Monday, March 31, 2008

Common Goldeneye Returns

Can you see its golden eye? This fish-eating duck species, a Common Goldeneye, is usually the first migrant duck I see each spring in our area. I have a special place where I look for them and had been checking each day recently. Last week there was just a small area of open water at the stream where I usually find them, but when we returned to check on Saturday we were rewarded with the sight of a pair of Common Goldeneye and a pair of Hooded Mergansers in a free flowing, much greater open area of the same frozen location seen just a few days earlier.
To the right is the female seen this past Saturday and the photo to the left below, taken a previous year, shows both a male and female. The female lacks the distinctive round white spot of the male, and her head is brown, however she does have the same golden eyed feature as the male. This next photo below, is a composite that I had put together a couple of years ago. I know there were two Goldeneye originally and I had added a third but I'm not quite sure now which one is the added one. This photo is a favourite of mine for I love the uncluttered look and the crisp black and white features of the males.

Below, taken from my photo archives, a pair of Common Goldeneye, April 2006.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

White-tailed Deer in Abundance

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hooded Mergansers

Today I checked a river nearby, while looking for Common Goldeneye, and I was very pleased to find a pair of Hooded Mergansers there! They didn't stay in the partially opened river long but the small amount of time I did see them was just enough to take some pictures and acknow -ledge their presence there as another sign of returning migrants.

The first time I had seen Hooded Mergansers I was totally fascinated by their beauty. I had been driving home one day in late March, sometime in the early 2000's maybe, and I had caught a glimpse of a Hooded male in a river while driving across an old stone bridge beside a railroad track.

I immediately pulled over onto the shoulder and grabbed for my camera. I could see they had swam further up the stream, near an old flat railroad bridge, and so I hiked up the tracks and sat on the bridge for an half hour or so and just watched, completely in awe of this wonderful wildlife discovery. Since that first sighting I now seek them out each spring and even know of some locations where I can probably see a few. I checked through my old photos and found some that are my favourites. These last three photos in this post were taken in 2006.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Spring Arrivals

Four Red-winged Blackbirds arrived yesterday and one Robin this morning; both species were seen in our feeder area today!
Also at our feeders this morning are: Pine Grosbeaks, a few Common Redpolls, four or five Juncos, both a Downy and a Hairy Woodpecker, lots of Blue Jays, at least twenty or more Grackles, one male Northern Cardinal, Black-capped Chickadees, European Starlings and several Mourning Doves. The species count at our feeders today is at 13. The last few days a Raccoon has been dropping by during the afternoons for a leisurely snack of sunflower seeds and the squirrels, both a Grey and a Red, are also about today. The White-tailed Deer will come by during the evening or sometime overnight and finish eating whatever sunflower seeds are left on the flat faced feeders.

Crows with Shadows

copywrite: me and my camera

Thursday, March 27, 2008


After yesterday's wintery post I thought I would focus on some of the colour that is to be found in our woods at this time of year. Spring IS coming and you can see it in the changes taking place in the birches along our roadsides.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Continuing Winter White

Like the prevailing winds that linger, so does winter. Usually focusing upon birds and other creatures outside my windows, I sometimes forget to acknowledge with photos the most influential factor upon their lives right now; the continuing winter white of our environment; the snow. The photo above, of bowed birches, reminiscent of Robert Frost's poem, On Birches, was taken just this past weekend following a storm of snow, freezing rain and ice pellets. We have had many heavy snowstorms and freezing rains this winter. Although a light dusting of snow shows evidence of a passerby, the snow crust is still so hard in some places that I leave no footprints as I walk upon it.
The ground is still snow covered in these woods and when walking through them yesterday I neither saw nor heard signs of spring. In some places rivers are running open and in others, signs of beginning breakups can be seen.
A partially snow covered road can be seen through the end of this covered bridge and along many of our roadsides tall snowbanks can still be found.
Outside my window, at this time of posting, snow is softly fallling.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bird Alley Update

An entertaining daily focus around our home is watching out our window that looks over our feeder area. The area is long and narrow and runs the enitre length of the side of our house, and so because of its length and narrow width, we call it Bird Alley.

We have not only birds visiting here, but several mammals are frequent visitors as well. Red Squirrels and Gray Squirrels are constant diners, as are at this time of year, White-tailed Deer. Within the past week Raccoons are starting to show up too, even in the daytime hours, and yesterday in late afternoon, there were three. I keep a daily list of birds and this winter there have always been three that have been regular visitors each day: Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees and Common Redpolls. Unfortunately for the Common Redpolls their large numbers seem to attract the attentions of a hungry Sharp-shinned Hawk and there have been many occasions to take a picture of one this winter, while it perched on a feeder pole in Bird Alley. Hairy Wood- peckers are fairly frequent visitors too and also, though not as often , the Downy Wood- pecker visits sometimes too. The Downy most times chooses to feed at a suet feeder while the Hairy is seen here at a peanut feeder. With the appearance of a Common Grackle on the 19th, the stage is now set for returning migrants and soon names like Common Redpolls, Tree Sparrows, and Pine Grosbeaks will no longer be written on my daily lists; their names being replaced by Fox Sparrows, Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins and many more to be noted as they appear.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Common Grackle

you might find it strange
that I should name
the Grackle
as my harbinger of spring
dark and foreboding against the snow
but with an iridescent glow
the Grackle
has a rainbow hidden within

black and sleek, and long and lean
sometimes with a wicked looking gleam
the Grackle
has the colour of sunshine in its eyes

hearing its rusty-gate song
I know it won't be long
the Grackle
signals the return of spring

Each year the sighting of a Grackle at out bird feeders around the middle of March signals the beginning of the return of the migrant birds. This year our first Grackle sighting was on the 19th, last year it was on the 15th. Next will come the Red-winged Blackbirds and the Robins, and the continuing procession will begin. There will be those birds who have come to stay, and others just stopping by to feed on their way further north; whatever their purpose their appearance will make each day of watching our feeders one of both surprise and delight.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

White-tailed Deer

Early this morning there were four White-tailed Deer in our feeder area and I stood still as a statue; taking pictures of them as they looked in at me.

editing note:
Upon driving into my driveway this afternoon I saw a White-tailed Deer walking across my back lawn just as I was opening my car door. It glanced at me and continued on its way around the corner of the house to the bird feeder area. Knowing its intent, I also formed one, and quickly hurried into my house and rushed to the widow overlooking our feeders for I knew it would be there: it looking in at me and me looking out at it. Seen through glass: this beautiful creature of the wild.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Predator: Hungry Hawk

storm ravaged hungry

feathers blowing on the snow

hunger now appeased

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Personifications of Spring

spring whispered and I listened
as trees swung bare branches in welcome

pussy willows basked in warm sunlight
lulled by blended sounds of mating melodies
singing ageless songs of hopeful renewal

spring sighed and I watched
as melting snow created lawn ponds

awakened roots in the moist earth
quenched their frozen winter thirst
and yearned to stretch their green shoots upward

spring shouted and I felt its power
as disintegrating river ice abandoned its frozen grasp

pelting rains and furious winds spurned slothful winter
and rivers swelled their banks with prideful freedom
while egg laden fish dreamed of journeying home

spring returned today and I smiled and was content
secure in my knowledge of its enduring loyalty

© Me and My Camera

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Raccoon Portraits

There's not too much I can say by way of a story about this Raccoon; except that it came and stayed and stayed and stayed, for about three hours. And it ate and ate and ate! It must have been quite hungry, and relived too; to have found such a good food supply of sunflower seeds at my feeders.

Food must be very hard to find in the wild right now for there is still quite a deep covering of snow here and it is hard surfaced too. I can even walk upon the top of it in some places without breaking through. This is a result of ice pellets and freezing rain that fell during our last winter storm. The Raccoon was very attentive to its feeding but when hearing traffic sounds on the street nearby it would look up warily and check out its surroundings before going back to its feeding. It would also stop and take notice of the Chickadees flying about in our feeder area.

And then as Raccoons will do, upon finding a small puddle of melted snow, it dipped its hands into it the water and rubbed them together as if washing.