Sunday, February 9, 2014

February Thrushes

Last week Andrew Bailey found a Varied Thrush at Guelph Lake, just north of the city. The next morning a few of us made the short trip and quickly got reasonably good views of this rare visitor.

Varied Thrush is a western species, but shows up very regularly in eastern North America in the winter, with a couple found annually in Ontario. It was nice to get this species so close to home.

Otherwise, the birding has been rather slow. We're still 3-5 weeks away from the first big arrivals of migrant birds in March, but subtle signs of spring are already around. I haven't seen a Ring-billed Gull on campus since December, so the single individual present today may have been a new migrant. It's hard to say though, as they winter fairly regularly along the river only a couple of kilometres away.

Today in the arboretum I came across a large flock of robins feeding on Buckthorn in the falling snow. It's hard to believe that these birds will be feeding on lawns and singing from the treetops in a few short weeks!

note the nictitating membrane across the eye

I forgot to post this earlier, but better late than never: I was called "Best new regional birding professional" in an article in the London Free Press as a result of my guiding at Rondeau. Thanks Paul!

The chickadees are now regularly singing "Spring Soon!"

Today marks one year since my first time using my first camera. I'm still a rank beginner, and I don't know if I'll ever use a camera for much more than documentation or opportunistically when the right conditions arise, but I've certainly enjoyed being able to record and share my experiences. Below is one of the first shots I took - a Common Redpoll. This species is completely absent from Southern Ontario this winter.

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