I went out for a short while today, just to check out my pits feeding stations and restock an also to put seed down for Snow Buntings. On my way to the bunting spot I passed three Snowy Owls, pole sitters all. One was sat beside a very busy road but I thought stuff it, non-birders seem to stop wherever they like and so will I. I was mainly hoping to get a record shot of the owl for my archive and I did. This owl has been around this site, give or take 200m, for three weeks now, site fidelity.
At the Snow Bunting site, a place where McGill Bird Observatory http://www.migrationresearch.org/mbo.html plan to do some banding and I’m just helping out with stocking, there was a nice flock of 70 or so Snow Buntings that were flying in and out to the seed in their usual manic way. There was also a couple of Lapland Longspurs in with them but they were less willing to come close. I took a ton of photos from the car but most were out of focus and very soft. I fiddled with the settings but I couldn’t get many decent shots, the best are below. I must work harder.
On the way back from the buntings a railway crossing was down and so the road quiet, lucky really because another Snowy Owl was sat on a pole right by the road. I got a few shots and it seemed quite calm but a noisy refuse truck rolled past and it decided that it was just a bit too busy where it was and wandered off.
On Friday last I went out to Hungry Bay. There is an area of open water at the entrance to the Beauharnois Canal that has a load of Common Goldeneye and Common Mergansers. The previous day Pierre Bannon had found both Horned and Red-necked Grebe there, good winter birds in this locale. The Red-necked was perhaps the closest bird but kept disappearing behind the ice shelf. After perhaps an hour of sheltering from the cold with and snow squalls I found the Horned Grebe but it was distant. The same sweep also revealed the presence of a female Long-tailed Duck, another year tick and nudging my list to 53.
When I got home Friday there were four Wild Turkeys under one of our feeders. I had a single turkey in the garden about four years ago so four more were very nice indeed. It seems that they like my garden and that of one of our neighbours who also seems to feed heavily (while living on bread and lard like we do!) and the turkeys have been back each day, they might well stick around now until spring.
I recently came across a blog that produces a pdf. birding magazine, for those interested here is the link: http://birdsonashoestring.wordpress.com/birding-travel/ They are up to issue two so far, I downloaded both (free) and they are a good read.
Owl baiting seems to be all over the listservs again. I wrote about it to our local MP, or whatever they are called here. It took a couple of weeks but I did get reply. The suggestion was that I take the issue to the press and the local towns where the baiting has been happening and see what can be done. I was hoping for a bit of government but I guess owls are way down the list of priorities around here. Ideally the francophone bird groups could get organised on this one and seek a local solution but I don’t see any evidence that they are in this area at least. Similarly Bird Protection Quebec, regarded as “the big ones” to quote made by a francophone birder to me once, but they don’t seem to get involved in such issues. The upshot is that owls are still being baited and many owl finders will not release news of owls for fear of harassment.
Recently on FaceBook there was a photo posted showing a Great Grey Owl inches from taking a mouse, a full-frame, face-on shot. The photographer had the gall to lie, saying that he was lucky to be there when the mouse popped up, yeah right. Naturally I made my comments but they were deleted, like I care, I said my piece.
Regular visitors will have noticed that I changed the theme, I felt it was time for a spring clean. I’ve also been adding to the gallery, so if you have not looked yet either hover over the tab at the top or scroll down and pick a species to view from the side bar. I also added a Surfbirds link, take a look at them if you have never been.