Great Egret

Great Egret

Sunday, 28 February 2016

Leapin' Leopards!

Today was by far the warmest day we've had in a long time. At one point, the thermometer registered 17C! As I was cruising around in the vicinity of St. Clair NWA, I noticed two frogs hopping with enthusiasm along the road.....they were both Leopard Frogs, the first of the season for me. I guess they decided to emerge from their winter solitude to celebrate 'Leap' year :-).

There are a few more raptors around in C-K, it seems, although nothing quite as exciting as the Gyrfalcon that has been in northern Lambton lately. Check out Blake's 'Burg Birder blog for a description of his (and Mike Bouman's) success in relocating that bird. But some nice clean-looking Red-tails are around, such as this juvenile bird that I captured on a pole today.

They are usually not very cooperative for the soon as the vehicle stops and something is pointed out the window at them, they decide its time to move elsewhere. Presumably they have been shot at with something more deadly than a camera, so have learned to be a bit more cautious when this happens.

The NWA was actually pretty quiet, other than a good number of Canada Geese and a handful of Tundra Swans, Mallards, etc.

I checked the Mitchell's Bay area. There is still lots of ice, although one can see the open water well out from shore, where there are ducks bouncing around on the waves. They all looked like divers from the distance, but the light was poor. More interesting was the presence of 7 Bald Eagles scattered around on the ice towards the south end of Walpole Island. There were only a couple of adults, the others were sub-adults. They were too far away to even bother with the camera. A nest is not far away, up along the edge of the Chenal Ecarte. I stopped along the north end of  Malcolm Road to check out the nest, and noted it is still there but I didn't see any adults nearby.

I saw three Wood Ducks in a large drain, two of which are shown here, with the other male just beyond the frame.
I hadn't been out looking for Snowy Owls for awhile, and hadn't heard of anyone else doing so either, so I checked out a few likely spots. First of all I checked along Meadowvale Line, east of Hwy 40, south of Wallaceburg. Somewhat to my surprise, I saw 7 birds, 5 of which were on the north side and the other two on the south side. Another was on the south side of Corktown Line. None were very close to the road, so photographs were record only. I had a few Horned Larks land not far from me, so I took advantage of that opportunity.

Then heading west of Hwy 40, I checked out a few other spots. Along Mallard Line between Bear Line and Winter Line, I found three more Snowies! One was being harrassed by a couple of crows. Another was a little closer to the road, and this is one of the better photos I got today. It is by far the whitest of the ones I saw today, and it may be the same one as at the top of the page, which was photographed only about 2-3 kilometres away. Eleven Snowies were more than I expected.....I wonder how many others are out there.
It isn't often that one finds Snowies and frogs on the same day in February!

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