It’s been awhile since I’ve done a monthly recap, but I thought Canada’s 150th birthday was a good reason to write one! To celebrate the occasion, I’ve compiled my Top 10 Canadian Wildlife Moments.
I also recap what I’ve been up to in May and June and what’s coming up next for The Afternoon Birder. Is there another trip in the works? Of course there is!
Top 10 Canadian Wildlife Moments
1. Seeing Moose in the wild at Algonquin Park
2. Snowy Owls in Winter
3. Feeding Gray Jays Peanuts in -20° Celsius
4. Eastern Bluebirds in a snowstorm
5. Common Loons on a Lake in Summer
6. Bald Eagles in British Columbia
7. Breeding season – The variety of birds raising young in Canada
8. Bohemian Waxwings eating berries
9. Colourful Grosbeaks Brightening Up The Winter
10. Great Gray Owls – The Phantom of the North
What are your favourite Canadian wildlife moments? Please share in the comments below ↓
May and June Birding
Since returning from Australia at the end of May, I hit the ground running and dove right into the tail end of warbler migration. I got a few good warbler days in, but it was all over far too quickly. Since I missed most of migration, I decided I had to go further afield and track down warblers on their breeding territories.
I found Canada Warblers on two occasions – once in the east end of Ottawa with Eastern Ontario Birding and the other with a friend in Gatineau Park. I’ve seen at least 6 individuals this spring which is unheard of!
My best day of birding since returning was heading west from Ottawa to see Prairie, Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers on their breeding territories. I wrote an entire post about this outing because it was so good!
My big photography update is I bought a wide-angle lens for my D7200. On my trip to Australia, I began to see other people’s landscape photographs and I realized my iPhone wasn’t going to cut it anymore! After talking to some friends on Instagram (thanks @earlofclinton, @nickhaw and @tracey_mccosker) and on Twitter (thanks @harry_fosters) I decided on a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 (Amazon link).
I’ll do an entire post about landscape photography once I become more familiar with it, but to give you an idea – what started as “I’ll just find a cheap 2nd hand lens” escalated to spending more than expected. To do landscape photography properly you need the lens, but also filters (that aren’t cheap) and a tripod.
Here are two shots I’ve taken with the new setup:
Grassland Bird Species
I did numerous outings in June to areas with good grassland habitat. I remember growing up in Ottawa and seeing Eastern Meadowlarks, Bobolinks and Upland Sandpipers regularly. Now you have to visit particular areas to see these species. I was interested in learning about their decline and what the average birder can do to help.
According to Cornell,
During the past quarter century, grassland birds have experienced steeper, more consistent, and more widespread population declines than any other avian guild in North America.
What Can You Do?
After doing some research and speaking with people who work in conservation, I came up with this list of suggestions:
- Use eBird to record your sightings. Data from eBird is used for conservation planning, habitat management and for making policy decisions and laws!
- If you’re in Canada write to Minister McKenna, if you’re in the US write to the head of the US Fish and Wildlife Service and voice your concerns
- Donate to non-profit organizations like Nature Conservancy of Canada or the American Bird Conservancy
- If you’re a landowner, participate in initiatives to protect these species like delayed mowing of hay (some farmers mow their hay while nests are still active)
- Educate yourself about this issue and spread awareness to others
I’ve been working through the list myself and sharing the details on social media to raise awareness.
Coming up Next
I plan to stick around the Ottawa area for most of July and August, but do local birding trips and some camping. July is often a slow month on the birding front, but I’m already looking forward to fall migration starting up in August. I’m also hoping to try my hand at astrophotography with the new lens!
My next trip is to Prince Edward Island for a week at the end of August. PEI is an island off the east coast of Canada and, while this isn’t a pure birding trip, I’ve already eyed up eBird. August in PEI = shorebirds galore and hopefully some pelagic birds like the Wilson’s Storm Petrel or the Black-legged Kittiwake. If anyone is familiar with the island and has tips for me, please leave me a comment below or send me an email.
This wraps up the AB monthly recap Canada Day special 🙂
Have a safe and festive Canada Day everyone!
-The Afternoon Birder