Thursday, July 21, 2016

Nelson's Sparrow

Found several of these small prairie birds in a seeded hay field close to our home.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

June Birds

The most exciting bird experience in June was seeing a bird that I searched for all last summer and a few weeks this spring.  Early on June 5 I saw it for the first time.  I also saw it sing, so I knew it really was the bird I've been hearing all over our yard.  The Warbling Vireo.

 #2 on the excitement scale was learning that both Bobolinks and Lark Buntings had taken up summer residences near our home (near as within several miles) so we've seen them much more than usual.

Here are a few of my favourite photos of the less rare birds we saw in June.

A Northern Shoveller who strayed from the usual duck behavior and didn't fly away when I approached him.

A Baltimore Oriole in our yard.
Eastern Kingbirds, also in our yard.
Horned Grebes on our stock-watering dam.
A Red-eyed Vireo on her nest in Spruce Woods Provincial Park in Manitoba.
Not a bird, but an elk. An animal that I've never seen in our part of Saskatchewan before.  But then I hadn't seen a moose either, twenty years ago.  And now they are all over.  And other people have seen cougars and bears.  Guess I may have to become a mammal watcher, too.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Birding in our pasture

June 26 Ray and I spent several hours walking around in mostly native areas of our pasture in the Rock Point area of Saskatchewan near Marcrorie.

The wild flowers were out in profusion, among them many, many Western Red Lilies.
Roses were blooming on plants much too small to be called bushes.
The most common bird we saw or heard was the Savannah Sparrow.

But the most exciting was my first ever LeConte's Sparrow.  It was sitting on a crossbar by the gate where we had stopped. Ray saw it before we got out which was great as we didn't scare it away.  He had to take all the photos because he was on the right side of the vehicle with his window open.  I really wanted to get out where I could see the bird without the windshield in the way, but being sure it would fly, I stayed put.  And so did the bird.  For more than 3 minutes.
We were also privileged to see three species of grebes, most with babies, a family of Northern Flickers and several Killdeer. 
Including the birds we identified on the drive to and from the pasture, we counted 44 species.  Not too bad for a Sunday afternoon close to home.

Here's one of the Lark Buntings that have taken up residence a few miles north of our farm.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

May Birding

May is an excellent month for birding in Saskatchewan.

The shorebirds are coming through on their way to their nesting grounds, including this Solitary Sandpiper.
Our part of Saskatchewan, the West Central grasslands, can also be a good place to see birds like this Whimbrel
and this Sharp-tailed Grouse.  We've seen a lot of Sharp-tailed Grouse this spring and wonder if our easy winter made a difference in their numbers.
Though we live in the prairies, we are fortunate to get some forest birds when they migrate through twice a year.  I especially appreciate the ones that sing during migration, like the White-throated Sparrow.
The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks didn't sing much, but they looked beautiful.
This year the Pine Siskins outdid every other migrant in numbers. The birds are almost invisible in this photo, but there were dozens of Pine Siskins on our patio May 24, and close to 40 of them were in this picture.

We gained a couple of lifers this month. One was this Ovenbird.  We first saw it under a bush and thought we were chasing a thrush, but when we got a better look here was this lovely little warbler.
There were lots of thrushes around, too, of course, just for a couple of weeks. When you look at this Swainson's, you see the similarities.
I can't post photos of all one hundred or so birds we saw this May so I'll end with a couple of our regular yard birds.  Here I was being eyed by a Least Flycatcher.
 And the Baltimore Oriole who never wants to eat the fruit or jelly I have for him, but sings throughout the day from the poplars around the yard.  (and sometimes from this oak)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Loggerhead Shrikes

May 8 was memorable for seeing 7 Loggerhead Shrikes at five different sites.  I'm not sure if seeing seven in one day was the most surprising, or seeing three in one location.  Previous to this, I've never seen more than 2 together except families after the babies fledged.

Our first was along the highway as we drove.

The second was in the South West Quadrant of Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park. (An hour or so later we saw a Shrike in the same quadrant a half mile or so away so we decided it was likely the same bird and did not include it in the seven.)
Shortly after this we saw our third Loggerhead Shrike on the shore of the river close to the bridge in the North West Quadrant.
From there we went to the South East Quadrant. I was just writing the number 2 on the Sask Landing list when Ray saw our fourth Loggerhead Shrike of the day. 
Two posts down was number five and across a grass strip was number six.

Two hours later and half a mile from our house we saw our seventh Loggerhead Shrike of the day.

That ended the day where we had a year's worth of shrike viewing in less than eight hours.

Monday, May 2, 2016

April Birding

I love April.  It is the month when we begin to see birds  return to the sometimes still frozen north.  Not that there aren't birds in the winter, but I seldom see more than a few species. When April comes, we welcome birds that I usually haven't seen in months.

On April 15 I found myself in Saskatoon where I saw a Ring-billed Gull having lunch

and I photographed my first American White Pelicans of the year.
The most exciting April birds were White-faced Ibises on a slough near Ardath, Saskatchewan, on April 24.  There were partially hidden by grass,
but when I tried to creep a little closer, they took off.  Of course, Ibises are recognizable from the air, too, so there was no doubt what we were seeing.
I gave full credit to Ray who saw them fly in the first time while I was busy admiring the Snow and Greater White-fronted Geese.
The most numerous birds in our yard in April were Common Grackles and American Robins.  We also had some Dark-eyed Juncos and Red-winged and Yellow-headed Blackbirds.  While working at my desk on the 26th I heard the song of a White-throated Sparrow and I knew that spring had truly arrived.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Some Random Bird Photos

Yellow Grosbeak
Streak-backed Oriole
 Snow Bunting
 Grey Partridge, male adult
White-winged Dove
Eurasian Coot