|Tufted Duck (left) - Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia|
For the next month and a half I was based in Ontario, though many weekends were spent birding. Photographing this Great Gray Owl near Brooklin, Ontario was a photographic highlight of the year for me.
|Great Gray Owl - Brooklin, ON|
In early February I joined David Szmyr and Tyler Hoar for a weekend road trip to a large burn just south of Timmins. That weekend we saw nine species of finches but the real highlight was snowshoeing in the cold, crisp and calm weather, watching Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers forage for beetles under the bark of the recently burned trees.
|American Three-toed Woodpecker - near Timmins, ON|
By late February I left the cold weather behind to join David Bell and Steve Pike on an epic 2.5 week birding trip throughout central and eastern Panama, including five days in the Darien gap. Below are a couple photos of a few highlights...
|Golden-collared Manakin - Pipeline Road, Panama|
|Geoffroy's Tamarin - Gamboa, Panama|
|Ornate Hawk-Eagle - Altos del Maria, Panama|
|Harpy Eagle - Darien Province, Panama|
|Glass frog species - Darien Province, Panama|
Less than a week after arriving home, I was on a plane again - this time to Europe to visit Laura in Scotland. Since this was my fourth trip to Edinburgh I had already seen most of the local birds...it is fun to get re-aquainted with the birdlife though. European Robins, as common as they may be, are one of my favorites.
|European Robin - Edinburgh, U.K.|
A hike through the mist-shrouded Pentland Hills south of the city was successful in locating a most wanted bird for me...Red Grouse (or Willow Ptarmigan, depending on which side of the Atlantic you grew up on). Their strange calls provided the soundtrack to our hike that day.
|Willow Ptarmigan - south of Edinburgh, U.K.|
We flew to Portugal to spend the better part of a week, exploring the beautiful Algarve along the Mediterranean coast. Though the weather did not cooperate (for the most part), we had a fantastic trip and even fit in a bunch of birding! Some of the highlight species for me....Great Bustard, Audoin's Gull, Great Skua, Little Bittern, Black-bellied Sandgrouse, and Red-billed Chough.
|"Sheep" Egret - Castro Verde, Portugal|
|Audouin's Gull - Ilha Deserta, Portugal|
|Osprey - Fenelon Falls, ON|
I made it down to Point Pelee every weekend and lucked into seeing some great birds. Here is a small sample of some of the Pelee highlights...
|Henslow's Sparrow - Point Pelee N.P.|
|Scarlet Tanager - Point Pelee N.P.|
|Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Point Pelee N.P.|
|Cliff Swallow - Point Pelee N.P.|
|melanistic Eastern Gartersnake - Point Pelee N.P.|
|Blanding's Turtle - near Parry Sound, Ontario|
Northern Ontario is a beautiful place...I have fond memories of jumping in this lake near Gogama, Ontario after a long day hiking in the bush.
Even on the few days off I try to take advantage of the long days to get out and see some of the species that visit Ontario each summer. This Upland Sandpiper is one such species, spending only about four months of the year in Ontario.
|Upland Sandpiper - Millhaven, Ontario|
Late June isn't generally a good time for rarities to show up in Ontario, but this year a male Lark Bunting took up residence on Amherst Island, persistently singing throughout the early part of the summer. Barb Charlton and I zipped out there one day after work and were treated to great views as it perched in the open, singing away. I had dreamed of seeing one in Ontario for quite some time!
|Lark Bunting - Amherst Island, Ontario|
This post is getting a little long so I'll end it here...stay tuned for part two.