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 pair of Blue-winged Teals near the house,

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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

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 apologize for missing FoF last week. To make up for that, here’s a photo of a female Purple Finch at my feeders from a few weeks ago,

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/320, ISO 320, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/320, ISO 320, 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

Evening Photography

I went for a drive one evening at the end of April with the intent of photographing the nearby one-room school house in the beautiful evening light, but I saw some good birds as well.

There were lots of Snow Geese, Canada Geese, and Northern Pintails feeding in our field and in the neighbours’; Northern Shovelers, Buffleheads, American Avocets, Lesser Yellowlegs, Tree Swallows, Snow Buntings, and a Red-tailed Hawk were also around.

A pair of Buffleheads,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/500, ISO 160, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Northern Shovelers,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 160, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

Driving down one of the back roads, there was a big raptor sitting on a fence post, and it was a Peregrine Falcon! I took a few photos before it flew off. This is the second Peregrine I’ve seen in the area. The last and first one I saw was in September last year.

The Peregrine Falcon — such a stately bird,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 160, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f5.6, 1/400, ISO 160, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

A view of the school from distance,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 100, Nikkor 200-500mm, natural light

I switched my 200-500 mm lens to the 50mm lens to better photograph the school. A Great Horned Owl was sitting in the back window of the school, and because of the lens switch, I didn’t get very good photos.

The departing Great Horned Owl,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f1.4D, 1/400, ISO 160, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

The quaint Chatsworth School,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f1.4D, 1/500, ISO 125, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

Two Rock Pigeons then flew out the windows, and that pretty much concluded the birding for the evening.

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Nikon D610, handheld, f1.4D, 1/1,000, ISO 320, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

The 2016 Snow Goose Chase

After missing last year’s Snow Goose Chase because of 4-H Selections, I was very happy to be able to attend the Chase this year. My mother came with me and we left at 7:30 am to be in Tofield for 9 am.

The weather was a little dreary — cold and rainy — but as they say, it was good weather for ducks. I saw all three species of geese on the drive, American Kestrels, Northern Harriers, a Horned Grebe, Red-winged Blackbirds, a variety of ducks, and my FoS Double-crested Cormorant.

The displays at the Tofield hall included taxidermied bird mounts from the Royal Alberta Museum, with curator of ornithology Jocelyn Hudon on hand to talk to people; Pete Heule, the Ram’s Bug Room/Live Culture Supervisor and Natural History Outreach Tech, with live insects and reptiles; the Edmonton Nature Club; the Beaverhill Bird Observatory; Nature Alberta and its Nature Kids program; live raptors from the Edmonton Valley Zoo; a pond life display; various pelts from trappers Bill and Duncan Abercrombie of Alberta Trapline Adventures; amazing bird and animal carvings from the Boag Lake Carving Studio; and a table from the University of Alberta ZooManiacs zoological enthusiasts club.

I was at the Young Naturalists’ Corner table again this year, displaying nature books for kids and teens, Bob’s fascinating butterflies of Alberta display; pamphlets from Bird Studies Canada and Ducks Unlimited; and Urban Bio Kits from the City of Edmonton and the Mennonite Centre for newcomers. The kits are guides to help encourage new Canadians to learn about and explore the City’s natural areas.

I’d like to thank all the Edmonton Nature Club members and Snow Goose Chase volunteers for all the time and effort they put into the Chase. A special thank you to Bob who did yet another amazing job organizing everything, and also helping me with the Young Naturalists’ Corner. Thank you again, Bob, for everything — especially for asking to me to be part of such a wonderful day.

Our display table with a selection of books from my family library, Bob, and the Edmonton Public Library too,

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The new Nature Kids banner from Nature Alberta,IMG_0008

What would the Snow Goose Chase be without some birding after the activities in the hall? A Dunlin had been reported at the Tofield Quarry earlier in the week, and a Fox Sparrow was seen at Francis Viewpoint the morning of the Snow Goose Chase.

My mother and I went first to the quarry since it’s just a few kilometres south of Tofield. You can see the quarry very well from the road, but in order to get a good view of the birds we drove on the well-used path into the field. The gate was open and there were no “No Trespassing” or “Keep Out” signs to be seen, so I thought it would be all right to drive in a few hundred metres. I searched for the Dunlin but couldn’t see one, though there were lots of Lesser Yellowlegs, Northern Shovelers, two Northern Harriers, American Avocets, and other ducks and geese. The weather was deteriorating, so after 10 minutes I abandoned the search for the Dunlin.

At Francis Viewpoint I found a pair of Mountain Bluebirds, Dark-eyed Juncos, American Tree Sparrows, and more Northern Harriers, but no Fox Sparrow. I was skunked on the two birds I was hoping to see, but other than that it was a really lovely day.

A banded female Mountain Bluebird at Francis Point,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f9, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f9, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

An unbanded male bluebird,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f9, 1/640, ISO 640, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

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 apologize for the late posting, but our power went out this morning and only recently came back on. Here’s a photo from earlier this week of Snow Geese and some Canada Geese across the road from our house,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f6.3, 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

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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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 was photographing prairie crocuses the other day when my first of season Turkey Vulture flew right over my head. Because of the flowers, I had just my small 50mm lens on my camera (not the best lens for far-off bird photography), but I was surprised at how well the photos turned out. A nice surprise on a spring afternoon!

A Turkey Vulture,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f9, 1/400, ISO 100, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f9, 1/400, ISO 100, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

My intended photography subjects, prairie crocuses,

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Nikon D610, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 100, Nikkor 50mm, natural light

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Nikon D610, handheld, f6.3, 1/640, 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