Great Egret

Great Egret

Sunday, 18 January 2015

When it is all iced up, go to plan B

I wanted to check what waterfowl or gulls there were at Erieau, but when I got there, this is what I found! It was all pack ice as far as the eye could see in any direction. Photogenic, to be sure, but not a bird in sight.

Frosty Lake Erie

Heading over to another vantage point to look over Rondeau Bay, things didn't look any better.

Certainly a far cry from a much warmer time of year.
September, 2014
So Plan B: go to where there is a good feeder! And I headed to Rondeau, where the feeders at the Visitor Centre were well stocked. On the way over I saw a single Snowy Owl well out in a field. Going into the park, there were birds poking around the snow-plowed road edges looking for goodies in the churned up leaves. At least 8 Northern Cardinals, a bunch of Am Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos, and a single Hermit Thrush were all there, but they were skittish in the presence of a slow-moving vehicle, so I only got a shot of this:

American Tree Sparrow

With the snow, cold and well stocked feeders, there were lots of birds coming and going. By far the most abundant was Brown-headed Cowbird. This was undoubtedly due to a good supply of cracked corn on the ground. Interestingly this species doesn't seem to be as abundant around the general landscape as what they used to be.

BHCO male

BHCO female
The peanut feeders were visited frequently by several Black-capped Chickadees and a single White-breasted Nuthatch.

American Goldfinches were scattered around, with some of them looking a little bit brighter than just a few weeks ago.

There was also the usual mix of Northern Cardinal, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, Dark-eyed Junco and American Tree Sparrow as well as a single White-throated Sparrow. An adult Bald Eagle flew over quite low, and two Tundra Swans flew over much higher up, heading towards the bay. Perhaps there is an open spot somewhere in the middle like there was all of last year in spite of the extreme cold, where a small number of swans persisted. But the bird I was hoping most to see eventually did show up.....a male Eastern Towhee.

There was a male at the feeder all last winter, but for some reason the one this year only showed up in the last couple of weeks. We did get two on the Christmas Bird Count on Dec 14, however, but not at this feeder.

On the way home, I noted two Red-tailed Hawks feeding on the remains of American Crows.

Hopefully there are enough crows around to help the local hawk population through the winter :-).

And along a quiet road beside a local pasture, was this Rough-legged Hawk.

It isn't as striking as one I saw a few days ago....a very dark adult, in fabulous light, perched in a tree right along the road, but when I slowed down and opened the car window, it immediately took off, leaving me with great memories, but no digital results. But it was nice to get a fairly cooperative lighter version of this species.

So when Plan A doesn't work out, it is always nice to have Plan B to fall back on.

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