I headed back to Thommy Thompson Park although this time I brought along my friend Sandeep who used my old camera to take his own photos. We headed out seeing the usual species at the beginning along with some Mergansers and what may be an American Black Duck, I’m still working on the differentiating between Black Ducks and Mallards. We soon found the pond the Pintail was originally in to be completely frozen over however on the other side of the path was open water from the lake and sitting not far from where we were standing was the Northern Pintail Duck I was hoping to finally get a decent photograph of. That was a great start to the day, we soon headed to where I had originally seen the Saw-Whet Owl in the hopes of finding Sandeep an owl on his first day of birding. We did not find the owl but did manage to see some Common Redpoles which are always welcome. Going down the main trail we headed to where I had seen the Red-Headed Ducks, we saw lots along with scaups and managed to finally get a decent photo of the male Harlequin Duck from before. We ran into some other birders who said there had been snowy owls in one general area of the park. We decided to head that way to see if we could find one, until that is I noticed a large cloud of smoke come from the forest and out came one grungy individual with a large camera. I asked if he had seen any owls and he was very excited to show us his “Long-Eared Owl” photos he had just taken. The owl in question was a Great-Horned Owl and he was kind enough to show us where he had seen it. It was close to where we had been walking previously for Saw-Whet Owls. Heading there we followed what we expected to be the guy’s footprints and soon found ourselves in the woods. Sandeep luckily noticed a large bird flying between the trees and we headed in that direction. I was walking ahead and stopped to look around only to see a large owl hoping among the branches. We crept silently around to see its head and got our photos while not getting too close to spook the owl. Standing there in the middle of the woods looking at such a large bird that looked as if it could only have been from a fantasy novel was quite the experience in and of itself. We headed back without spooking the wise looking “keeper of the woods” as it were and made our way to the closest brewery.
Despite the cold I decided to go to the Leslie Street Spit in the hopes of finding some owls as I had seen a Snowy Owl there the previous year. As I got there I headed to the interpretive centre to see what other people had seen that day. There had been a Saw-Whet Owl sighted among the pine trees and Canvasbacks in one of the embayments and a northern Pintail in another. I headed out in the hopes of photographing as many duck species as I could. Along the first part of the trek I managed to see the locally common Buffleheads, Common Goldeneyes, Scaups and Long-Tailed Ducks Which can be found throughout the park. I headed to where the Pintail had been sighted but unfortunately it was asleep in an area hard to photograph. Next I headed to where the Canvasbacks had been seen. As I headed to the embayment I was looking up at the trees looking for the shape of an owl. I did not see any but did notice a strange leaf in a tree. There are lots of remnant leaves but this one I saw out of the corner of me eye deep in a forest stool out to me. I zoomed in and saw it was a sleeping Saw-Whet Owl. I got my photos and begun moving closer. I would not ever try doing this it it hadn’t been asleep and lucky for me there was a little path directly under it. I silently crept underneath but as I looked at the owl through my camera I noticed the little eyes looking back at me. He was awake but did not seem overly bothered by my presence. I got my photos and left as quietly as I came in. Walking back on the main path only a few meters from where I saw the owl there were two birders, a father and son, looking at something through their cameras. They looked at me and I had asked if they had seen the Saw-Whet Owl. They both looked in shock and asked where it was, I pointed it out and they told me there was a Harrier Hawk flying around the park. In the hopes of getting a photo of the Harrier I continued down the path. I went to where the Canvasbacks had been seen but only managed to see the similar looking Red-Headed Ducks. Heading back I saw the father and son were still watching the owl (at a respectable distance I may add). They had apparently come to the park specifically looking for Saw-Whet Owls and showed me where I could find a male Harlequin Duck.
For the Trent Wildlife Society I hosted a small nature walk before exams started. The goal was to see an American Porcupine who I know hibernates in this one spot and to hopefully be able to feed Chickadees. We did not se the Chickadees but the Porcupine was there and some of the people on the walk had never seen a porcupine so it was quite the experience for some. After the walk I had some extra time before class so I went on a walk through the Lady Eaten Drumlin on campus. There, I managed to find all sorts of trash leftover from the “Haunted Drumlin” that took place over a month ago for Halloween. I cleaned the mess as best I could and soon saw a large Pileated Woodpecker on a tree not far from me. The Woodpecker went about it’s business not even noticing me there which was rather unusual as every other one I’ve come across has bolted as soon as I’ve gotten my camera out. I also saw a Hairy Woodpecker and reported both to my Trent University Bioblitz project on iNaturalist.
I'm Mac Marzolini and I created this blog for a variety of reasons, the first of course is to open a window into what is happening in my life (cause my grandmother reads this), but also to help myself catalogue some of my favorite photos from my many adventures.