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.