Friday, February 28, 2014

Feathers On Friday

We have had a lot of goldfinches at our feeders this year.
Thanks to Prairie Birder for the FoF prompt, click here for her post.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Owl Prowl (Final Part)

This is the final part of the 'owl prowl' with Christian Artuso, click here for the second part and here for the first part.

Here are some pictures of the Great Grey Owl from our camera:

It turns to get ready to fly.

It launches into the air!

Me (right) and my brother with the owl in the background (the blob where the arrow is pointing).

We drove to the end of Breezy Point Road and went back. We passed the owl again, and saw the one we had seen before, plus another Great Grey, that makes three all together!

We decided to go to Oak Hammock Marsh to see if there was a Snowy Owl there. We had lunch in the parking lot and got ready to go again. We drove around near Oak Hammock Marsh, we saw a group of Blue Jays and a couple of Snow Buntings. We hoped to see some Grey Partridge, but there weren't any. We drove along the highway scanning the poles for snowy's. Still nothing. There aren't very many snowy's here this winter, most are along the east coast this year.

We headed back to Lockport to see if the hawk owl was still there. Christian called out to stop the car. Something big that looked like a chicken was sitting in a tree. It must be a grouse. We all watched it until we figured out it was a wasp nest, what a let down. :)
It's a bird! It's a grouse!... Oh wait, it's a wasp nest.
 We went behind the Subway again to see if the hawk owl was there. It wasn't sitting in the same branch. Then we spotted it sitting in a different tree, we had a better view than before.
Northern Hawk Owl
 It was windy and cold now so we didn't stay long.
It was a better view than before.

We went home and loaded the pictures on the computer with Christian. After hot chocolate and cookies we went outback to see if we could see the owl. We never saw it, but we saw a raven and magpie.

ebird checklists:
Oak Hammock Marsh
Breezy Point
Bray Road East

Thank you Christian for taking us out! It was great!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Weekly What Bird Wednesday

Please make your own weekly what bird post and put the link in the comments.
This one should be easy to guess, if you can find it.
Congratulations to Bird Boy and Prairie Birder for guessing last weeks correct, American Coots!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Goshawk and Birding Day

Today was an great bird filled day for me. A couple weeks ago I had seen something that I thought looked like a goshawk, but I wasn't sure, I could have mistaken it for an owl, but now I'm pretty sure it was a goshawk.
I was in my room and I looked out my window and saw something huge sitting in the trees right by the feeders. It was unmistakably an immature hawk of some sort. I had an excellent view of it from above. It flew off into a tree across the yard.
I rushed downstairs and scrambled for the camera. By the time I got it though it was gone. After some research I had a pretty stable conclusion that it was an immature Northern Goshawk.

I went out to look for it in our back forest. Though when I was outside I didn't see the Goshawk it still proved very productive.
 I walked around the edge of the woods in hope too see something. Chickadee's were chirping all around, I heard a Hairy Woodpecker call and drum. Blue Jay's called across the field.
A chickadee in some branches

Chickadee flying
I heard some magpies and was hoping to get some pictures of them. They sprang out of the trees followed by the owl. The Great-horned Owl always seems to be hanging out with magpies.
Black-billed Magpie

Great-horned Owl
I snapped a bunch of pictures as it flew off. My third set of pictures of the owl! I got some pictures of the magpies too. I crept up hoping to get some more pictures of them, but they flew off behind some trees across the field.
The owl flies off
 A raven croaked and flew across the horizon followed by another. I heard House Sparrow's chirruped across the field as I walked back to the house.

In the evening I continued trying to identify the hawk I had seen earlier that day. It was still leaning towards immature goshawk judging by the size. I phoned Christian Artuso and asked some questions about the two birds it might be, goshawks or Cooper's Hawks. In the end I concluded it was a immature Northern Goshawk, a new bird for my life and year list! My life list is at 157 sp.!
It was a excellent birding day.

Owl Prowl (Part 2)

This is the second part of the "Owl Prowl" with Christian, click here for the first part.

We continued down the road in search of the other great grey that was up ahead. Sure enough there it was sitting on a tiny branch beside the road. We started taking pictures right away, it surprisingly didn't fly away, even though we were only some 15 feet away.

The owl barely fit into the frame it was so close
 It was very exciting watching the owls smooth movements of the head so closely. Even Christian said he seldom got this close to a Great Grey.
Great Grey Owls sit on branches listening under the snow for voles to catch.
 In the picture below the owls eyes look blue, Christian explained it is because they have a transparent eyelid type of thing  called a Nictitating Membrane. It is drawn horizontally across their eyes for protection and moistening while it can still see.
The stick it's on is so tiny and doesn't seem like it would hold up such a big bird, but these owls have so much fluff and feathers that makes it look a lot bigger than it actually is.
 Owls have facial disks that works kind of as a funnel for sound. They have offset ears so they can pinpoint which direction the sound is coming from.
You can see the Nictitating Membrane better in this cropped picture
 We watched it for a while taking turns with the camera, warming up occasionally in the van.

We waited, and waited... and waited for it to dive into the snow after a vole, which would make amazing action shots.
In some of the pictures it looks as if the owl is floating. It's feet are tucked into it's feathers to keep it warm.
 Then suddenly it launched off the branch into flight. Christian had his camera and my brother had our camera at the time so I never got to take any. These are Christian's pictures:
Here you can see it's feet as it launches off the branch.
After waiting for a half hour at least, we finally got some photos of it flying.
It was too close that the whole wing didn't fit in the frame

It landed on a nearby branch and we drove slowly up and watched it a few more minutes until we decided it was time to go.
For my first of Manitoba's Provincial bird it was an excellent view, they are magnificent birds! It was a truly amazing experience.

We went to the end of the road and turned around and drove back. We saw the owl sitting atop the tiny branch again, we saw the other Great Grey, plus another one as we drove by. So that's three!

ebird checklists: 

Breezy Point, Selkirk

Stay tuned for the last part!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Feathers on Friday

Two American Goldfinches and a Pine Siskin from the fall.
Thanks to Prairie Birder for the FoF prompt.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Aurora Borealis - Northern Lights

On Tuesday night if you lived somewhere near Winnipeg you may have seen some Aurora Borealis, or the common name, Northern Lights. These are very spectacular to watch! We are just out of the city so there isn't as much light pollution which gives us pretty good views of stars also. I really wanted to go out and take pictures, but unfortunately we don't have a tripod to keep it still, so we just had to do with what we had.

A monopod came with our Canon T3i when we bought it so I used that. We put the monopod in the handle of our garbage can and put a two second timer on so we would't shake it when we took the picture. We had long exposure time to capture the northern lights better.

Me and my sister watching the Northern Lights

Me going crazy with a flashlight and long exposure

They are a lot brighter in the images than they actually were

Bandit our dog stood still for the picture watching the northern lights

Owl Prowl (Part 1)

On this past Saturday (Feb 15) we went out with Christian Artuso on an 'Owl Prowl'. We went North of Winnipeg looking for owls. The week before Christian had went out and saw 3 Great Gray Owls.

Three of my brothers came with us, they also brought a friend. My dad invited his old work colleague who was interested in birds also to make our party 7. Christian and my dad's work colleague got here at around 7:00 AM and we all piled into our van.

We went to Lockport where a Northern Hawk Owl had been reported often. We think it was the same hawk owl as the one we saw on the Oak Hammock Marsh Christmas Bird Count. Christian said it was often seen around the Subway.

We took a back road behind the Subway, I wasn't expecting to see it, but sure enough there it was sitting atop a tree. I used Christian's camera while my brothers shared ours. Here are my pictures
Northern Hawk Owl
 We stood taking pictures and looking through Christian's spotting scope.

We finally decided to move on.
Northern Hawk Owls are very brave for owls and will not easily fly away from you.

We continued up to Breezy Point Road, where Christian saw the Great Gray's the week before. The drove along slowly scanning the trees for owls. I wasn't sure we were going to see one. Then my brother called out and we stopped the vehicle. A Great Gray Owl was sitting in some trees on the right hand side of the road. My first Great Gray Owl!!! I was pretty excited. It is also Manitoba Provincial Bird! We sat in the vehicle for a few moments  to watch it and see if it was calm and we could get out without scaring it off. It looked calm enough and we filed out of the van quietly and started snapping pictures. It was pretty difficult to get food pictures because it wasn't very close to the road and branches obstructed our view. Nevertheless we found some good views.
My first Great Gray!
They are Manitoba's biggest owl, but not heaviest. It only weighs two or three pounds!!
These are Manitoba's Provincial Bird. 
We stayed for a while taking pictures and getting different views.
Here is most of us watching the owl.
Someone drove up to us and said there was another Great Gray just up ahead really close to the road and would make excellent photos! We hopped in the van again and drove in search of the other owl!

Stay tuned for the next part with even better photos of the Great Gray!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

New Dropdown Menu

I have been working all morning on a new dropdown menu for my blog (to free some space for more pages) with a bit of help from my twin brother Matthew using Drop Down Menu Generator! I worked for over two hours on it getting it just right,. I have created a few new pages, Bird Websites and Bird Blogs. Please comment if there are any glitches with it.

Weekly What Bird Wednesday

Make your own Weekly What Bird post and put the link in the comments and I'll put the link in my post.

Here's this weeks
Can you guess these birds? Leave your guess in the comments.
Trinity guessed lasts weeks correct, Gray Catbird!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Old and New Birds

At the end of 2013 I had 135 sp. on my life list and 2013 year list. I have looked through my pictures and sent some to Christian Artuso and found out there were some species I didn't have on my life list.

I remembered seeing Sharp-shinned Hawks on our Ontario trip and I forgot to put them on my life list and year list. That's 136 sp. for my life list!

At Oak Hammock Marsh we saw some Tundra Swans which I forgot to put on my life list. 137!

I sent a picture of a thrush to Christian and he identified it as a Gray-cheeked Thrush. 138 for my life list!
Gray-cheecked Thrush
I had two pictures of Eastern Wood Pewee's that I hadn't identified. 139 sp.!
Eastern Wood Pewee

I found some old pictures from our trip to Assateague Island in 2009 of some birds. I sent a couple to Christian and he told me they were Great Egret, Snowy Egret and Glossy Ibis. 142 sp.!
Great Egret

Snowy Egret
Glossy Ibis

Just yesterday we went out with Christian Artuso on a 'Owl Prowl'. We saw a Northern Hawk Owl and three Great Gray Owls!! One very close to the road which gave us excellent photos! That was my first Great Gray, and it's Manitoba's provincial bird! 143 sp.! My year list is at 16 sp. because we saw some crows and Snow Buntings yesterday also! Stay tuned for the upcoming post!
Here's one of the hundreds of photos of the Great-gray Owls

Christian sent me the ebird checklists for a time we were out together in early spring. I was surprised at how many birds were in there that weren't on my life list. Here are the birds, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Duck, Red-necked Grebe, Swainson’s Hawk, Wilson’s Snipe, Wilson’s Phalarope, Forster’s Tern, Marsh Wren, American Pipit, Swamp Sparrow. That brings my life list up to 156 sp.!!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Feathers on Friday

Black-capped Chickadee taking off
Thanks to Prairie Birder for the FoF prompt.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Weekly What Bird Wednesday

Make your own Weekly What Bird post and put the link in the comments and I'll put the link in the post.
Can you guess this bird?
Last weeks was Chipping Sparrow.

Other Weekly What Bird posts:

From Ethan: BirdBoy | What Bird Wednesday

Friday, February 7, 2014

Feathers on Friday

American White Pelican at Whiteshell Lake

Thanks to Prairie Birder for the FoF prompt, click here for her post.

Don't forget to guess on the Weekly What Bird!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Great-horned Owl Photos (Finally...)

After a year of trying, I finally got some good pictures of the owl. I got a pretty good one before but it was the back of it flying.
My first picture I got of the owl in December, not the best because it was facing away from me

We have a Great-horned Owl living in our backyard, which is fabulous! It has been living here in the winter for at least 2 years. That owl was one of the things that started me off birding. Last winter I would go back and look for it, I never got any pictures of it, we only had a simple point and shoot camera.
We never saw it at all in the summer but it keeps coming back in the winter. It usually stays right in our small pine forest, which in my opinion is an excellent place to stay! ;).

I see it fairly often when I go walking outback, but usually just see chickadees, woodpeckers, magpies and nuthatches.
A magpie, a common bird seen when I take walks.

Today I was walking outback I didn't see anything at first. Then our dog followed me and I think scared it up and the owl flew from behind me and landed atop a spruce tree. When I first saw it flying, it looked like a Snowy Owl, then it looked like a Northern Hawk Owl. When it landed though it was obvious what it was, it's ear tufts gave it away, Great-horned Owl. I quickly started snapping pictures.
The Great-horned Owl sat for a few minutes giving me a good chance to take pictures.

I was very excited, the first good pictures of the owl that's been here for years! The owl sat still for a while which gave me a good opportunity for taking pictures.
It looked around making no noise, often looking back at me taking pictures
  A few magpies came and sort of dive bombed it, it ignored them and they flew on.

The dog came trotted up and I got ready for the owl to fly... Then the moment I had been waited for came, it turned and spread it's wings, majestically launching itself into the air silently and flew off across a field towards the setting sun, quite a sight to see.
It turns and get's ready to fly

It spreads it wings wide, ready for flight!

It launches into the air!

Lift off and flight!
Owls are one of my favorite birds and it is wonderful to have one in our backyard! They are truly amazing birds!
Owls are a wonderful thing to experience! 

ebird checklist: Thu Feb 06, 2014