Literally, just chilling – it was cold out there today even though the thermometer said it was only -7°C plus a lot of wind chill, I feel that it lied.
I was out again with Claude today and, despite the conditions, we didn’t do too badly. We found nine Snowy Owls but weren’t really trying very hard and the wind did keep the pole sitters elsewhere, perhaps nestled low amongst the blowing snow. We started off with Snow Buntings and Lapland Longspurs and had a good long look and click at them. Then we visited a few of my regular owls and they behaved rather well.
I have been making it my mission to flush and photograph as many of the Snowy Owls as I can in the area, flushed in a good cause – so that I can take a photo of them flying away for Operation Snowstorm. If you followed the link posted in an earlier write-up you will have seen that the tail and wing markings are being used to age and sex the owls and they requested photos, I think I have about 15 individuals so far and I’ll hopefully be able to report back the findings for those interested. Naturally, in the course of such events, there are opportunities for more aesthetic flight shots and we grabbed a few of those too, see below.
Several of the birds were exactly where they always are, site fidelity it is called. This one has sat on this or an adjacent pole for the past month. It was there again today but the photo is from a couple of days ago – the expression may suggest that pole sitting will lead to haemorrhoids, it could also be an embarrassing splinter.
We then went off to Valleyfield to see whether the Horned Grebe had stuck but alas, no. We did see the Pied-billed Grebe though and a few of the commoner water birds such as Common Merganser, Hooded Merganser and Black Duck – images of which appear below just like magic.
On the way back we had a fly-over falcon that didn’t give a diagnostic view but my feeling is that it was a brown Gyr, it was a big one. We were on the 530 or whatever they call it now when we saw it, where the lanes split after you’ve left Valleyfield and can go left to the Pont Serge Marcil (Hockey player?) or right to Sorel Tracy, eventually. We’d actually been along there looking for a Short-eared Owl that has been seen a couple of times but no luck. We backtracked to look for it, even though it cost an extra $4.00 in rip-off tolls, but no sign sadly.
It would be nice to think that spring is around the corner. I don’t know if those strangely deluded people have consulted any large rodents regarding the length of the winter yet, is one called Ford or something? Anyway, spring cannot come soon enough for me now.