Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Holiday birding and onward to 2013

I did the nontraditional for the first time in my life.  I was not in Essex County for the holidays.  I ran away from the epic family meals and the hectic going to and from work to house to church to house to work to house.  I aborted the whole thing to spend a few days with my sister in Barrie for Christmas.  Of course, I made a couple of pit stops along the way.

Leaving at 5:30 am on the 23rd, I drove straight through Toronto and stopped off at Durham Park in Oshawa to see if the Western Tanager would be as reliable as the Ontbirds posts preceding it.  When I arrived there were already a few birders present, but no Western Tanager.  After about 20 minutes of searching, the Tanager revealed herself, and began feeding. I managed a few mediocre photos.

Western Tanager at Durham Park in Oshawa.  Photo by Marianne Reid-Balkwill

From there I hoped on the 401 again and then made a beeline north towards the Peterborough area to see if I could find the Northern Hawk Owl.  I wasn't sure if this bird would still be around as there wasn't any Ontbirds posts in a few days, nor was there any recent reports on Ebird. As posted in the directions on Ontbirds, I pulled over along the highway just north of an old rail line, and then walked under the rail line heading west.  Surprisingly, I was the only one out there.  I thought for sure being the weekend there would at least be someone else. After walking down the trail for about 15 minutes I looked up and in came the owl and alighted in the tree about 20 feet in front of me. That'll do!

Northern Hawk Owl just west of Peterborough.  Photo by Marianne Reid-Balkwill

After grabbing a few photos, I returned to my car with a celebratory "whoo-hoo" of two lifers in a day.

My sister is by no means a birder, but we did go for walks around her subdivision, and I was pleasantly surprised when a Pine Grosbeak landed in a tree just across the street from her house.  We also went into the Barrie Arboretum and saw just over 60 Bohemian Waxwings in a tree, as well as a flock of White-winged Crossbills. Not a bad holiday break, and seeing my sister was a nice change from the usual routine I've participated in for the last 31 years.

I hope everyone out there that reads this little blog had a nice holiday season, whether you spent it with friends and family, or somewhere abroad, I wish you all a prosperous 2013!


  1. A great birdy holiday season you had!
    Here's to the New Year!

  2. Hello. I have just found your and one of the first things i saw was my dream bird or the one I most want to see in the world, the Hawk Owl. You lucky person, Mick