Sunday, December 16, 2007

Real Winter

It looks like we may be in for a real winter. December started on a cold and windy note, and continues that way. Today we we are in a real winter blizzard! So, I am stuck in the house for the day.

We were supposed to do the Rondeau/Blenheim CBC today, but it will not likely happen. I can hardly see the street at times out my window. Maybe the count will be rescheduled in for next Sunday so that we get some kind of a count this year.

Yesterday I worked the Kettle Point CBC in my usual area of Arkona. I always check out Rock Glen CA. It is a neat spot where a stream empties over a 35' falls into the gorge of the Ausable River. Rock Glen is famous for fossils from the Devonian period. The accompanying drawing shows the cross-section of the area.

There are a large number of fossils exposed in the area, but many of them have been picked clean over the decades. I remember going here as a little kid and picking up a handful of fossils. You are still allowed to take home one or two. The photo shows some that I have picked up over the years.

The big part of my CBC walk is in the river valley. It was nice yesterday as there was a cold east wind, and I was protected from it down there. However, there were not a lot of birds around. I think the early cold must have sent many of them south.

The highlight of my bird list yesterday was an adult Golden Eagle. We had one last year in the same area, but it was a very distant view. This year I had great looks at one as it soared over the valley above the trees. This species is becoming increasingly common in early winter.

Other highlights included any waterfowl/waterbirds as everything else was frozen. I saw one Common Merganser on the river, and a Canada Goose. I also heard a Belted Kingfisher. The merganser is not unusal on the river, as is the kingfisher. The goose I almost missed, as I just happened to get a glimpse of its head sticking up along the river bank. It may have been wounded though.

The trail along the river goes on for several kilometres, but I only walk one way for about one hour, then have to head back the same trail. I go to a point where a gully comes to the river, and there is a high lookout spot. (see photo). Once one gets out of the valley, it is basically farmland, so there is nothing much to see.

At this lookout, there is a concentration of Hemlock Trees. This is one of the few spots where this species is found. There are also patches of white cedar, but mostly we get Carolinian-type trees.

Other counters in the area that morning found at least one Hoary Redpoll, a Merlin, Short-eared Owl (good for this count), Long-eared Owl, and a few Gadwall (really good for a "frozen" year!).

I left after lunch, as I had another function to attend to. The weather was closing in anyway.

I have not heard the final results of the count as yet.

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