Saturday, February 21, 2009


Probably one of our weirdest months for weather here in the Sault. Lows of around -30ºC (-22ºF) and highs of 6ºC (43ºF) or so have been normal these last few years, and it can be snowy, rainy, cloudy, or sunny - with no two days exactly the same! At least the days are getting longer, and it stays light until after 6 p.m. now!

On the 14th I hitched a ride with John Ralston to see what was around across the river. We had a great day, with 40 species including Northern Hawk, Snowy, and Great Gray Owls!

Northern Hawk Owl

Snowy Owl in Rudyard
Other than that, I haven't been out birding much - although I have been skiing a couple times and managed to land the biggest jump in the park - a 65 foot gap. I have some videos of me and my friends skiing - they haven't been wanting to upload to the internet though.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Year bird #50

As the title says, I got my 50th year bird today in the form of a Horned Grebe on the river. What's a grebe doing in Sault Ste. Marie in February you ask? We're in one of our midwinter thaws, yesterday we tied a record of 6ºC (43ºF) set back in 1966, and it was at least that warm again today. Unfortunately, that means all of our precipitation comes as rain, and the roads have been getting worse by the day. Two Greater Scaup were also brought in with the warm front, along with robins and many Herring Gulls (they disappeared for a few weeks back in January). Searchmont is also having some bad conditions, with the raining and freezing and melting and whatnot. I was up there on the weekend, had my first-ever park sesh - hit the 40 foot jump by the end and landed it no problem. Also managed to find a flock of around 10 Evening Grosbeaks along with the usual siskins, redpolls, etc.

If you're thinking that 6º is cold, think again! It's actually almost uncomfortably warm here - I am quite comfortable in just a t-shirt and jeans. I can't wait for this thaw to be over so the skiing conditions will get better! Also so the roads will improve, they're bumpy as all hell right now and covered in massive puddles.

On another note, all this melting combined with a broken sump-pump caused my basement to flood this morning. I was rudely awoken at 8 a.m. with the news and got to work before I was even awake (I had spare first which is why I was still asleep at 8 a.m.). We got it mostly cleaned up and the plumber came and installed a new pump, so hopefully there will be no more of that nonsense.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Recent pics

Ok, here are some of my pics from the past little while. Most of them came through without problems, but a few are still getting messed up in the transition from camera to computer for some reason.

I'll start off with a few from the backyard. I've had between 40 and 100 siskins at the feeder every day for the past week. Redpoll numbers have increased from 1 back in early January to 10 a week ago, and now are up to around 40 or 50. They've brought 2 Hoaries with them, 1 is a nice male and the other is a female - possibly of the nominate hornemanni subspecies.

This piebald Pine Siskin has been visiting the feeders since early January. I see him/her every few days.

This is the male Hoary Redpoll - note the lightly streaked sides and clean undertail. He also has a nice pink wash with a pink rump.

Here is a similar-looking male Common Redpoll for comparison (shown with a Pine Siskin). Note the dark streak on the undertail, and more streaking on the flanks.
This is one of the few xanthrochroic siskins that have been visiting the feeders. They aren't green-morphs (like the one I had back in early January - saw it a few days ago as well), but just have an increased amount of yellow in the wings and tail.
Now on to the pictures from the Locks the other day. Here's the main building for the locks themselves.
The Rusty Blackbird which was the main reason for my visit.
One of the 14 American Robins I saw (with a Cedar Waxwing).
One of the flock of around 80 Common Redpolls - feeding on an alder bush.
How many Bohemian Waxwings can you spot?
A few shots of Bohemian Waxwings.
They're a lot fatter than Cedars.
Compare the Bohemian (right) to the Cedars (left). Note the overall gray colouring, with the reddish undertail.