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.