Friday, December 31, 2010

Last pictures of 2010

We braved the cold (-20) and drove to Elk Island National Park, looking for bison to show our BC visitors. I was just as happy to find a few resident winter birds, including a Ruffed Grouse.

Ruffed Grouse
Downy Woodpecker (with an unusual cowlick on her side)
Hairy Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Winter company

Our regular backyard and urban park birds are fewer in species and number than in spring and summer. Among our regulars at the feeders are Black-capped Chickadees, the occasional Boreal Chickadee, White- and Redbreasted Nuthatches, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, and Black-billed Magpies. We get irregular visitors too now and then, but more about them as they show up ...

Black-capped Chickadee

Boreal Chickadee
Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker (banded)
Blue Jay
White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Red-breasted Nuthatch

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day Waxwings

One of the pleasures of the long and harsh winter is the regular visit of large flocks of Bohemian Waxwings. They fly in amoeba-like undulating formation, then swoop down and blanket a tall poplar or spruce tree in the neighbourhood. From there they spot the numerous Mountain Ash trees and other berry and crab-apple trees. They swoop down on them, feverishly feed, then move on. Last winter, these birds hardly visited, probably because after a dry summer the berry supply was better elsewhere. Nice to have them back.

A year of birding 2011

I will try to document a year of birding in the blog format. Start date is Christmas 2010.

On Christmas Eve day we spent about 5 hours along the range and township roads north of Edmonton. We looked for Snowy Owls in the Egg Lake area northwest of Morinville. This is where they can be reliably seen most winters. From other birding friends in Edmonton I had heard reports of Snowies, so thought we would check it out for ourselves. We did spot a male, perched on a pole, then later in a grain field at a distance too far for photographing.

We continued further north to the Opal area and the nature reserves around Opal and to the north (between township roads 584 and 592 west of Hwy 2 and east as far as RR 225), looking for Northern Hawk Owls and Great Grays. No luck on the owls, but we saw our first flocks of Common Redpolls and Snow Buntings of the winter.

On the way home we stopped at Hawrelak Park hoping the Pine Grosbeaks would be around. They like to come to this park and feed on several ornamental crab apple trees. Sure enough, our timing was perfect.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

C'est fini

Back home ...

(Sulphur-crested Cockatoo in rain forest canopy)

(The famous - or cliche- Bondi Beach on a stormy day)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cape Tribulation

Travel day ... back to Sydney. Here are a few images from our day in the Daintree Rain Forest and Cape Tribulation.

Top to bottom:

White-bellied Sea Eagle

WB hiding the mangroves a low tide

Rain Forest

Rain Forest Tea patch

BB at Cape Tribulation

Saturday, July 24, 2010

What's this?

Came across this critter in the North Coast rainforest? If any paleontologist can tell me what it is, I will offer a reward :-)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Feathers and furs

A few pictures of beasts and birds, all with the exception of the Roo family, from the last few days around the Port Douglas area.

Beasts from top to bottom: Kangaroo family (if you enlarge the photo you might share my hunch that dad Roo is of a mind to expand the family); wallaby mom and little one; wallaby baby portrait; and a Koala who peeked briefly before going back to sleep (we found out that these guys eat eucalypt leaves for four hours a day, then sleep for 20 hrs, apparently because some "toxin" in the leaves requires long and leisurely digestion -- me thinks the toxin might just be some delicious drug that send the Koala to LaLaLand -- in any case, the life of a Koala cant be all bad).

Birds: Rosy-crowned fruit dove; double-barred finch; the marvelous forest kingfisher; the male Red-winged parrot.

For those interested, a few more of my Aussie bird photos are here If I wasn't having so much fun and a faster internet connection, I'd post lots more. Eventually ....

Tomorrow Brenda is going on all-day outer reef trip and I am going birding. Would love to see the reefs but I am a water-dreading landlubber. Brenda has been practicing with the camera, so some pics might find there way here.

Some rainforest pictures coming next time.
Rose-crowned Fruit Dove

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

North Queensland

Have now been humidifying and heating ourselves for two days in the tropics of northern Queensland. Base is Port Douglas and the famous 4-mile beach. Apart from the beach (a day or so is enough for this dedicated bushwacker), there is much to do and see here: from the high tablelands just across the mountains east of the Coral Sea coast to the World Heritage site of Daintree National Park a bit further north, and Cape Tribulation. Today we headed across the hills to the highlands -- destination the Mareeba wetlands (a renowned birding hotspot) and the coffee plantations that produce high elevation rainforest coffee. Both were splendidly rewarding.

Here are a few photos (no birds -- the pics still await processing; remember to click on the photos for larger versions). From top to bottom:

A couple of cuppas at Skybury's Australian coffee plantation (PM for Glen: a bag of beans of the type that went into these most delicious cups is coming your way!)

A patch of sugarcane from one of the many huge plantations in the tablelands

Willi leaning against one of the more spectacular termite mounds that dot the highland woods

Sunrise at the 4-Mile beach in Port Douglas

The 4-mile beach in pano

I promise birds in the next post

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Kangaroo Island

We have just come off five days on Kangaroo Island, name well deserved. Rustic, no internet, but lots of lovely scenics and lots of 'roos, wallabies, ichidnas, koalas and birds. Sorry about the very episodic nature of my posts.

Love the Crimson Rosellas! And the Australian sea lions. And the Remarkable Rocks. And the stunning southern hemisphere colours. The light is different here. And the sunsets.

And we killed NO Roo!

Next posting hopefully from the north-east coast area.