My 10 Best/Favorite Photos of 2012

2012 was filled with very memorable, fun, and exciting moments, and my trip to Long Point this August will be my most cherished memory!

At the end of last year, I wrote a post on “My 10 Favorite Birds of 2011“. I wanted this year’s year-end post to be different from that, so here are my 10 best and favorite photos of 2012.

One of the most exciting birds I saw at my feeders this year was a Northern Shrike in March,

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Holding a Burrowing Owl at the Tofield Snow Goose Chase in April,

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One of the Gray Catbirds I counted during the local May species bird count,

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At the Bird Studies Canada Headquarters in August during the Young Ornithologists’ Workshop,

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A banded Canada Warbler at Long Point in August,

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My friend Katie holding an Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtle at Long Point during the YOW,

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A young Turkey Vulture after being banded in late August,

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A Northern Harrier in September,

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A Long-tailed Weasel at my grandparents’ yard in November,

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A Pine Grosbeak at my grandparents’ yard in December,

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Fall Migration is a Busy Time of the Year

I’m sorry I haven’t published more posts lately but between helping with harvest, retraining a horse, getting ready for a house guest, and most importantly school, I haven’t much time! My daily birding walks have also fallen by the wayside, but birds there are aplenty since I live in a migration pathway. Almost every day there’s a steady stream of Snow, Canada, and Greater White-fronted Geese flying overhead, along with Lapland Longspurs and Horned Larks.

Last Friday I went out birding at the woods and slough across the road from our house to see what was around and also inspected the newly-completed beaver lodge.

Yellow-rumped Warblers are everywhere now, but they’ll soon be gone,

This is the first White-breasted Nuthatch I’ve seen in the woods,

Leaves are changing colors,

The beavers have three areas in the woods like this,

There are wood chips everywhere from all their work,

I saw this Common Yellowthroat, a first for my Alberta list,

A Northern Harrier just over the power line,

An Alberta sunset,

I will try to post more regularly and hope to go birding more often too!

Winter has arrived

The first snow of the season fell yesterday, we didn’t get very much but more snow will come shortly.  I went out this morning to look for some birds and to check the ice on our slough to see if the ice was good for skating. I didn’t see many birds but the ones I saw were quite nice. At the start of the walk I saw a Bald Eagle (I saw one yesterday too), five Horned Larks, and a flock of about 100 Snow Buntings.

Early morning,

A Chickadee at my new feeder,

Our dog Lady came with me,

A deer bed,

Coyote tracks on the ice,

Northern Harrier,

Must-see birds: November

(I got the idea for a northern Alberta version of “Must-see birds” from Pat Bumstead’s and Bob Lefebvre’s Birds Calgary blog. Matthew Sim, who is another young birder, had the idea for the “Must-see birds” posts and writes them all.)

Starting in October, birds were starting to be very scarce, and now in the coming winter they will be even more so. So instead of five Must-see birds for each month, I’ll have just two Must-see birds monthly. I will resume the five Must-see birds in the spring. Here are my two Must-see birds for November (all photos by me):

1. Northern Harrier  

A few Northern Harriers can be still found in Alberta in November but they won’t be here much longer. I saw one yesterday. The adult Northern Harrier is gray with black wingtips and the juvenile has a rusty colored body and a distinctive white rump. Northern Harriers can be found in marshes and fields.

2. Tundra Swan

The Tundra Swan is completely white with a black bill with a yellow spot on the base. You can still find Tundra Swans flying around in November. So catch one while you can,

Feathers on Friday

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

Northern Harriers have been a very common sight around my house. But I’ve had very few opportunities to get good photos of the birds.

My Big Sit Results

I had a great Big Sit on Sunday. I was able to count 29 species.

I would have been sitting at 6:30 am but I had my favorite radio show to listen to at 7:30, Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds. I started my official count at 8:40. The first bird I counted was a Canada Goose which was not surprising since the part of Alberta I live in seems to be a major flyway for the geese. I counted 2,024 Canada Geese, 2,075 Greater White-fronted Geese and 6,158 Snow Geese. I was seated in a pretty good spot for birdwatching, near a pretty large slough, grasslands and woods. My count was made up of mostly water fowl: Tundra Swans flying overhead, Mallards, Teals Shovelers and alone Bufflehead swimming on the slough.

It took me a while to catch a glimpse of the very scarce chickadees. I also had good luck with raptors: two Bald Eagles, two Northern Harriers and one Rough-legged Hawk which was a life bird. I waited until it was quite dark so I could wait for owls but none came. I finished my Big Sit after 12 hours at 8:40 pm.

I had a great Big Sit this year. I can’t wait to participate in it next year!

My circle site,

I used sticks to mark my circle,

The first bird to be counted,

I saw 80 Short-billed Dowitchers,

Thousands of Greater White-fronted Geese flew over me throughout the day,

A bad photo of a Rough-legged Hawk, life bird,

A Northern Harrier flew right past me twice through the day,

Fall Migration Hike

I spent Tuesday from 9 am to 1 pm at the local provincial park to look for Fall migrants.

I started along the river side of the park. The first birds I saw were Black-capped Chickadees, though after looking through the photos, I realized I hadn’t taken any photos of the chickadees. I saw a quite a lot of species, from Yellow-rumped Warblers to Turkey Vultures. I saw 18 species in total: four Pied-billed Grebes, eight Red-necked Grebes, one Double-crested Cormorant, five Mallards, two Gadwalls, 10 Buffleheads, three Turkey Vultures, one Northern Harrier, 15 Ring-billed Gulls, 23 Black Terns, one Belted Kingfisher, one Blue Jay, five American Crows, countless Black-capped Chickadees, three House Wrens, 17 Cedar Waxwings, 15 Yellow-rumped Warblers, and eight White-throated Sparrows.

Red-necked Grebe,

At first I thought this raptor was a hawk,

It was a Turkey Vulture,

One of the highlights of the trip, a Belted Kingfisher,

Non-breeding Black Tern,