Monday, March 28, 2016

Wood Ducks

Yesterday I decided to check out the local lagoon to see if there were  any Goldeneye , which I often find there.  Much to my surprise and delight I found several wood ducks !  The ducks took off immediately when they saw me get out of my car and  I took off.  I was able to capture a couple of pictures of the male Wood Ducks in flight.  These are the first Woods Ducks that I have found this spring.
Just briefly before the ducks too off I was able to get a couple of views of the  male Wood Ducks ducks on the water.
And there were female wood ducks there also.
The white eye area of the female wood duck is quite distinctive and I think beautiful.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

First Robins of Spring

Last evening my husband called to me. "There is a Robin looking in the window at me.  He didn't have to say , "Get your camera", for in a second I was grabbing for it!  Seeing that first Robin is a special spring moment  for me which asserts the fact that winter is over, although we received about 15 centimetres of snow the day before.  But I can fasten my eyes on that beautiful red breast and forget about all that white stuff hanging around on the ground outdoors.  The beautiful Robin he saw was perched in a Manitoba Maple tree in Bird Alley.  My camera and I were lucky as I snapped its picture.

 I got its picture just before it flew off  to perch in our Choke Cherry Tree.
I always associate a robin with new beginnings and a renewal of life, within a new season such as spring.  Several years ago I returned home  in mid -April after a two month stay in a hospital while recovering from a mild stroke. On my first trip outdoors on my own I saw a robin on our lawn and it struck me,  "I could have missed all of this beauty and renewal  of spring and life but thankfully I had had good care and physiotherapy and I was back on my feet again able to explore and enjoy all of nature's beauty. Seeing that Robin that day reminded me of all of my blessings. And today I truly love and appreciate that first Robin sighting every spring as to me it is a celebration and continuing of life!
This morning started with flurries in the air but I went out searching anyway with my camera and I found two more Robins. The robins were feasting on a Sumac.
above, a robin on a sumac branch

looking up to find berries
see the red berries above the robins wide open mouth, yum, yum

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What You Can Find Within a Common Grackle Group

The interesting thing to me, about seeing a flock is  the delight in finding Red-winged Blackbirds mixed among them. The flocks are often very flighty and sensitive to any movement on my part behind the camera, but when they lift in flight that is when the camera might catch a glimpse of red epaulets of   the male Red-winged Blackbird wings.
For example a study of the picture below revealed eight male Red-winged Blackbirds in flight mixed among this Grackle flock!

I have cropped a few of the Red Wings out separately for you to view.
 The red on the wings of a Blackbird are an outstanding sighting! Hopefully I will find more soon.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Common Mergansers

And the beauty just keeps on coming.  I hadn't seen anything very remarkable and spring like today except for a large flighty flock of CCommon Grackles.  So this evening I decided to check out an old Fox location where I had found young Fox kits last summer.  There was no sign of foxes but as I gazed at the river flowing  I saw a beautiful white shape floating by followed by a darker shape, so I took several pictures .( when in doubt, just keep on clicking.) Although it was at quite a distance  I was hoping I might be able to identify something when I downloaded my pictures.  And yes I could!  I saw a pair of Common Mergansers in the river just below the railroad bridge.

 The white male with its red bill and dark green head was easily identifiable and the female followed behind the male with her outstanding flamboyant hair do!
Even at quite a distance the male Common Merganser was identifiable.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Canada Geese

This is the most amazing and wonderful time of year; each day this week I have found a different species that I haven't seen all winter long, including: Common Goldeneye, Hooded Mergansers, Common Grackles, Evening Grosbeaks and today, I saw three Canada Geese
. It just keeps on getting better!  One week from today is the official beginning of spring!  I am loving it!
I am hoping and planning on finding American Robins in my camera's view next week!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Evening Grosbeaks for Saturday Critters

I wasn't sure what I would post this morning, Common Grackles or Bluejays, that is until I looked out my window and saw Evening Grosbeaks in our Plum tree.  There were just a few and one male that I saw.  the male was rather elusive and it was difficult to get a full bodied picture of him.   They never left the tree to land on the ground and they didn't stay long;  but their sighting was wonderful. It must be over a year since I have seen Evening Grosbeaks in our yard.

above the male is to the left and the female is to the right
above, the female Evening Grosbeak
above, the male Evening Grosbeak
I do hope they return and I am hopeful that they will.
I am linking this morning to Eileen's Saturday critters meme which can be found at:

Friday, March 11, 2016

Downy Woodpecker

A frequent little visitor to our feeder area is this Downy Woodpecker and the main attraction is our peanut feeder. the Downy is present almost daily. The red area on the back of this woodpecker's head indicates that  it is the male of this species.
In the picture above you can see a few black notch markings on the white of its under tail.  These little markings are an identifier for a Downy Woodpecker.  The  larger look alike Hairy Woodpecker does not have these small black notches on its under tail.
 the black markings on the white under tail are not always easily seen but by its smallness alone you can pretty well identify this woodpecker by its size.
Have a nice day everyone.  we had snow overnight so our ground is still snowcovered.  Hopefully it will absorb into the ground before the end of the day.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

I found some Returned Ducks this Morning!

"OhHappy Day."  waking this morning to a mild temperature of +08 degrees Celsius I thought, "Yes , this is the day I find a returned duck"!
And I did!, Not one, but two! 

I found a Male Hooded Merganser(left) and a male Goldeneye(right)
I saw the Goldeneye first and I was quite surprised as I don't often find Goldeneyes this early .  I had assumed my first duck sighting would be a male Hooded Merganser and as I scanned the river below the bridge I was standing on, I saw that there was a male Hooded Merganser in the water beside the Goldeneye.  This was a very uplifting experience!
male Hooded Merganser(above)
The male goldeneye( see above) is a handsome duck. It has a yellow(golden) eye, thus its name and on each side of its black head is a white polka dot

Its still 10 days until the official beginning of spring but today has been very spring like and enriching.  Today I have spread cracked corn on the ground beside my duck decoys, but it is still perhaps a bit early for Mallards flying overhead, as it is Mallards that I expect to see landing among my decoys if any ducks stop by there to feed.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Returning Ducks!

I love finding returning ducks during March.  My first sighting ever in my own local area was of a Hooded Merganser on March 7th., 2007.  Today is March 7th and as soon as I post this I shall go out looking in my favourite open water pond location.  I have a special duck project this year.  I often hear about people who have ducks appear in their yards and I would love to experience that, so during the past year I had been on the lookout for duck decoys at flea markets and yard sales.  I was lucky last fall when I found a laundry basket full of decoys for just $10 and of course I bought them.  They have overwintered in our basement and yesterday I put them outdoors on my side lawn.  I had also bought two ceramic ducks in August at a flea market. The ceramic ducks are outside now also.  The decoys are placed where I can see them easily from my kitchen window.  Also yesterday I bought a package of cracked corn to scatter about the decoys. I have my fingers crossed that some

returning ducks might be enticed to drop in as they see my decoys from above in passing flight.
  I have also placed a duck decoy beside the still frozen runoff brook to see if it garners any interest.
This beautiful colourful , ceramic decoy looks a bit different from the others, hopefully it
 might  attract a cruising Mallard.
Other than returning ducks my interest recently is focused upon finding White-tailed deer feeding in open fields and meadows adjacent to woods.  I saw a group of deer in a different location yesterday so I will check out that location this morning.  Maybe I will be lucky and find deer there again today. 

It is a grand day out today so have a good one everyone.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Pine Siskins

We hadn't seen Pine Siskins in Bird Alley in over a year so I was delighted

 to see one feeding at our Niger seed feeder on February 22nd.   What I enjoy about viewing a Pine Siskin is the delicate touch of yellow within their wings  I was not seeing much yellow at first on many of the birds, but then I found definite yellow, which confirmed to me that"Yes", these birds were Siskins when this little bird showed me its wing spread from the back.

 The Pine siskin also has a sharp, pointed little beak which allows it to feed easily from the Niger seed feeder which we have.
The Siskins add a rather decorative touch to Bird Alley as they flit about and balance and swing on small branches and vines.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

American Goldfinch for Camera Critters

We haven't seen a large variety at our feeders this winter but we have seen numbers. Daily our nyger seed feeder has been attended by  manyAmerican Goldfinch.  A Goldfinch is still pretty and attractive even during the winter months.  The males still retain a bit of their gold and the females in their winter drab are pleasant to look at in their muted browns. I am expecting to see more colour as spring approaches and my first photo, below, taken just last week I call Golden Goldfinch and the sunlight upon the rafters of the pergola adds to the background colour..
 Above , colourful red American Bittersweet berries  create a colourful background for the feeding Goldfinch.

Above, a whole bunch of Goldfinch on the feeder, nine in all!
I am linking this post to Eileen's Camera Critters which can be found at

Friday, March 04, 2016

A Grey White-tailed Deer

It has been a good winter although a slow one in Bird Alley.  No Cardinals, no Redpolls, no Juncos , or Grosbeaks. We have had  a few Tree Sparrows and  one Waxwing.  Recently we have welcomed Pine Siskins and we have lots of American Goldfinch. I have turned my interest to finding White-tailed Deer as they are now coming out of the woods into the open fields.  I have found one location where I am quite likely to find White-tailed Deer and yesterday I saw five there!  Included in the group was one grey . I have never seen a grey-coated deer before that I recall.  A bit of research told me that some deer will have their coats turn grey during the winter, but the grey colouring will be replaced by their regular brown colouring as spring and summer advance.

In the picture above you can see the grey coated deer in the lead and behind the grey deer is a deer with the expected brown colouring.
In the photo below the grey coated deer has just stepped out of the woods. The dark markings on the deer has been created by the shadows of the bushes and trees nearby.
I am eagerly waiting for the sighting of my first duck as I have been checking my favourite open pools of water daily now.  My first spring sighting of a Hooded Merganser was on March 07, 2007.,So that early date is a precedent for me giving me hope for optimism.