Friday, July 21, 2017

Europe (Part 2)

This is the second part of a series of posts I will be making about our family trip to Europe.
This post will be about the rest of our time in Rome.

In the morning we took the subway into Rome to visit the Roman Forum. I was hoping to see more birds there because it was a bit more of a park setting.

William admiring the view

A song alerted us to the presence of a bird with a pretty high pitched song. After a moment of searching through the bird book we figured out that it was a Serin.

A pair of Rose-ringed Parakeets were hanging out in one of the tall umbrella pines.
Rose-ringed Parakeet

Rose-ringed Parakeets

Yellow-legged Gull

I think that Europeans are lucky with their Hooded Crows, which look much prettier than normal American Crows.
Hooded Crow

The Colosseum

A young Yellow-legged Gull

In the afternoon we took the bus north of Rome to the town of Tivoli. There was a beautiful park there which I really enjoyed, although we didn't end up seeing too many birds there.
Our first Chaffinch

Enjoying the view

Walking down the thin European streets

The next day we went to the ruins of Ostia Antica. We saw some nice birds like Kestrels, Serins, Rose-ringed Parakeets, Hoopoes, and a Little Egret.


The ruins
 We went to the Vatican, but there were hardly any birds to be seen there.

Sunset on the Mediterranean sea 
 On our last morning in Italy we walked a few kilometers to a nature reserve where we saw a handful of lifers, although we only had time to stay for a few minutes.

Hooded Crow

Honey Buzzard

Little Grebe

Common Sandpiper

Stay tuned for the next part!
I was also in Wapusk National Park for a week at the beginning of July, so I will make some posts about that as well!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Europe (Part 1)

Hello again! Sorry for the delay of posting, we returned from Europe nearly a month ago!

This will be a series of posts documenting our family trip to Europe in May, where we visited Rome, Hungary and the Netherlands.

Of course we planned some birding for the trip, so with my gear packed I was ready to go.

After many months of anticipation, we left headed to the airport. After a short flight we landed in the Toronto airport. It was the first flight I've been on that I actually remember. I really loved watching the terrain down below. I even saw exactly where our house and our grandparents cottage were.

Somewhere probably in northern Ontario

It was planned that we would have a 10 hour stopover in Toronto, so we could spend some time with family there. I took the chance to do a bit of birding.
Our relatives had some great feeders up with a wide variety of birds. When they mentioned that they had been seeing an Orchard Oriole I got excited because I had never seen one before.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Downy Woodpecker
Sure enough, the Orchard Oriole showed up, the first lifer of the trip!
Orchard Oriole
Orchard Oriole

American Goldfinch

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

A short walk to the river

American Golfinches

Mourning Dove

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Northern Cardinal

Quickly the day was over and we headed back to the airport. It was already night by the time we set out and I slept nearly the entire 8 hour flight to Rome.
Flying over Europe

When it was light out I watched the different terrain of Europe. The farmfields that aren't square, the small villages every few kilometers, the islands, hills, cities, it all fascinated me.

We landed in Rome in the afternoon and once we eventually got out of the airport and dropped off our bags at the hotel we went into Rome and saw a few of the sights to see. I was excited when I saw my first Hooded Crow and Common Swift flying around the Colosseum.
The Colesseum

The ancient Roman architecture was massive and very impressive.
Arch of Constantine

The Colesseum
Me admiring the huge structures

Stay tuned for the next post, I'll have more bird photos, and there's lots of birding adventures to come.

By the way, there's still time to donate to my Birdathon, so please consider giving to support bird conservation! You can donate to my page HERE

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Great Canadian Birdathon 2017 (Part 3)

This is the third post covering my 2017 Birdathon experience.
The Great Canadian Birdathon is a fundraiser for bird conservation and research, to help endangered species and keep common birds common. You can donate to my page HEREThank you for supporting bird conservation and making the important part and purpose of the birdathon a success.

We followed through with our plan to go to the Shoal Lakes (west, east and north), which are north west of Oak Hammock Marsh.

The raptors were slow at first, but throughout the day they added up.
Merlin on the way to Shoal Lake (photo by Matthew)

After the 45 minute drive we made our first stop at the lakes at East Shoal Lake. It was a road that just ended at the edge of the lake.
There we were able to see Common and Forster’s Tern, Franklin’s Gull, Red-breasted Merganser.

At East Shoal Lake

We continued around the lakes, making periodic stops to scan the water for birds. Our list of birds slowly grew until we had seen almost all of the waterfowl that are commonly seen around here. The roads were dry and dusty, the vehicle would kick up a storm of dirt behind us wherever we went. We would often stop and forget to close the windows, so the dust would come into the car. By the end many things had a fine layer of dust on them. My lips were dry and stung.

Canvasback (photo by Matthew)

Muskrat (photo by Matthew)

Garter Snake (photo by Matthew)

Turkey Vulture (photo by Matthew)

American White Pelican (photo by Matthew)

Me photographing! (photo by Matthew)

When we navigated around closed and rough back roads we made it to West Shoal Lake. There we saw numerous Great Egrets and plenty of pelicans, waterfowl and a beautiful Black-crowned Night Heron. We stopped at some Red-headed Woodpecker habitat and had a fleeting look at one. By now our list was over 90 and we wanted to break 100.

Black-crowned Night Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron
Great Egret
Song Sparrow

We finished up at the Shoal Lakes around 3 in the afternoon and began to head back in the direction of our house. We made multiple stops to try for Red-headed Woodpecker again, and Grey Partridge near Oak Hammock but it was unsuccessful for more species. After a quick stop at our house we went to Silver Springs Park to see if we could garner a few more species. Although there were many nice birds they were all ones we had previously seen that day.

Waterfowl at Silver Springs
Christian had to leave us, but I still saw a Pine Siskin and Cooper’s Hawk around at our house. I went down the road where I knew where some good feeders and fields were to see if I could get a goldfinch or bobolink, but it seems it was to early, because it was unsuccessful. I went to Silver Springs and the Red River Floodway once more in a last effort to try and see Osprey, Solitary Sandpiper or American Pipit, but that was also unsuccessful.

However, the Cooper’s Hawk and Pine Siskin put us over with a total of 101 species! Overall it was very successful, especially considering the time of year.

And that just about sums up my 2017 Birdathon. You can go to my page HERE donate to support bird conservation. The funds I raise will go to the Delta Marsh Bird Observatory. Thank you for your support of birds! Happy birding!