Great Egret

Great Egret

Monday, 22 December 2014

A Snowy White Christmas after all....

Maybe not the kind of white Christmas that some folks are hoping for, but these kinds of snowy white conditions make getting around much more enjoyable!

It is no secret that there has been an irruption of Snowy Owls in southern Ontario again this year. One can go out in some of the better areas and find half a dozen here and there.

Yesterday I was driving along Queen's Line towards Tilbury when I noticed this gorgeous one sitting a top of a pole, and in excellent light.

This morning was looking quite bright and sunny, so I thought I would venture through the former Dover Twp to see what owls I could find there. The first one was sitting on the rooftop of a quite new house, on the west side of Winter Line, and just north of Mallard Line.
It was apparent from looking further along the roof line that this or another owl had been using this vantage point as a look out several times before, judging by the white wash scattered here and there.

While we were looking at this one, it flew to the south and near some farm buildings, and then I noticed three more owls leaving their perch on a steel grain bin. This was along Mallard Line. They left and moved on a bit to this nearby barn roof, but just seconds before I got the camera ready, one left and headed out to the adjacent corn stubble.

Another was perched on a utility pole down the road, but left before I could get there, landing out in the field.

Quite often these owls are most visible out in the fields, but more and more they seem to be content sitting on man made structures. Given that they are at home most on the arctic tundra where nothing is very high off the ground, they prefer lower heights, not the tops of tall trees. A shed, a low barn, a short hedge and such are quite adequate for their perching needs. I found this one on a steel grain bin. I almost missed it! But it allowed me to choose a frame for its photo.

While I was roaming the roads, I also noted a Northern Harrier, a Rough-legged Hawk and two Red-tailed Hawks. At Mitchell's Bay, I realized the ice was all gone. There were very few ducks close to shore, but quite a few well out. Three Ruddy Ducks were not too far out. There were a few hunters out as well. On one of the uninhabited islands, was a tree with an adult Bald Eagle at the top, and not too far away, another Snowy Owl. Altogether I saw 7 Snowy Owls during my travels.

More snowy white birds were seen. There are a few Tundra Swans still around.

While I was watching these swans, an adult Bald Eagle flew by.
To keep with the snowy theme, here is a Snow Bunting. They have been quite uncommon this year so far, as they only show up in any numbers when wintry conditions prevail. This one was along the east beach of Rondeau a few days ago.

Have a great Christmas and safe travels everyone! And I hope you spend a bit of time amidst all the busyness to reflect on the reason for celebrating this time of year.....the birth of Jesus!

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