly short notice I pursued a reported Painted Bunting in Huntsville (ultimately a very wise decision, as the following day this spectacular bird was nowhere to be found). Heading north at the crack of dawn to meet up with Anne, we were immediately surprised to find this lingering Snowy Owl, a sighting made all the more bizarre by the unmistakable song of  Eastern Meadowlarks in the same field! For me this was my latest sighting ever of a Snowy Owl: 

After another unexpected distraction of a Moose (!!) along highway 11, we arrived at our final destination on the outskirts of Huntsville and patiently waited for the most gorgeous male Painted Bunting to appear at the feeders. When he did, even in the heavily shaded yard, he was unmistakable and blindingly beautiful, mostly red on the underparts and rump with a blue-violet head, which even this despicable record shot indicates:

I will always remember my fleeting views of this Painted Bunting as it is my 310 th Lifer. Peterson comments that the Painted Bunting is "the most gaudily colored N. American songbird". Indeed it is!

As the day was still young, we birded our way back via assorted marshes and eventually Carden to investigate new arrivals. We were serenaded by Song, Swamp, Field and Chipping Sparrows, Eastern Meadowlarks, Eastern Phoebes, Brown Thrashers, Eastern Bluebirds, Tree Swallows, and Wilson's Snipe (which we never actually saw, grrrr). A Loggerhead Shrike, my first for the year and a remarkably easy "tick" was seen on Shrike Road. American Kestrels were trash birds and two Belted Kingfishers on a wire had declared their mutual attraction for the 2014 breeding season. A heavily rust-stained Sandhill Crane was seen in my reliable marsh (there, I probably just jinxed it!!) .   

The following day I returned to Carden with Joyce for another early Spring visit and despite the winds we had some great views of the usual suspects, including Eastern Bluebirds along Wylie Road:

To make up for the easy Loggerhead Shrike "tick" the day before, we had to work for a sighting of one on Wylie Road by parking at the cabin and walking north, accompanied by inquisitive Turkey Vultures that circled us to the point of becoming somewhat disconcerting!

...but we made it out alive, as Joyce navigated her way along Wylie Road next to the remains of a snowbank:

Joyce finally spotted a distant Loggerhead Shrike along the fence line across from Bluebird Box 10, and a second one was seen a while later in the same area, as it swooped by and landed in a cedar. Never take these butcher birds for granted, as they're endangered in Canada:

In fact it was this Brown Thrasher that drew my attention to the Shrike, as the Thrasher suddenly became still and actually ducked its head when the Shrike flew right over it!

Silent Eastern Phoebes were seen by the bridge at Sedge Wren Marsh, now in nesting mode?

Beautiful Tree Swallows were in and out of nest boxes and perched on wires:

Carden personified:

I added Savannah Sparrows to my Year List, but an Upland Sandpiper was a notable miss, despite reports of them already in the area. I finally adding a visual of Wilson's Snipe to my Year List, almost stepping on one in a ditch at an early stop near Canal Lake, and others were finally seen in wet fields along Wylie Road. The rusty Sandhill Crane was re-found again for Joyce at the marsh, along with Wood Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, and Canada Geese. What was later determined to be a Red-shouldered Hawk was seen along Doyle Road.

Certainly my cleanest BOTD was this Killdeer whose curious bathing technique was great fun to observe. It would sit and soak for a few seconds...

...then would begin to slowly rock from side to side, totally immersing itself in the water:

...and then pick up the pace and shake from side to side:

...and then slow it down:

...and rest again:

...and then the frantic wing splashing began:

...with more amusing wing stretches:

...and then more swaying from side to side:

...and repeating it all with great vigour until refreshed and squeaky clean!!

Realigning its pretty feathers after the bath, allowing a tiny peek at its rufous rump:


Resting again, but frequently on the lookout:

Job well done!

It was an amusing way to wrap up our birding day. These early Carden trips have certainly whet my appetite for an exciting new season ahead!

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