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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Turkey Vulture Wing Tagging

In mid-August I travelled again with Dr. Wayne Nelson, and also the local Fish & Wildlife officer, and a wildlife photographer to wing tag young Turkey Vultures. We visited three abandoned buildings, each with two vultures in it, and at two of the buildings we saw an adult flying over. We tagged the vulture chicks from the first and second buildings while indoors, but the vultures from the last building we tagged outside, so most of the photos of the tagging, below, are from the last building since the lighting was better.

Once the vultures were caught, they were put into boxes, and also weighed in the box,

A cattle ear tagger, similar to a hole punch, is used to attach the identification number; Dr. Nelson is on the right,

One of the adults at the first building,

The first tagged Turkey Vulture chick,

Once the vultures are tagged, photos are taken of them, and at the second building I was able to hold each vulture for pictures (I am wearing my Long Point Bird Observatory ball cap, one of my favorite souvenirs!),

Honey bees at the last building,

A Turkey Vulture close up,

The vulture is put in a bag to secure it while the measurements are taken,

Vultures tagged in Alberta have yellow tags, and vultures tagged in Saskatchewan have green tags,

Thank you very much again, Dr. Nelson, for a wonderful and very educational experience!

Turkey Vultures Galore

Yesterday I travelled around northeast Alberta with Dr. Wayne Nelson, a retired Alberta Fish and Wildlife biologist, checking on Turkey Vultures. I had contacted Dr. Nelson earlier this year to report a pair of Turkey Vultures at an abandoned building 30 miles or so north of our house. He emailed back to ask if I’d like to join him on his July travels checking abandoned farm buildings for nests, and I said yes!

We left at 10:30 am, and our first stop was at the house I reported. Unfortunately, nothing was there. We stopped at five other sites where vultures had been reported this year, and also at some nesting sites reported in previous years, but disappointed again!

While driving to the next spot, we saw four adult vultures, but no chicks. Then, at the next abandoned building we visited, I was very happy and surprised to have my first looks at two young Turkey Vultures! Their hissing is quite loud and if you don’t know where it is coming from, it is quite unnerving, and not many things scare me.

The next two buildings we visited each had two young vultures. Many of the buildings had Barn Swallows nests in them, and one had an Eastern Phoebe nest. These old buildings are very important if they can sustain Turkey Vultures, Barn Swallows, and Eastern Phoebes nests all under one roof.

In total, Dr. Nelson and I saw seven adult Turkey Vultures and six young vultures. Dr. Nelson estimates that the chicks are about 35 to 40 days old. Today was just a scouting trip, and in a few day Dr. Nelson will go back with a licensed Turkey Vulture bander and wing tag them. Thank you very much to Dr. Nelson for taking me along.

I had a wonderful time looking at the vultures, and hope to do it again some time!

My first look at young Turkey Vultures,

At the second house with chicks,

An adult,

A house with a Turkey Vulture in the background,

Here is a video of the vultures hissing,

Also, Dr. Nelson is imprinting a young Peregrine Falcon for falconry, and it rides along in his car, in a box. Before yesterday I had never seen a Peregrine Falcon in real life, so it was very entertaining having one in the backseat.

The falcon is 26 days old,