Birding over the past few days has been an eye opener with the contrast in the recent weather. Hard to believe on Christmas Eve it was 17c and starting on December 27 a total change in the weather. Winter has arrived and some late lingering species will now slowly die off. The unusually mild late fall and early winter had contributed to there extended lifespan but you can't stop winter. Overnight we received 20+ cms of snow and temperatures are cooling off back to the norm. Species like the Wood Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Cape May Warbler seen on the Ottawa-Gatineau CBC its only the matter of time before they succumb to the elements. Even the Bullock's Orioles chance of survival is zero. Its a harsh reality that winter listing is just chasing the dying. I know a list is a list but we never look at the overall picture. These unfortunate souls are here for a short time and they are merely a tick on your list. We can't save them all, occasionally species such as hummingbirds are captured but don't always do well. It's part of nature and what we witness in our day to day birding actives. Since these birds are only here for a brief time remember not to be selfish and try and get the best photo but keep your distance and respect them.
Most local Christmas bird counts benefited from the lack of snow and above normal temperatures which resulted in numerous new species being found for the first time and new record highs were set. With mild conditions lasting up until Dec. 26, a number of late lingerers managed to survive. Under normally conditions these birds wouldn’t have lasted this long.
The Pakenham-Arnprior Christmas Bird Count held on Dec.26 tallied one of its highest totals with 60 species. The record is 66 species set in 2001. Viewing conditions were excellent along the various waterways which helped out in counting late lingering water birds. Definitely the highlight of the count was the long staying Bullock’s Oriole found back on Nov.29. Unfortunately many of these late lingering land birds won’t survive the now wintery conditions. There were four other new species recorded including Red-throated Loon, Red-necked Grebe, Double-crested Cormorant and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Record high tallies included 1,561 Canada Geese, 14 American Black Ducks, 101 Common Goldeneyes, 316 Herring Gulls, 10 Ring-billed Gulls, 31 Great Black-backed Gulls, three Eastern Screech-Owls, 10 Barred Owls and five Song Sparrows.
The drastic change in weather seriously affected the results of the Massena-Cornwall Christmas Bird Count held on Dec.27. A combination of freezing rain, rain, and snow flurries made it a challenge. The highlight of the count was the female Smew first discovered on Dec.13 near Long Sault and relocated prior to the count between Upper Canada Village and Ault Island. Other interesting species including two Tundra Swans, 500 Redheads, 18,000 Canada Geese, and 3,000 Snow Geese.
A freezing rain storm didn't stop this Mountain Bluebird.
A small flock of late lingering Northern Shovelers were found along the Ottawa River at Britannia.
The Bullock's Oriole continues at Pakenham, Ontario.
During the recent winter snow storm and cold temperatures it still managed to feed on the apples. Below is a series of photos.
Recent freezing rain.
American Robins will feed on berries and other fruit during the winter months.
A Northern Cardinal feeding on the ice covered branch.
A levitating Northern Cardinal !