Wednesday, January 8, 2020

1 Gyrfalcon and 2 more CBCs

A Gyrfalcon to start the year 2020

On January 1st we went to look for birds. After walking the Hersey Lake trails, we decided to go for a drive in one of my favourite spot and immediately saw a large, pale bird of prey perched on a tree at the end of a field. As soon as I put my bins on it I knew I couldn't ask for a better birthday present: a Gyrfalcon! This is only the second one I ever saw and I was very happy.

Gyrfalcons are the largest of our falcon species and they breed in the arctic tundra. Once in a while they will come south during the winter. 
Timmins (1 January 2020)
We were too far for good photos, but I didn't approach it since I didn't want it to fly away in case some other birders might want to see it. I notified the local birders and took a few photos from our location. The Nikon Coolpix P900 is great for these types of situation. I took this next photo from where I was standing when I photographed the bird. The Gyrfalcon is circled in red. 
Distance from the Gyrfalcon
The P900 is like a scope!
Here is another cropped photo of the Gyrfalcon. At one point it was snowing and the bird was grooming and looking at its claws.
Timmins (1 January 2020)

Timmins Christmas Bird Count

On the Saturday before Christmas, we participated in the Timmins Christmas Bird Count (the 26th CBC for Timmins).  The data isn't finalized yet, but the compiler shared some preliminary info: we were approximately 18 participants and found 25 species, which (believe it or not!) is slightly over the average of 18.3 species. Not a lot of birds overwinter in our area. We usually have a winter list between 30 and 40 species for the whole winter for an area greater than the CBC circle. 25 species might seem very low compared to southern regions but for us, it's a pretty good year.
Red-breasted Nuthatch - Timmins CBC (21 December 2019)
RBNU were back to regular numbers after 2 winters where they were scarce.
It was an unusually mild day and some of our species decided they didn't want to be counted, like the American Three-toed Woodpecker and Black-backed Woodpecker.  Gary and I covered the Hersey Lake Conservation Area and during the afternoon, Rhonda and I covered part of the Bart Thompson Trail.  It was overcast and dark so I didn't take many photos. Just like the Iroquois Falls CBC, we had lots of Pine Siskins and White-winged Crossbills.
Pileated Woodpecker - South Porcupine
Timmins Christmas Bird Count (21 December 2019)

Smooth Rock Falls Christmas Bird Count: our 3rd and last CBC

Since the roads were ok on January 4th, we decided to drive to Smooth Rock Falls for their 2nd annual Christmas Bird Count organized by Ken and Angie Williams. Smooth Rock Falls is a small community on Highway 11, 110 km northwest from where I live.
White-winged Crossbill
Smooth Rock Falls Christmas Bird Count (4JAN2020)
Hoary Redpoll
Smooth Rock Falls CBC (4 January 2020)
We only counted from 9 to 1pm but it was great to see our first Common Redpolls (and 1 Hoary) of the winter. And on the drive back, we saw our 2nd Northern Hawk Owl of the winter.
Northern Hawk Owl - Highway 11
Cochrane District (4 January 2020)
I hope everyone had a great Christmas Bird Count season.  Happy New Year!