November 30, 2014

Christmas is coming and I'm watching.



Have you been good?

You have? Really? You can say that with a straight face.
Shame.

Ozzie does like his boxes.

November 27, 2014

Eurasian tree sparrow.



We drove 3 hours to see an Eurasian tree sparrow at Niagara on the Lake at the mouth of the Niagara River.
It is a rare visitor to Canada.
There is a small population near St. Louis, Missouri.

Identifying field marks include, black throat and ear patch.
White cheeks and a rufous crown.

About 5 minutes after we arrived at the house it had been seen at, it flew in with a large number of house sparrows.

Not a great shot but it was away from the road in a private yard.

Passer montanus

November 25, 2014

Northern Shrike



We had a northern shrike come into the yard at least three times today.
The first indication was the mad scramble by small birds to get away.

He made what looked like half hearted attempts to catch one of the siskins that are mobbing our feeders.
At one point it called which sounds like rapid rasping "aak-aak"

Lanius excubitor

A predatory songbird, the Northern Shrike breeds in taiga and tundra and winters in southern Canada and the northern United States. It feeds on small birds, mammals, and insects, sometimes impaling them on spines or barbed wire fences.


Both male and female Northern Shrikes sing throughout year. The male sings especially in late winter and early spring.

November 24, 2014

A cage of his own choosing.



I was repairing the rungs on a kitchen chair when Ozzie came over to supervise.
He promptly climbed under the chair seat and settled in to watch the birds at the feeders.

I'm sure he felt hidden and secure.

November 23, 2014

the good and the bad



I have no idea what type of bee this is but it is busily doing its pollination work.
If you look closely you will see aphids on the stem of the flower going about their business of sucking fluids from the plant.




Beneficial and harmful, it's all nature.

November 22, 2014

The horns of a dilemma



This young male white-tailed deer wandered through the yard yesterday.
His tiny antlers looked more like tiny devil horns on a halloween costume.

Odocoileus virginianus

November 20, 2014

American pipit.



This is a new yard bird for us.
We have seen them in the general area but not at home.
We only see them during migration.

Anthus rubescens .

The American Pipit is a small, slender, drab bird of open country. Although it appears similar to sparrows, it can be distinguished by its thin bill and its habit of bobbing its tail.

November 19, 2014

Could you ask for directions?




Noooo. You knew where we were going. Now everything looks the same and we are going to be late for the hatchling party.

Apalone spinifera spinifera


The Spiny Softshell is also known as the "pancake turtle" because of its rather flat, round, leathery upper shell, or carapace. The long neck and elongated, tubular snout allow this turtle to breathe while almost fully submerged and virtually unseen. Softshells ambush prey by lying concealed in bottom mud.

source -Royal Ontario Museum

November 18, 2014

Flash Freeze



Yesterday this was open water, it froze overnight.
The far shore is about 6km, 3
+ miles, away.

The clouds represent more snow coming in.
At least we are better off than Buffalo N.Y. at the other end of Lake Erie.
They have received over 4 feet , well over a meter,of snow in two days and are expecting another two feet.
Temperatures are far below freezing and it is only November.

Bah! Humbug!

Remember to fill those bird feeders.

November 17, 2014

A winter pond.

This is our little pond in the yard where I get a lot of nature photos.
Winter arrived today with a vengeance.
The birds seem to be in shock and so am I.

I know it isn't very Canadian but I really LOATH winter.

November 16, 2014

Two toned paint job.



How do you like the colours on my bill.
Pretty cool, eh?

Ardea herodias

Despite their impressive size, Great Blue Herons weigh only 5 to 6 pounds thanks in part to their hollow bones—a feature all birds share.
The oldest Great Blue Heron, based on banding recovery, was 24 years old.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

November 13, 2014

Little Bustard



We saw this bird waaayyyy off the beaten track while we were in Spain. We were so far off there wasn't a track, just a few ruts through a field.
He was doing a mating display, jumping up and spreading his wings.
Our guide was impressive, he knew exactly where to go to get virtually every bird we wanted to see.

Tetrax tetrax

Breeds in open terrain vegetation tall enough to give it cover.

November 12, 2014

Formal Attire



This great egret is in full breeding plumage and looks like he is dressed for a formal dinner

We saw it in a breeding colony
in Norfolk Virginia last spring.

Ardea alba

Great Egrets fly slowly but powerfully: with just two wingbeats per second their cruising speed is around 25 miles an hour.

The oldest known Great Egret was 22 years, 10 months old and was banded in Ohio.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

November 11, 2014

Eastern kingbird



The weather here is turning into winter. The temperature is dropping rapidly and the forecast is for rain/snow.
I need a touch of summer.
This was taken last May in the middle of spring migration.

Tyrannus tyrannus

The scientific name Tyrannus means “tyrant, despot, or king,” referring to the aggression kingbirds exhibit with each other and with other species. When defending their nests they will attack much larger predators like hawks, crows, and squirrels. They have been known to knock unsuspecting Blue Jays out of trees.

The oldest Eastern Kingbird on record was 10 years, 1 month old.

source- Cornell Lab or Ornithology.

November 10, 2014

There is an alien in my backyard.

It's been there all summer and it just keeps staring at me.

This is another view of the tent/blind I use for getting photos in the backyard.

November 09, 2014

Can you touch your elbows together?



This white crowned sparrow seems to be taunting us with his casual stretch.
Can you put your elbows together?

Zonotrichia leucophrys

Scientists interested in movement and energetics have discovered that White-crowned Sparrows can run on a treadmill at a pace of about one-third of a mile an hour without tiring out.

Really? just how do you get a bird to run on a treadmill?

Source for the treadmill - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

November 06, 2014

Birds of a feather.............




mingle with others. Or something like that.

A greater scaup in the foreground and a bufflehead the back, both in beautiful plumage.

Greater Scaup -Aythya marila

Medium-sized diving duck.
Rounded head.
Bill bluish with black tip.

Bufflehead -Bucephala albeola

Bufflehead are very small, compact ducks with large, rounded heads and short, wide bills.
The Bufflehead nests almost exclusively in holes excavated by Northern Flickers and, on occasion, by Pileated Woodpeckers.

November 05, 2014

A cold and windy start to November.



Not a big storm on Lake Erie but a steady 35 km wind built up the waves.
They pounded the east shore of the park for two days.
Our living room window faces east and it is all windows.
We could feel the temperature drop, a sample of what winter will bring.

November 04, 2014

No room at the bath



We had about 70 pine siskins show up at our feeders today and then they descended on the pond.
At one point there were 10 in the two small ponds.
It was so crowded that they were hovering waiting for a space to land.

Spinus pinus

Flocks of tiny Pine Siskins may monopolize your thistle feeder one winter and be absent the next. This nomadic finch ranges widely and erratically across the continent each winter in response to seed crops.

Pine Siskins can temporarily store seeds totaling as much as 10% of their body mass in a part of their esophagus called the crop. The energy in that amount of food could get them through 5–6 nighttime hours of subzero temperatures.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

November 03, 2014

Oz and the possum



Oz took a liking to a stuffed possum.
It was at our place for a little TLC, a seam had opened up and it needed a repair.
Oz seemed to think it was for him and he sat and  kneaded it for a long time.

November 02, 2014

Southward bound



A small flock of Canada geese and a few caspian terns were flying around at the end of September getting ready to head south for the winter.
Wish we could follow but we repaired the septic system this year.
I guess we will stay home and use it.

Canada goose
Branta canadensis

The oldest known wild Canada Goose was 30 years 4 months old.