Sunday, December 29, 2013

Intergrade Northern Flicker

I have had two Northern Flickers (Colaptes auratus) coming to my feeders today.  One is a Red-shafted female, which is unusual for my area as I live in the eastern prairies.  The other flicker is this one.

This is a hybrid or intergrade male, with the grey-crowned head and facial colouring of a Yellow-shafted, but with the red moustache of a Red-shafted (black in a Yellow-shafted)

There's a hint of the Yellow-shafted's red crescent at the nape

And, for the heck of it....flicker tongue!

I heard this fella singing/calling from a neighbour's tree when I went outdoors earlier to fill feeders.  Very shortly, the Red-shafted female joined him. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Well, Merry Christmas, Everyone

Another Christmas has wrapped up.  I've been on and off with the enthusiasm this holiday season.  The weather makes such a difference to me - and it has been too very cold for nearly all of December.

BUT, yesterday we had a break.  It was -4C.  It was even sunny!  I went off on my now-traditional drive around the countryside, looking for birds and generally enjoying whatever I find.

Some scenes captured along the way:

Many Canada Geese in residence at Boundary Dam.  Half of the reservoir is ice-free all winter.  This is at a warm water bay.  (The reservoir is used as cooling water for the electricity-generating turbines at the power plant)

There isn't a great lot of snow around, compared to places north of here.  Fingers crossed it stays like this.

My favourite little farm with the beautiful Percheron horses.  Had only a minute or so to snap a quick photo as the farm dog, a large golden lab, was racing my way to check out why a vehicle was stopped at his farm.  Generally, I try not to stop near farm building as it really is a bit disconcerting for the people living there.  I just had to get a shot of this colourful scene, though.

A Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus), one of four seen during the drive.  There is a Snowy Owl irruption down into the Eastern US this year.  We always have a few of these wonderful birds visiting during the winters. Fuzzy photo - he was quite a distance away, but I had to try for a shot.

I hope everyone had a pleasant Christmas.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Colourful In Winter

Today I went out driving around part of my usual winter birding route.  Nothing, Nothing, Nothing.  I don't blame the birds for not being here this year.  We had a disgusting deep cold spell - as has most of North America - since early December.  There just aren't many birds of any kind.

There was, however, this quite magnificent male Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) in a Sea buck-thorn shrub (well, I think it is Sea buck-thorn).  I had exactly enough time to stop my vehicle, grab my camera, turn it on, back the vehicle up and snap a single photo before Mr. Handsome flew off.

If this is, in fact, a Sea Buck-thorn (Hippophae rhamnoides L.), its berries are very high in protein, vitamins C and E, and organic acids.