Wednesday, 28 December 2016

2016 Stratford CBC

Yesterday was the day of the Stratford area Christmas bird count.  This was my second year participating and it was an enjoyable day out.  Overall, bird numbers and variety of species was lower than has been reported in the past.  For example, 2554 Canada Geese were counted last year compared to 9 this year.  American robin, which had been hanging on in the area in massive numbers this December, also seemed to have mainly moved on.  Back in early December there were over 2000 counted streaming over Wildwood lake within a couple days.  Undoubtedly many more went unnoticed.

However it was still a great day to be out and to connect with other naturalists. 

I was assigned to a group in the Harmony region and it was our job to check out numerous sideroads and trails south of the city.  The wind made it feel colder than it was, but fortunately we did not have deep drifts of snow to wade through.  The rain and mild temeratures on Monday took care of that. 

Our first birds of the day were American crows.  We have quite a few that winter in this area, but are not as fortunate to have the numbers as the folks down towards Chatham-Kent :)

We stopped at many feeders along the way where we picked up the expected feeder birds, likely drawn to these food sources due to the poor weather conditions.

A common winter sign around here is seeing groups of wild turkeys gathered together out in the fields and this year was no exception.

Raptors put on a decent showing this year, but like many of our numbers were still lower than they have been previously.  Red-tailed hawks, rough-legged hawks, cooper's hawks and northern harriers were all observed.

 One of our highlights was coming across a couple turkey vultures circling overhead.  They were observed last year as well for the first time on the Stratford count.  They must have figured if that could winter here last year, then they could this year too. 

Our day wrapped up around 4:00 and we met up for a potluck and a gathering together of the numbers.  The species total this year was 43, down from last year's 48.  Despite the weather and low bird numbers, it was a great day to be out and exploring the Stratford area.

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. 


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


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