A Loon-y week at the Cottage

July 20, 2015
Hi everyone! It’s my fourth week of retirement, and a lot of people are asking me how it feels to not have to work anymore. Well, it feels great! :)

Usually in July there are very few opportunities to do any serious bird photography, but I was blessed this year with having a family of Common Loons in Joe Bay (at the extreme west end of Paudash Lake) where we rented a cottage last week.

Common Loon
(click on the photo to enlarge it, then use the ‘back’ button to return to the blog)

I have always loved these birds. I love their look, behaviours, and their haunting call that is so familiar to everyone in Ontario. One day last week I was on the dock when a loon started calling from the middle of the bay, about 100 feet from where I was sitting, and I can tell you they are incredibly loud! It’s no wonder that their call can be heard for miles.

This next shot was taken just after dawn looking out toward Paudash Lake. It shows the main family of loons that occupied our bay last week.
Loons at Dawn

Loons are not especially skittish, but they are always aware of what’s going on around them.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

Most times the loons would swim up and down the bay, but once or twice I was privileged to witness one or two who flew in and landed on the water.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

Most ducks glide down to the surface, spread their wings wide to quickly slow themselves and then splash down – often awkwardly. Not so the loons. They approach the water like a pontoon plane, slowly losing altitude then skimming across the surface making a smooth landing on their belly. Quite spectacular to watch.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

Loons spend most of their time diving for fish, and like most ducks they will from time to time spread their wings and shake off the excess water.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
They spin the water away like a dog that’s trying to dry itself after a swim.

In case you think last week was all about shooting loons, here are a few other photos that I took. The first one is a Great Blue Heron being chased away by a Red-winged Blackbird. Herons often hunt in blackbird territory, so it’s not unusual to see the smaller birds constantly bothering the bigger birds while they’re trying to catch their dinner.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

This next photo, of a Kingfisher perched in a tree, is a type of shot that I call an enviro-scape – a shot of a bird, but where the prominent feature is its natural habitat.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
You’ll have to click on the photo if you want to actually see the bird. :)

Here’s a shot of a Kingfisher that has just grabbed a small fish from the water.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
This one is also a kind of an enviro-scape shot.

I’ll leave you with one final loon photo from last week – a week that offered much better than average opportunities.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

I know we’re in the middle of summer, but the Fall migration will begin in 3 or 4 weeks!
More blogs coming soon! :)
Garry
www.birdingandmore.com
www.kirschphotography.com

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Warbler Week 2015 – Days 4 thru 9

May 24, 2015
Well, the 2015 Warbler Week is now over. :(
It had it’s high points for me – a Mourning Warbler, Canada Warbler, and Wilson’s Warbler – but it also had its low points – several days where there were very few birds to see.

I went birding 7 of the 9 days, but in the end I only found 19 different types of warblers. I didn’t see a Pine Warbler, an Ovenbird, or even a Black-and-white Warbler – but I did have fun!! :)

Although there weren’t many photo ops these past few days, I will share a few shots that I did get, starting with this one of a Yellow Warbler.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
(click on the photo to enlarge it, then use the ‘back’ button to return to the blog)
The Yellow Warblers were by far the most common bird this week. I got this photo on Friday, but I took pictures of them almost every time I visited the Traverse Woods.

Another warbler that I saw frequently was the American Redstart. Here’s a male that I captured on Thursday.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

There were lots of different Flycatchers to see this week – Olive-sided, Great Crested, Least, Eastern Kingbird, and more. Here’s a shot I took today of (what I think is) a juvenile Eastern Phoebe.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
Flycatchers all look so much alike that it is often difficult for me to tell one from another, but in any case I liked this photo, whichever flycatcher it is. :)

Here’s another shot from this morning. I was walking near the bluff, and when I peered down at the water’s edge I saw this scene.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
A pair of Mallards sharing a rock with a Long-tailed Duck.

The trees were full of leaves this week, and it was often difficult to get open shots of the warblers that I saw. Here’s a typical hide’n'seek photo of one of the small birds – a Chestnut-sided Warbler.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

And finally, I’ll leave you with a photo I took today of the most vibrant-coloured of the warblers – the Blackburnian.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

And that’s it for another year. Just 12 months now until the next Warbler Week! :)
Garry
www.birdingandmore.com
www.kirschphotography.com

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Warbler Week 2015 – Days 2 & 3

May 19,
Well, after three days in a row of birding, I’m taking a day of rest! :)

I’m happy to report that the first three days of Warbler Week have gone very well. The trees at Prince Edward Point haven’t exactly been ‘dripping with birds’, but a good variety of warblers have shown up, and the weather conditions have also been excellent. My warbler count is now up to 16 with the addition of a Cape May Warbler, Mourning Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, and this Canada Warbler.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
I am always thrilled when I see one of these semi-rare birds.
(click on the photo to enlarge it, then use the ‘back’ button to return to the blog)

I don’t usually ‘count’ the number of birds I see, but since warblers are my favourites I find it near impossible not to keep score. :)
15 – 20 = good
21 – 23 = extremely good
24 – 25 = extraordinary
More than 25… cloud nine! A state of blissful happiness. :)

Sunday was probably the quietest day of the three so far, but I did get this shot of a Great Blue Heron at the Moira River as I was leaving Belleville at around 7:00am.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

I considered the heron to be a good omen, and it was. Despite it being a slow morning at Prince Edward Point, there were three extremely good moments. The first was this shot of my favourite warbler, the Common Yellowthroat.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

The second great moment was when I spotted a Mourning Warbler (for only the second time in my life) and the third special moment was this shot of an Eastern Kingbird.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
The Eastern Kingbird is not a rarity, but I just loved the setting, and as usual the kingbird proved to be very cooperative and a very photogenic subject. :)

Yesterday also provided a good omen on my way to the park (well actually two good omens). I spotted a white-tailed deer next to highway 62 just north of Ben Gill Road, and then I got this shot about 1/2 mile from the Prince Edward Point park entrance.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
It’s unusual to see a Common Loon this close to shore at the Point, and I was thrilled to start my day with this photo!

Along with the loon shot, yesterday morning offered a couple of other non-typical moments – a chance to photograph a hummingbird:
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

… and a Red-tailed Hawk circling overhead:
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

Along with some of the semi-rare sightings, I also took advantage of opportunities to shoot the more common warblers like this Yellow-rumped.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
So common is this warbler that most photographers never give them a second look.
This photo is of the female. You can see how excellently their feather colours blend with their surroundings.

Along with the warblers, there are several species of Vireos that come through the park. This is a Philadelphia Vireo.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

And finally, I will leave you with a shot I took of one of the ubiquitous Long-tailed Ducks – a female. I couldn’t resist capturing this image with the clear shallow water as a backdrop, and featuring the beautiful feather patterns of this great little diving duck.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

Hopefully I’ll get enough rest today so that I can be back at the park bright and early tomorrow!
Garry
www.birdingandmore.com
www.kirschphotography.com

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Warbler Week 2015 – Day 1

May 16, 2015
It may not have been stellar weather this morning, but the woods at Prince Edward Point were brimming with birds! It was an excellent start to this year’s Birding Festival – which I affectionately call “Warbler Week”. It’s the best week of the year for birding, and especially for my favourite birds, the warblers! :)

This morning I spotted 11 different species: Blackburnian, Tennessee, Yellow, Chestnut-sided, Black-throated Blue, Black-throated Green, Common Yellowthroat, Nashville, Yellow-rumped, Magnolia, and this American Redstart.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
It’s an immauture male. Soon the blotchy areas of his body will be black, and the yellow feathers will become a rich orangy-red.
(click on the image for a closer look, then use the ‘back’ button to return to the blog)
Here’s what a mature male Redstart looks like:
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2014

I got shots of a few other warblers this morning. This Magnolia was high up in a tree near the main trail in the Traverse Woods.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

The Magnolia Warbler is quite striking isn’t it? But not every Spring warbler is flashy and colourful. Here’s a female Black-throated Blue that I took this morning.
(c) copyright garry Kirsch, 2015
This rather drab looking bird is most easily identified by the small white patch on its wing.

In conrast, one of the most active, vocal, and brightly coloured warblers is the Yellow Warbler.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

It addition to the migrating warblers, there were also Towhees, Orioles, Tanagers, Flycatchers, Vireos, and more… including this Rose-breasted Grosbeak.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

…and just so you don’t think I am only shooting photos of birds, here’s a shot I took this morning of a Red Squirrel. :)
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

Can you tell I’m having a lot of fun already!? :)
I can’t wait for tomorrow!
Garry
www.birdingandmore.com
www.kirschphotography.com

 

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From October to April…

May 9, 2015
May is by far my favourite month of the year! If there’s such a thing as a best time to get out and do some bird watching, this is the month! Next weekend is the start of, what I call, “Warbler Week” – the Prince Edward Point ‘Spring Birding Festival’ – and Prince Edward Point is definitely the place to be if you want to see a plethora of the most colourful, vocal, active little birds – my favourites – the warblers. :)

I’m off work from the 16th through the 24th, so you can expect several posts (with warbler photos :) ) during that time.

Earlier this week a friend of mine, Susan Lang, suggested that I post some of the photos that I took during my recent hiatus (from last October until this April). So here they are,,,

First up is a young Raven.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2014
This was taken just north of Napanee. Elaine and I discovered a spot where there were dozens of Turkey Vultures perched in trees. As I approached to get some shots of the vultures, this very vocal young Raven flew into the area. Ravens make a very distinct ‘croaking’ sound – quite different from crows.
(click on the photo for a closer look, then use the ‘back’ button to return to the blog)

This next shot was taken during the Multi-club competition last October.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2014
It’s a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. If you look closely you can see a hint of its ruby-coloured crown which gets quite pronounced when the male bird gets excited.

This Barred Owl was in Presqu’ile Provincial Park, in late December.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2014
Elaine and I had just left the lighthouse, and I had jokingly suggested that we were going to now see a Barred Owl, and wouldn’t you know it, there he was! But it had nothing to do with my ESP. It was just pure luck. :)

Next is a shot I got fairly recently of a Brown Creeper.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
The colouration on this little bird is the perfect camouflage, and if they’re sitting still they are almost impossible to see.

In a recent trip to Prince Edward Point, I got this photo of a Golden-crowned Kinglet.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2014
It had been flitting around in the tall grass, and I had to wait patiently for it to pop up into the open for a second so I could get its picture.

This time of year, in the waters of Prince Edward Bay the ducks are actively seeking mates. This involves a lot of courtship displays and songs. The most vocal of these ducks is the Long-tailed Duck. Its “ow ow-oolet” call is a song that plays non-stop wherever these beautiful little ducks gather.
Here’s a shot of male Long-tailed Duck in its breeding colours.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015

This next photo was also taken during last October’s Multi-club Competition.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2014
It’s a White-throated Sparrow perched in its natural environment – a shot I love as much for the beautiful setting as I do for the beautiful little bird.

Finally, I will leave you with a shot that I got in my own back yard.
(c) copyright Garry Kirsch, 2015
This White-breasted Nuthatch is proof that you don’t have to travel long distances to see (and photograph) great wild birds! :)

I hope you have enjoyed this ‘best of’ post. Next week I will be hunting for warblers and sharing my adventures during this year’s ‘Warbler Week’!
Garry
www.birdingandmore.com
www.kirschphotography.com

 

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