Giveaway Winner – Best Places to Bird in the Prairies!

After a random draw, congratulations to Mary W, the winner of the Best Places to Bird in the Prairies!

Thank you to everyone who entered, and a special thanks to Josh at Greystone Books, for providing a copy of the guide.

You can get your hands on a copy from Greystone Books just in time for spring migration on their website or your local birding store.

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

A Red-winged Blackbird at the slough,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 100, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

JG Birds+

Backyard Bird Blog

The Morning Side of Life

Anotherdayinparadise

A Day in The Life

The Angling Birder

ABA Birder’s Guide Magazine

13147854_1112297072147158_6121386051175132453_oI was contacted last year to contribute an essay to the ABA’s Birder’s Guide to Conservation & Community (the link seems to work from my phone but not from my laptop) on the subject of being a woman and/or young birder in a community made up mostly of men, and increasing female leadership in birding. I’d like to thank my friend Jody Allair at Bird Studies Canada for suggesting me as a contributor.

You can read the “sneak peak” for the issue here, see the table of contents here, and join the conversation on the subject at the ABA blog here. There’s also an article on starting young as a birder which I’m looking forward to reading.

I was honoured to be asked and to have my thoughts added to this publication along with so many influential women birders — Shanin Abreu, Elsa Alvear Rodríguez, Megan Crewe, Shawneen Finnegan, Melissa Hafting, Alvaro Jaramillo, Kimberly Kaufman, J. Drew Lanham, Maureen Leong-Kee, Ann Nightingale, Debi Shearwater, and Lili Taylor.

You can read all of the articles at the American Birding Association’s website (again, the link seems to work from my phone but not from my laptop at the moment), or in your printed copy if you are a member of the ABA.

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

I photographed this female Wilson’s Phalorope the other day as I was trying to photograph the Cinnamon Teal, but the phalaropes were more accommodating!

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/800, ISO 100, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/800, ISO 100, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

JG Birds+

Backyard Bird Blog

The Morning Side of Life

Anotherdayinparadise

A Day in The Life

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

Up until yesterday, my photos of Western Meadowlarks weren’t very good. The species have nested in our yard for years, but I was never able to get any decent photos.

I came back to the house for lunch this afternoon and this male Western Meadowlark was singing on a fence post. I got my camera and took a few photos, and though they’re good, I’d like to work on taking some even better ones.

A Western Meadowlark,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 100, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 100, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 100, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

JG Birds+

Backyard Bird Blog

The Morning Side of Life

Anotherdayinparadise

A Day in The Life

Birding Around Heidelberg

(All my Life Birds are noted in bold)

As part of my Germany trip last month, we also planned a side trip to Rome, where we spent three days, with several stops along on the way. My grandmother, my German great aunt (with whom we were staying), and I left Barnstorf on March 6th to spend a few days in Oer-Erkenschwick where my great uncle lives. He showed us around Recklinghausen and area the next day, and our plan was to start driving toward Rome on March 8th. The destination for the day was Heidelberg in the south of Germany, a three-hour trip on the Autobahn from Oer-Erkenschwick.

Before my grandmother and I left for Germany, I had emailed one of my German birding friends, Jochen, whom I’ve known for several years through his blog and mine, and his writing at 10,000 Birds. We didn’t get the chance to meet last year since he lives in the Ulm area which is about six hours from Barnstorf. Jochen works near Heidelberg and since we were traveling through, we were able to co-ordinate times to meet and go birding together.

We decided to meet at the McDonald’s in Heidelberg around noon. We arrived at 12:30 and after introductions, my grandmother, great aunt, and great uncle went inside for a coffee and a rest, while Jochen and I drove to the old Leimen quarry to see the nesting Eurasian Eagle Owl. The owl was sitting on the nest in plain view — if you know where to look. It was such a treat to see the owl, and I took some photos and watched it for a little while before we returned to the McDonald’s. Eagle Owl update #1: as of the end of March, the owls had abandoned the nest and no-one is certain where the adults went or why they gave up on their nest. Eagle Owl update #2: Jochen let me know the other day that the owls have re-nested, so hopefully this nesting attempt will be successful.

The female Eurasian Eagle Owl sitting on her nest,DSC_1667

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After meeting up with my family, I went with Jochen in his car and everyone else followed in my great uncle’s car as we drove to Korsika Island within the old Rhine forest (the former “bayous” of the Rhine). On the drive to the island, Jochen spotted a Black Woodpecker flying over the road! We were incredibly lucky to see it and it was my only sighting of one throughout the whole trip.

There was a chance to see Crested Larks in a residential area along the way. We stopped to look, but there were no larks around.

A Smew had been reported a few days earlier at Korsika Island, so there was a chance it would still be around. We scanned around and found Little Grebes, Common Pochards, Great-crested Grebe, Common Linnets, Great Cormorants, Mallards, and two drake Mandarin Ducks (a lifer for me and now countable in Germany since there is a self-sufficient breeding population), but no Smew.

A view of the Rhine,DSC_1678

A Crested Grebe,DSC_1681

A Great Cormorant,DSC_1696

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A Grey Heron hiding at the edge of the water,DSC_1701

For some reason, on the way into the forest we missed seeing the huge stork nest and the two adult White Storks, but we saw them on the way out of the forest. Their nest is located near the village and along the road so we got out of the vehicle to look at the storks, which didn’t seem to mind our presence.

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Our last stop of the day was at the well-known nature conservation area, Wagbachniederung. The Naturschutzgebiet (nature reserve) Wagbachniederung is located on the right bank of the Rhine in Waghäusel southeast of Speyer, between Mannheim and Karlsruhe and in the eastern part of the valley and covers 224 hectares. The Wagbachniederung was formerly a Rhine loop which was separated from the main stream in a natural way about 8,000 years ago. It is made up of remnants of original Ried and wet meadows, an abandoned gravel pit, and mostly of sewage and sludge ponds from a sugar factory in Waghäusel. The wetland is an important stopover for migratory birds, especially shorebirds.

My relatives visited a nearby monastery while Jochen and I walked around the wetland. We arrived around 3 pm and had just under an hour to bird the Wagbachniederung. Graylag Geese, Canada Geese, Eurasian Teals, Northern Shovelers, Common Shelducks, three male Red-crested Pochards, Northern Lapwings, Gadwalls, and Mallards were all swimming and feeding by the water. There was a slim chance we could a hear a Water Rail call, and almost on queue, one started calling! Common Reed Buntings also were present, and as our time was running out we moved on.

The male Red-crested Pochards, a Mallard, and a female pochard,DSC_1713

The three males,DSC_1710There’s a pathway lined with shrubs and trees between the bodies of water, and there were some European Goldfinches feeding with a single Lesser Redpoll, which Jochen said is a really good bird for the area and time of year. One of the thrush species I had missed seeing were Song Thrushes and as we passed the tree where the redpoll was feeding, a flock of Song Thrushes flew past.

The redpoll was hiding behind the branches, so my camera couldn’t focus on the bird very well.DSC_1717

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We made it back to the parking lot just after 4. I had a really wonderful time and I’m so glad we had a chance to meet and to go birding together. I’d like to thank Jochen again for making time to show me around. I saw lots of species I couldn’t have seen with out his guidance. I’m hoping we can go birding again soon, Jochen!

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The Great Canadian Birdathon 2016

I signed up for my fifth Great Canadian Birdathon earlier this week. As you might know, I’ve participated since 2012 in the Great Canadian (formerly the Baillie) Birdathon, the oldest sponsored bird count in North America, hosted by Bird Studies Canada.

This year I signed up with the goal of raising $1,575. Part of the money will go to the Calgary Bird Banding Society, and the other part to Bird Studies Canada. This year, I’m hoping to see at least 100 species — I saw 76 last year. Here are my Birdathon results from 20152014, 2013, and 2012.

I would like to offer an enormous thank you to my good friends Curtis & Michelle, and to Sandy, for their early donations to my Birdathon!

If you’d like to sponsor me, you can visit my team page. I’d be delighted to reach my goal for my fifth Great Canadian Birdathon, to help the very worthy cause of bird conservation.

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