2012/01/31

AAA trip to Amherst Island, Ontario

Trent's Avian Appreciation Association (AAA) has been planning a birding trip to Amherst Island for quite a while now, and I was glad to take a break from sorting my insect collection and go outside for a much needed birding experience. Amherst Island is an island in Lake Ontario and accessible by ferry (or air) and is home to many species of owls during summer and winter.

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Leaving Peterborough around 8am.

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Reached Lake Ontario after 10:30am.

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View from the ferry.

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The main focus of this trip is to look for owls - Snowy, Short-eared, etc. Unfortunately, we were not very lucky in the beginning and saw only other raptors, e.g. Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Harrier, etc.

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Red-tailed Hawk in flight.

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Northern Harrier.

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Stopping along Lake Ontario because our American friends wanted to touch Lake Ontario.
 
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Very cool phenomenon - rocks and vegetation along the water edge were covered by ice!

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Like one of those musical instruments that I can't remember the name of at the moment.

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Snapping away.

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More icicles.

Nature's Artwork - Freezing Branches
A wonderful and amazing piece of artwork by Mother Nature.

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Searching for owls in a promising area named "Owl Woods". And yet we had no luck.

However, we were still entertained by cute and tamed Black-capped Chickadees feeding from our hands!

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Almost picture-perfect.

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
You want me to take one?

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Fine, alright.

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I think I will take this one.
 
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
Here. That should lighten up your load.

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Bye!

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
Choosy birds.

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Another poor but funny shot.

Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus)
Then we saw two Rough-legged Hawks (Buteo lagopus) hovering high up right above the woodland. Pretty sure it was a lifer for me. You can identify them by the dark mark at the 'wrist' area.

Then our group broke apart because some people wanted to go home earlier. I decided to stay behind with a few others.
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Driving from the woodlot, we saw an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) perched on a wire feeding on a small rodent!

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Digiscoped with my Nikon S4100.

Following the direction from others who saw a couple Snowy Owls (Nyctea scandiaca) today, we found them ourselves too!

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)
It was at least 300m away from the road.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)
It was amazing to see such a big and white bird perched so effortlessly on a tree in a relatively brown landscape.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus) - digiscoped
Digiscoped. This one is darker than

Then we found a second one, also following the direction from others.

Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Facing away from us.

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Moving to another post.

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Poorly digiscoped.

By then, we only had less than an hour to wait for the ferry so we drove near the dock and looked for wildlife there.

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Saw another Red-tailed Hawk.

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It flew to the ground and seemed to be stomping on something.

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Then it took off again and scared a murmuration of European Starlings.

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One last look at the hawk.

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End of the street is where the ferry comes.

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While waiting for the ferry, we saw a Bald Eagle flew across the lake. We took this photo after getting onto the ferry.

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Sunset over Lake Ontario. Time to head back to Peterborough.

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Map of Amherst Island. PDF versions are here.

Good way to end the first month of the new year.
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