Friday, December 23, 2016

Winter Update 2016

Winter came very late this year in Winnipeg, it wasn't until into December that we got a snowstorm and a foot of snow.
A week go the Great-horned Owl finally showed up. The owl has been returning every year in the winter to our property, for many, many years.

This year seems very, very slow for winter birds. I saw my first winter finch yesterday, a redpoll at the feeder. Since then I had only been seen chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers at the feeder.

Common Redpoll
Common Redpoll

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Oak Hammock Christmas Bird Count 2016

I'm very sorry for my inactivaty  recently. For one I've been quite busy with school and other things, and around the yard bird activity has been very slow. The Great-horned Owl has returned to our yard though, as it does every winter.

For now, here is a post about the 2016 Oak Hammock Marsh Christmas Bird Count.
There are no great photos in this post, because we were birding from the vehicle  most of the time, and photography was not the purpose.

Bird life seemed very low this CBC, and we had trouble finding many different species.

Chickadees, ravens and Blue Jays were the most common, and anything besides that was a treat.

We were assigned zone 2, and set off. We covered the Western part of the zone fairly quickly as there were few roads, and very few birds.

There were five Grey Partridges on a driveway, the first exciting birds!

Grey Partridges

It took a minute to figure out what this little bird hiding under a feeder was. It's a female House Sparrow, another  species onto the list.
House Sparrow

We spent more time on the Eastern part of our zone driving in and out, through and among the little residential roads, mostly looking out for feeders that might host some bird species. There was a little mark on the map showing a house with feeders. We visited it and found out why someone had marked it on there. There were tonnes and tonnes of feeders!
Not as many birds as feeders unfortunately, however we did see some more chickadees, blue jays, White-breasted Nuthatch, and added a Downy Woodpecker to the list.

Downy Woodpecker

We were sitting at 9 species and we were getting to head back to the Interpretive Center because the results and a hot lunch was there for 12:00.

I was just saying how it would be nice to see one final exciting bird, and how that somehow seems to happen often when we're birding. Just as we were on the last road to exit our zone, I saw something sitting on a pole, which was not a raven. From a distance I tried to figure out whether it was a Owl or a hawk. When we got closer I could see that it was a Rough-legged Hawk, and we were able to get close enough for some half decent photos.
Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

Rough-legged Hawk

It was quite a treat to see at the end. And with that we headed back to the building and the results were tallied. We had 10 species and I believe about 64 individual birds.
The team with the highest species count was 15 species. After a tasty lunch the 'Best Bird' was voted as a Gyrfalcon, and the prizes were handed out. There was also a Rusty Blackbird seen, which would have been the runner up.

Afterwards we, and several other birders, went to try and see the Gyrfalcon, which is very uncommon.

We saw this Rough-legged Hawk in a tree, which I was fairly sure was a Gyrfalcon, because it was where a team described it to be. The bird was across a field against the sun, so the photos were bad and you couldn't tell what it was. There was a while of humming and hawing until it flew and we could see it was a Rough-legged.

And here is a bad photo of some Grey Partridges on the snow.

Here I come to a close my friends, for that day of fun birding had come to an end. I must say, it was thoroughly pleasurable and I am certainly looking forward to next years CBC and any future birding excursions.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Painted Redstart

Some of you may have heard of Painted Redstart that was seen in Pinewa, Manitoba. It is the third record in Canada, and the first in Manitoba.
On Monday I went to Pinewa (1 hour east of where I live) to see if I could find it. Nearly as soon as we got to the area we were told it was around there it was in a tree. Over the next ten minutes I was able to get some nice photos of it, but then it disappeared until several hours at later, when we saw it at the same spot just after sunset.

Painted Redstart

Painted Redstart

Painted Redstart

Painted Redstart

I walked around the neighborhood in search of the bird, and it was absolutely crawling with deer.

It was a fantastic experience to get such a great look at it. It's a beautiful bird!

You can see their range map on ebird:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Birding At the Winnipeg Beaches

I'm very sorry for my inactivity recently but finally here is a post. About a month  ago we went birding with Christian Artuso about an hour north of Winnipeg along the beaches of Lake Winnipeg. We started north at Victoria Beach and slowly worked our way south from there.

We walked along the stony shore, armed with two cameras, a spotting scope and binoculars.
There were a fair number of Lapland Longspurs and we got some fantastic views of them.
Lapland Longspur

And of course... gulls. There wasn't anything particularly exciting in the gull department, Ring-billed, Herring, and Bonaparte's mostly, along with some Caspian, Common and Forster's Terns.
Ring-billed Gull

Lapland Longspur
It was a little bit odd to see a Savannah Sparrow out along the shore.
Savannah Sparrow

Herring Gull

Herring Gull

Lapland Longspur

There was also a good number of American Pipits, though they were more skittish than the Longpurs, so photos were harder.
We also found this beautiful Pectoral Sandpiper, foraging among the pebbles.
Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

Lapland Longspur

Lapland Longspur

Lapland Longspur
And our fabulous guide and friend, Christian! 
Christian Artuso
The changing colours of fall made for some very pretty landscapes. Here are quite a few non-bird photos, if you don't mind.

Among the rocky shore here there was a flock of American Pipits.

William (left) and Christian (right)

Far out on a group of rocks in the water we saw a Bald Eagle, and we eventually meandered far enough to be in photo distance.
Immature Bald Eagle

Matthew with the camera

Stony shore

Christian (left) and William (right) using the spotting scope

That's me! (Josiah)

William and Christian
This was quite an interesting tree, it had basically grown into a rock.

Me on the trail

From left to right: Matthew, Josiah, William, Christian

Well, that's all folks! I might still post a few photos from the trip, but there aren't many more bird pictures. All in all it was very fun and successful, and a huge thank you to Christian for taking us!