Monday, 28 November 2016

Some Fall Photos

I'm not usually absent from the blog for this long.  I may not have been posting, but I have definitely been out and about. Amidst my typical fall schedule, I have visited many of my favorite nature hotspots in Perth county and made a trip down to Sarnia with the Stratford Field Naturalists back in early November. 

Sarnia



Stratford- Avon River








Amulree- Home Farm






Winter is on it's way.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Down to Long Point

Having been a while since I was last in Norfolk county, I managed to visit the area yesterday for the first time since last spring.

First up was the Bird Studies Canada headquarters property in Port Rowan.

There was a decent bit of activity at the far end of the property overlooking the lake.
One of several pied-billed grebes working along the shoreline.
Ducks are beginning to build up in numbers out on the lake, but most were extremely far out.  With the scope I managed to pick out a large raft of canvasback, redhead and scaup.
Raptors were moving over in good numbers.

Including the following bird.  My first thought was young bald eagle, but after reviewing my photos I'm wondering if it is a golden.  I would appreciate any ideas.  I have yet to see a golden eagle so I don't have any experience with them.

There was lots of activity in the trees along the trail.  Massive flocks or red-winged blackbirds and grackles along with the usual other species.

Afterwards was an enjoyable drive along the causeway with periodic stops to check out the view and the ever present phragmites.



A good day in Norfolk


Saturday, 1 October 2016

Tennessee

I recently returned from an enjoyable trip to Tennessee. 



Magnolia tree

Magnolia tree




Common buckeye butterflies were a lot more common down here.


Common Buckeye, Shelby county Tennessee


While watching the buckeyes in a parking lot, I noticed a group of vultures soaring overhead.  The light wing tips identified them as black vultures, a new species for me.  Occasionally they are reported in Ontario, but down here they are just as common as the turkey vultures.

Black Vultures, Shelby county Tennessee

Black Vulture, Shelby county Tennessee
Another bird highlight was coming across a fully coloured male summer tanager.  My photos are zoomed as far as I could and cropped so they are not as clear as they could be. 

Interestingly, unlike the scarlet tanager who turns to a dull coloured winter plumage, the male summer tanager remains brightly coloured year round.

Summer Tanager, Fayette County Tennessee


Summer Tanager, Fayette county Tennessee
 Another bird highlight was hearing the nasal calls of the fish crow one morning.

I also saw many familiar species.
Northern Mockingbird, Fayette county Tennessee

Magnolia Warbler, Fayette county Tennessee

Brown Thrasher, Fayette county Tennessee
I had the opportunity to taste the fruit of this persimmon tree. 
Persimmon tree , Tennessee
Our Tennessee visit was right around the time of cotton harvest.
Cotton field, Tennessee





On the way home we toured through the Great Smoky Mountains .

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee


Great Smoky Mountains

American Crow, Great Smoky Mountains
American Crow, Great Smoky Mountains  


Another stop on the way home was at Seven Islands State Birding Park.  I was hoping for a northern bobwhite, but none showed themselves. I did get several lifer butterflies and saw another five lined skink.  Much better views this time.
Seven Islands State Birding Park, Tennessee




Five-Lined Skink, Seven Islands State Birding Park, Tennessee
Gulf Fritillary, Fayette county Tennessee

American Snout Butterfly, Seven Islands State Birding Park,Tennessee
Pipevine Swallowtail, Seven Islands State Birding Park,Tennessee


Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Point Pelee and Tennessee: Part 1

I had the opportunity recently to travel with family to visit friends in Tennessee and to stop at Point Pelee on the way there.  I was looking forward to visiting Pelee again and hopeful for the chance to see some southern specialtys afterward.

We arrived in good time at Pelee and first up was the marsh boardwalk.
A familar scene.

There can often be some good sightings in the marsh but on that day it was rather slow.  For me the most interesting was watching an active marsh wren along the edge of the boardwalk.


From there we headed straight down to the visitor centre and were soon on the shuttle heading down to the tip.  I got off the shuttle and immediately noticed something on the boardwalk.  Then I saw the blue tail.  My first five-lined skink, Ontario's only lizard.  It disappeared down under the boardwalk, but then peeked back up and I managed a photo.  Not as good an image as I had hoped for but better than nothing.

An excellent tip was visible on that day, a lot longer than it has been on past visits.

Numerous gulls were milling about on the tip and several red-breasted mergansers were swimming nearby. 


A small flock of blackpoll warblers were working among the trees along the edge.

  A few giant swallowtails and common buckeyes were around the tip as well.  I do not often see these species around home so I was happy to find them here.  A few monarchs were around,but not the numbers that I was expecting to see.  I remember visiting the tip in September a couple years ago and seeing masses of them.  Perhaps it is past their peak migration through Pelee?

We were undecided where to go from the tip, but finally settled on the Delaurier homestead trail, one that I had not actually been on before.  It was an interesting walk through the buildings and along a gorgeous trail.

  Not a lot of activity here either but some close views of a soaring immature bald eagle and a breeding plumage male wood duck were nice sightings.
 It was starting to get late in the afternoon and we were hoping to cross the border into the US that day.  I was looking forward to the coming days and exploring Tennessee.

To be continued...