Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Caribbean Nature Highlights

Last week I was down in the Caribbean and visited a few islands, when I wasn't floating on a giant piece of garbage (a cruise ship) with my brother, sister and Caitlyn.  Although I am starting to get sick of the Caribbean (imagine that), I still saw some cool things.  The biggest nature surprise of the trip was walking through the pool area while on the boat at 11pm at night and spotting a Tennessee Warbler fly into some artificial flowers! Clearly a migrant that thought it quite nice to take a break on a cruise ship while island hopping way out in the Caribbean.

Our first stop was Grand Cayman, where it rained nearly the entire day.

Smooth-billed Ani

White-winged Dove (On its way back to someones car in Rondeau?)
 Our next stop was in the Mayan Riviera to see the Chacchoban Ruins.
Chachobben Ruins in Mayan Riviera
 Bat Falcon was my highlight here, but I was also happy to see Keel-billed Toucan, Yellow-throated Warbler, White-eyed Vireo, Dusky-capped Flycatcher and several others.
Bat Falcon
 Baccalar Lagoon was quite scenic, highlights were the Ringed Kingfisher, lowlights were cutting my foot on a rock within 30 seconds of entering the water and tracking blood across the nicely kept dock.
Baccalar Lagoon

Great Kiskadee

Yellow-throated Euphonia
 Cozumel was a nice little island, we went to the south end of the island to a nature park and saw some cool stuff.


Roseate Spoonbill

Gecko? species

Highlights were the many egrets. Within this one swampy estuary I saw Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Reddish Egret, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, and Tri-colored Heron!
Reddish Egrets

Clapper Rail
American Crocodile

Tropical Kingbird

Thursday, 22 February 2018

36 Speckle Bellies

The past couple of days I have been down in the wonderful Niagara area for work with my colleague Dan Riley.  We went to look for the Greater White-fronted Geese (also called speckle bellies for obvious reasons) that had been reported near Welland and were surprised to find 36 hidden among the corn and a larger flock of Canada Geese.  A nice treat, as I only get to see a few in any given year, and never in such great abundance!

Greater White-fronted Geese

Thursday, 8 February 2018

February Nature Sightings

I have been out and about recently at various spots, mostly in the KW area as well as Hamilton/Niagara for field work.  Below are a few photos, the highlight was certainly a Short-eared Owl that I came across the other day down in Niagara.

Short-eared Owl

I watched it forage for a few minutes.  I enjoy seeing Short-eared Owls in flight, they remind me of a giant butterfly, their wing beats are so animated!

The Harlequin Duck has remained near the Burlington Ship Canal over the past few weeks.  I still have not caught up with that Tufted Duck is becoming something of a nemesis bird.


Northern Shoveler

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Rare Waterfowl Roundup

Saturday was a perfect day.  I decided to head back down to the Hamilton area to try to clean up some of the waterfowl rarities that I had missed my last time down.  I was happy to be able to track down all 3 of my main targets.

First up was the female Harlequin Duck that has been hanging out on the Burlington side of the shipping canal.

I found it almost immediately towards the end of the pier.

Female Harlequin Duck
 A male Bufflehead seemed to be taking a shine to the Harlequin Duck and was following her around displaying.  She didn't seem very impressed.
Female Bufflehead, Male Bufflehead, Female Harlequin Duck, young White-winged Scoter
Next up were King Eiders.  I eventually saw two at Green Road, both were fairly far out.  A female and a nice young male bird as well.  Unfortunately they were too far for good photos.

After this I headed down to the Grimsby area to see the pair of Ross's Geese.  Quite a rarity in the Niagara Region!  I saw them out in the field with a flock of Canada Geese, and also bumped into some other familiar faces including Josh, Barb and Dave Pryor among others.  We enjoyed watching them circle around the farm fields before settling back into the flock.  The homeowners at this spot were very welcoming, allowing people to even walk onto their land to get better views!

Ross's Geese

After having a successful morning birding I decided to zip over to the Silverdale Gun Club to do some target practice with my relatively new 30-30 Lever Action Rifle.  Lets just say I am a better birder (or a luckier one) than I am marksman.

Either the sights are off or my eyes are crooked.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Bald Eagle Photo Op

I have had the pleasure of monitoring many Bald Eagle nests as a biologist.  Recently I got the chance to take some photos of one nice pair.

I snapped a few shots that I like.

I also snapped a few shots of other birds like this American Tree Sparrow below and a nice male Northern Cardinal.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Ducks and Snowy Owls

With another year upon us, it's time to get out and tick off some of those common birds again! The frigid weather has certainly not made it easy!  On Wednesday I went down to Hamilton to do a duck round up and got many of the expected species.  I was surprised that I wasn't able to turn up a King Eider, but there will be plenty of time to see them this year. The highlight of the day was a Red-throated Loon that popped up at the mouth of the canal.

Long-tailed Duck

Long-tailed Duck and White-winged Scoter

Red-breasted Merganser

 I also birded the Metz area north of Fergus and Luther Marsh from the road on Thursday.  It was extremely cold, so my birding was entirely roadside.  Birds were few and far between, but I did find 2 Snowy Owls, including this one that perched nicely on a telephone pole, seemingly oblivious to the polar winds.  I was able to find a few other FOY ("first of year birds) including Common Raven and Ruffed Grouse.  I did not see a single other raptor while out.

Most of the roads were free of snow.

I also found this Porcupine trying to stay warm while out for a walk in the arboretum earlier in the week.  It was rolled up in a ball!