Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Another drive to Muskoka (and beyond), another pigeon

Today was a very long day....and I got in the door about an hour and a half ago.

Long story short, a White-winged Dove has been sporadically coming to a feeder in North Bay and I've been keeping tabs on this bird for a few days. After several days where it wasn't seen, it magically re-appeared yesterday at the feeder! Barb Charlton, Brett Fried and I drove up to look for it today since there are only 32 accepted records of this species in Ontario. Additionally, it is only the 2nd winter record, with the first coming on December 14-19, 1975.

After the long drive from Guelph, we arrived in North Bay around 10:15 AM. The dove had been seen only on sunny afternoons and the gray skies didn't bode well!

In Guelph, squirrels roam the neighbourhoods. Apparently in North Bay, deer roam the neighbourhoods.

neighbourhood deer - North Bay

The friendly deer even came by the feeder we were stationed at to eat seeds. Yum.

neighbourhood deer - North Bay

After about 15 minutes of waiting, we decided that perhaps we should follow the deer's lead and also roam the neighbourhood in search of the dove. Reasonable, the thought seemed.

Turns out that was a good idea since I spotted the dove hanging out with some MODOs (Mourning Doves) in a tree just down the road. Well that was easy.

White-winged Dove - North Bay, ON

Here it is doing the crazy neck thing that pigeons/doves love to do.

White-winged Dove - North Bay, ON

After a few minutes of checking us out it followed its MODO friends into the backyard. This photo shows the diagnostic tail pattern that White-winged Doves possess.

White-winged Dove - North Bay

Hmmm....what to do, what to do? We could either drive the 4 hours back to Guelph, or perhaps go to Algonquin which was kind of on the way. Looking for Spruce Grouse at Algonquin ended up winning over the less desirable option of studying for my midterm tomorrow, so onward we went.

Algonquin was fantastic! The Spruce Grouse (grice?) eluded us, but everything else wasn't able to be so elusive. I tried to outdo a previous attempt (see here) at getting the world's worst shot of Red Crossbills and I think I succeeded! Check it out - you can hardly even tell they are birds! There were about 30 or so Reds flitting about the Spruce Bog area as well as a few others heard in other spots. This was really cool as you rarely get decent looks at so many Red Crossbills in Ontario (at least I don't). White-winged Crossbills, Pine Siskins, Pine Grosbeaks, and redpolls were flying over while we were here.

Red Crossbills - Spruce Bog, Algonquin

Of course, what is the Spruce Bog boardwalk without several Boreal Chickadees? These vocal little bastards were not as shy as usual.

Boreal Chickadee - Spruce Bog, Algonquin

The highlight of Algonquin for me was getting reacquainted with Marty, the brave little Pine Marten who likes stealing suet from the bird feeder at Spruce Bog. Marty likes granola bars too.

Pine Marten - Spruce Bog, Algonquin

 The visitor centre was somewhat birdy, as usual. Just one Evening Grosbeak this time, but this vocal Common Raven kept us company. Brett had a pretty extensive croaking "conversation" with the raven.

Common Raven - Algonquin visitor centre

A trip down Opeongo road was great - we spent some time feeding the Gray Jays and checking out a Black-backed Woodpecker.

Gray Jay - Opeongo Road, Algonquin

Gray Jay - Opeongo Road, Algonquin

Black-backed Woodpecker - Algonquin

A partially leucistic Black-capped Chickadee has been hanging out near the parking lot here, and it didn't take long before we had him in our sights! He was just as inquisitive as the "normal" chickadees, and though he thought about it, he didn't take food from our hands. Cool little guy though.

White-faced Chickadee

White-faced Chickadee

It was another great day in the field with even better company. The weather co-operated, we saw our main target bird (the code 4 White-winged Dove) and we saw a nice variety of wildlife in Algonquin. We didn't get our Sprucers, so that will have to wait until next time!

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