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Monthly Archives: April 2016

Joany’s Woods


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I spent Thursday morning and part of the afternoon walking the trails with my friend Bob Turner at Joany’s Woods.  We walked about 8 kilometers.   It was overcast and the temps were around 10 C (50 F).  Joany’s Woods is a tract of forested in some areas and wet bottomland in other areas about 30 minutes from my place.  There is a network of trails that wind thru a variety of habitats and along the Ausauble River.  Before turning onto the road to the parking area, there is a small pond.  We stopped here to have a look.  Two male Wood Ducks were perched near the water and flew off as we watched.  There were also some warblers flitting about.  A Palm Warbler, a Yellow Warbler and a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers were quite active.

Instead of driving down to the parking area, we left the van at the intersection of Elliot and Boothill Roads, and walked in from there.  There is water and  trees on both sides of this stretch of road.  But it was quiet and we saw no birds along here.  However, once on the actual hiking trail, we started to see woodpeckers.  The first bird we saw was a Red-headed Woodpecker.  Nearby, we saw 3 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers. Then a Hairy Woodpecker flew in.  And a little further down the trail, we heard and then saw a Downy Woodpecker.  An Eastern Towhee was singing along here also, but we never did get a look at it.

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Since it has been a fairly cool spring so far, the foliage is not very far advanced.  We are talking just buds for the most part.  But there were a number of wildflowers in bloom.  Spring Beauties, Bloodroot, March Marigolds, Skunk Cabbage and Trilliums were all to be found easily, adding nice colour to the landscape.  We heard and saw a few Blue Jays and crows and Canada Geese.

We took the trail down to the river’s edge and then followed the river for quite a distance.  On one side of us was the river and the other side was spruce, tamarack and white pine forests.  We encountered a group of about 5 Northern Flickers together along the trail.  The coniferous trees were dripping with Black-capped Chickadees and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.  We newer saw any Golden-crowned, though.  On another stretch of the trail, away from the river, we came across a grouping of the Hermit Thrush.  We counted about 6, maybe 7 thrush here.

It was along this stretch of the trail, we came across an old Dodge Fargo, long ago wrecked and abandon.  I have walked past this past this area many time and never noticed it before.  There was probably too much foliage covering the vehicle then.  On a couple of occasions walking along the river’s edge, we heard a Belted Kingfisher clattering away, but never did see the bird.  We saw quite a number of Song Sparrows and one Swamp Sparrow along this stretch of trail, also.

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At this time we began hearing a chain saw, not far away.  As we moved on down the trail, we met up with the source of the chain saw sound.  A friend of mine, Pete Chapman and a work-mate, Ian, were out clearing some branches and limbs that had fallen across the path.  Pete is on the Board of Directors for the Talbot Land Trust and participates in a lot of clearing and trail maintenance.  After a nice visit (I had not seen Pete in at least a year.), we went out separate ways.

The next bird we saw was a Winter Wren.  I had a good look at it sitting out in the open before it flew off and disappeared.  At this point, we were essentially heading back towards the vehicle.  We stumbled across a flock of Palm Warblers, at least 4-5 birds.

Once back to the van, we decided to have another look at that pond near the entrance.  The first obvious sign of bird life, were the 3 or 4 Rough-winged Swallows flying back and forth over the pond.  Then we spotted a shorebird on the far side of the water..  It turned out to be a Solitary Sandpiper.

It was a great day of trail-walking and birding and I only fell once.

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Posted by on April 29, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

A couple of firsts of the year for the marsh out behind


This morning while out walking Abby, I saw a Northern Flicker.  Then just now a Tree Swallow is flying around over the marsh.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Blue Jays


A flock of about 30 Blue Jays just flew by out back.  About half a dozen dropped out of the main flock and stopped to check out my feeders.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

routine


imageImmediately behind our condo unit, there is a quasi-wet, somewhat marshy area.  I would that it about 7-10 acres.  There is a trail that has formed around the perimeter of this area from people out walking their dogs or just out for some exercise.

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It is a great little area for catching sight of deer, fox and ground hogs.  And of course, it is an attractive area for birds.  Crows, grackles, cowbirds, red-wings, robins, cardinals, bluejays, buntings, flycatchers, catbirds, sparrows, Orioles, thrashers, and ducks all nest in this area.  I love it.  Every morning and every evening my routine is to take Abby around the trail for our exercise.

Right now, everything is still pretty brown.  But signs of life are around.  The honeysuckle bushes are leafing out, as are the willows.  Weeds and grasses are sprouting up thru the sandy soil.  The dormancy has broken and another cycle of life has begun.

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Saturday morning exploration


This morning I headed towards the Pinery Provincial Park.  The park is about 45 minutes from our place in Strathroy.  Along the way, I stopped at the Thedford Sewage Lagoons.  It has been a couple of years since I have checked this area out.  I climbed the fence and walked back to the ponds.  Beavers have been busy along the water’s edge.  Song Sparrows were everywhere.  It seemed that I flushed one up every couple of steps.  There were quite a number of ducks to be seen.  There were a few Gadwall, some Mallards, a couple of Northern Shoveler, some Ring-necked Ducks, scaup, LOTS of Bufflehead and a number of Ruddy Ducks.  Canada Geese were plentiful, too.  As I walked back to the van, I flushed a couple of Savannah Sparrows.

Next, I headed up to the Pinery.  I purchased a seasonal pass (April 1st to November 1st) for $125.  They don’t come cheap!!!!!  Everything is bigger is Texas, while everything is more expensive in Canada.  The feeders at the visitor centre were very busy.  In addition to the squirrels and chipmunks, there were a lot of birds.

Red Squirrel

Red Squirrel

Black-capped Chickadees, White-breasted Nuthatches and Tufted Titmice were flying back and forth from one feeder to another.  An Eastern Towhee was busy feeding on the ground.  And more were singing away from the feeders.

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

Sparrows were everywhere.   Some American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were still hanging around, probably wondering why they had not left for more northern climes yet.  There were about half a dozen Chipping Sparrows, a Field Sparrow, and a White-throated Sparrow all making sure they got there share of feed that had fallen to the ground.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Chipping Sparrow

Chipping Sparrow

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow

I even managed to catch a glimpse of what I believe was a Northern Short-tailed Shrew, one of the few venomous mammals.

shrew

shrew

Hermit Thrush were numerous and I heard an Eastern Phoebe singing near the visitor centre.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Harlingen Arroyo Colorado Birding Center


The park featured in this short video is located in Harlingen, Texas.  Our winter residence is located in this city and it is only a five minute drive from our place to this park.  I hope you take the time to watch this video and get a “feel” for what it is like in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

 

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

White-throated Sparrow


This morning while outside doing a little sprucing up in the garden, I listened to the song of the White-throated Sparrow.  “Oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada”.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2016 in Uncategorized