Friday, October 30, 2009

Smooth Rocks

Sun setting over Lake Superior. Photo by Martha.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Backyard bird update.

Our backyard feeders are busy. American Tree Sparrows now outnumber Dark-eyed Juncos.
A Song Sparrow has been replaced by a Fox Sparrow.

A dozen or so Purple Finches come and go through the day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Marathon Harbour (Jelicoe Cove) birds

Seen during a brief walk around the boat launch this morning :

Red-necked Grebe: 1
Herring Gull: 2
Ring-billed Gull: 1
Black Scoter: 1
Long-tailed Duck: 1
Greater Scaup: 1
Common Goldeneye: 2
Downy Woodpecker: 1
American Crow: 3
Common Raven: 2
Rusty Blackbird: 1
American Tree Sparrow: 13
Lapland Longspur: 2

Monday, October 19, 2009

Marathon Harbour (Jelicoe Cove) birds

In Marathon Harbour-Jelicoe Cove this morning I observed a pair of Long-tailed Ducks, a Black Scoter, a Bonaparte's Gull, a Red-tailed Hawk, a Rusty Blackbird and ~10 American Tree Sparrows.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Local hikes: Seeley Mountain

Click to enlarge
Directions: Nine km NNW of the intersection with Peninsula Road (Marathon) turn right off Hwy 17 on to Wolf Camp Lake Road. Follow road for ~1 km and park at yellow gate (48.80193, -86.43497). Follow road on foot as it ascends to the summit of Seeley Mountain (el. 523 m).

Distance: ~4.5 km round trip from gate; ~6.4 km round trip from intersection with Hwy 17.

Degree of difficulty: moderate (3/5). Hiking boots aren't necessary as the route follows a (4wd) service road to the summit; however, it is steep, rising 245 m (~800 feet) from the parking area.

Natural Features: The summit of Seeley Mountain (site of several communications towers) overlooks a stretch of the Lake Superior Coast. It may offer a good vantage point to observe the autumn migration of raptors. This is likely a very good spot to observe hill-topping insects during the warmer months. On the hike up, we saw interesting mosses, lichens and ferns (Woodsia, Polypody, Cryptograma) on a shaded rock face beside the road. On October 15, 2008 Martha and some of her friends photographed a vagrant Rock Wren along the road to the summit. The report is under review by the Ontario Rare Birds Committee.
View to the South - Marathon Paper Mill is visible at top left
On October 18 we hiked to the summit where we were buffeted by a strong (30-40 km/h) south wind. We encountered few birds. It was interesting to look down upon a Red-tailed Hawk that was migrating westward. We heard what sounded like a good-sized flock of American Robins off in the bush - perhaps they were exploiting the bounty of Mountain Ash fruit.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

American Tree Sparrow

Our backyard flock of Dark-eyed Juncos has been joined by several American Tree Sparrows.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Palm Warbler and other birds

Palm warbler at Pukaskwa National Park
Several days of north winds have favoured south-bound migrants. American Pipit numbers are down and only a few late-migrating Warbler species - Yellow-rumped, Palm and Orange-crowned - are still common. American Tree Sparrows are just starting to show up, adding to a this week's sparrow tally that has included Vesper, Swamp, Song, Savannah, White-throated and White-crowned...and, technically, Dark-eyed Junco. Up to eight Purple Finches are attending our backyard feeder.

Tammie Hache, The Bird Lady of Manitouwadge, writes a column for The Echo. I've enjoyed reading her musings about the local birds in another north shore community - thanks and keep up the good work Tammie!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Birding update

Marathon Harbour
There is usually something interesting to see in Marathon Harbour. While shorebird numbers have tailed off, arctic-nesting ducks have started to appear. Today, not far from the boat launch, a pair of male Long-tailed Ducks (still in their dark breeding plumage) preened in the brilliant sunlight. Not far from them swam one Surf and four Black Scoters. The Black is the least commonly seen of our three scoter species so I felt fortunate to have such a great view of them. Other new arrivals included a pair of Green-winged Teal. A few days ago, the only diving ducks in evidence were a half a dozen or so Common Goldeneye and a few Greater Scaup. The boat launch offers an excellent view of the harbour - the light is best earlier in the day. Bring binoculars and a spotting scope if you have one.
Distant Black Scoters
We put up out back yard bird feeders last week. Within hours, 20-30 Dark-eyed Juncos were squabbling over the millet and cracked corn around the base of the feeder. Within days, they were joined by ones and twos of Song, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows. A trio of American Crows has been dropping by each morning. Other regulars include a Downy Woodpecker and a handful of Black-capped Chickadees. A definite irregular was a typically insectivorous Orange-crowned Warbler hopping around among the juncos below the feeder. A trio of Purple Finches joined the fray this morning.
White-throated Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mammals around Marathon

A few random mammal sightings around the town of Marathon.
This mature porcupine was strolling across the road at Pebble Beach last Sunday.
This Groundhog, sunning itself beside Highway 17, will soon be hibernating.

This glossy, well-fed Black Bear was running along a road in Pukaskwa National Park this morning. Yesterday afternoon I spotted this Red Fox ambling along the road near Penn Lake - it paid no attention to the traffic passing by only a few metres away.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Last dragonfly of the season?

During a walk at Penn Lake Park I came upon this lone Saffron-winged Meadowhawk sunning itself on a log. This cold-hardy skimmer flies later in the season than most of our other odonates.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Young Bald Eagle

One of several that hang out at the boat launch, scavenging lake trout carcasses.