Friday, August 10, 2012

Shots from the Lodge Part 2

Last year at the Lodge, a pair of Merlins were nesting just across the lake from the Lodge, and the klee-klee-klee call of the adults and two juveniles were heard often.  We saw them wheeling in the sky and saw them a number of times, once close enough for pictures once we found the nest.  This year I was hoping to see them again, but the sky was empty of their cries.

However, at the end of my Monday trip out by Tait Lake I suddenly heard the distinct calls of Merlin.  I tracked them down to a stick nest in a huge White Pine in the backyard of a cottage of someone who lives, ironically, not more than 10 minutes from our place.  Though they had heard the birds all summer (and from the residents, sounds like they've nested there three years now), they didn't know what it was and had never spotted the nest, so they gladly gave me permission to hang out there for a short while in exchange for my service of information.  This nest is about 3.5km (as the crow flies) from the nest site by the Lodge.  I wonder if one of the Merlin from these either of the nests is an offspring from the other.  I was surprised to find active (at the very least last year they would have been active together) nests that close.

This was my first sighting -
Juvenile Merlin close to getting its first year plumage.

While taking pictures, I noticed the wing of a woodpecker (compared to the pine needles, likely a Downy Woodpecker), the only remains of a meal.  The male, who does most of the food provision during nesting period and before the young fledge, probably surprised the prey using its characteristic attack from above hunting style.

A Merlin's supper remains of a woodpecker.

Adult Merlin

I think there was still another juvenile in the nest as the adult paid a good deal of attention to it.  Possibly one or more of the birds hadn't fledged yet as that time of year would be right around the time they normally would do so.

Adult Merlin watching nest.

Later in the week, I took an early evening cruise in the canoe around Lily Lake, the shallower lakes by the Lodge.  This lake has more gradual topography along its edges with swampy fringes and gradual banks.  That is in contrast to Rock Lake (the connected lake where the Lodge is) which is rimmed with rock cliffs and steep banks.

Sunset on Lilly Lake showing the
Lake's typical surroundings.

While doing my slow circuit of the Lake's perimeter, I saw and heard a conversation between, what sounded like two Chipping Sparrows.  Approaching it from the water, I managed to get relatively close, and get a few pictures.  Later, when looking through the pictures, I was pleased to discover that it was a Swamp Sparrow though.  That is life bird #92.  Its pulsing chip is very similar to that of the Chipping Sparrow, and from a distance, its appearance is too.  But the habitat of swampy areas rather than grassy openings was a good clue, and from some research, found out that the "chipping" rate of the Swamp Sparrow's call is somewhat slower.

Swamp Sparrow

Through out my circuit of the lake I had heard the raspy grate of a Raven calling continuously.  I couldn't see it anywhere, though at one point I thought I saw a dark spot in a tree and took the picture shown below, but figured it was nothing.  Later I found out it was... a little later I approached the closest shore and got out to see if the boggy plant material on the edge would support my weight for a better vantage point.  The Raven flew out of the spot I had wondered about.  I hadn't added this bird to my life list earlier, but figured I'd insert it at the bottom as this is really when I saw it first - up north when I worked in Northern Ontario for a summer during university)  It then bumps my list numbers up.  But this was the first photograph opportunity, if you can call a black blob in a picture a photographed bird?

Common Raven
(look for the black blob 1/3 of the way up)
(and this is a cropped view at that!)

With the light waning with the sun already behind the trees, I headed back to Rock Lake to join the rest of the gang for and evening of games and snacks.  As I canoed along the edge of Rock Lake, I noticed a bird foraging along the ground, moving across fallen tree trunks and through the low brush.  I never got a close look but it looked like a thrush of some sort.  By the time I slowed the canoe, put my paddle down, and camera up, I had no chance for a picture as the bird soon headed for cover. Right after that I noticed what I figured were Chickadees busy higher up in the Cedars and Pine branches, flitting from little branch to little branch.  But thankfully, I lingered and a flash of yellow made it obvious this was not the common bird I had assumed.  Quickly switching to ISO 3200! and shutter speed of 1/50, I hoped I could capture enough light for a picture to at least ID the bird.  As I clicked away, a second bird appeared, and I'm assuming it was a pair I saw as the markings are somewhat different - the angles of the pictures on the birds are different so hard to be sure.  The pictures below is what I got with some lighting, cropping and sharpening editing. It's obvious enough from the pictures though that they were Yellow-rumped Warblers, Myrtle variety.  Another life bird - #93!

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) - female?

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) - male?

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) - female?

I must say, this bird was one of the most exciting finds of the week.  It took me a little while to ID it up at the lodge - all I had was my Android version of Sybley's on my phone, though later in the night I did go on the internet (on my phone) and peruse through Cornell's website (a resource I love to use) and finally figured it out. 

So that left my week, so far, at 4 life birds if I count the Raven given it did change my list.  And I saw more...  So, I'm going to leave the rest for a third post so I don't bore you with a long drawn out one here.

I hope you are all enjoying the nice summer weather, and if you live in Southern Ontario, finally some significant rainfall.  I'm off to a wedding tomorrow of a girl from church who's dad is a farmer.  I'm sure they're having mixed feelings about the desire for rain for the crops and no rain for the wedding!

Till next time...

1 comment:

  1. Great shots of the Merlin! Sounds like a great vacation :)


Sorry about the annoying word verification... I've been deluged with Spam comments lately and some have been offensive.