Dung Heap Denizens

Cold today but considerably warmer than yesterday’s -10°C + wind chill. The pits were quiet and so I slipped down to the non-descript farm road, Montee Chénier about 3km south of the pits. My main reason for calling in was to see whether the lone American Pipit that was there a few days ago had stuck out the freeze, feasting on the insects generated by the Chicken dung pile – one of several in the area.

The pipit had gone but two Pectoral Sandpipers were scrambling around and finding morsels to tempt them. I managed a few quick shots but was loath to bother them too much, they need peace to feed up in these conditions. About 70 Snow Buntings were around too and a lone Song Sparrow that should push off soon. Below the snaps.

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On the basis of Ottawa having three (three!) female King Eiders on the Ottawa River yesterday, and all three together and incidentally off the same, rainy, Andrew Hayer park that I had birded last Wednesday (see the irony!) I thought I would go to our local King Eider hotspot (well, it’s had one some years ago), Hungry Bay, to see whether we’d got one too. I should have known better what with the stiff breeze and all and it was hard to get any sort of view of the scattered waterfowl in the three foot swell. As you can see from the shots, the water splashed up from the wind is freezing nicely, that gives you some idea of the temps yesterday.

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Elsewhere, Northern Hawk Owls have started to show up. I never know whether this is a sign of harsh weather on the way or just what they do normally. In years past an influx of owls has occurred around this time, raising my hopes that I might get a Northern Hawk Owl at the pits but then the whole thing has petered out and only odd owls took up a territory for the winter. Great Greys came last year but we might get the odd one from the dribble effect and both Boreal and Saw-whet are probably around now but it takes luck or contacts to actually see some of them. Hopefully this winter there will be a few public owls that we can all enjoy. Below are a few photos from previous years.

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