Feathers (all blog posts)

Recently I visited the Long Point area of Ontario, which is an excellent provincial birding hot spot. The day proved fruitful for early spring migration as I saw about 80 species and the trails at Old Cut banding station were teeming with migrants. Upon arrival, warmer weather combined with heavy fog proved a blessing in disguise as migrant birds like golden-crowned kinglets were observed frequently along the snow-covered ground or foraging low in shrubs.

On March 31, a Neotropic Cormorant sighting initially was reported by Brandon Holden as well as others later that day. For Ontario, Canada this is big news as a check on eBird data references only a handful of Neotropic Cormorant sightings in the province, the first going back to 2005 in Wheatley Harbour, Ontario. However, it seems that brief Neotropic Cormorant sightings in Ontario have occurred each year since 2011. This was only the second sighting for the Hamilton, Ontario area on record.

Sometime during March and early April the Long Point, Ontario area becomes one of the staging stopovers in the Great Basin for Tundra Swans (sometimes several thousand). They can often can be seen flying overhead or foraging in large groups in the cornfields. The exact timing of their arrival is not dependable, but what is dependable upon their arrival is the spectacular show they put on for birders and photographers alike.

Spring hawk migration is underway at Beamer Conservation Area in Grimsby, Ontario, Canada, albeit the temperature is still below normal for this time of year in this part of the country. I usually keep an eye on the weather and recent hawk reports and predictions and when conditions seem appropriate, I’ll head out to the hawk watch looking for photo opportunities.

Recently I headed out in search of waterfowl along the shores of Lake Ontario. My target species included Harlequin Duck and Red-throated Loon; however, on this particular day the Harlequin Duck was too far offshore to obtain good photographs and I did not locate any Red-throated Loons that had been reported in the area recently. I settled for making images of some locally common waterfowl, which were close by and for which the direction and quality of light varied from good to excellent.

This past weekend provided one of the few bright sunny days that I’ve witnessed during this depressing record low recent weather we’ve been experiencing in this area. The temperature rose from about -13°C at sunrise to a “balmy” -4°C by late afternoon. Can spring be far away?

Earlier this week I lucked out with a combination of a sunny, albeit cold winter day along with Surf Scoters hanging out close to shore at nearby JC Saddington Park in Mississauga, Ontario. On this day, Lake Ontario at this spot was open, which was not the case just a few days earlier.

Owls are one of my favorite bird photo subjects. Successfully photographing owls requires several things to go right, not the least of which is you have to locate them first. Fortunately, Short-eared Owls are fairly common and widespread (although decliningand are easier to see than most owls. This past weekend, our birding group spotted five individuals at one location during the late afternoon on a cold winter day. This group of owls did not appear to be skittish at least not when compared with my typical owl experience.

Red-tailed Hawk is common across much of North America, but that doesn’t mean that it is an easy subject to photograph. The individual shown in the photographs below was perched in a roadside tree. Red-tailed Hawk is typically shy and usually can be counted on to flush if approached, even if you remain in a parked vehicle for a period of time and almost certainly upon opening your vehicle door. Since there were no other vehicles in sight, I pulled over to the side of the road, less than thirty meters from where the Red-tailed Hawk was perched.

Back in December, prior to Christmas, I wrote a blog post about a Painted Bunting that was frequenting a bird feeder in Oakville, Ontario.