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, June 29, 2014

"We're Still Here!"

...said both Common Loon families, as almost a week has passed since first discovering them on the lake. Last Wednesday afternoon I had great views of both families, particularly the first one I found, aka "First Family":

One chick preened on the mother's back while its sibling stretched a leg:

Common Loon chicks ride on the backs of their parents for protection from predators, as well as to save energy:

The male arrived with a snack for the chicks, allowing the female a moment to preen:

The chicks continued to show little interest in the snack: 

They continue to kill me with their ridiculous cuteness, though:

The second family was easily found near their original location:

The female shook and stretched a leg:

Both families were seen on Thursday but the second one had moved west of its original location, perhaps due to an increase in activity on the water ahead of a long week-end.  

Friday's sunrise was gorgeous:

The resident otter silently made its way along the shoreline:

The First Family was easily seen after sunrise and thriving. A haze over the water that I was unaware of at the time gave these next few photos a muted softness:

Stop it with those leg stretches! 

A lone fisherman felt compelled to intentionally aim his boat directly at the mother and chicks, despite having an entire lake at his disposal. The mother sent a chilling alarm call to the chicks as she was not impressed. 

Nor was I.  

The male joined the family:

One chick accepted a meal from the male:

Staying close to mom:

One chick climbed back up on mom's back and preened:

I left to meet my friend Anne in Bobcaygeon and the next part of the day was spent back-roading with her looking for "whatever", with a shift in gears (for me, that is) to macro photography, a skill that Anne has already mastered with stunning results.  

I have no idea how Anne spotted this teeny, tiny Wood Frog, a first for me! 

Another one of nature's beauties was an obliging Calico Pennant that I struggled to focus on, as I'm finding macro photography quite challenging. And I thought warblers were difficult to shoot!! 

The heat and nasty bugs won the war, though, so I wussed out first we soon called it quits, but it was an enjoyable outing, many thanks, Anne! 

On my return to the cottage the second Loon family was still absent, but the First Family was easily seen in their regular spot. 

For Saturday I had decided on an early start for Tessa and I, seeking a different sunrise perspective that was not from the dock. 

Right decision.

The same marsh looking in the other direction was magical:  

Another look at a favorite marsh in the Kawarthas with cool effects:

We continued towards Minden to another spectacular marsh I had recently stumbled upon in my travels. Makes one wonder what's beyond those trees, doesn't it??!!

A few weeks ago a Moose had been seen here, but not for me yesterday:

It was time to return to the cottage ahead of the brutal humidex temperatures, so imagine my surprise when I re-found the second Loon family, just when I least expected it! They weren't far from either of the two locations I already knew of, but their range was now almost a kilometre wide, whereas the First Family's territory is a quarter of that! 

What joy to see them all together:

The reliable First Family was in their usual spot:

That being said, it's now Sunday, and First Family has expanded their territory, no doubt due to the increased boating activity on the lake, wisely seeking refuge in a spot in the marsh only accessible by canoe or kayak. It was only with my scope and binoculars that I could find them on two separate visits. Both chicks are still present.
The second family was MIA. 

To be continued. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

UnBEARable Times at Carden

The memory of a trip to Carden a week ago today will stay with me for a very, very long time, unbeknownst to me while making my way there as usual. 

A close view of a Bobolink was an unexpected treat, as their focus is now on family in distant fields, rather than chilling on fence posts like this male:    

The high, insect-like buzz I heard belonged to this cooperative Grasshopper Sparrow on Prospect Road: 

Wilson's Snipe maintained their trash bird status for me, as I saw my first one for the day who had quite the routine: 

1. Find a solid fence post.
2. Strike a pose by balancing on one leg.
3. Tuck long bill into feathers as far as possible. 
4. Chill.

5. Lift head on occasion to amuse photographer.
6. Make one to two chip calls. 

7. Repeat steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 until photographer gets bored and leaves.
8. CHILL until next photographer arrives. 
9. Repeat steps 2 through 8, as needed. 

My second Snipe for the day was far more engaging:

A female Eastern Bluebird demonstrated good housekeeping skills as top-up nesting material was brought to the box:

My third Wilson's Snipe for the day was a character:

Next I met up with Justin and our game plan for the next few hours was firmed up. Our first stop along Wylie Road was my first Wilson's Snipe, and yes indeed, it was repeating steps 2 through 8 while Justin took photos. We continued north and saw and/or heard more of the expected bird species, including Loggerhead Shrike, Sedge Wren, Brown Trashers Thrashers, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Meadowlarks, and assorted warblers and sparrows, including a Vesper Sparrow (Year Bird, yay, thanks, Justin!).   

We reached the end of Wylie Road and parked along Alvar Road, arriving at our target and hopefully not final destination, North Bear Alvar:

For the next hour we went off-trail (not that I'm even convinced of the existence of a proper trail, as I suspect this alvar is under-explored)  through significant patches of poison ivy and other typical alvar shrubbery. At one point we spotted a Ruffed Grouse family dashing into the woods, and a White-throated Sparrow had harsh words for us as we inadvertently got to close to its nest as we navigated the terrain. 

Justin found a snake skeleton that could have been easily overlooked: 

By now we had also observed plenty of overturned rocks indicating bear activity, as bears look for insects to eat by flipping logs and stones, and will also tear apart decaying stumps and logs in their search for nibblies. 

Bear paw prints were also seen in a few spots, but alas, no sighting of the owner(s), so we made our way back to the car, stopping to enjoy a relatively poison ivy- free section OMG  an open meadow filled not only with those wonderful Carden flowers, but also a bear. 

Feeding on those wonderful Carden flowers, clover no less!! 

These are crazy-cropped record shots of the grazing bear as we watched it from a distance:

It eventually moved out of our sight so we continued to the car, but of course couldn't resist another final look back, just in case it was out in the open again. 

It was.

We eventually lost sight of it behind the flowers: 

Admittedly, after this ever-so-brief bear encounter the balance of the Carden visit paled in comparison, so my account of that day ends here. 

The following day was the first full day of summer, and the sunrise made it impossible for me to choose a favorite angle: 

I was overdue for an evening visit to Carden so left with Tessa. Both Wylie and Alvar Roads belonged to us as we were alone. 

Except for an Eastern Kingbird: 

Except for cattle...

...including a pretty white one in a field of fleurs at Golden Hour:

Except for a Blanding's Turtle that dashed across the road, ruining my focus!

Except for one of three Upland Sandpipers at Golden Hour. All lined up in a row. On consecutive posts, all at the same time. With an Eastern Bluebird on the fourth post. After weeks of me bitterly complaining about only distant views of Upland Sandpipers this year.   

But no bears....