January has been a month of intense highs and lows. On one hand, I had fantastic experiences birding at Algonquin Park and in Vancouver seeing lifers and enjoying winter finches. On the other hand, I had a really negative experience coming face to face with a group of photographers baiting a Great Gray Owl.
Read on to learn more about January’s highlights and lowlights plus get an overview of what’s coming up for February. Hint: another photography contest!
One of my target birds for the month was to see a covey of Gray Partridges that have been showing up sporadically in the west end of Ottawa. I made about 5 trips to various spots in areas they’ve been seen, but unfortunately I wasn’t successful. They tend to hide in between stalks of corn so I think it’s just luck of the draw if they happen to pop up while you’re looking.
Mid month I spent a weekend in Algonquin Park which really kicked things up a notch. It was fabulous walking down trails and hearing and seeing a variety of birds around me. I also finally got to see Evening Grosbeaks, a lifer bird that I had been wanting to see for a while. Another highlight was seeing my lifer Spruce Grouse which I was really pleased to find and identify on my own.
The end of the month was spent birding in and around the city of Vancouver, on the west coast of Canada. I’ll be writing a post on my experiences here, but one of the highlights for me was seeing the amazing diversity of species that spend their winters here. One of the first birds I saw was a lifer Anna’s Hummingbird. I had no idea Hummingbirds would be here in the wintertime!
At the start of the month I wasn’t feeling that great so I spent a lot of time walking around the nature trail at the conservation area behind my house. The first time I walked the trail at the start of January I kept thinking about all the bird species I had seen in this area in the fall. I was focusing on their absence and not paying attention to what I felt were just the “boring” common winter birds around me.
The 2nd time I walked the trail, I decided to change my perspective and to concentrate on getting photographs of the birds that were present. This new strategy worked really well and I discovered a new joy in photographing and learning new details about Woodpeckers. Did you know that Woodpeckers use their tongues to extract insects from the holes they make in trees? I didn’t until I began reviewing my photographs!
Sometimes slowing down and enjoying what’s around you and can yield positive results!
Most Popular Post
Unfortunately Google Analytics, a web program I use to track the number of visitors to my site, stopped working mid-month and I only just noticed!
Based on Facebook shares and likes, the top post was:
How Bird-watching Gave me my Life Back: A Dizzy Girl’s Story – this was a personal article about my balance disorder and how bird-watching and photography have helped me. I was really touched to receive so many comments and such positive feedback about my story. Thanks everyone!
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Owl Photography: Owl Baiting – this was another popular post that resonated with a lot of people. I was pleased with the mostly productive discussions I had with people about this issue. Too often conversations about owl baiting getting so emotional and heated that they just go around in circles.
One positive outcome was that I started a new Instagram account Ethical Owl Pics that will only feature “ethical” photographs of owls. I am using Audubon’s Ethical Bird Photography Guidelines as my benchmark and the idea is to celebrate photographers who capture the natural beauty of owls. Tag your photos with #ethicalowlphoto to raise awareness and for a chance to be featured.
Other Posts This Month
Most Popular Photo on Instagram
I had never seen so many Bald Eagles in my life as I did while visiting Delta, an area south of Vancouver! There were Eagles in every tree, perched on the roofs of houses and lining the fields. Not to mention the ones flying overhead. It was really difficult to capture the sheer number, but I thought this shot managed to do it!
Coming up in February 2017
In February I’ll be hosting another bird photography contest, Birds in the Snow! I’ll be announcing details of the contest shortly, but the exciting news is that I’ll have a prize for the 1st place winner courtesy of Gilligallou Bird Inc.
Keep your eye on my social media and on the blog for the launch of the contest.
-Happy February birding everyone 🙂