Seeing my first Gyrfalcon, a juvenile, last year near Castlemann, Ontario was very exciting and I was thrilled to capture precious few record ID images at the time, in spite of braving extremely cold temperatures of -26C and trudging through snow that was almost waist high at times while carrying my camera gear. Yesterday in Lambton Shores, Ontario, under much more comfortable temperatures and gray skies I got a second opportunity to see this powerful and formidable species, only this time the temperature was a little above freezing, which made it much more pleasant.
Hummingbirds are only found naturally in the Americas from Alaska to as far south as Chile. One of the many good reasons to visit Costa Rica are the numerous species of hummingbirds, with the greatest diversity occurring at middle elevations. Over 50 hummingbird species appear in a checklist for the country. These avian jewels often consist of brilliant iridescent colours and to first-time visitors can prove to be quite a challenge to identify, which certainly was the case for me.
Upon leaving the harbour in Port Ryerse, Ontario on Saturday, my friend Andrew and I quickly stumbled across a flock of Cedar Waxwings landing in some nearby berry trees. They are one of my favourite species to observe; however, I haven't had many opportunities previously to photograph them in good light. I quickly got out of the SUV and I smiled upon realization that lighting conditions were close to optimal and so I proceeded to make several images, a few of which I've shown here.
While on a riverboat one beautiful sunny morning, I came across an Osprey that had just captured a fish and landed on a small tree stub along a mud flat in the river (see photo below). Although it was a fair distance away, the riverboat captain headed in the Osprey's direction.
Although common in the U.S., Neotropic Cormorants don't make frequent apearances in Ontario. In fact, I've only had one occasion (actually two occasions but it was the same bird) when I observed this species, and that was from quite a distance. As a result, my photos of this species until now were not of high quality and required significant cropping due to distance to subject. A few of these photos can be viewed by clicking on this gallery.
The Common Black-Hawk subspecies anthracinus found in Costa Rica is the same subspecies found in the states of Arizona, Utah, central New Mexico and parts of Texas in the U.S. Most withdraw from the U.S. for the winter. I observed and photographed a Common Black-Hawk on two days during my January trip to Costa Rica. It's always exciting to see a new species of hawk, which Common Black-Hawk was for me and I was fortunate to rattle off several clicks during my encounters.
Brown Pelicans are social birds that hang out in groups ranging in size from a few individuals to over 100 and are perhaps best known for their massive bills. On my January trip to Costa Rica, Brown Pelican was the most common species I spotted flying along the Pacific coastal waters in Puntarenas.
While standing along a cliff overlooking the Pacific, I spotted the Brown Pelican below flying low over the water. I like this photo because the similarly coloured background blends well with the pelican.
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is a beautiful bird and one that had eluded my life list until my recent trip to Costa Rica in January. On my first full day of birding Costa Rica, I stumbled with delight upon this stunning bird. In Canada, it is a rare but widespread vagrant, so I was both nervous and excited to slowly exit get the vehicle I was travelling in and use the SUV as a "blind" to make some portraits. I was nervous because I didn't want it to fly away before I got a chance to make some images. I lucked out as it proved to be fairly co-operative.
I've had precious few opportunities to see, nevermind photograph a Northern Shrike. It is an uncommon to rare winter resident across southern Canada and the northern United States (Dunne 2006). On February 6, I spotted a winter resident of Bronte Provincial Park in Oakville, Ontario perched at the top of a bare tree close to an open field. I managed to click several frames, a few of which I've included here.
The chance to see Manificent Frigatebirds displaying is a very special opportunity. While in Costa Rica one morning back in January surrounded by gorgeous early morning light, our river boat came across a gathering of Magnificent Frigatebirds in a bare tree. I was able to step ashore and get some excellent views and set up my camera and tripod to capture the moment. The male Magnificent Frigatebird has a striking red gular sac (an area of featherless skin on birds that joins the lower mandible with the bird's neck), which is used dramatically during courtship display.