Thursday, 1 March 2018

Tuesday Rambles with David - Long Point, ON

27 February 2018

     With Franc and Carol back from Arizona, and Jim and Francine newly returned from Québec, for the first time in almost three months the entire complement of our regular group of eight was reunited for a day's excursion to Long Point.
     In the southerly regions of the Province of Ontario migrant species have been recorded for a couple of weeks and we fully expected to see many "firsts for the year" at Long Point.
     Judy and Mary drove with Miriam and me, while Franc and Carol came with Jim and Francine. They left from Kitchener and we from Waterloo, but amazingly, even before we arrived at our destination Jim was right behind us at a stop sign.
     We drove into Port Rowan harbour, our usual meeting spot, and right away were treated to the magnificent spectacle of hundreds of Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) arriving from their wintering haunts off the Atlantic coast. Some touched down in the water, others moved to to fields of corn stubble.

     Unfortunately I don't have a picture to post here. For part of the time Franc was experimenting with new equipment and he has not yet perfected the technique of satisfactorily downloading the images. He did, however, capture this great shot of a couple of Sandhill Cranes (Grus canadensis) using his familiar Canon camera.

     We stationed ourselves on a high point overlooking Lake Erie where thousands of ducks could be observed, albeit quite far out.

     The rafts of inshore ducks were comprised mainly of Mallards (Anas platyrynchos), Redheads (Aythya americana) and Common Mergansers (Mergus merganser). 

     There were surprisingly few gulls and those we did see were all Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis).

     Handsome, robust male Redwing Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) populated the cattails, staking out territory, waiting for the females to arrive over the next couple of weeks.

     I had to make a stop at Bird Studies Canada to pick up some nest cups for Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica), a device with which we will experiment at our two Barn Swallow colonies, and everyone took advantage of the stop to have a bio break and look around the headquarters of this premier ornithological research centre.
     We then headed out towards the Lee Brown Waterfowl Management area, on the way sighting a pair of Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) - at least I am assuming they were a pair. They certainly tolerated each other's close proximity well if they were not.

     The only waterfowl at Lee Brown were Canada Geese (Branta canadensis), but several Horned Larks (Eremophila alpestris) put on a bit of a show for us.

     We saw our first Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) of the spring, although this species, in small numbers, is now found throughout the winter. 

     I am not sure what everyone was searching for here, but their attention seems to be focused on something. Tundra Swans were landing in the fields, but generally coming in behind stands of trees, never in the clear for a clean photograph.

      By now it was lunch time and we headed to Carol's sister's house. Betty has made us welcome in her house every time we have visited Long Point over the past couple of years, and even when she is not at home permits us to go in to enjoy a comfortable place to eat our lunch, with a warm, clean washroom break especially appreciated by the ladies. Carol makes fresh coffee for us all to enjoy. I would be remiss indeed if I did not express the sincere appreciation of everyone for Betty's kindness. It is very much appreciated.
     Our final stop was at Old Cut, where the Long Point Bird Observatory is located.

        Old Cut is quite legendary. It is but a small woodland adjacent to the bird observatory; however, the number of rarities that have been recorded there over the years is quite remarkable. And on a good day in spring, when neotropical migrants are flooding the area, great numbers of warblers, flycatchers and thrushes can be found.
      It is early yet, but many Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) were in evidence.

     There are well-stocked feeders next to the banding station (not yet in operation this spring) and many species are attracted to an easy meal, including this Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis).

     We saw our only Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) of the day at this location.

     This female House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) looked especially fit and healthy.

     We parted company and left for home; our final species of the day being a Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) in the bay just before getting back onto the highway.

     I am sure we will return for a visit in the spring when a whole range of new arrivals will be there to greet us.

All species: Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, Mallard, Redhead, Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Killdeer, Ring-billed Gull, Mourning Dove, Downy Woodpecker, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, Horned Lark, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Dark-eyed Junco, Northern Cardinal.  Total: 25

28 February/01 March 2018

    Francine let us know that a friend of hers had advised that an owl had been seen in a conifer at a school quite close to Francine's house. It turned out to be a magnificent Long-eared Owl (Asio otus). We all went to see it at different times and Franc, Miriam and I took photographs, even though the bird was deep in the tree and well camouflaged. Franc gets the prize for the best image.

     Thank you, Francine, for giving us all the heads up!


  1. You have an incredible and devoted group of people. I enjoy reading about your adventures.
    Cranes in flight on the second photo are beautiful. I am looking for them everywhere but didn't meet them yet. I was happy to see the Redwing Black bird. I saw him a few times and even was able to photograph one. The female House Sparrow touched my heart. Yes, the Long-eared Owl is magnificent.
    And I was impressed by the Bold Eagle, ducks and other wonderful birds. Great photographs!!!

  2. Hari OM
    Delights, every one of them! I was unaware of the pied-billed grebe, so have learned a new bird today &*> YAM xx

  3. Cranes and eagles in winter........almost like Hokkaido!

  4. You are really many people who are devoted to birdwatching. Nice photos!

  5. Lovely photos. Love the owl.
    Always nice to have a friend to make you a a goodcup of coffee.

  6. Thank you so much David for taking your readers on this exciting trip. As living in an other part of the World all these birds are unknown to me but I notice the relationship with some of our winterbirds.

    The Bald Eagle and the Long-eared Owl are impressing!

  7. Enhorabuena David, sois un grupo maravilloso. Las fotos y el contenido excelente. El trepatroncos aquí le llamamos trepador azul y es bastante abundante. Besos y abrazos para todos.

  8. Hello David!
    Such a lovely place for a walk and birdwatching!
    Great series of pictures!
    Love the shots with the flying Bald Eagles!
    Wishing you a lovely weekend and a happy March!

  9. It's great to be in this group of bird enthusiasts and to leave together for their observations. And there was something to admire, oh there. I saw some of them for the first time, for example from the seventh picture. Owl, as always beautiful. Regards.

    1. It is always a pleasure to share one's passion with like-minded individuals and our Tuesday group is about as good as it gets.

  10. The colours of the Grackles feathers are quite beautiful, similar to blue/black of the Magpies we have here.

    1. The level of iridescence on grackles is sometimes truly incredible.

  11. Hi David.

    There was a lot to see.
    Beautiful the birds and ducks.
    The Owl is really beautiful.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  12. So nice to have a group with similar interests. The pictures here, as usual, impressive.

  13. Beautiful territory and fabulous birds. I'm especially in awe of your aerial shots! Great lens and camera speed!

    Thanks for your visits to Marmelade Gypsy. I always appreciate your comments!

  14. Hi David,
    Excellent to see you are back up to your full quota of group members with the returnees,
    You again have found a wonderful place to visit that certainly was very productive.
    Well done Franc with the Cranes, Bald Eagle and the Long-eared Owl.
    And you with the Common Crackles, it is never easy to capture the iridescence on a birds feathers. Tried many years ago with a Glossy starling, total failure.
    All the best, John

  15. David, I have a trip coming up at the end of this month to India. I thought of you as I was researching our travels as one of the places between Agra and Jaipur is a nature reserve world-famous for bird watching. It's called Keoladeo National Park. Have you heard of this place?

  16. Oops, something went wrong with my comment.

  17. Hi David, I thought of you recently as I was planning our upcoming travel to India. One of the places to see in between Jaipur and Agra is a nature reserve world-famous for bird watching called Keoladeo National Park. Have you heard of it?

    1. I have indeed. I am sure it will be a fabulous place to visit.

    2. Well then, I shall report back. ;-)

  18. Your 'Tuesday Rambles with David' never cease to amaze me, David. You seem to hit the nail on the head every time as far as productive birding is concerned, and succeed in make it it a fabulously social occasion whilst doing so.

    I was surprised to see, on this occasion, that your weather seems much better than our own. We've had the coldest temperatures for years over the past three days and plenty of snow. I've probably taken something like 2,000 photos in that time! One of the highlights has been the Fieldfares. We probably get a couple of sightings of one or two most winters in our our garden - yesterday I counted 33 fighting over apples that I've put down! It's difficult keeping the birds fed at the moment, and even more difficult keeping a water supply available to them.

    With love to you both - - - Richard

    1. Our weather has been unseasonably mild. The other day it got to 14 degrees - unheard of for February. Even yesterday it was five degrees when I was out in the afternoon - and every day brings spring a little closer, Richard!

  19. Great closing LE Owl shot - what a day you had.

  20. Hello David!:) Thank you for your get well wishes.:) Lovely post as usual, with many beautiful photos of your sightings, and a pleasant commentary. I especially liked the photos of the IF Sandhill Cranes, the Grackle with iridescent plumage, the Horned Larks, because I have never seen them before, and the beautiful Long-eared Owl, always a treat to see. Have a good week.:)

  21. Love your Tuesday walks as I always get to see many birds I would never see otherwise. Love the little Horned Lark they are very cute, and the Long-eared Owl is fabulous. The cranes in flight are spectacular. Thanks so much for sharing. Take care, cheers Diane

  22. Beautiful pictures David.
    Beautiful species you had before the lens, very nice to see.
    Greetings Tinie

  23. How exciting, early arrivals and some old favs too...I've yet to see the long eared I'm very impressed with this photo!! Thank you for letting us tag along.

  24. It looks like a fantastic place for bird observations!
    I love your photos, David ! You always show interesting species of birds!
    Happy Sunday !

  25. Your photos are fantastic. I feel like I am soaring with those cranes and eagles into the blue sky!!!Your photo of the birdwatchers is lovely too.
    Happy day to you and your friends!

  26. Great photos of the birds in flight! I like the owl pic too! You have a great bird watching team!

  27. Wonderful birding trip(s)-- thanks to you (and Franc) for the pictures. I as always appreciate your sharing the sheer joy of your birding excursions with like-minded friends. And the beautiful pictures.

    1. Who knows, Sallie, maybe one day you will find yourself in southern Ontario and you will come out with us.

  28. Beautiful captures, David...
    I lived with my family for several years in Andøya, in the north of Norway. It is a very beautiful place, I am sure you will like it. There we could see the eagles almost every day right outside the window.
    Just a thought...


    1. I have no doubt, Ida. And Scandinavia is a part of the world Ihave never visited,

  29. You made me feel quite nostalgic there David. A photographic walk around the net rides at Old Cut Banding Station would have brought a lump to my throat. An abiding memory - 8 or so Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in a single net and on another occasion, literally dozens of kinglets and teens of warblers. Busy mornings when migration is at its peak.

    Thank you for that trip dowwn Memory Lane.

  30. Hello David, great all friends back together again, and than go out for some birdwatching. That was not in vain. Some lovely birds you saw and even some cranes. Here at last the cold spell is gone and tempratures are on the rise again.