Archive | October 2018

Nova Scotia Part 3: Halifax

We spent the last two nights of our trip to Nova Scotia in Halifax. While Doran attended Hal-con, I walked around the city. It was very windy, and although I was hoping to find some good birds there weren’t too many around.

My first stop was the Halifax Public Gardens. I wasn’t able to hear much over the wind, but I did find two White-throated Sparrows among the usual starlings, pigeons, gulls and mallards that spend their time here. It would be nice to visit in the warmer months to find some different migrant or breeding songbirds, as the park – though beautiful – doesn’t seem to attract a great variety of species in the later fall months.

From there I walked down to the harbour, hoping the waterbirds would at least make the visit worthwhile. The usual Herring Gulls were bobbing on the water and lined up on the piers, but I didn’t see a single duck or seabird.

Herring Gull

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Nova Scotia Part 2: The Pheasant

Ring-necked Pheasant

On October 25th we spent some time visiting Doran’s foster mother just outside of Greenwood. She has a large property on the south mountain and maintains a set of feeders that leaves me envious. A small line of trees separates her property from her neighbour’s on the one side, and an open grassy field lies between her house and the other neighbour’s. Her back lawn rolls down to another small woodlot at the back, which has a small muddy swamp at the bottom of the slope. In just six days spent there in May 2012 and July 2015 I counted 28 species on her property, including a mother mallard crossing the yard with 8 ducklings, an American Woodcock “peenting” at night, a Savannah Sparrow, a Pine Siskin, a Purple Finch, two Evening Grosbeaks, a singing Chestnut-sided Warbler, Ovenbird, Red-eyed Vireo and a surprise Northern Waterthrush perching in a spruce tree near the deck bobbing its tail. My favourite bird, however, is one that we don’t see in Ottawa: the Ring-necked Pheasant!
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Nova Scotia Part I: Margaretsville

White-crowned Sparrow

In late October Doran and I spent nearly a week in Nova Scotia to visit his family and spend some time at Hal-Con, the huge sci-fi, fantasy and gaming convention held in Halifax. We spent the first part of our trip at a cottage in Margaretsville, a small town on the Bay of Fundy only a short drive from Doran’s home town of Kingston. The cottage was beautiful with a large second floor loft that looked out over the water. It sat on a wide expanse of lawn with a grove of trees between the house and the road. On our first day there I saw a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow on the gravel driveway just outside the cottage, a couple of crows and a raven flying over, five Herring Gulls and a single Ring-billed Gull, and a Common Loon swimming along the bay. The cottage was close enough to the shore that I could set up my travel scope in the large picture window and watch the birds from the comfort of indoors!

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Shorebirds and Water Birds

American Wigeon (male)

After Thanksgiving most birders in our region turn their attention from songbirds to water birds, as the bulk of the songbirds have moved through while many ducks, grebes, geese, and shorebirds are just starting to move south. This is about the time we transition from T-shirts to long sleeves, but this year it got cold quickly – the two days following Thanksgiving reached 27°C, then plunged to 11°C the following day. Since then the nights have been cold, hovering just above 0°C, while day-time temperatures have not broken the 20°C mark since, and several days in the past week remained in the single digits. The below-average temperatures may have spurred on some local bird movement, for some great birds have turned up after the drop in temperatures.

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Birds of Early Fall

Winter Wren

By the end of September there is a change in the air. There are fewer warbler species and more sparrows and thrushes and kinglets as the temperature starts to fall and the nights grow longer than the days. On the last Saturday in September I started my day with a walk at the Eagleson ponds, where only a few Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs remained after the recent rains caused the water levels to rise. The Great Black-backed Gull, three heron species, and a single kingfisher were still present as well. About 150 Canada Geese were swimming throughout the ponds; these were new, as only one or two families had stayed the summer. The only Red-winged Blackbirds I saw were all in a single flock of about two dozen birds flying over, and while Song Sparrows were still numerous, the first Dark-eyed Junco had arrived. A single Ruby-crowned Kinglet, two Yellow-rumped Warblers, and two Blackpoll Warblers were signs that the season was changing.

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