Sunday, December 23, 2012

Valley Inn Road

For the first time in many weeks, I headed out for a lunch hour with my camera and binoculars for a quick trip to Valley Inn Road.  I didn't end up seeing anything new, but did get some nice opportunities for pictures.  It was quite heavily overcast, so the lighting wasn't great, forcing me to bump the ISO on the camera up to 400 for most shots... I was actually quite pleased with the results considering.

There were lots of Chickadees and Juncos there.  The Chickadees were literally landing on both me and my camera hoping for a handout. The Juncos though avoided me, scurrying away on the ground into the goldenrod, or winging into the brush with their characteristic flash of white from their outside tail feathers.  I never even got one shot of them.  Some day.

Black-capped Chickadee feeding on Sumac fruit.

Black-capped Chickadee perched on Sumac.

There were three Downy Woodpeckers playing a game of tag in the trees along the pond's edge.  They were hiding on opposite sides of trees and then skittering around the trunks, trying to catch the other off guard - quite amusing to watch and hard to capture in picture!

Downy Woodpeckers playing.

Male Downy Woodpecker

I skirted around a pond to see if I could get a better view of a small group of ducks including Mallards, Northern Shovellers, and a single Hooded Merganser, but I ran out of time.  Along the way, the Chickadees followed me, and I saw a Sparrow which I'm sure if a Song Sparrow, possibly a first winter bird.  I also saw a White-throated Sparrow.  Isn't it odd how you can go forever without seeing a bird, and then once you've found it (last post), you see it again soon after?  Odd.

Black-capped Chickadee

1st Winter Song Sparrow?

White-throated Sparrow

Following me also were the Downy Woodpeckers.  They were surprisingly bold and not at all shy.

Female Downy Woodpecker

Male Downy Woodpecker

There were about three or four female Cardinals eating some sort of berries in the trees.  I'm not used to seeing that many cardinals together.  And often when you see a female, a male is present somewhere - not this time.

Female Northern Cardinal

I stopped in at Woodland Cemetery on may way out, hoping that this would finally be my day to see the Red Morph Screech Owl that lives there.  I've stopped many times and never seen it.  I had met a gentleman on my way out from Valley Inn and he had mentioned he had seen again recently, so I had to give it another try. Nothing again.  However, looking over the inlet of Grindstone Creek to Hamilton Harbour (where the Valley Inn area is) I noticed some Great Black-backed gulls.  They weren't close, but I thought it was still an improvement on an earlier, distant picture from back in December, 2011 - almost exactly a year ago.  Turns out, my previous shot is closer. 

Great Black-backed Gulls (left)

I hope to do some more birding and outings over the next while... that was the longest stretch I've gone in a long while but home, work, and church had been very busy lately.  I have a huge pile of firewood on my driveway that has to get split this Christmas holidays, so not sure what will happen this week.  I am still trying to debate whether to go on the Christmas Bird Count on Boxing Day.  I've been down with a cold this weekend so we'll have to see how that figures into the mix as well.

To end this point, here's wishing you all a very Blessed Christmas.  I hope you're all enjoying some time off with family and friends!  We'll see if I get a reason to post again before the New Year.