Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Quiz 2

Congrats to John Garrett and Chris West for ID'ing the Downy Woodpecker in the last quiz!

Here are two new ones - as you can tell the theme is duck flocks - ID all the birds in both photos! Good luck!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Photo of the Week 3

This one's of a tree marked as a nest site of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker, in North Carolina. John Fussell showed us them and much more around Croatan National Forest - if you're ever in the area, look him up!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Photo Quiz

Meant to post this yesterday but got caught up with homework and movies with friends. My blog's 1-year anniversary was on the 22nd, and I went skiing - spent almost the whole day in the park learning tricks. This weekend will be the last one for Searchmont this season. On another note, I'm taking an idea from John Garrett and posting a series of quizzes - I'll update them on Tuesdays - I'll give it a week then I'll post the answer. Whoever has the most right at the end of the series wins! You don't actually win anything other than the knowledge that you're good at quizzes though.

I'll start with an easy one. Feel free to leave your answers in the comments section (I won't show them until the week is up)!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Photo of the Week #2

Well, another Thursday, another random photo from my travels! This is Mile 0 of the Trans-Canada Highway, which at a length of 7,821 km is the longest national highway in the world - the midpoint is just north of the Sault!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


On the 16th I decided to bike out to the east end to look for some birds that Stan had reported at his feeders. It was -1ºC when I started out, a little chilly to be outside for an hour in just a sweater but the biking helped warm me up. I added 6 new Bigby birds, the best being the two that I went to see - House Finch and Red-bellied Woodpecker, both of which seem to be becoming more regular in the area. The other Bigby birds were both nuthatches, Pileated Woodpecker, and Evening Grosbeak. Yesterday I went up to Searchmont with a couple friends, and it got up to 12ºC! We skied in t-shirts for most of the day, and went waterskiing at the end across a huge puddle that had formed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weekend Adventures

Yesterday I met up with Jason T from southern Michigan for an afternoon of birding south of the Sault. We had a decent day with 34 species - 3 of which were lifers for him! Unfortunately, the Hawk Owls decided it'd be a good time to leave, and we didn't find a single one of the three that were here all winter. We did have an unexpected Gray Jay though, along with most of the finches including 2 very nice Hoary Redpolls.

Today I decided to skip out on Searchmont so I could sleep for an extra hour or two and then work on some things. Turned out to be a good plan as my brother wasn't feeling well so they came back early anyway. It was a beautiful day, with temps up to 8ºC!!! After being outside in the backyard for a bit and finding my first Dark-eyed Junco for the year, I decided to bike down to Bellevue to see what was around. It was so warm I only needed a t-shirt and jeans (although most other people were still wearing jackets for some reason...). Anyway, I managed to add 4 year birds and 16 new Bigby birds today (plus the junco) - year birds were Canada Goose, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, and Red-winged Blackbird, bringing my year list up to 65 and Bigby to 33! Spring is here! (hopefully it'll stay this time)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Photo of the Week

I've decided that once a week I'll post a random photo from one of our trips. This one is from Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico. It's a great place, I'd highly recommend it if you're ever in NM - it's fairly cheap too.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Spring? or not...

Well, about a week ago the weather decided it was going to be warm, and the snow started to melt. The birds started returning and singing - only a few species as is typical for super early spring, but it was still nice. I spent quite a bit of time down at the Locks, and managed to find a Snowy Owl! A new bird for Ontario! Also found some year birds like Peregrine Falcon and Ring-billed Gull. There was quite a bit of activity, with the Rusty Blackbird starting to sing along with Robins, American Tree Sparrows, and the redpolls, goldfinches, siskins, etc. Then I heard about a 2-week old report of a Boreal Owl in the Sault College Woodlot. Now, I'd never even been to the woodlot before, and had no idea how to get around it, let alone where the "conifer plantation" was. Turns out the conifer plantation is a fairly large area - about 4 acres. Since I had no idea on the exact location, I decided to head down the hill to the first part of the plantation that I saw. I found a likely-looking area, and walked off the path and into the thigh-deep snow. I got into the trees, and promptly spooked a rabbit still in full winter gear. I followed it for a few yards, trying to get close enough for a photo. It took off running, as rabbits are prone to do. I looked up to check the tree I was standing beside and - BOREAL OWL!!! It was staring at me with those bright yellow eyes, wondering who was interrupting its nap. So, it took me all of 2 minutes of searching to find this little guy - I got amazingly lucky. Went back the next day with Kirk and after an hour and a half had nothing to show for our efforts but a small pellet from the day before. I was just happy that I found it - this is the first Boreal Owl I've ever seen (although I've heard them calling before).

Now we are back to winter with a huge storm in the last 24 hours. We got a few inches of snow along with rain and ice pellets yesterday evening. Overnight that turned into pure ice on the roads with wind chills below -20ºC. Woke up briefly at 6 a.m. as the house was shaking - turns out the wind was 80+km/h with gusts up to 100km/h causing power outages in some areas (including the hospital!). This continued through the entire day, mixed with blowing snow causing total whiteouts - driving was quite the experience - averaged around 20km/h as you couldn't see a car or the red lights until they were 20 feet in front of you! Of course, living in the Sault, we still had school, but by the end of the day the highways (along with most of the city) were completely shut down and there were multiple accidents.

Boreal Owl! These photos are uncropped!