Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Most Peaceful Place

Is this a slice of heaven or what?

Opapiskaw Rapids

on the Winnipeg River near Lac du Bonnet, MB  (the locals say lac du bonny)

The river was higher than usual, so the rapids were fairly submerged.

Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium

So very peaceful.

I think this is Alumroot (Heuchera richardsonii). 

Did I say it was a most peaceful, still evening....??? 

And what Canadian lake, river or stream is complete without our national animal Castor canadensis

A storm advancing?  Yes, this is part of the storm system that caused flooding in Alberta, dumped a lot of rain over Southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba....with more to come.  But, I didn't know about all that.  I'd been in the woods for a few days, completely oblivious of what was going on in the rest of the world.  Switched off and tuned out.  So nice.

A Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis) also enjoying the simple and very natural life.

This particular bit of serenity was courtesy of Opapiskaw Campground in Manitoba's Whiteshell Provincial Park.

Thanks, Manitoba.  I'll be back.

Where is it?

Friday, June 21, 2013

At Falcon Lake

I'm in the Whiteshell Provincial Park in eastern Manitoba.  Yesterday we (my cat & I) fetched up at Falcon Lake for the night. 

The lake

The campground

There are always Ring-billed Gulls....(and Herring Gulls, too)

The marsh

And the campground deer - a semi-tame white-tail doe

I like it here.


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Wrangling The Wood-Pewee

A little flycatcher has been visiting my back yard recently, perching on the utility wires, alertly snapping up hapless insects flying by.  

It certainly was a Wood-Pewee, but which one? They are virtually identical; well at least they are to me.

One morning, the bird was back out fly-catching from a favoured spot on a utility wire to my house.  I watched, and then heard a clear, sweet peee'yer.   Exactly the same sound as the first part of the usual two-part Eastern's song.  

And to be 'sure', I listened to several versions of the Western's song on various bird sound CDs and on-line sources.  Very different sounds, quite burry and more robust.

All right!  My bird is an Eastern!

Ah, but then I started to have my doubts shortly after posting my 'positive idenitifcation' on Facebook.   (Isn't that annoying!)

The bird continued to fly-catch around my yard, but less frequently and I began to hear a distinctly burry "whjeeeer" in the distance of a neighbour's yard when the bird wasn't present in mine.  Okay, that is a Western Wood-Pewee singing.


Could both species be here?  Yes,  I live in the over-lap part of their ranges,  in the SE corner of Saskatchewan.  I often see and hear the Eastern bird down along the river.  The Westerns....not often right in this area.

See range maps below.

This morning, thinking I should really do something or other with  this blog post (I had loaded the photos last week), I pulled out one of my many field guides just to have another consideration of my little mystery bird.  And there, at the bottom of the description of the Western Wood-Pewee, Ted Floyd has remarked in the Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America:
Song generally distinct from Eastern; a down-slurred jeeer, much harsher than Eastern.  At any time of year, can give sweet peeya notes, recalling Eastern  (my underscore emphasis).
So, I think my little bird above is a Western Wood-Pewee....or not.....could be two different birds, but I don't think so.  Frankly, I don't recall having either one as yard birds before.

All the fly-catchers give me a headache!

Range Maps (courtesy of All About Birds)

Eastern Wood-Pewee Range Map 
Western Wood-Pewee Range Map

Information sources:

All About Birds 
Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sights From Yesterday's Drive

Yesterday morning I tossed all plans of a garden-work day aside...the weeds will wait.  A mostly warm and sunny day, after several days of rain, was beckoning me out onto the roads.  I travelled around part of my extended birding route, checking out points to the north and west of me. 

Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis)  There were 3 at the Midale/Macoun Marsh.  One bird was in high breeding plumage, with a very bright red bill (and legs, which aren't seen in this photo)

 The other two were of this plumage, legs to match the bill. 

Horned Grebes (Podiceps auritus) are common here, but seldom as co-operative for an impromptu photo-shoot as this one was.

A Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena) puffed out its topknot but kept its distance.

And, the beautiful little Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)

Spring seeding is still in progress around here, in between massive rainfalls.  I pulled off the road to let this monster sprayer zoom by.  (No comment!)

Back to the soothing pasture land, which our Fed & Provincial gov'ts are trying to sell-off.....

The  Common NIghthawks (Chordeiles minor) returned this past week.  Wonderful birds, nighthawks.

Road bans are on, plus we had a few inches of rain lately.  This rig was hauled in early and is waiting for things to dry up.  Too bad it is just a short distance away from a former Burrowing Owl pasture (last year, the owners of this tiny bit of native prairie plowed up 75% of it and planted corn.  If the owls returned, they didn't stay long enough to breed.  Yesterday there weren't any owls thanks a lot, Mr. Farmer).

It is hard to see an Upland Sandpipier (Bartramia longicauda) when it has landed in a stubble or lightly-worked field. 

Last but definitely not least, a very bubbly Bobolink male, doing his very handsome best to attract a lady BOBO. 

It was a very lovely and relaxing day.  As I said, the road bans are still on, so the back roads were fairly quiet.