Showing posts from October, 2014

Everyone has a weird neighbour.

If you don't have one, look in the mirror.

We saw this in Amsterdam a few years ago. It made me laugh.

Tree pattern baldness.

It is becoming more obvious as the trees try their leaf over that baldness is increasing.

Tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Work in progress

Come back in approximately 100,000 years and we will see if they turned into fossils.
These leaves were on a dirt road and had been pressed into the mud making an interesting design.
I wonder if this is how the fossilization process starts.

Pied-billed grebe

We went to the hawk watch at Holiday Beach in southern Ontario on the weekend.
There weren't a lot of birds passing through but we did find four pied-billed grebes in the marsh which is adjacent to the tower.

Podilymbus podiceps

These are brown birds, slightly darker above and more tawny-brown on the underparts. During spring and summer, the crown and nape are dark and the throat is black. While breeding, the bill is whitish with a black band (“pied’), but otherwise is yellow-brown. Juveniles have striped faces.

Like other grebes, the Pied-billed Grebe eats large quantities of its own feathers. Feathers may at times fill up more than half of a grebe’s stomach, and they are sometimes fed to newly hatched chicks. The ingested plumage appears to form a sieve-like plug that prevents hard, potentially harmful prey parts from passing into the intestine, and it helps form indigestible items into pellets which they can regurgitate.

The longest-lived Pied-billed Grebe on record was at least 4…

A turtle i the hand...

is a fine thing to see.
This is a hatchling eastern softshelled turtle.
They are part of the turtle recovery program at Rondeau Provincial Park.

Apalone spinifera

Unlike the hard shell of most other turtles, the shell of the spiny softshell turtle is soft and leathery, with a sandpaper-like surface.
The spiny softshell turtle spends most of its life in water, often lying buried in the sandy or muddy bottom with only its head and neck protruding.

The opportunist.

A person who exploits circumstances to gain immediate advantage rather than being guided by consistent principles or plans or maybe just a good salesman.

Do you always drool when you drink?

It is "just" a starling starling basically a nuisance bird.
First brought to North America by Shakespeare enthusiasts in the nineteenth century, European Starlings are now among the continent’s most numerous songbird
As a single bird they can be very handsome in flocks of hundreds they can clean out your feeders in the blink of an eye.

Sturnus vulgaris

Starlings are boisterous, loud, and they travel in large groups (often with blackbirds and grackles). They race across fields, beak down and probing the grass for food; or they sit high on wires or trees making a constant stream of rattles, whirrs, and whistles.

The oldest recorded wild European Starling was 15 years 9 months old.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Juvenille semipalmated sandpiper.

Another shore bird we saw from the boat before taking it out for the season.
It was on a very smelly sandbar in Rondeau Bay with some other shorebirds.

Calidris pusilla
The Semipalmated Sandpiper breeds in the Arctic and winters along the coasts of South America.
Semipalmated Sandpipers from eastern populations probably undertake nonstop transoceanic flights of 3,000 - 4,000 km (1,900 - 2,500 mi) from New England and southern Canada to South America, powered by extensive fat reserves.
The Semipalmated Sandpiper gets its common name from the short webs between its toes ("palmated" means webbed). The Western Sandpiper is the only other small sandpiper with similarly webbed toes.

A surprise visitor.

I saw an animal that I thought was a squirrel near our small pond but when I looked closely I realized it was a mink.
We have had them in the yard before but not hunting in the pond.
It dove into the pond which is not much bigger than the mink. It came out with a frog which it left on the grass. It went back several more times and caught more frogs.
I went outside to get better photos and it seemed to scent me and started taking his prizes away.

Neovison vison

Minks are a voracious predator, and they eat a wide variety of prey and will store any surplus to eat later.


Black-necked stilt.

We saw this long legged fellow in Texas a few years ago.
We had one as a rare visitor in December on the St. Clair River about 6 years ago, which is well out of its normaal range.
The St. Clair is part of the Great Lakes system in north America.

Himantopus mexicanus

Five species of rather similar-looking stilts are recognized in the genus Himantopus. They have the second-longest legs in proportion to their bodies of any bird, exceeded only by flamingos.

Where have all the peanuts gone

Long time passing
Where have all the peanuts gone?
Long time ago

Where have all the peanuts gone?
Young chipmunks have eaten them everyone
Oh, when will thye ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?

Apologies to Peter,Paul and Mary who recorded the real song.

He seems to be telling us that the peanut feeder is empty and his cheeks are empty as well.

Master peanut theifs one and all.

Tamius striatus
Average life span - Often less than 1 year, but can reach 5 years.
Their front feet have four toes and the back ones have five toes.

Family bath time.

We have large numbers of chipping sparrows around right now. A group came in to the pond for to bathe.
The one on the right is an immature so he looks a little different.
The pond brings in as many if not more birds than the feeders do.

Spizella passerina
The early naturalists had a gift for description you just don’t see anymore. In 1929, Edward Forbush called the Chipping Sparrow “the little brown-capped pensioner of the dooryard and lawn, that comes about farmhouse doors to glean crumbs shaken from the tablecloth by thrifty housewives.”

The oldest known Chipping Sparrow was 11 years, 10 months old

Oh, I'm just hangin' around. How about you?

I really like the way white breasted nuthatches hang upside down and look at the world.

They are regular vistors to the yard and eat the suet, peanuts and sunflower seed.

Sitta carolinensis
A common feeder bird with clean black, gray, and white markings, White-breasted Nuthatches are active, agile little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds. They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside. White-breasted Nuthatches may be small but their voices are loud, and often their insistent nasal yammering will lead you right to them.

The oldest known White-breasted Nuthatch was 9 years 10 months old.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

...and that's why they call it a white-throated sparrow.

Finally a name that makes sense.
I suppose it could be called the yellow eye-browed sparrow or the sparrow with the white stripes on its head but they went for the obvious.
Besides there is already a white-crowned sparrow and who talks about eyebrows.

Zonotrichia albicollis

Crisp facial markings make the White-throated Sparrow an attractive bird as well as a hopping, flying anatomy lesson. There’s the black eyestripe, the white crown and supercilium, the yellow lores, the white throat bordered by a black whisker, or malar stripe.
The oldest recorded White-throated Sparrow was 9 years 8 months old.

Happy Thanksgiving

To all my non Canadian friends it is Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday. The traditional meal is turkey with all the fixings which vary by family.
Hope everyone has a great day and lots to be thankful for.

Not all birds of a feather

A mixed bag of birds. This motley molting group mainly consists of caspian terns with their orange bills, and a herring gull - back right and a ring-billed gull front centre.
A far cry from breeding plumage.

Double your pleasure,double your fun..

Twice the destructive force.
Recently our little pond has been torn up each morning.
I assumed that it was a raccoon but it turns out I was wrong.
It was two raccoons.
Double trouble.
They are young ones that came out during the day.
Taken through the Wonderful Wildlife Window.

Procyon lotor
 (almost sounds like a character from a Batman movie)

These ubiquitous mammals are found in forests, marshes, prairies, and even in cities. They are adaptable and use their dexterous front paws and long fingers to find and feast on a wide variety of fare.


A one man shop without a bathroom in the building.

Up close and personal with a ruddy turnstone

Another photo from the pontoon.
There is a sandbar in Rondeau bay that can be good for shorebirds. The down side is that cormorants use it as a roost and it stinks to high heaven.

We were only about 8 feet away from this turnstone. There were 5 or 6 on the sandbar and they didn't seem to mind the smell.

Arenaria interpres

The male Ruddy Turnstone makes nest-like scrapes in the ground within his territory, often close to the final site selected by the female. The male's scrapes are made before the female starts to lay eggs, and are part of the courtship and nest site selection process. No eggs are laid in the scapes the male makes.
As their name suggests, turnstones often forage by turning over stones and other objects.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

We have lift off.

We got a little too close to this ring-billed gull when we were out on the pontoon on Friday.
After a running start it lifted off, gave us the evil eye and flew away.

Larus delawarensis

Most Ring-billed Gulls nest in the interior of the continent, near freshwater.

Migrating Ring-billed Gulls apparently use a built-in compass to navigate. When tested at only two days of age, chicks showed a preference for magnetic bearings that would take them in the appropriate direction for their fall migration.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Death on the wing.

When you see a northern harrier, also know as a marsh hawk, cruising over the reeds you know now something is going to be dinner.
We watched it for about ten minutes as it glided and dipped and dove in search of a meal.

Beautiful to watch in flight but it didn't very close.

Circus cyaneus

Northern Harriers are slender, medium-sized raptors with long, fairly broad wings and a long, rounded tail. They have a flat, owl-like face and a small, sharply hooked bill. Harriers often fly with their wings held in a dihedral, or V-shape above the horizontal.
Northern Harrier fossils dating from 11,000 to 40,000 years ago have been unearthed in northern Mexico.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Another camoflauge expert.

Walking sticks are hard to find for a number of reasons.
They look like branches or twigs and the move extremely slowly.
I don't know much about them other than they are interesting.

Diapheromera fermorata

The Northern Walkingstick is our most common "stick insect," which camouflages itself to look like a stick.

Northern Walkingsticks grow over 3 1/2 inches long, with males being smaller than females. Walkingsticks have long, skinny bodies which closely resembles twigs or stems of plants. Males are brown, females are greenish-brown. These insects have very long antennae, about 2/3 the length of their bodies.

Northern Walkingsticks feed on the leaves of many deciduous trees, including: oaks, Sassafras, Black Cherry, and Black Locust. They also eat clovers.

source - Fairfax County Public Schools