Monday 20 March 2017

Yard birding magic

It's been a long winter here in Peterborough...we got a taste of spring at the end of February, but since then it has been back to winter. And winter wasn't too exciting for birds since there was no real finch movement of any sort and feeder activity in general has been very poor. The one glimmer of excitement has been a nice Great Gray Owl irruption, but anyways, the point is, birding has been slow.

Things have started changing in the past week and birding around my yard has been full of surprises. For me, yard birding is one of the best ways to enjoy birding since it results in being very aware of even small changes. Plus, it gives you an excuse to get excited for birds that might be common just a few kilometres away!

My excellent week of yard birding began last Wednesday (March 15) when I looked out my kitchen window and noticed this sitting on one of my feeder poles:
Hermit Thrush
I can only assume this is a bird that over-wintered nearby, rather than an extremely early migrant. After all, it was an excellent year for berry-eating birds here in Peterborough.

The next piece of excitement was REALLY exciting. We were minding our business on Saturday (March 18) when my neighbour knocked on the door to tell me she had seen a large owl. I quickly put on pants and boots, grabbed my camera, and ran down the road to see....
Great Gray Owl!
After my excitement wore off a little bit, I slowly backed up until I was standing on my yard and could still see the owl, thereby adding it to my yard list!

Sunday on the yard brought some more excitement with a flock of Bohemian Waxwings descending (finally!) on our crab apple tree. They feasted all afternoon, interspersing some sips of water from nearby puddles. They were a very photogenic bunch:

That brings us to today (March 20)...what surprises were in store? First steps outside and I was greeted by a singing Winter Wren, then Erica texted me mid-afternoon to say there was a Barred Owl in our wetland. As soon as I got home, I went to check and sure enough there it was:

That Barred Owl was extra neat because it was in the same spot one was a couple of months ago, and it eventually flew to virtually the same spot the Great Gray was just a couple days earlier! I went out at dusk to see if any owls were out and about and while I didn't see/hear any, I was greeted by a displaying American Woodcock; more yard birding magic!

All in all, it just goes to show that sometimes you don't have to travel too far to find some great birds.