Monday, November 13, 2017

Fall Update

This was going to be a quick fall update but I realized I haven't posted since the end of spring. I wouldn't want anyone to think that I have been ignoring the birds so here's a quick update of the last 5 months.

July 2017 - Gary and I went on what we called our own little "Canada 150 Scenery, Birds and Beer Alberta-BC Tour" We spent 3 weeks touring Alberta and British Columbia, exploring the sights, enjoying some craft beer and of course, looking for wildlife and western birds species.  We rented a car in Calgary and drove a 3000 km loop that took us to Olds, Banff, Lake Louise, Jasper, Golden, Salmon Arm, Vaseux Lake, Osoyoos, Rossland, Nelson, Fernie, Pincher Creek, Drumheller and back to Calgary. We saw lots of geography including the Mountains, the shrub-grassland-desert of the south Okanagan valley, Alberta's never ending fields and the Alberta Badlands.  We collected a decent list of life birds. We saw our first Grizzly as we drove on the Icefields Parkway and our first Bighorn sheeps in Golden.  After this trip, I can now honestly say without a doubt: we have the most beautiful country in the world.  It was an unforgettable trip. I won't post my western observations here because this is a Northern Ontario blog but you can view some of them on my flickr account in my Alberta Album and in my British Columbia Album. 

August 2017
In August, we went on our only camping trip of the summer at Esker Lakes Provincial Park.  I had won 2 nights of free camping in a photo contest last summer!  I really like the trails at Esker Lakes. We didn't see as many birds as last year but we got to watch this Solitary Sandpiper catch food in a shallow pond near the beach.
Solitary Sandpiper / Chevalier solitaire
Esker Lakes Provincial Park (28 August 2017)

FALL 2017
We had a great fall in Northern Ontario.  We had warm weather until the 3rd week of October.  We didn't see many migrating shorebirds other than Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, and some American Golden Plovers in Moonbeam. A very small number of shorebirds went through Porcupine Lake this fall, including this Black-bellied Plover.
Black-bellied Plover / Pluvier argenté
Porcupine Lake (6 September 2017)
At the end of September, we participated in the Mattagami Region Conservation Authority's Fall Hiking Day at Hersey Lake Conservation Area. MRCA is the agency responsible for creating and maintaining the many wonderful trails in the Timmins area. We saw this Black-backed Woodpecker during the walk; Hersey lake offers the ideal habitat for these elusive woodpecker.

Black-backed Woodpecker / Pic à dos noir
Hersey Lake Conservation Area - Timmins (30 September 2017)
New species for Porcupine Lake
We added a few new species to Porcupine Lake this fall including a Yellow-headed Blackbird (found by Pierre Noel), a Black Scoter and a Canvasback.  When I say new species, I certainly don't mean that they were never there before, just that they had never been previously documented at the lake. 
Yellow-headed Blackbird / Carouge à tête jaune
Porcupine Lake (6 September 2017)

Black Scoter / Macreuse à bec jaune
Porcupine Lake (1 November 2017)

Canvasback / Fuligule à dos blanc
Porcupine Lake (4 November 2017)

During the last 3 years, I have been making an effort to observe and photograph butterflies. I find them fascinating and I'm trying to learn more about them.  I was delighted to observe my first Monarch in the Timmins area in October.  It seemed late for a Monarch to be so far North but we had such a warm September. We have been planting Milkweed in a few spots in the last few years and I hope to see more Monarchs in the future. 
Monarch near South Porcupine (9 October 2017)

Monarch near South Porcupine (9 October 2017)
My last butterfly sighting of fall was this Painted Lady on October 22nd at Porcupine Lake.  It was the last of the warm fall days.  I'm still looking for a good butterfly guide that would work for our Northern Ontario area - I would appreciate any suggestions.
Painted Lady
Porcupine Lake (22 October 2017)
Winter has arrived this week. The ground has been snow covered for at least a week and the lakes have all frozen over in the last 3 days.  But I'm not going to complain because the arrival of winter means the arrival of these beautiful birds:

Pine Grosbeak / Durbec des sapins
South Porcupine (10 November 2017)

Bohemian Waxwings / Jaseur boréal
South Porcupine (12 November 2017)