Sunday, May 19, 2013

Go Climb A Tree

I couldn't pass up yesterday's great weather to get out for a little birding foray and my efforts were richly rewarded with 10 additions to my year list, including 2 for my life list. My intended destination was a marsh on the end of my subdivision down by Wood Buffalo and Dickinsfield. I stopped along the way by a storm pond to catch my first Red-winged Blackbird and Grackle sightings and it was there that I caught my first glimpse of a Savannah Sparrow in the grass along the marsh edge. From there I skirted a treeline behind some condos on my way to the marsh. At this point I decided to duck into the woods just to see what I might find. At the end of a path covered in dead fall I came across this structure that someone had built. I'm not sure who put it there or for what purpose but realized it would make a nice little viewing platform. So up I went. About halfway up I realized I'm a little leery of heights but the urge to get a better view and add to my year list helped me push those fears out of mind. It was only 20-30 feet high anyhow and seemed sturdy enough.

I was rewarded for my efforts. I raised my binoculars to my eyes and spotted my first Northern Flicker resting on an old log a few metres away. Soon after that I spied a Black-and-White Warbler and some ducks (likely Mallards) overflew my position.   It was turning into a promising day...and I wasn't even to my intended destination yet.

When I did get to the marsh, I wasn't disappointed....a Canada Goose sleeping with head tucked under wing, a pair of Blue-winged Teals, male and female a Common Goldeneye which I see quite a bit of there....and then something I had never seen before.

I'm at the point in my birding that I can usually identify bird pretty good by its general shape.  A bird whizzed by me earlier in the day and I knew it was some sort of Sandpiper but I needed to consult the guide to see exactly what kind of sandpiper, for example.  Anyhow, I knew I had seen photos of this type of bird before so I was pretty sure it was some sort of Rail.  Water birds I'm still a bit weak on so I had to pull out the guide.  Fortunately, this particular fellow cooperated by not taking flight and stuck around long enough for me to id him.  He turned out to be a Sora, which apparently are fairly common here though I'd never seen one before.

I would have stayed longer but it was getting a tad warm for me (note to time take water with you) so I decided to head back at that point.  It took me a lot longer this year to find a chance to head out what with my work schedule and the winter weather that seemed to not want to end but in the end it turned out to be perhaps my best outing in terms of number of species sighted.  Not too shabby for a couple hours of traipsing around.

For the curious, here is a list of what I saw...

-- Red-winged blackbird
-- Common Grackle
-- Savannah Sparrow
-- Solitary Sandpiper
-- Black-and-white warbler
-- Northern Flicker
-- Common Goldeneye
-- Mallard
-- Sora
-- Blue-winged Teal

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