Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Apparently "updates soon" means "updates in 3 months"

As I sit blowing warm air into my cold fingers before typing a few words on my horrendously slow home computer writing an update to the least-updated blog in the universe while watching a hunter's truck slow down in front of our house with a rifle pointing out the window (probably hunting the pheasants that we are so happy to have around our house) and hearing Josh Groban pelt out Silent Night in the dining room (my Mom's choice), there is a big ol' crooked smile on my facade at the improbability of me actually having spotted the Spotted Towhee that has now been hanging around Point Pelee since November (...October?!).

Although it was an astonishingly beautiful day on Saturday that would have been ideal for going to Point Pelee to see the bird, which is a great rarity for the area, I decided instead to go on Sunday, quite possibly the windiest day of the year. With trees falling down around me and ice pellets blowing into my face, I bravely ventured out into the park from the warmth of my car to visit the 42nd Parallel sign where the bird has been reported for weeks.

The first good sign was that there were birds around. With the slightest amount of pishing, a large group of Juncos immediately surfaced, followed by a pair of Northern Cardinals, a few American Tree Sparrows, and a Downy Woodpecker. I had been there for about 2 minutes at this point when suddenly another bird popped up from behind a fallen log. THE SPOTTED TOWHEE! Hands now shaking from excitement instead of the cold, I was able to watch the bird for about a minute in my bins before it was concealed again. I got on the phone and gave a self-congratulatory phone call to Marianne, which seemed like a good idea at the time but the long distance fees added to the roaming charges will have me sighing at my Koodo bill in another month's time.

I decided to walk to the tip area to check out if there were any rafts of ducks on the open water. Nothing extraordinary but there was a flock of about 15 Northern Pintail, which was quite interesting. The warm weather must have had them moving. I could only huddle next to the rocks at the tip for so long before I started to get cold so I headed back to the safety of the forest to take one more look at the Spotted Towhee. This time, the bird flew in front of me across the path, which allowed a great look at its wing-pattern (beautiful).

Other birds for the day included 2 Brown Creepers behind the Cattail Cafe along with both a Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglet, a few White-throated Sparrows, and of course, more juncos.

The next day, I went to the park again, this time meeting up with Marianne in the morning. Boy, did it ever help to have someone there with me to keep my mind off the fact that I was wearing thin boots with large holes in them, no other protection on my legs but jeans, and gloves that kept my fingers warm for most of the morning until I decided to try to get photos of the Spotted Towhee (which we relocated easily). Now "try" is definitely the key word of the last sentence. I will be posting these "photos" on my blog once I get back to Toronto (you might not see them until 4 months from now but I do plan to get them up!). Marianne had a good point that they are good enough for records (you can see the bird) but a couple of them look like those shots of Nessie that provide evidence for the Loch Ness monster.

We had some other interesting birds including quite a few finches flying over (Goldfinches and Purple Finches), a large flock of 29 American Robins flying over the tip, two Bald Eagles, a couple of other raptors (a nice Cooper's Hawk flew right over the Spotted Towhee location), and the regular wintering birds.

More to come!