Saturday, 23 February 2013

Paul Pratt's Group Birding Trip - February 23

     This morning I met up with about ten birding friends at Hillman Marsh for one of Paul Pratt's winter birding tours, the last one until spring time. Like usual with these trips, we saw many awesome birds, as well as a bunch of White-tailed Deer and a Coyote, which is always a nice treat. Upon entering the parking lot of Hillman Marsh, I spotted an American Robin flying overhead, one of few that I have seen lately. We walked part of the trail and came up with a variety of winter songbirds, including many Horned Larks and Snow Buntings, and 2 Red-winged Blackbirds, among others. Then we went to the Southeast corner of the marsh and viewed 6 Greater White-fronted Geese, one Cackling Goose, and some early migrant Northern Pintails among the Canada Geese. I am really enjoying the fact that viewing either of these goose species is becoming a regular occurrence in this area! Who knows how long they will stay here or when we will have such opportunities to see them here again. We also watched 2 Glaucous Gulls fly past over the lake. They are awesome gulls with their very light-coloured plumage and impressive size!

     At this point I picked up my girlfriend Nadia from my place and we all headed out to Woodslee to our friend Janet's house for lunch. On the way, +Kory Renaud spotted a Snowy Owl in a field which was a great unexpected treat. At Janet's house we had a great lunch and got re-energized for an afternoon of birding, then headed outside to look at both species of nuthatch and the many sparrows, American Goldfinches, House Finches, and Pine Siskin that make a living off her bird feeders through the winter, as well as a very illusive Long-eared Owl hiding up in a tree (photo on right). The Pine Siskin (photo above, taken by my girlfriend Nadia) were my hilight of the birds in Janet's yard, as this was my first time getting a good look at them. Janet also directed us to what appears to be a fully leucistic (all-white feathers with a dark eye, so not exactly but similar to albino) Red-tailed Hawk! Wow, I was nearly speechless when I saw it. I did not expect to see one of these in my first year of birding!

     Heading out of Woodslee we spotted 2 American Kestrels, a group of about 10 Wild Turkey, and we helped our friend Dwayne relocate the Snowy Owl. Nadia and I stopped at my dad's house, where he surprised me with a pretty cool rain jacket to wear in the spring! Before dark we took a trip to a known winter hunting ground for Short-eared Owls but did not see any. This was my third time looking for them since New Year's so it is starting to seem likely that they moved on. Oh well, we still had fun watching some Horned Lark sing away close by. Here is a short video clip of a Horned Lark singing:

     Like usual, today was another wonderful day of birding, thanks to great birds and great people to share them with. Thank you for reading! Happy birding!



  1. Good you have started a blog! I will check in often.
    If you recall, we have met at Pelee a couple of times.

  2. Hi Blake, thanks for the positive words! I certainly do remember meeting you at the tip and look forward to seeing you again. I replied to your message once already but it looks like it did not work. Happy birding!