River Walking

I have been trying to stick to my promise of walking around the river daily as long as the weather permits. So I have decided that I may as well keep a closer eye on the birds that I see there. So I will begin my own count. Yesterday there were 6 Bufflehead Ducks and a Great Blue Heron in one of inlets on the North shore. Turkey Vultures are notably absent and I didn’t seen the Heron this morning so it may have taken off, but we’ll see!

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November -Wetlands

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Time to check back with the Perth Wetlands! Almost no water in the first pond but more in the second where there were lots of Mallards and a small number of Ruddy Ducks, along with a lone Bufflehead.  Along the path there were flocks of Goldfinches and Housefinches.

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img_9305                                                                           Song Sparrow

In the far pond, there were hundreds of Canada Geese, lots of Mallards and small numbers of Green-winged Teals and Northern Shovelers.

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It was nice to see the sun come out as we headed home again!

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Goodbye October!

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Closer to home there have been more raptors moving through the area again and Turkey Vultures have been gathering up in large numbers.

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                  Eagles are still hanging around St. Marys, in addition to Great Blue Herons.

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Back at the Avon River in Stratford, the end of October produced a few Horned Grebes and a lone Hooded Merganser among the Canada Geese and Mallards.

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An the Great Blue Heron seems to be showing off its fine sense of balance on its usual perch!

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              First frost on the last day of October, and a sign of colder weather to come!

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More October!

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After a rainy drive down the 401 from Victoriaville, the sun finally reappeared as we neared Picton. The winds were high but the sun was glorious on the leaves! As a side note, I think we should call our car the Ontario Explorer!

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Okay, back to birds. I got distracted by the gorgeous fall colours and wanted to share them with you! We had two goals for this trip; the snow geese in Victoriaville and the Saw-Whet Owl banding at the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory. It was reported on the website, that the owl banding would take place every day in October beginning at 8:30 pm as long as conditions permitted. We took a drive out in the morning to see how far the observatory was from where we were staying and to check out the road especially since it would be dark and cloudy driving on unfamiliar roads. As an added bonus to getting to know the area in the daylight in preparation for the nightowl events, we saw hundreds of Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures as well as a Bald Eagle and a couple of Juveniles.

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There was already lots of banding activity going on at the small observatory hut when we got there. And we had a quick hike through the trails at the Prince Edward Point and could see the nets extending off the trail. This was helpful information since it was pitch black when we followed the guide through the woods as she collected the owls later that night, and flashlights were strictly forbidden!

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We were assured that banding would take place that evening, so we headed for some lunch and returned, warmly bundled up, for the evening. As we pulled up there were a few cars and everything was dark. We had been warned that there could be some waiting around so we took coffee and well, waited in the dark.

We forget how much light there is when we live in towns and cities and there are so many lights around. But if you take those lights away and the sky is clouded over, the darkness is almost complete. It’s quite a strange sensation. After a while, we got out of the car and wandered over to the shed and met up with a few other people waiting for the banders to return. It was like The Voice, that music contest where the judges can hear the performers but are not allowed to see them. Imagine that! Meeting people for the first time without seeing them!

Everyone was quite excited. Apparently they had banded 5 Saw-Whets the night before! Finally the banders moved quickly into the banding shed with their catch! We could see 14 bird bags hanging on the wall. Immediately, they got to work. It was going to be a long night ahead!

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For the second collection, about six of us joined the banders in the woods. The whole group was going until we were told that we couldn’t use our flashlights! I guess they get used to the trails after working them daily but it was amazing how quickly they moved off the trails and into the areas where the nets were hanging. Anyhow, the second haul brought in 18 more owls! And when I check the count for the evening, they had banded 74 Saw-Whets that night; one of the busiest nights for the month!

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It was an experience that I highly recommend. The people who work at the observatory are very generous in explaining what they are doing and why. And the thing that most impressed me, was how quickly they worked and how the welfare of the birds is the first priority. They really seem to give a hoot! What a memorable evening!

Here is a link to the count for 2016: http://www.peptbo.ca/2016-saw-whet-owl-totals.php

And to the Observatory: http://www.peptbo.ca/index.php

 

 

A Victoriaville, Quebec!

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I have been keeping track of migration time for the Snow Geese since we had caught a glimpse of them from a train to Montreal last March. We decided to take a few days holiday, packed up the car and headed to la belle province to see the geese during their fall migration. We stopped in Gananoque on the way and arrived at Victoriaville,  a stop along their route south, which is east of Montreal and south of the St.Lawrence. Since the constant rain had stopped just as we arrived, we decided not to waste any time, and headed directly to the Beaudet Reservoir on the way in. The city was preparing for the annual festival to celebrate the migration with various cultural events on the weekend. We saw hundreds of geese on the water and in the air above us. We took a few photos and headed to our B&B. The next two days, the rain hardly stopped falling, and by the time Saturday morning rolled around, the first day of the festival, there were about a dozen geese at the reservoir! A wey! C’est la vie, eh?

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Evidently, the male and female adults look alike, so the gray geese are the juveniles. And the rusty orange colour that you can see on the faces of some of the geese is a stain caused by the rust in the soil where the geese feed. Snow geese mate for life.
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Even though the geese had vacated the reservoir, we did see large numbers in the fields to the south and west of Victoriaville as well.

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Anyhow, be prepared to cherchez un peu if you can’t locate the geese at the reservoir. It’s a beautiful, agricultural area with lots of good cheese and other local products to sample as well.
A la prochaine!
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Close to home!

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The fall has been beautiful this year and I could see signs of the fall migration with the seasonal visitors to the local woods and on the water. I got in the habit of standing in the trees near Meadowrue to listen and see if I could identify the birds I could hear there in the mornings. It’s quite a lively spot! Next spring I plan to get down there early, with my coffee and camera in hand.

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And there have been a number of water fowl that seem to show up one or two at a time, like this Ruddy Duck, for a day or so and then are off again. And a couple of Great Blue Herons can regularly be seen if you remember to look up!

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American Bittern

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On our way home from the Pineries in late September, we decided to take a quick look at the Perth Wetlands. The water was low and we didn’t really see anything of note, until I spotted something stick-like in the grass at the edge of one of the ponds. Sure enough, it was an American Bittern doing a fine impression of a marsh grass, or a stick! Pretty exciting as it was a lifer for us!

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                                                And there it was gone!

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