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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

September Odds 'n' Sods from a Kawarthan Base Camp

Autumn has yet to officially arrive but it's in the air with shorter days, cooler temperatures, and changing colours. 

Birds are more challenging to find at this time of year, so why not enjoy views of the reliable Great Blue Heron in the back swamp? 

After Labour Day, several hours were spent on the road with Tessa as we explored new areas, as well as my old familiar ones: 

A fleeting glimpse in the field of this White-tailed Deer fawn wasn't long enough for me to detect its fading spots which will soon be gone entirely. I was thrilled to see them once reviewing the photo:  

I stumbled upon a few Ovenbirds in a forest after hearing their "chewk" calls:

We found ourselves back on one of my new favourite roads in Haliburton County where the only bird of note was a Broad-winged Hawk being driven off by mobbing American Crows: 

A patch of flowers at the edge of a marsh had some feeding butterflies, including a Viceroy:

After some much needed identification help from my butterfly friends (with thanks, you know who you are!), it was decided that this was a Great Spangled Fritillary:

A female Leonard's Skipper was seen, definitely beginner's luck for me: 

I converted over to macro mode once back at a marsh in the Kawarthas, dazzled by these beautiful Fringed Gentians: 

A lovely sunset back at my base camp completed the day:

If the weather forecast calls for morning fog, I'm so there. 

An added bonus of a calling Great Horned Owl heard in the background was a first for me in this location:

Another stellar sunset from the dock, but this time through my telephoto lens:

The next morning a Double-crested Cormorant warmed itself shortly after sunrise:

There was no doubt it was autumn at the local Mennonite farm, such glorious colours: 

A hard-working Mennonite horse on a break, ignoring the fly: 


Back at the cottage, I was distracted by the playful chatter of Chickadees in the cedars. Rarely are they ever on their own at this time of year, and sure enough there were some warblers mixed in, including a Black-throated Green Warbler:

I was blinded by the fiery orange throat of this pretty Blackburnian Warbler:

Yellow-rumped Warblers betrayed themselves by their soft "chek" calls, and one was eventually seen:

A group of us that included Master John, Skip and Pat, and Susan and Dan, began a day of birding in the Kawarthas at the Lindsay sewage lagoons, with a stop at the cottage to explore the back road and swamp. 

The resident Great Blue Heron was at first a cause for concern due to its semi-submerged posture in the water, but all was well later as it had moved on:

A curious Cape May Warbler was spotted along the back road:

In the afternoon we explored the north side of the lake and it was generally quiet, but we enjoyed some more great looks at warblers near one of my preferred marshes, along with some Solitary Sandpipers at another nearby marsh. 

I almost stepped on this amazing caterpillar in the grass and we had no idea what it was until later on, thanks to Anne for identifying it as a most nasty Virginian Tiger Moth caterpillar: 

Certainly the most unexpected and exciting moment of the day was when a mother bear and two cubs were spotted on the road just north of us as we headed back to the cottage. I am told my language accurately reflected the thrill of the moment (I have no recollection of what exactly was said, but I'm sure it was along the lines of "Look, there's a few bears.").

The mother and cubs reminded me of those wooden cut-outs on front lawns as they dashed across the road, but trust me, they were real!

The next day, Susan and Dan's Cooder enjoyed a romp in his yard:

The Sunshine Boy:

A Monarch in the garden:

Tessa enjoyed another sunset on the dock as she sniffed the fresh autumn air:

The next morning's misty sunrise was beautiful:

Look carefully at the Common Loon parent for early signs of it molting into its winter plumage:

I continued to trust my chatty Black-capped Chickadees in the cedar hedge at the cottage, finding a Magnolia Warbler:

A Black-throated Blue Warbler was also in the fray:

Meanwhile back in the swamp, a Leopard Frog tried to blend in:

Lots of Yellow-rumps continued to call attention to themselves with their chip notes:

One of a pair of Hooded Mergansers, seen along the shoreline from the dock:

The start of another misty day saw a setting moon:

The progression of autumn colours continued:

A Green Frog that's brown, with a bright green upper lip and dark bands on the hind legs:

Warblers were still around, including this American Redstart:

A curious Philadelphia Vireo brightened the day:

An interesting mushroom with silvery gray shades: 

Last Sunday morning's dramatic sunrise from the dock saw billowing fog across the lake:

I raced to town for a different perspective before the fog dissipated:

On my way back to the cottage I had nice views of a Northern Parula in one of my warbling hotspots:

I heard noisy American Crows in mobbing mode down at the swamp:

...the target of their affection were some juvenile Turkey Vultures that were evicted from their perches: 

Chris arrived for an overnight cottage visit, and despite missing out on a lot of her critter and wildlife demands  encounters, we had excellent preening views of the resident Great Blue Heron in the back swamp. 

Let me reflect back on that:

It began an elaborate preening session that was fabulous:

Straightening out some feathers:

More feathers were being groomed:

The heron stopped to look up, briefly distracted by an overhead Osprey...

...but then returned to its preening. Chris and I were both swooning at this view: 

It moved over a bit but was still within our view:

And off it went, such a small heron under all the glitz and glamour of those pretty feathers:

The next morning was spent back roading, enjoying the autumn colours near some of my favourite marshes:

Chris and I had seen a few Broad-winged Hawks the day before, but certainly not as close as this one, which I (wrongly) assumed would be my last for the season with migration well underway:

Easily my favourite photos during our cottage visit were taken by Chris McConnell herself, an exceptional photographer who has captured the personality and heart (!) of my Tessa, many thanks, Chris, I just love these!     

Chris successfully managed a view of Tessa's lower teeth as well, if you can see beyond her ears, that is!

I had planned an Algonquin run on Tuesday but got side-tracked due to a late start so instead stayed closer to home, but that still meant Tessa and I were out for over seven hours! It was a beautiful morning:

One of the Osprey twins was feeding at the nest:

I cannot keep myself away from this spectacular area in the fall:

North northwest winds and rising thermals meant a lot of birds were on the move, and numerous Turkey Vultures were soaring, but this one caught my eye with its missing tail feather:

A Red-tailed Hawk joined the soaring Turkey Vulture:

Forty minutes later I encountered the same (!!) Turkey Vulture, a bit north of where I had first seen it soaring: 

And off it went:

A migrating Northern Harrier was seen high up over the marsh:

A new road meant a new bird for the day, a Ruffed Grouse that I almost ran over:

...and yet another new road meant another new marsh in the Kawarthas:

So ends my MTD September recap, with the exception of the still- pending Common Loon family update, along with some other beauties I've been spending time with...

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