Friday, January 30, 2015

Oak Hammock Marsh 2014 CBC

Finally, I went through the pictures from the Oak Hammock Marsh Christmas Bird Count, and finally I'm making a post.

One of our parents friends met us at our house at seven and we set out to Oak Hammock Marsh. We were teamed with Christian to scour Zone 5 for birds. It was very very empty and open, so not as many of the woodland birds were as easy to find.

Map of the zones
We set out in our van, we decided to check down the road, even though it wasn't in our zone, for a Snowy Owl. I thought it would be funny if that was the first bird we saw that day, because we hadn't seen any yet, the sun hadn't even risen. Sure enough, just after I was thinking it, Christian called out.  Up ahead a Snowy Owl was sitting on a pole. We took out our cameras and began snapping. As many of you know, a Snowy Owl is a lifer, one I have been trying to see for a long time, but has evaded me thus far. It was quite special for it to be the first bird of the count.
After staying a bit and taking many pictures (and hearing some Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs), we headed on into our 'territory'.
Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
We stopped to check out a few places, and while walking through a bit of bush, encountered to large dogs! Though they didn't come too near us, and they looked friendly enough, I believe a St. Bernard and a Newfoundland dog (two dogs I really love).

And since driving slowly down the road, stopping at half the people driveways, and staring into their yards is suspicious, we had quite a few people staring with their dogs beside them, and asking if we were okay, and even picture taking of our licence plate.

 We counted magpies, ravens, redpolls and some others. We soon found another owl.
Snowy Owl
 It flew across a field to a water pump, I find when it is perching here it looks a lot like Gyrfalcon, except the squarish head.
Snowy Owl
After counting a while more, we encountered another owl, which was pure white, a very beautiful bird! Not a mark of black on it's plumage, except for a tiny bit on the top of it's head.

A very Snowy Owl.
 And, while it yawned, so I was able to get a picture of it! It's pretty cute actually.
Snowy Owl yawning
Now what is this? If you hadn't seen the previous pictures you could be wondering. It looks like a lump of snow stacked on a post, but no, this is the owl. 
Snowy Owl (emphasis on the 'snowy'!!)
We stopped at an old abandoned house to see what we could see, owls often roost in old barns. We checked a couple but didn't find anything.

Yes.... this was a very old house, seeing as a tree grew right through this machine.

In another abandoned yard we checked, a Great-horned Owl flew out of some trees and across the field to a power line. We got a few pictures before it flew away further.
Great-horned Owl

Near the end of the count we spotted some birds in some trees. Christian identified them, White-winged Crossbill! They were a lifer at the time, and the first crossbill species I'd seen.
White-winged Crossbill
At about 12:30 we headed back to the interpretive center to count up all the data, and also had lunch. We were one species away from a tie for the most species, if the Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspur was in our square, we would have had the most.
We counted 12 species all together, one less than last years count.

As we headed out, we stopped to see where we first saw the Snowy Owl. Soon enough, we found it perched on a pole, so we were able to get a series of photos of it, and a few flight shots.
Looks rather sleepy - Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
As we drive slowly by and stopped for a minute, it got uncomfortable with us and flew to the next pole.
Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl
And it flew again! William got the good flying pictures.
Snowy Owl
We drove slowly past, and apparently it still didn't like that. I thought we should leave it alone now.

It flew one last time, this time across a field and on a different pole. Now it would get some peace, or maybe not... another car had already stopped and was watching it.

It was a fantastic time, with two lifers (three for William, the Lapland Longspur was a first for him), and some great pictures! Thanks Christian for spending the time with us!

No comments:

Post a Comment