Monday, 16 May 2016

Spring is here

     Although you would never know it from the weather! Yesterday the high barely got to four degrees and we had early morning snow mixed with ice pellets. That kind of weather is depressing in mid May, but the rest of the week looks far more inviting. Let's hope we have seen the last of this ridiculously cold weather for this time of year.
     During the past week Miriam and I have traversed the back roads a little and we encountered our first Bobolinks Dolichonyx oryzivorus of the year. This bird breeds on native grassland (a seriously endangered habitat) and is often difficult to photograph. The male hovers above the plain singing a delightful, burbling melody and then drops down into the grass out of view, no doubt to join a female there.

      Ospreys Pandion haliaetus have become a bit of a poster bird locally, and it seems that whenever anyone proposes a new artificial nest tower for them, a surge of offers are received to fund the structure. The local hydro electric commission is to be commended for this installation.

     We checked out Bill Read's nest boxes for Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis and were happy to see that they are occupied. A male had captured a fat, juicy grub....

     ....which he promptly transferred to the female.

     This sparrow did not wish to turn around to face us, but I am reasonably sure it is a Grasshopper Sparrow Ammodramus savannarum.

     There is no doubt at all about this Chipping Sparrow Spizella passerina.

     One of the dominant features of our local landscape is the Grand River. Having once been heavily polluted, it is now returning to good health and the substantial populations of Ospreys, Bald Eagles Haliaeetus leucocephalus, herons, kingfishers and swallows bear witness to this fact. It is an aptly named river; it truly is grand.

     In a marshy area we found this nest of Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus. The female was close by and we quickly distanced ourselves from her so that she could resume incubation.

     This male also got a little agitated when we were close to the nest so it is safe to assume that the female is a member of his harem.

     This Grey Catbird Dumatella carolinensis, as is the habit of this species, skulked and betrayed its presence by its mewing call.

     Even though our weather has improved somewhat it is still unseasonably cool for the time of year. Some species may be facing a difficult breeding season with insect prey in short supply. Time will tell.


  1. Hi David, you are having worse weather than us, the forecasters keep telling us that we can expect frosts at night and cold days but they are getting it completely wrong. Some super images and glad to see the Grand River has cleaned up and the Ospreys are with you. Regards John

  2. Beautiful pictures and good nature news in this lovely post! Couldn't ask for more -- Smiles abound. I love the bobolink, do not think I've ever actually seen or heard one. Wish I could remedy that. The bluebird and the grub (just about as big as his face) is so cute, and sweet to see the share!! Really love all the pictures and the good news about the river and the osprey nests.

  3. Yep, that snow and grauple was nasty yesterday! Hope things warm up soon, I have to cover my Columbines every night. Love the Bobolink David, I am still on the hunt for them. Fantastic Osprey shot, and the Bluebirds are sweet!

    1. Come to KW, Karen. I will take you to see Bobolinks.

  4. The birds have lovely colours.
    Sparrows it good to see, they disappeared for several years down this way but were back this summer.

  5. Bonjour cher David,

    Je suis désolée de ne pas être très présente en ce moment... Le printemps m'accapare !
    J'ai été étonnée par toutes vos superbes photos... C'est magnifique de pouvoir observer et photographier ces adorables petits oiseaux.
    La nature nous offre des spectacles incroyables... Merci pour ce délicieux partage.

    Gros bisous ❀♡❀

  6. Hi David,

    Beautiful photos David.
    Species that we do not have here.
    Very nice to see.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  7. Great shots - native grasslands are under threat ever where I think.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  8. Hello. Stunning photographs of the fantastic birds. Greetings.

  9. Hope the temperatures go up soon............

  10. Hello David,
    Beautiful pictures of many birds which do not occur in the Netherlands.
    Here also it was very cold with Whitsun, now the temperature is slightly ahead.
    Best regards, Irma

  11. Hello David!:) Absolutely beautiful nature shots, I especially enjoyed seeing the pair of Eastern Bluebirds, and the Red-winged Blackbirds. The weather here has also been unseasonable, and my hubby Americo, makes sure the feeders are well stocked, until other sources of food are more readibly available.

    Your comment about your fellow birder wife made me smile!!:) Happy Birding!:)

  12. I want all these birds !!!! Fantastic exotic bird for me David. What a pleasure !

  13. Hello David. It is such a shame that a cold spell can almost ruin a spring. Despite this frequent scenario our Northern birds do get by, albeit in a less than perfect situation. We are due rain for the next few days when our own nesting birds will cope as best they can.

    I wonder if the birds themselves sometimes feel sympathy with the struggling birders?

  14. The landscape of Grand River is great. In spite of the cold you made beautiful pictures, David. 2016 we had the coldest Pentecost since 1936. Though the nest of a blackbird in our garden gave us a warm feeling. Gr Jan W

  15. Love these shots of birds that I have never see. It is good to hear that the ospreys are being well looked after.
    I am glad that we are not as cold as you but I will be happier when it gets a bit warmer!!

  16. Dearest David,
    Good to read that the blue birds did occupy their bird house! And that looked like a yummy grub, caught by the male.
    Lovely photos and what a joy to see all this activity going on. Even if the weather looks a bit off in your region. We had heavy rain today but still could make our 9 km bike round and that is a joy for observing lots of birds as well, even wild turkeys.
    Enjoy the warmer days ahead!

  17. The weather this year has been so mixed!
    I always enjoy seeing your bird photo's but also appreciate the river view too.

    All the best Jan

  18. It is indeed genuine spring. The birds you see now busy feeding their young. Prachtie birds show you here again David!

  19. Great bird captures. We have had a nice spring weather here in Uusimaa, Finland. Temperature is about fifteen celsius degrees, and most days have been very sunny. Have a nice weekend!

  20. Interesting images of the natural environment in spring. Very beautiful species of birds, one that I really like and I could not see so far because this is scarce is the osprey; others that I like is the Ammodramus, almost the same as we have and the blackbirds, family we have well represented with several species, their songs are the ones I like.

  21. At last Spring also in your part of the world David. And you saw some great birds. Sorry for my late respons. Have had some gloomy weeks but I am optimistic again. Take care,

  22. Beautiful birds had you again for the lens David, nice to see.
    Greetings Tinie