Showing posts from January, 2019

Atlantic puffin.

Atlantic puffin near the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve while on O'Briens Boat Tour out of bay Bulls Newfoundland, June 5, 2018.
We saw a good number of puffins and murres by the thousands.
Fratercula arctica A lighthouse keeper on Iceland’s Westman Islands has been banding puffin chicks for more than 60 years. The islands are home to the largest puffin colony in the world, and the keeper, Oskar Sigurdsson, earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for his prolific banding: more than 90,000 birds in that time, including more than 55,000 puffins. source -


Lapland longspur near Blenheim, Ontario, Canada, Jan 27, 2019.
Calcarius lapponicus
Longspur refers to the elongated claw of the hind toe.
A common songbird of the Arctic tundra, the Lapland Longspur winters in open fields across much of the United States and southern Canada.
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Blue jays.
A pair of jays on a feeder pole. Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, Jan 28, 2019. Cyanocitta cristata
The pigment in Blue Jay feathers is melanin, which is brown. The blue colour is caused by scattering light through modified cells on the surface of the feather barbs.
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Horned Lark.

Horned lark, near Blenheim, Ontario, Canada, Jan 27, 2019. Mixed flock of larks and longspurs on a gravel side road.
Eremophila alpestris Horned Larks inhabit an extensive elevation range, from sea level to an altitude of 13,000 feet. source -

A summer memory.

Downy woodpecker, Rondeau Provincial Park, June 26, 2017.

Dryobates pubescens The Downy Woodpecker eats foods that larger woodpeckers cannot reach, such as insects living on or in the stems of weeds. You may see them hammering at goldenrod galls to extract the fly larvae inside. source -


A flotilla of icebergs, Lake Erie style.
Wind drive ice flow on Lake Erie's northern shore.

Barred owl

Barred owl, Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, Jan 24, 2019.
Got a message from a birding friend who let me know the barred owl was sitting in a cedar tree in the campground. Strix varia 
Pleistocene fossils of Barred Owls, at least 11,000 years old, have been dug up in Florida, Tennessee, and Ontario.
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A touch of spring.

Chestnut-sided warbler, Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, May 5, 2018.
Waiting for a freezing ice storm to start. Not enjoying winter.
Setophaga pensylvanica The Chestnut-sided Warbler sings two basic song types: one is accented at the end (the pleased-to-MEETCHA song), and the other is not. The accented songs are used primarily to attract a female and decrease in frequency once nesting is well under way. The unaccented songs are used mostly in territory defense and aggressive encounters with other males. Some males sing only unaccented songs, and they are less successful at securing mates than males that sing both songs.
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Super blood wolf moon.

Unfortunately I had no idea what settings to use to shoot last nights supper moon.
The result was a lot of unusable images. This is one of the better ones which isn't anywhere near sharp.
Oh well, there is always 2021.
Before the eclipse.

Full eclipse.

Purple sandpiper.

Purple sandpiper
Erieau, Ontario, Canada, Jan 18, 2019.
With a dunlin.

Love the description of this bird, from Cornell Lab of Ornithology - "A stout shorebird, the Purple Sandpiper breeds in the tundra and winters along rocky shores of the Atlantic Coast. Despite its name, it appears mostly slate-gray in winter, with only a faint purplish gloss, and shows no purple at all in breeding plumage."
So what was wrong with the pudgy sandpiper or slat-grey sandpiper?
Calidris maritima
Slaty-backed gull, Essex, Ontario, Canada, Jan 17, 2019.
A life bird for Anne and me.
It is the gull in the bottom, centre in the flight shot.
In the second photo it is in front of a great-backed gull.

This gulls normal range is the coasts of northeastern Asia.
It regularly shows up in Alaska during the summer and occasionally in the winter.
This year it has been showing up in various locations in Ontario, usually at landfills.
Larus schistisagus

Evening grosbeak

Evening grosbeak, Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, Nov 25, 2018.
Not a regular visitor to Rondeau but they showed up this year.
We had a few stop in the yard for about 5 minutes then they were off again.
Coccothraustes vespertinus
Though they’re ferocious seed-crackers in the wintertime, in summer Evening Grosbeaks eat insects such as spruce budworm, a serious forest pest. The grosbeaks are so adept at finding these tiny caterpillars that the birds often provide a first warning that a budworm outbreak has begun.
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Carunculated Caracara, Ecuador, Mary 25, 2016.

We were high in the Andes looking for the Andean condor, which we saw when we spotted a group of carunculated caracara.
FYI -caruncle- a naked fleshy outgrowth (such as a bird's wattle)
Phalcoboenus carunculatus The Carunculated Caracara is the most northerly member of the Mountain Caracara superspecies. Members of this group of species are distributed from Colombia south along the Andes to Patagonia and the Falkland Islands, but the Carunculated Caracara is found only in the high Andean paramo of Ecuador and southern Colombia. source -

Alpine parrot.

Kea, seen on the south island in New Zealand, November, 2009.
Nestor notabilis The kea is an unusual parrot. It is the only truly alpine parrot in the world, and gained early notoriety among settler farmers for attacks on their sheep. Innately curious, kea are attracted to people wherever they enter its mountain domain, and are a feature at South Island ski-fields and mountain huts.
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The pod.

Usually milkweed pods have broken and the seeds are long gone by this time of year. This is the only one in a large patch that held together. Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, Jan 12, 2019.

Downy woodpecker

Downy woodpecker, Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, Jan 9, 2019.
A visitor to our suet log in the backyard.
Dryobates pubescens The Downy Woodpecker eats foods that larger woodpeckers cannot reach, such as insects living on or in the stems of weeds. You may see them hammering at goldenrod galls to extract the fly larvae inside. source -

Cape May warbler,

Rondeau Provincial Park, Sept 5, 2015. Had the first cold blast with a bit of snow this year and I'm already looking for spring.
Setophaga tigrina The average clutch size of the Cape May Warbler (six) is greater than that of other warblers. This large clutch size may allow Cape May Warbler populations to expand rapidly during outbreaks of their preferred prey, spruce budworms. source -

White-breasted nuthatch.

Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, Jan 5, 2019. We have a large number of nuthatches coming into the feeders right now. Not sure how many as the bounce from feeder to hedge etc. We also have at least four titmice and a bunch of chickadees. We often see 4 at a time.
Sitta carolinensis In winter, White-breasted Nuthatches join foraging flocks led by chickadees or titmice, perhaps partly because it makes food easier to find and partly because more birds can keep an eye out for predators. One study found that when titmice were removed from a flock, nuthatches were more wary and less willing to visit exposed bird feeders. source -

Fruit or seed pods?

Not sure what this racoon was eating high up in a tree. There was a grape vine up there with some fruit still visible. There were also seed pods. Either way he was dangling about 50 feet up, over the road while getting his lunch.

Leaping lizards Batman!

One of the lizards we saw in Ecuador in March 2016.
No idea as to the species. It did the throat flare several times then skittered away

Black skimmers.

Merritt Island Florida, Jan 22, 2015. Unusual looking birds.
Rynchops niger The remarkable bill of the Black Skimmer sets it apart from all other American birds. The large red and black bill is knife-thin and the lower mandible is longer than the upper. The bird drags the lower bill through the water as it flies along, hoping to catch small fish.
At hatching, the two mandibles of a young Black Skimmer are equal in length, but by fledging at four weeks, the lower mandible is already nearly 1 cm longer than the upper. source -

Black throated blue warbler.

Black throated blue warbler, Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada, May 8, 2017.
Setophaga caerulescens Unlike other warblers that molt into "confusing fall plumage," male Black-throated Blue Warblers keep their distinctive black-and-blue plumage year-round. The distinctive white square on the wing also helps ID females. source -

Sally Dog is a good dog.

Sally Dog is a good dog. What else can you say?
Seen at a free campsite at the side of a road near Harvey Bank, New Brunswick.