Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring as Scheduled

It's that time of year again to come out of hiding and look for some spring birds. As much as I enjoyed having a "real" winter for the first time in a few years, it's nice to get out when there's a little bit more action - birds and otherwise.

It's very nice to see things appear slowly and deliberately like they're supposed to. This year, the Horned Larks arrived when it was still very cold and there was little other songbird movement. The prairie subspecies praticola is one of the first songbird migrants in Ontario.

In Algonquin, this Spring was not exceptional. I went there two weeks ago to check it out, and the harbingers are arriving as per schedule. Here, the first bird of Spring is the American Crow.

It was still bitterly cold and there was over 40 cm of snow, but Purple Finches had started to sing.

Black-backed Woodpecker was busy excavating a cavity (which he may or may not use as a nest later).

Kyle and I went to Pelee to look for some other "classic" early spring birds. One of my favorite things is seeing birds actively migrating, and because Pelee can only hold so many resident birds and the breeding diversity is not high, I can rightfully assume that most birds I see at certain locales in Pelee are migrants.

We had to stop on the side of the road to look at this lovely couple:

Red-tailed Hawks, like many raptors, are sexually dimorphic and the females are generally larger than males. These two were sitting right beside each other, and one can take an educated guess that the larger bird to the left is the female. Red-tails sitting side-by-side is another classic Spring sight.

As we got into the park itself we pulled over to look at some Snowdrops that were poking out of the disappearing layer of snow.

Birds were definitely moving. Many Ring-billed and Herring Gulls were moving North from the Tip. Handfuls of Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures went by, as well as single Red-shouldered, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks.

There was some yelling and flailing when this Glaucous Gull went over.

We headed down to the Onion Fields later in the day to look for puddle ducks. Nothing beats seeing hundreds of almost a dozen species of ducks crammed into tiny little pools in the fields. It's an explosion of color and activity, and another timeless classic early spring event in birding. We found a/the Eurasian Wigeon with the masses.

Our next stop was Hillman Marsh, where we were treated to a Ross's Goose and hundreds of Tundra Swans - another one of the highlight sights and sounds of March in Ontario.

And interior! The real Canada Geese.

It was good to be able to finally see some change taking place. After being to Pelee earlier this January, it was evident that life indeed was on its way back North.

Another exciting bit of news is that I'll finally be down at Pelee for a good bit of the spring migration. Usually I'm up in Algonquin in May - an equally dynamic place to observe the Spring migration (but a little... you know, slower and with less Kentucky Warblers) but this year, Murray Shields and I are renting a house down near Wheatley and I'm leading guided trips out of there every day from May 2 - 12. It's a wide length of time and should produce a wide spectrum of birds, a little bit more than the "Yellow-rumped Warbler this week, Chestnut-sided Warbler next week" deal that I'm used to up North.

And the best part is, you can join too! It's a tad difficult getting a place to stay down there during migration (ask any seasoned veteran that books these things months in advance) but we still have a couple of spaces left - plus you get to hang out and see birds with a like-minded group of people. Plus I don't come with a Comfort Inn room booking. All the juicy deets are listed on this page here:

 But you don't have to be a member to join us, just let me know by e-mail and I'll see if we have space.

Enjoy your Spring ladies and gentlemen! I'm going to see if I can dig up some more birds!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Little Red Riding Wolf

I was on the road to the sea, helping my friends Brian and Kate of Seabirding spot on some of their trips off the Outer Banks.

I took my sweet time getting there and on the Friday evening had some time to kill, so I decided to head on over to Alligator River to look at Short-eared Owls. Alligator River is a 154'000 acres of everything from cypress swamp to peat bogs, open fields and high and low pocosin habitat. It's a beautiful place and protects several federally endangered species of flora and fauna. It's also one of the only places on the Eastern seaboard to see Black Bears. In short, it's a pretty cool spot.

I parked my car along some fields where the birds were hanging out and I climbed on top of it (couldn't do this with the Altima!) to get a better view. There were several harriers tacking around in the fields, and some patience was necessary to wait out the owls.

The sun set and in the twilight shapes began to appear from the pine plantation bordering the field. The harriers were still out and very quickly these new birds engaged the harriers and gave them some hell before they disappeared to roost. These were Short-eared Owls.

There were a few birders along the road but they all left shortly after the owls appeared. I figured I hadn't anything better to do, and I don't see these things very often so I stayed to enjoy the show. Eventually there were about a half-dozen birds coursing the fields. A pair of Great Horned Owls started singing behind the car and a Woodcock flew to the roadside about ten feet away and started peenting. It was also a balmy 13C. Beautiful evening.

I noticed some movement from out in the field and notice a reddish canid running around out there. I dismissed it as a fox initially until it was joined by something bigger - and that had a radio telemetry collar. I think I yelled some expletives and the dogs disappeared for about ten minutes and appeared again - they were Red Wolves!! 

Red Wolves are the epitome of "something you don't see very often". Indeed, with only around 100 animals in the wild, that chance is pretty slim. So I had a reason to be very, very excited.

I had briefly seen a Red Wolf last year in close to the same spot, however these two, later joined by a third, were putting on a show, with a glorious pink full moon rising behind them like in some sort of movie. They were hunting small mammals in the same manner that a fox does, leaping into the air several times in succession. I even managed a short video of it -


 I watched these wolves for about forty-five minutes until it literally got too dark to see. Then I got into the car and drove over to the Patteson house, playing loud music and yelling until I got there from the disbelief of what just happened.

Red Wolves are, in many ways, very different from the Gray Wolves we are used to seeing on TV from Yellowstone. They are a smaller, slighter animal adapted to surviving in more humid climates and hunting smaller prey, and while Gray Wolves can be white, gray or black, almost all Red Wolves with the exception of rare melanistic individuals, are one color.

(Captive animal - courtesy of the Red Wolf Recovery Program, USFWS)

A warm brown with noticeable cinnamon tones on the legs and behind the ears, a darker back and tail and a white throat patch.

In fact, they look quite similar to another species of wolf found in Canada.

The Eastern Wolf (Canis lycaon) of Algonquin Park and surrounding area of Ontario. 

In fact, at one point it was thought that the two were conspecific, but recent work (Chambers et. al. 2012) seems to show that the two are, in fact, separate species, likely derived from a coyote-like ancestor rather than Gray Wolves. Both had large historic ranges, with Red Wolves occupying most of the southeastern United States and Eastern Wolves in Eastern Canada including the Maritime provinces and down through the north Appalachians. The Eastern Wolves are a tad better off than their cousins in the South, however, as much of the historic range of the Red Wolf is now quite densely inhabited by people, and as we all know, people and wolves don't get along.

This is a shame, because even more so than the purported "big, bad" Gray Wolves, Red Wolves are very shy and unassuming animals that very few people, even researchers, ever have the pleasure to see. They're barely bigger than coyotes and unlike that species do poorly under the shadow of civilization and stay very far away from humanity. It is likely that if property owners and governors hamper the re-introduction efforts to support the tiny experimental population of these animals, they will be the responsible for the extinction of an anecdotal terror that none of them will have actually seen in the flesh to begin with. I, for one, am counting my lucky stars.

Monday, January 20, 2014

White on White

It was Friday night and Kyle and I were driving North to look for Gyrfalcons and other goodies. After several hours of driving we made it to a hotel at a very reasonable time. I think it was about 10 o'clock.

We unpacked our things and carefully placed them where they would be accessible in the morning. It was a good prelude to what was to be a good morning. Then, I made the mistake of venturing down into the lobby to look for a vending machine. The receptionist was cute. I was thirsty. It was Friday. We all knew this was a recipe for disaster.

"Where would someone like you be on a Friday night in Sudbury?"

I had a place and time. It wouldn't hurt to have a few friendly beverages before our quest... I mean, it was a big bird, and we needed to celebrate our impending victory. So we went to the bar.

Enter the Saturday. Kyle had already packed. I hauled myself out of bed with the elegance of a pregnant seal. 

(Thanks BuzzFeed)

The room looked like ground zero. Some blurry memories of airborne microwave ovens remained. Thankfully it wasn't too bad, and we (mostly Kyle) cleaned it up and it looked just like new. Sort of.

"You tried to hit on the bartender. She was unattractive."

Good Morning. I was ready for a day-long nap. Kyle was all pumped and for it. He didn't have any tequila.

I was somewhat hoping that we'd arrive at the bird sitting on a duck in some parking lot so that I could continue dying in the back of the car, but that was not the case. We scanned some popular spots from the car and the bird was not to be seen.

"Let's go for a little walk" said Kyle. "We might see the falcon out in the lake" he said.

It was time to kick up dirt. It was a pretty big lake. I was suffering. We walked for a few hours, seeing nothing but ravens and ducks flying around. The creek was kept open as a byproduct of carefully treated and tightly regulated human sewage, and the Gyrs were hunting the Mallards, Black Ducks and Goldeneye that were congregating here. 

We saw some ravens. Pointed-winged ravens, blunt-winged ravens, light-reflecting ravens, long-tailed ravens, blunt-headed ravens, ravens chasing ducks etc.. 

At one point, we encountered a lone Trumpeter Swan in the middle of the lake. I sat down for a while to take a break, and the swan emerged from the creek and beelined for us. All things considered, I wasn't ready to fight a swan and did nothing. The swan approached to within a few inches of us, and sat down beside us and honked gently. I pet it. I was convinced I'd gone off the deep end.

As much as this perverse scene was entertaining, before my vision of riding the swan into battle became reality, we got hungry.

"I'm so hungry, I could eat at Arby's."

We ate at Arby's. It was getting late. The sun was setting. It was getting colder. We'd lost our spirits. We did the rounds again. Nothing. I was waiting for Kyle to say it.

"Let's go for a little walk" said Kyle. "We might see the falcon out in the lake" he said.

On any other day, it would have been fine. I blame the receptionist. She did lie. I looked for her at the bar. Perhaps we'd see her out on the lake.

After another couple of hours walking I actually felt much better and we did spot a fox (ha-ha-ha) stalking the ducks in the creek. It was a beautiful one, very big, very red, and with a mange-free coat.

We watched the fox for a few minutes until it disappeared. It started to snow slightly. Suddenly, Kyle pointed.


In the air, a pair of goldeneye were hauling ass towards the creek at an ungodly speed. Trailing them was a massive, long-tailed, blunt-winged, short-headed white falcon

In the final stretch, the goldeneye pulled in and hurtled towards the creek. The Gyr also pulled in but wasn't quick enough and the ducks hit the water before it could grab one. It didn't stop. It didn't perch. It merely strafed the ducks and continued at the same pace into the gloom.

The Gyr is one of those birds that you imagine seeing. I've always decided on how I wanted to see my lifer Gyrfalcon - it's always been while it was snowing, I wanted to work for it, I wanted it to appear rather than finding it, but more than those things, I've always wanted it to be a white one. Dark and gray birds are beautiful, but there's something about the white Gyr. 

Kyle and I exchanged victory hugs and high fives. He called his wife Caitlin. We were yelling and raving about the bird. It was just like when I used to skip high school to chase birds.

We decided to check the lake again to see if it had come around. We still had about two hours of daylight, and now that we've seen the Gyr, we could continue further north for our other target bird.

I was watching a raven fly over the lake when it suddenly slowed down to a glide and turned onto a tree a few feet from the creek. It sat down and was paying attention to something - I put my bins on the raven.

"Hey Kyle, the Gyr is sitting right there in that tree."

Black and White.

Studying the bird perched, it became clear that not only was this bird white, it was very white. It's back and wings had a few dark spots, but its tail was clear as well as its belly. It was looking at the raven nervously.

Eventually the raven hopped even closer and the falcon decided that this was too much and took off, flying only a short distance away from us, giving crippling views, while the raven gave it some hell. Once it got past the creek, it did a bit of a roll and strafed the raven, and then disappeared into the snow, not to be seen again.

(This is Kyle's photo)

We woke up in Timmins on Sunday. We looked outside. It was white. The weather people said it was supposed to be sunny. Evidently it was not. I checked my email hopefully for discount flights, Boston Pizza coupons and reports of Slaty-backed Gulls. Instead I found a whole cluttered mess about owls and feeding and name-calling and all sorts of things I hadn't signed up for. It was the early morning. I'm usually not one to say anything, but I was tired, hadn't had a cigarette, and something had to be said. I thought it was somewhat polite. I even said "please". I just didn't want to see Ontbirds turn into *shudder* MassBird, where one must filter through dozens of irrelevancies whilst woefully searching for a spot to find a Dovekie.

Then, in reply to the few sentences I wrote, I got the most glorious e-mail I think I've ever had:

"You are not speaking for the collective. You are just another low live f******g moron, who does not care about the birds. You should be fed to the GGOW"

(Thanks Google)

Wouldn't that be baiting? know, murder? Luckily, they apologized and we kept it real. I had a good laugh in the woods about it. Especially whilst driving past all the owl boxes I put up last fall.

En route, the visibility at times was almost nil due to the vast amounts of blowing snow. It was less-than-ideal conditions to look for woodpeckers. By the time we got there however, it had cleared a tad and while there was still wind and snow, at least we could see our hands in front of our faces.

We snowshoed into the scorched woods. It was a surreal, beautiful landscape. Very, very boreal. Only spruce and aspen. And several feet of snow. At times I felt that we were swimming rather than hiking, and we both had snowshoes.

We made some owl sounds and squeaked, but got no responses. We then entered an area I thought looked particularly good so I brought out the iPod and laid down some beats.

Immediately, an enraged pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers were summoned. Yellow crown bristling, wings outstretched, white rectricies flared, the male flew only a few trees away from us and started loudly and aggressively spik-spikking and display-drumming. The female was not far behind.

A third bird flew in, further back. This immediately looked suspicious. It was kinda in-and-out, so once again I played the tape and it immediately came rocketing towards us - it was a Three-toed Woodpecker!

It was a lifer for Kyle and I hadn't seen once since 2007, so we high-fived to this bird as well. We watched it for several minutes, and at one point it and the male Black-backed were drumming on the same tree, side-by-side. It can be a difficult bird to pin-down in Ontario, but thanks to a tip from Tyler Hoar and the Fire 9 burn creating miles of excellent habitat, here it was.

It was a wonderful trip to a wonderful habitat. It had all the elements of a good bird trip, and all the elements of a brutal boreal winter that I have missed in the past years. It's good to be back!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Lake Trout Love - El Amor de Trucha del Lago

Algonquin has entered winter this week. Only the hardiest migrants and resident birds remain, and while exceptionally beautiful, the Park has turned into a cold, desolate place, hostile to most forms of life. 

Algonquin ha entrado en el invierno esta semana. Sólo los migrantes más resistentes y aves residentes permanecen, y aunque de gran belleza, el Parque se ha convertido en un lugar desolado y frío, hostil a la mayoría de las formas de vida.


Indeed a visitor who undertakes a casual day trip into the park now will find it almost devoid of visible animal life, save for a few hardy birds and a mammal if they're lucky enough.

De hecho, un visitante que emprende un viaje ocasional en el parque ahora encontrará casi desprovisto de vida animal visible, salvo algunas aves resistentes y un mamífero, si tienen la suerte.

It will be understandable then for them to assume that is truthfully the way things are, and nature has "gone to sleep" for another season. This, however, is far from the truth. There is a lot of life happening right now. The trick is knowing where.

Será comprensible entonces que ellos suponen que es verdad como están las cosas, y la naturaleza ha "dormido" por una temporada más. Esto, sin embargo, está lejos de la verdad. Hay un montón de vida sucediendo ahora mismo. El truco es saber dónde.

Lake Opeongo is the largest lake in the park, covering 5.8 square kilometres. It sits on the Canadian Shield - a solid, nutrient poor bedrock of granite and gneiss. As a result, its waters are very poor and anything that lives in it must "dig deep" in order to survive. 

Lake Opeongo es el lago más grande en el parque, que cubre 5,8 kilometros cuadrados. Se sienta en el Escudo Canadiense - un sólido cimiento pobres en nutrientes de granito y gneis. Como resultado, sus aguas son muy pobres y todo lo que vive en ella deben "profundizar" con el fin de sobrevivir.

If one were to go out in a boat on Opeongo at this time of year, one would wonder exactly how ANYTHING can survive here. 

Si uno fuera a salir en un bote en Opeongo en esta época del año, uno podría preguntarse exactamente cómo CUALQUIER cosa puede sobrevivir aquí.

 Under the surface of Opeongo, the waters have been steadily cooling. Though still much warmer than the air temperature, as the thermometer drops, things that have been spending their summer in the frigid waters of the depths start to rise, in numbers.

Bajo la superficie de Opeongo, las aguas han ido en constante enfriamiento. Aunque aún mucho más caliente que la temperatura del aire, a medida que baja el termómetro, las cosas que han estado pasando su verano en las gélidas aguas de las profundidades comienzan a aumentar, en los números.

The magic number is somewhere near 11°C. This usually happens in the last two weeks of October. 

El número mágico es un lugar cerca de 11 ° C. Esto suele suceder en las dos últimas semanas de octubre.

Lake Trout have spent their summer in the depths of the lake, feeding on zooplankton and any baitfish like Perch or Cisco that ventures down there. They cannot tolerate high water temperatures, and because Algonquin sits on a so-called "dome", much of our lakes are excellent habitat for these fish, and indeed we have the highest density of Lake Trout lakes anywhere in Ontario.

Trucha de lago han pasado el verano en las profundidades del lago, se alimentan de zooplancton y cualquier carnada como la Perca o Cisco que se aventura por allí. No pueden tolerar altas temperaturas del agua, y porque Algonquin se encuentra en una llamada "cúpula", gran parte de nuestros lagos son un excelente hábitat para estos peces, y de hecho tenemos la mayor densidad de lagos de trucha apropiadas en cualquier lugar en Ontario.

As Autumn approaches, most trout over six years old cease feeding entirely. Their greens become more intense and an orange cast develops on their fins. The females begin to swell with roe and the males likewise with milt. They are ready to spawn.

Cuando se acerca el otoño, la mayoría de las truchas de más de seis años de edad dejan de alimentarse por completo. Sus hojas se vuelven más intensas y un elenco naranja desarrolla en sus aletas. Las hembras comienzan a hincharse con las huevas y los machos lo mismo con esperma. Ellos están listos para desovar.


When the water is sufficiently cold, under the cover of darkness, these fish appear where they haven't been since early spring - the shallows. 

Cuando el agua está lo suficientemente frío, bajo el amparo de la oscuridad, estos peces aparecen en la que no lo hayan sido desde principios de la primavera - las aguas poco profundas.


They are looking for cobblestone-sized rocks sitting in 2-5 metres of water. There are several such sites in Opeongo, and trout use these shoals generation after generation. 

Ellos están buscando pequeñas rocas que se sientan en 2-5 metros de agua. Hay varios sitios en Opeongo, y la trucha utilizan estos bajíos generación tras generación.

Once the female selects a suitable site, she assumes spawning posture and is immediately attended by one or more males. She begins to release her eggs onto the spawning bed as the males simultaneously release their milt. Bigger trout produce more eggs - it is the large females that drive the population.  The eggs eventually will fall through the cracks in the rocks and will stay there until Spring.

Una vez que la hembra escoge un lugar adecuado, se asume la postura de desove y es atendido inmediatamente por uno o más machos. Ella comienza a liberar sus huevos en la cama de desove como los machos liberan al mismo tiempo su esperma. Truchas más grandes producen más huevos - es las grandes hembras que impulsan la población. Los huevos eventualmente caerán por las grietas de las rocas y se quedará allí hasta la primavera.

This is not an easy natural phenomenon to observe, as the conditions under which this takes place are a bit difficult for the average person, but I was lucky enough to be able to go out with the Harkness Laboratory of Fisheries Research for the annual Lake Trout gillnetting season. They have been doing research and tagging Lake Trout on Opeongo since 1936 - the oldest running study on any fish in the world.

Este no es un fenómeno natural, fácil de observar, ya que las condiciones en que se lleva a cabo son un poco difícil para la persona promedio, pero tuve la suerte de poder salir con el Laboratorio de Harkness de Investigación Pesquera para la temporada anual de la trucha. Ellos han estado haciendo la investigación y el etiquetado trucha de lago en Opeongo desde 1936 - el estudio más antiguo que se ejecuta en todos los peces del mundo.

This is an average-sized sexually mature Lake Opeongo Lake Trout. They are all very carefully processed and released unharmed after tagging. - Este es una Trucha de Lago de tamaño medio, sexualmente maduro, de Lago Opeongo. Todos ellos son cuidadosamente procesados ​​y liberados ilesos después de la marcación.

Lake Trout are extremely long-lived and the fact that most fish only spawn when they're about six years old alludes to that fact. We caught several such fish, but a few nights prior they caught a fish that was originally tagged in 1953, and another fish that was at least 30 years old that hadn't been tagged!

Trucha de lago son extremadamente longevos y el hecho de que la mayoría de los peces desovan sólo cuando están cerca de seis años de edad alude a este hecho. Cogimos varios tales peces, pero un par de noches antes de que cogimos un pescado que era originalmente marcada en 1953, y otro pez que era por lo menos 30 años de edad que no habían sido etiquetados!

It is very important to realize that it's these big, old individual fish that are important to the population, and thankfully many anglers now release the big Lakers after posing for a photo, and let them continue to spawn and create many more Lake Trout for future anglers (and fish watchers!) to observe, photograph, catch, and eat.

Es muy importante tener en cuenta que se trata de estos grandes, viejos ejemplares que son importantes para la población, y por suerte muchos pescadores ya liberar las grandes truchas después de posar para una foto, y los dejó seguir para desovar y crear muchos más truchas de lago para el futuro (pescadores y los observadores de peces!) para observar, fotografiar, capturar y comer.

For me the entire experience formed a greater appreciation of these important but for most people poorly-known animals in Algonquin Park. It is amazing to see these fish come into the shoal that their relatives have probably been using for hundreds of years, and appreciate them for what they are, rather than only a food item!

Para mí la experiencia formó una mayor apreciación de estos importantes pero para la mayoría de las personas los animales pobremente conocidas en Algonquin Park. Es increíble ver a estos peces entran en el banco que sus familiares probablemente han estado utilizando durante cientos de años, y apreciarlos por lo que son, y no sólo un alimento!


Such an appreciation is important, and The Friends of Algonquin offers the opportunity for the public to go out with Harkness on these netting trips in the Fall. I've helped with a few of them and people love it and have a blast. This season is over, but here's the link if you want to get your spot on the boat for next year - they fill up fast, and there's only four people per boat.

Tal reconocimiento es importante, y los Amigos de Algonquin ofrece la oportunidad para que el público salga con Harkness en estos viajes en el otoño. He ayudado con algunos de ellos y la gente le encanta. Esta temporada ha terminado, pero aquí está el enlace si usted quiere conseguir su lugar en el bote para el próximo año - que se llenan rápido, y hay sólo cuatro personas por bote.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Evacuation of the Great White North - La Evacuación del Norte

Fall is a busy season in the Northwoods for all forms of life. The leaves turned quick and dirty this year, but it's always amazing to see the Northwoods turn "rave colors", if only for a little bit.

El otoño es una temporada alta en el parque para todas las formas de vida. Las hojas de este año se volvió rápido y sucio, pero siempre es increíble ver el bosque se vuelven de color naranja, aunque sólo sea por un rato.


I went birding only a few times in between work, albeit once it was an overnighter on stormy Lake Travers on the East Side to see migrating Nelson's Sparrows. I bushwhacked in, camped on the shore of the lake through a big storm and woke up and went into the Travers Marsh.

Fui a pajarear sólo unas pocas veces en el medio de trabajo, aunque una vez fue una noche en el Lago Travers en el lado este de ver la migración de los Gorriones de Nelson. Yo acampado en la orilla del lago a través de una gran tormenta y me desperté y fui a la Travers Marsh.


The lake was shrouded in mist at first, and took its sweet time to burn off before the marsh was spectacularly lit up in full sunlight. 

 El lago fue envuelto en la niebla al principio, y se tomó su tiempo dulce para quemar antes de que el pantano se encendió espectacularmente en plena luz del sol.


And then, I got into the thick of the sparrows. They were everywhere, trying not to become wet by clinging to the tops of the rushes, some falling over one another in the process. It was great to see, especially not having been out birding for a while. I then packed up my things, walked back out to the car through this:

Y entonces, me metí en el meollo de los gorriones. Estaban por todas partes, tratando de no mojarse por el apego a las copas de los juncos, algunos cayendo unos sobre otros en el proceso. Fue genial ver, sobre todo, no haber observado aves durante un tiempo.

Then I packed up my things, walked back out to the car through this:

Entonces yo empaqué mis cosas, regresé al coche a través de este:


and worked an evening shift. As my boss puts it, "we make hay when the sun shines" and the hordes of tourists arriving to see the color show are certainly our version of the sun shining, sometimes too brightly..

y trabajó un turno de noche. Como mi jefe dice, "hacemos heno cuando brilla el sol" y las hordas de turistas que llegan a ver el espectáculo de color son ciertamente nuestra versión del brillo del sol, a veces demasiado bien!

Now it's slowed down and I've had some time to relax and observe. I went to Pelee with my mum during Thanksgiving weekend (what's left of a family tradition of visiting there each fall). There, one can see one of my favorite sights in nature - visible migration. 

Ahora se ha ralentizado y he tenido algo de tiempo para relajarse y observar. Fui a Pelee con mi madre durante el fin de semana (lo que queda de una tradición familiar de visitar una vez allí cada otoño). Allí, se puede ver uno de mis vistas favoritos en la naturaleza - la migración visible.

Blue Jays, in their untold hundreds, poured into the tip, only to realize that what lay beyond was open water, which they do not cross. They'd fly out a few hundred metres and turn around, working their way along the other shore. Looking through binoculars, it was possible to see that the birds were panting with exhaustion.

Azulejos, en sus cientos incalculables, se vierte en la punta, sólo para darse cuenta de que lo que había detrás era el agua abierta, que no se cruzan. Habían vuelan a unos cientos de metros y la vuelta, trabajando su camino a lo largo de la otra orilla. Mirando a través de binoculares, es posible ver que las aves están jadeando de agotamiento. 


Amidst the Blue Jays, Accipiters also held a steady stream. The birds, most of them young-of-the-year, would fling off over the water, only to rapidly turn around. South winds were pushing them back, and the birds were coming low, just over head height, allowing for good comparisons between Cooper's vs. Sharp-shinned.

En medio de los Azulejos, gavilanes también mantuvo un flujo constante. Las aves, en su mayoría jóvenes-de-la-año, se arrojan fuera sobre el agua, sólo para volver. Vientos del Sur estaban presionando de nuevo, y los pájaros se acercaban baja, poco más de altura de la cabeza.

There were the clouds of Turkey Vultures. Like strings of black kites, they too wouldn't cross open water, and neither would the Red-tailed and Red-shouldered Hawks that were migrating with them in numbers.

Entonces, había nubes de Zopilotes. Al igual que las cadenas de cometas, ellos también no se cruzarían en aguas abiertas, y tampoco le gustaría que los Gavilanes de Cola Roja y Hombros Rojos que fueron migrando con ellos.

Bald Eagles, which were also migrating, had no problems about crossing the lake and came out of their soars to take the journey on powered flapping flight. 

Águilas Calvas, que también fueron migrando, no tuvieron problemas en cruzar el lago y salieron de sus eleva a hacer el viaje en el vuelo de aleteo potencia.

 The tiny Kestrel did the same!

El pequeño cernícalo hizo lo mismo!


And so did a handful of Monarchs. 

Y lo mismo hizo un puñado de monarcas.
A Golden Eagle was a bonus.

Un Aguila Real fue un bono!


It was probably the single best day of hawk migration I had ever seen. I finally got my day off earlier in the year at the same time as the peak of the Broad-winged Hawk movement, which I hadn't seen for years.

Fue probablemente el mejor día de la migración del halcón que había visto nunca. He tenido suerte con gavilanes de este año, ya que por fin tengo mi día libre a principios de año, al mismo tiempo que el pico del movimiento Gavilán Aludo, que yo no había visto en años.

Whether bird or insect, this was stark evidence of the mass evacuation of life from parts further North. Something that I realized I am now a part of!

Ya sea ave o insecto, esto era prueba contundente de la evacuación masiva de la vida de las partes más al norte. Algo que me di cuenta de que ahora soy una parte!

And, you can now be a part of it too! I am running a few tours to Costa Rica this year, all-inclusive (save for the flight) so now if you've ever wanted to experience where all of these things go when they're not up north, come visit me down south! A typical itinerary is posted here for a trip I'm leading in February (you don't have to be a member of Meetup or anything to join, it's just up here for ease) -

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Beasts in the High Seas - Bestias en la Alta Mar

I was a little scared I wouldn’t be able to make it to the Outer Banks this year, with other commitments in the Spring and passport issues later on (which resolved the day before I was set to travel) but I managed to squeeze through.  

It was fantastic. The first day, off Wanchese, started with a beautiful sunrise.

Yo estaba un poco asustada yo no sería capaz de llegar a los Outer Banks de este año, con otros compromisos en los temas de la primavera y el pasaporte más tarde (que se resolvió el día antes de que me puse a viajar), pero me las arreglé para pasar a través .

Fue fantástico. El primer día, de Wanchese, comenzó con un hermoso amanecer.


The weather was calm and so was the sea.  On our way out, a big gray thing floated past the boat. It took me a while, until the great beast lifted its head – and then I shouted –

El tiempo estaba en calma, así como el mar. A la salida, una cosa gris grande flotaba más allá de la embarcación. Me tomó un tiempo, hasta que la gran bestia levantó la cabeza - y luego me gritó -




The largest of all turtles. An incredible wanderer, brought out here by abundant food resources brought in by the cold water. The only reptile capable of internal thermoregulation. This individual may end up on a beach in Trinidad, Suriname, or French Guiana…or, if it was a male, never touch land again.

La más grande de todas las tortugas. Un vagabundo increíble, traído aquí por los recursos alimenticios abundantes traídos por el agua fría. El único reptil capaz de termorregulación interna. Este individuo puede acabar en una playa en Trinidad, Surinam o Guyana Francesa ... o, si se trataba de un macho, nunca toque tierra de nuevo.

After a couple of breaths, the beast dove. My lifer Leatherback. A gap on my bucket list, filled, if only by a few brief moments.

Después de un par de respiraciones, la bestia zambulló bajo el agua. Mi primera Tortuga Baula. Un hueco en mi lista de deseos, lleno, aunque sólo sea por unos breves instantes.

I let the turtle sink in for a while. I had tried, and failed, to see these turtles before in Costa Rica and a handful of other places. It was one of those animals that I’ve always wanted, but never thought I’d see, as a child. I’m not one to get anything except excited over animal sightings, but this one stirred my soul for a long time.

Dejo que la tortuga se hunden en un rato. Yo había intentado, sin éxito, para ver estas tortugas antes en Costa Rica y un puñado de otros lugares. Era uno de esos animales que siempre he querido, pero nunca pensó que vería, cuando yo era un niño. Peligro Crítico de Extinción. Yo no soy nadie para hacer nada excepto emocionada sobre avistamientos de animales, pero éste moví mi alma durante mucho tiempo.

We ended up seeing nine more. A record for offshore trips. We also saw some excellent (albeit nothing exceptionally rare) birds, and offshore Bottlenose and Spotted Dolphins as well as many Short-finned Pilot Whales.

The second day was too windy to go out, but the third day can only be described as “epic”.

Terminamos viendo nueve más. Un récord para viajes en alta mar. También vimos algunos pájaros excelentes (aunque nada excepcionalmente raro) y los Delfines Mulares y Delfines Manchados, así como muchas Ballenas Pilotos.

El segundo día era demasiado viento para salir, pero al tercer día sólo puede ser descrito como "épico".

Short-finned Pilot Whales - Ballenas Pilotos

I stood on the bow of the Stormy Petrel II. The wind was high. The sky was black. Lightning occasionally permeated the otherwise featureless horizon.  The sea was tossing us around like a cork. Warm Gulf Stream water rained on us.  The sea was having its way with us, and there was nothing we could do about it. Some people crawled with seasickness into the cabin. I don’t get to do this enough to have done that.  If nobody else is, I’m eating the whole cake.  

Me quedé en la proa de la Stormy Petrel II. El viento era alta. El cielo estaba negro. Rayo ocasionalmente impregnaba el horizonte de otra manera monótona. El mar nos daba vueltas alrededor como un corcho. Agua corriente caliente del Golfo llovió sobre nosotros. El mar estaba teniendo su camino con nosotros, y no había nada que pudiera hacer al respecto. Algunas personas arrastraban con el mareo en la cabina. No tengo que hacer esto basta con haber hecho eso. Si no hay nadie más, me voy a comer todo el queque.


We were in the middle of a beehive. Yellowfin Tuna were driving baitfish to the surface, bringing them close enough so that birds were able to dive and feed on them. And were there ever birds.  Sky, water, birds, and nothing else.  Miles in the open sea.

Estábamos en medio de una colmena. El atún aleta amarilla fue conduciendo carnada a la superficie, con lo que ellos lo suficientemente cerca como para que las aves pudieron zambullirse y alimentarse de ellos. Cielo, agua, aves, y nada más. Kilómetros en el mar abierto.


I was alone on the bow, sopping wet and tossing around like a rag doll. A Black-capped Petrel slid up the boat, riding the wind effortlessly, paused briefly enough for us to make eye contact, changed the shape of its wings, and disappeared into the dark.

Yo estaba solo en la proa, empapado y lanzando como una muñeca de trapo. Un Petrel Capsulado Negro se deslizó hasta el barco, montar el viento sin esfuerzo, hizo una breve pausa suficiente para nosotros para hacer contacto con los ojos, cambió la forma de sus alas, y desapareció en la oscuridad.

I don’t believe in a God, but I believe in something, and this was it. 

No creo en un Dios, pero creo en algo, y esto fue todo.

It was a great time spent with great friends, old and new. We saw some excellent birds, including Trindade Petrel which was a new bird for a lot of the group (including myself!) I don't get to spend time with Brian and Kate ( very often, and I don't see ANY shearwaters or petrels in Ontario, and I love being offshore in general. Everyone had a great time (when they weren't throwing up on that third day...).  OBX....I will be back. Soon.

Fue un gran tiempo con buenos amigos, viejos y nuevos. Vimos algunos excelentes aves, incluyendo Petrel Trindade, que era un ave nueva para muchos del grupo (incluido yo mismo!) Yo no puedo pasar tiempo con Brian y Kate muy a menudo, y yo no veo ninguna pardelas y petreles en Ontario, y me encanta estar en alta mar en general. Todo el mundo tenía un gran tiempo (cuando no estaban tirando para arriba en ese tercer día ...). OBX .... volveré. Pronto.