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New Record thanks to night bird

December 10, 2013

I was having a strange dream, so strange that I drifted out of the dream into a state of semi-consciousness, and became aware of it . . . a low, distinct “hooo hoo hoo, hooo hooo,” that drifted into the bedroom.  As my awareness grew, a smile formed on my lips, and had to share this moment with Cris.  She was as good-natured as someone can possibly be after being woken up at 4 am from a deep sleep.   “Great Hornd Owl” I told her,  “number 85.”  It sounded so close, maybe even in the tree in front of the balcony.  It called a few more times, and I think that she managed a smile.  Then I got up, had a drink of water and cranked the kitchen window open a bit more to hear it better.  I didn’t hear it anymore though, and likely scared it away by the squeaky window crank  (note to self: don’t do that again when trying to act stealthy).  The next morning, I noticed that the squirrel nest in the Japanese Elm was messed up.  Was that it?   Did the big owl raid the squirrels nest.  What a smart bird I thought, though I hoped that it didn’t eat Pretinho, the black Gray squirrel that lives there.  We have almost come to think of Pretinho as a pet.

Well, eighty-five species eclipses last year’s mark of 84 and sets a new standard for me (in my second year of doing a big year from the balcony and bed).  Likely half of those species have been identified while I was in bed.  perhaps next year, I’ll keep track of this number and start an “in bed list.”  On second thought, when I get old, that may be the only list that I can keep, so why hurry into this.

Since the owl night of November 22, I have not added any new species and the prospects are low to add more.  I did hear and see a Siskin in with the Goldfinches last week, and on the weekend, a Purple Finch was with about 4 House Finches.   However, both of these species were observed in May.

My hopes of identifying Goldeneyes, Mergansers, or Great Black-backed Gulls on the river were dashed when I tried focussing my scope on the patch of river that is partially visible about 600 metres away.  To see this section of river, I have to look between houses, across the cemetary and through a patch of forest.  If I squint, I can see dark forms on the fast moving water, but are they ducks or shadows?  I realize that to pick a duck floating past is nearly impossible.   Sadly, I am beginning to realize that my 30 year old Bushmaster scope is not like it used to be. Finally it is showing its age.    The “infinity” setting appears to start after about 50 metres, and now it seems that everything beyond that is equally indistinct.  Time to think about investing in a new model.

With work winding down, and Christmas holidays coming though, I can spend more time watching and listening, and maybe add another species or two.  This Sunday is Christmas Bird Count in Ottawa/Gatineau, and I’ll be around the house.  After New Year’s Eve, I will set my goals on 100 species for 2014!

Black-throated Gray Warbler, Deschenes Rapids, Ted Cheskey

Black-throated Gray Warbler, Deschenes Rapids, Ted Cheskey

A final note – this has been a very good birding week for me.  Gary McNulty from the Club des Ornithologues de l’Outaouais found the first Black-throated Gray Warbler for the Outaouais, and the Ottawa Checklist area.  I went looking for it twice, and on the second trip I found it, and photographed it.  A beautiful, energetic and very lost little bird (that should be in Mexico or Central America).

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One Comment
  1. What a lovely story, and a lovely photo of your Black-Throated Gray Warbler. Congrats!

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