Sunday, 2 March 2014

A Wintry Day in Southern Ontario

Afternoon Rambles Through
Waterloo and Wellington Counties

    Today was bitterly frigid as the coldest winter in  about twenty-five years still holds us in its grip. With the temperature right around minus 14° C and a fairly brisk wind to add even more to the chill, we didn't feel like walking but we wanted to get out and do a little birding so we set out by car to meander through some of our favourite sections of Waterloo and Wellington Counties.
    The following pictures of the snow banks at the side of the roads will give you an idea just how much snow has fallen this year. Not only do we have mountains of snow, the low temperatures mean that very little of it melts.

    Despite these awful conditions, with overnight temperatures dipping regularly to minus 25° C levels, birds survive.
    Two White-breasted Nuthatches Sitta carolinensis were seen hitching up and down a trunk, gleaning every morsel of food they could find beneath the bark.

    And this female Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus was doing pretty much the same thing. We also saw four Downy Woodpeckers Picoides pubescens, all appearing healthy and none the worse for the challenges posed by the weather.

    This year has seen an exceptional incursion of Snowy Owls Bubo scandiacus into southern Ontario and we spotted this distant individual perched high in a tree.

    Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus is a species that has expanded its range in recent years and is no longer the rarity it used to be.
Its principal range is farther south but it seems to have adapted well to Ontario winters - even this year's.

    Dark-eyed Juncos Junco hyemalis are well equipped to handle winter, as their scientific name implies, and it is always a pleasure to see this hardy little passerine.

    We enjoyed our drive through the countryside and know that Spring is truly just around the corner.


  1. Some lovely images there, and it's interesting to see just how much snow you have. We only had down to 18F when we were in Yellowstone, so it's challenging to try to imagine how much colder you are having. It's amazing that the birds survive so well.

  2. Beautiful pictures David, what a snow there.
    We have had no winter, spring is already full.
    The Red-bellied Woodpecker is really quite amazing.
    A nice week,
    Greetings Irma

  3. Beautiful images David, and I love the Red-bellied Woodpecker, superb.

  4. I believe a harsh winter like this hasn't been seen in a much longer period than 25 years In the US....
    In the UK, the floods were the worst in the last 250 years!!
    Anyway, your pics are great and show well those freezing conditions.
    Your Red-bellied Woodpecker is a beauty!
    Keep well David

  5. You're very brave. I haven't been outside the house in weeks. It was minus 32 here this morning with the wind-chill. Great sightings and excellent shots! Rumour has it, there are a couple of Snowy owls in this area, but it's too cold to go look!

  6. Wow, that's some heavy weather you're still getting there, David. Mind you, I think that I'd be happier being well wrapped up and out in the the snow than I've been sitting indoors watching high winds and torrential rain!

    It's truly remarkable how the birds survive that cold that you're having. You've captured them out-and-about beautifully!

  7. Really great this. Snow and ice but especially the woodpecker, I think that's great! The snowy owl (one of my favorites) is great to see. A really big compliment!