February is off to a good start

February 3, 2016
I know it’s been awhile, but this has been an incredibly slow winter for birding, very few sunny days, and I’ve been busy with some other projects. Phew – that’s all the excuses out of the way! :) Now on to some birding!

First, for those of you living in and around Belleville, I spotted five Goldeneyes on the Moira River on Monday at the foot of Reid Street.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2016
(click on the image to enlarge it, then hit the ‘back’ button to return to the blog)
As you might have guessed, the ones with the green heads and white patches on their cheeks are the males, while the brown headed ones are the females. Gorgeous little ducks.

Yesterday I drove to Prince Edward Point and Wellington Harbour. It was cold, overcast, and windy at ‘The Point’, and all I saw were a few Long-tailed Ducks and a small group of White-winged Scoters.  Here’s a shot of one of the male Scoters.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2016

…and here’s one of the female.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2016

I explored Prince Edward Point for an hour or so, but didn’t see anything else of note, so I headed over to Wellington Harbour.

The harbour was teaming with Canada Geese, Mute Swans, and a variety of ducks: Mallards, Scaup, Long-tailed Ducks, and Goldeneye.

I was very lucky that a couple of Long-tailed Ducks had decided to hunt for food close to the dock – and they didn’t seem to mind me getting close, so I got a couple of close-up shots.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2016

(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2016

Suddenly, while I was shooting the Long-tailed Ducks, a male Goldeneye flew by. I quickly raised my camera and caught this image.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2016

To cap off the morning, as I was driving back home, I spotted a Red-tailed Hawk. It was a good distance from the road, but I liked the setting, and created this image. I hope you like it.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2016

And that was it for the first two days of February. I hope this is a sign of things to come. :)
Garry
www.birdingandmore.com
www.kirschphotography.com

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The Birds of October

October 11, 2015
Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I hope you’re all enjoying some great food and visiting with family and friends. I hope you all have lots to be thankful for. I know I do.

As an extra treat this weekend my friend Jeff organized a photography outing for some of us bird photographers. It was nothing elaborate, just an invitation to all meet up at Prince Edward Point yesterday morning at 8:00am. Jeff and I were joined by our friends Barry, Ian, John, and Gilles – all great guys, avid birders, and excellent photographers. The weather was a touch cold (about 4 degrees Celsius) and a little windy, but it was also very sunny. We all dressed appropriately and the nip in the air was no deterrent at all.

The first birds we spotted were Pine Siskins – a really pleasant surprise.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
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These little birds frequently visit this area in the winter time. However, this year the experts weren’t expecting them to come because the White Spruce crops are generally low. We saw half-a-dozen, so who knows. Put out your nyger seed feeders and maybe they’ll visit your yard. If they do come, you can expect them to hang around for as long as the weather is cold and feeders are full. :)

The most common bird in the woods yesterday was definitely the Yellow-rumped Warbler, followed closely by Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Here’s one of the Golden-crowned Kinglets that I saw.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

The high point of the morning had to be a Sharp-shinned Hawk that perched about 25 feet from the main trail.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
He stayed for quite some time, sheltered from the cold wind, and obviously quite full because all the little birds that flew in and around him didn’t tempt him to move. One bold Eastern Phoebe perched on a branch less than three feet away.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
I stayed with the hawk for more than 30 minutes. Most of the time it sat with its back to me, but finally it turned.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
What a beautiful little hawk!

On the morning we also saw a juvenile Bald Eagle, a Raven, Blue-headed Vireo, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, a Cooper’s Hawk, and lots of Juncos. It was a terrific time enjoyed by everyone! :)

I’ll leave you with a photo I took earlier in the week at Presqu’ile Provincial Park. It’s a young White-tailed Deer. I call this shot “Prince Of The Forest”. I hope you like it.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

Garry
www.birdingandmore.com
www.kirschphotography.com

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A Blustery Morning at Prince Edward Point

Sept 22, 2015
The forecast for Sunday morning looked to be perfect. However, the reality was something else again. Sure, it was sunny-ish, but it was also quite cold and very blustery. It was the kind of morning which made me think I might not see any birds let alone get any decent photos. :)

It was quite dark when my alarm rang, and I was halfway to Prince Edward Point before the sun poked it’s bright self up and above the mountainous bank of clouds that lined the eastern horizon.

I pulled into the park around 7:30 with the sun hiding behind a small dark cloud. The bushes were being buffeted by the wind, and there was nary a feathered friend in sight. Still I was undaunted. I drove down to the Traverse woods, armed myself with a small twig to clear away the spiderwebs that crisscrossed the trails, and set off towards the bluff.

Despite the wind and cold, I did begin to notice a number of small birds darting about and feeding in the bushes that lined the trail.
Here was my first capture of the day.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
It’s a “Black-and-white Warbler” (Mniotilta varia). Ironically, a species that I didn’t see during this year’s Spring Migration! :)
(click on the photo to enlarge it, then use the ‘back’ button to return to the blog)

Seeing that Black-and-white Warbler really lightened my mood, and soon afterwards I started to notice others like this Black-throated Blue Warbler.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

In a thicket of leafless bushes near the bluff I also saw a Nashville Warbler and managed to capture him through a maze of bare branches.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

What happened next was definitely the highlight of the day – and made all my efforts that morning worthwhile. As I stepped towards the edge of the bluff, a juvenile Bald Eagle flew over, circled and flew back in the direction it came. It was just a brief, wonderful moment that lasted long enough for me to get this shot.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

All morning flocks of Blue Jays were flying overhead, typical of this time of year. I also saw vireos, kinglets, a female Scarlet Tanager, and a variety of other warblers including Black-throated Green, Northern Parula, Yellow-rumped, and Pine. Of course there were also Northern Flickers which I almost always see as they are flying away displaying their prominent white rumps. :) On this morning though I managed to catch a Northern Flicker before he saw me.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
You can tell that it’s a male by it’s black malar (or moustache as I call it).

On the way back home I stopped at Melville Creek where it crosses Highway 62 just south of Ben Gill Road, and I got this shot of a Great Egret.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
It was a great (pun intended) way to end a surprisingly good morning of birding! :)

Garry
www.birdingandmore.com
www.kirschphotography.com

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Bald Eagles at Prince Edward Point

Sept 11, 2015
It is the time of year when migrating birds start winging their way south, so yesterday (for the first time since the Birding Festival in May) I went to Prince Edward Point to see what I could see.

The morning sky was hazy and overcast, but very bright. This always makes it difficult to get good shots of birds in flight or those perched at the top of tall trees, like this Merlin who greeted me as I drove into the park yesterday.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
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This powerful little falcon is known colloquially as the ‘pigeon hawk’. It can take down birds, like Mourning Doves, that are much larger than itself.

After getting a few shots of the Merlin, I parked my car and immediately noticed a number of small birds flying quickly from the thick bushes to my right, over and into the thick bushes to my left. A few more flew overhead, and as I got out of my vehicle to look around I could see the branches of some nearby shrubs twitching from the movement of birds that were just out of sight. With so many leaves on the trees, the birds were difficult to see and I knew there would be very few chances for clear photos.

One small bird did cooperate though. It was a Song Sparrow.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

I really wanted to get some shots of the warblers – and I saw several – but I never did get a chance to take a decent photo.

While the photography remained challenging, the morning proved to be very good for just watching birds. I saw three Wild Turkeys, a Hummingbird, Northern Flicker, several Accipiters, Flycatchers, and a Raven.

By far the most exciting find of the morning was a pair of Bald Eagles – an adult and a juvenile.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
This is a shot of the adult.

(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
This is the juvenile eagle. It will take at least three years before this young eagle develops the characteristic white head and tail of an adult.

As I walked the trails of Traverse Woods, trying to avoid all the spider webs, I thought about how different the Fall Migration is from the Spring. Of course the male birds are not as colourful, and they are quiet now. They are also not preoccupied with finding a mate so they are more wary and skittish. I prefer the Spring Migration! :)

I did get a couple of shots of smaller birds. Here’s one of a Blue-headed Vireo.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

…and this is a young Rose-breasted Grosbeak – probably a first year male.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

Despite the difficult conditions, I had a great morning of birding!
Garry
www.birdingandmore.com
www.kirschphotography.com

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Harmony Road Wetlands

Aug 26, 2015
On Sunday I visited the Harmony Road Wetlands. :)
It’s located on Harmony Road (as you might have guessed) approximately 3 kilometres east of Highway 37. It is a beautiful little spot that is great for bird watchers, and also offers a fun challenge for bird photographers. Here’s what it looks like.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
(click on the picture to enlarge it, then use the ‘back’ button to return to the blog)
In the above photo you can see a family of Great Egrets and a group of Wood Ducks. The birds in this shot are about 100 yards from the roadside.

There is no way to enter the wetlands, and very little space to park your car between the road and the water – so getting close enough to take good photos is a challenge. Many of the birds nearer the roadway are very wary, and hide in the tall grass. However, for a bird watcher with binoculars it would not be difficult to get a good look at some Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Swamp Sparrows, Wood Ducks – and maybe even catch a glimpse of the more reclusive species like Sora and Virginia Rails.

When I arrived at approximately 7:30am, there were at least 10 Great Egrets and two Great Blue Herons sharing the waters at the edge of the far woods. They were too far away for any close shots, but then suddenly one of the herons took to the air.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
He didn’t seemed bothered at all by my presence (some Great Blue Herons are that way) and he settled into the water about 50 feet in front of me.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
He hunted in that location for almost the whole time I was there.

As I watched the heron, I also noticed several Swamp Sparrows darting about in the tall grass. They seldom perched in the open, but I did manage this one shot.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

Finally, a Virginia Rail and its two young stepped out where I could photograph them. Here’s a shot of the adult.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
And here’s one of its fuzzy black chicks.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
I was so happy to get these shots. I had been hearing the rails all morning, but when any of them showed themselves it was only for a split second, until these three came out in the open.

When the rails disappeared back into the weeds, I headed back to my car. Half way there I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. The Great Blue Heron was walking out onto the road behind me! He was relocating to the other side where there was also a small patch of open water.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
I turned and got this shot, and then walked a little closer. The big bird didn’t pay any attention to me. He just went about his business as if I wasn’t there. It was a fun moment that capped a great morning of birding. :)
Garry
www.birdingandmore.com
www.kirschphotography.com

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