October 31, 2016

Fly away

Female mallard in flight near the Thames in London, Ontario.

Anas platyrhynchos 

Mallard pairs form long before the spring breeding season. Pairing takes place in the fall, but courtship can be seen all winter. Only the female incubates the eggs and takes care of the ducklings.

October 30, 2016

Little Brown Job

We were at the Blenheim sewage lagoons the other day looking for the cattle egrets, which we found.

We checked the sprinkler cells for other species and among others, we found American Pipits.
He was the ultimate LBJ in brown dirt.

Birders go to the nicest places.

Anthus rubescens 

The American Pipit was long known as the Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta ), a wide ranging species with seven subspecies occurring from the shores of Great Britain and Scandinavia, and the high mountains of Europe and central Asia, to North America. Recent taxonomic studies, however, have shown that the three North American subspecies, along with the most eastern Asiatic one, are best regarded as a distinct species.

October 28, 2016

Lift off

Caspian tern taking off from Rondeau Bay.

Hydroprogne caspia 

The world's largest breeding colony is on a small, artificial island in the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington, home to more than 6,000 breeding pairs each year.

October 27, 2016

Either a grater or lesser yellow leg

Photo was taken on Rondeau Bay, Rondeau Provincial Park, Sept 2016

copyright 2016 Ric McArthur

The bird seems to have characteristics of both greater and lesser yellowlegs.
If you can positively id it please let me know.

October 26, 2016

The drop off.

When we were in Ecuador we were taken into the foothills of the Andes.
In the far distance you can see a mountain range.

There were only two flat areas in Ecuador, the airport and the soccer fields.

October 25, 2016

Cattle Egrets, Blenheim Sewage Lagoons, October 25, 20016
©2016 Ric McArthur

We don't get many cattle egrets in our area but there are four at the local sewage lagoons. (Birder's go to the nicest places.)
We saw two but they were skittish and flew between cells without letting us get close.
Bubulcus ibis
Cattle Egrets follow large animals or machines and eat invertebrates stirred up from the ground. They will fly toward smoke from long distances away, to catch insects fleeing a fire.

Where's Waldo?

My wife, Anne, is a bird spotter extraordinaire.

©2016 ric McArthur

She regularly finds sora's hiding in the reeds as we cruise the marsh edge on the pontoon.
Porzana carolina

October 23, 2016

Hunting falcons.

While out on the pontoon a few days ago we had peregrine falcons harassing the waterfowl.
It appeared to be a pair and the where hunting cooperatively.
We didn't see them catch anything but it was still an interesting show.
©2016 Ric McArthur

Falco peregrinus
During its spectacular hunting stoop from heights of over 1 km (0.62 mi), the peregrine may reach speeds of 320 km/h (200 mph) as it drops toward its prey.

October 22, 2016

Why snipe are hard to find.

They are masters of camouflage.
©2016 Ric McArthur

Gallinago delicata
Wilson’s Snipe look so stocky thanks in part to the extra-large pectoral (breast) muscles that make up nearly a quarter of the bird’s weight—the highest percent of all shorebirds. Thanks to their massive flight muscles this chunky sandpiper can reach speeds estimated at 60 miles an hour.

October 20, 2016

Continuing the pond series.

Recently I found out that the brown crowned white crowned sparrows were the immature ones.
Makes more sense that a brown crowned white crown.
©2016 Ric McArthur

Zonotrichia leucophrys

Because male White-crowned Sparrows learn the songs they grow up with and typically breed close to where they were raised, song dialects frequently form. Males on the edge of two dialects may be bilingual and able to sing both dialects.

October 18, 2016

Wet junco

The juncos are back and they need a wash after the trip.
Dark eyed juncos come in an amazing number of shades of black through grey.

Junco hyemalis
The Dark-eyed Junco is one of the most common birds in North America and can be found across the continent, from Alaska to Mexico, from California to New York. A recent estimate set the junco’s total population at approximately 630 million individuals.

October 17, 2016

Now stretch...

This mallard was going through a bathing routine, dunking under the eater and preening its feathers.
Then it stretched its head way back.
Interesting to watch.
Anas platyrhynchos
Ducks are strong fliers; migrating flocks of Mallards have been estimated traveling at 55 miles per hour.
The standard duck’s quack is the sound of a female Mallard. Males don’t quack; they make a quieter, rasping sound.

October 16, 2016

Meanwhile at the pond.

We missed out on the Kittiwake and laughing gull seen at Rondeau earlier today but had some activity in the yard.
An enthusiastic Blue headed vireo having a bath in the pond earlier today.
Vireo solitarius
The Blue-headed Vireo is the only vireo within its range that makes extensive use of coniferous forests, although it also occupies deciduous habitats.

October 14, 2016

Emerald toucanet seen at Tandayapa, Ecuador.

Daily visitors to the feeders in front of the dining area.

Aulacorhynchus prasinus

Emerald Toucanets typically forage on fruit, lizards, insects, bird eggs and nestlings. They frequently move together in small flocks of 3 to 10 birds.

October 13, 2016

Common Grackle, Rondeau Provincial Park

We have a large flock of blackbirds, mainly grackles swooping through the grassy dunes.
Probably well over 1,000 birds.

Quiscalus quiscula

Grackles have a hard keel on the inside of the upper mandible that they use for sawing open acorns. Typically they score the outside of the narrow end, then bite the acorn open.
source - https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Grackle/lifehistory

October 12, 2016

Golden crowned kinglet, Rondeau Provincial Park.

Another yard bird this fall. Ruby crowned are more common but we have had a few golden crowned.

Regulus satrapa

Each of the Golden-crowned Kinglet's nostrils is covered by a single, tiny feather.
The tiny Golden-crowned Kinglet is hardier than it looks, routinely wintering in areas where nighttime temperatures can fall below –40° Fahrenheit.

October 11, 2016

Woodcreeper, Ecuador, March 2016

Not sure which one this is, we saw three of the twenty four species.
I believe it is the spotted woodcreeper as it was in the right habitat and is closest to the diagram and description in the field guide.

Tthis was taken at the lodge at Tandayapa

October 10, 2016

Nashville warbler

We had a number of Nashville's in the yard during the week.
This male, non breeding plumage sat still so I took its photo.

Oreothlypis ruficapilla

Most first-year Nashville Warblers migrate along the Atlantic coast, while adults tend to migrate along inland routes.

October 09, 2016

Don't you dare say "Ewwww"

If you don't want mice in your house then you need a snake in your yard.
This is a Northern Watersnake that we saw out in the marsh in Rondeau Bay. It is about a metre long.

Nerodia sipedon sipedon

The northern watersnake can be found in and around almost any permanent body of fresh water within its range, including lakes, rivers and wetlands. Rarely far from shoreline habitats, these snakes can be found in shoreline vegetation, basking on rocks and logs, or in other open habitats along the edges of the water or under rocks along the shoreline. Northern watersnakes hibernate underground in dens or crevices, or in beaver lodges.
source - Ontario Nature.

October 06, 2016

A great birding day.

We had a great warbler day at the pond in the yard today with Anne spotting while I tried to take photos of everything.
Among others, 10 warbler species -Cape May, Bay Breasted, Blackpoll,Black throated blue, Black throated green,yellow rump, Nashville, northern Parula, Tennessee and this Chestnut-Sided.
Others in the yard included Hairy, Downy, Red-Bellied and Flicker, red breasted and white breasted nuthatches, hummingbird, ruby crowned and golden crowned kinglets, tufted titmouse, blue headed vireo and a junco.
Then there was the pontoon ride, sora, snipe, American bittern, Rusty blackbirds, ruddy ducks, coots, mallards, widgeon, great blue heron, great egret, sandhill cranes, harrier, kingfisher and two more warbler species - Palm and Yellow.
To top everything off it was a gorgeous day weather wise.
Setophaga pensylvanica
On the wintering grounds in Central America the Chestnut-sided Warbler joins in mixed-species foraging flocks with the resident antwrens and tropical warblers. An individual warbler will return to the same area in subsequent years, joining back up with the same foraging flock it associated with the year before.

October 05, 2016

Black-throated blue warbler.

Anne spotted this black throated blue flitting around the pond this morning. Still looking good in his non breeding plumage.

We also had a colourful parula.

Setophaga caerulescens
The sexes of the Black-throated Blue Warbler look so different that they were originally described as two different species.

October 04, 2016

American bittern

Anne did another great job of spotting birds from the pontoon today.
Among others we had sora, Wilson's snipe and this American bittern.

Botaurus lentiginosus

The American Bittern's yellow eyes can focus downward, giving the bird's face a comically startled, cross-eyed appearance. This visual orientation presumably enhances the bird's ability to spot and capture prey. The eyes turn orange during breeding season.

October 03, 2016

Lift off.

Another photo from the boat, so many birds so little time.
This osprey sat on top of a pole in the marsh and allowed us to drift close

Pandion haliaetus
Ospreys are unusual among hawks in possessing a reversible outer toe that allows them to grasp with two toes in front and two behind. Barbed pads on the soles of the birds' feet help them grip slippery fish. When flying with prey, an Osprey lines up its catch head first for less wind resistance.

October 02, 2016

At the edge of the marsh

A wilson's snipe seen from the pontoon, very well camouflaged.

We see lots of sora most trips but few snipes.

Gallinago delicata

Though the long tradition of “snipe hunt” pranks at summer camp has convinced many people otherwise, Wilson’s Snipes aren’t made-up creatures. These plump, long-billed birds are among the most widespread shorebirds in North America. They can be tough to see thanks to their cryptic brown and buff coloration and secretive nature