I have just returned from having led a DVOC field trip with 10 members to Eastern Ontario. It was my second such Canadian jaunt in as many months where the northern owls and winter passerines continue to put on a wonderful show. For a change we had 3 gorgeous days of bright sunshine which made the cold temperatures very tolerable.
We were treated to a wonderful Snowy Owl that was actively hunting in the early morning hours on Amherst Island. In Owl Woods the number of owls was far fewer than 6 weeks ago and one of the reasons may well be the Barred Owl that seems to be feasting upon some of the smaller owls. We did find several Northern Saw-whets as well as an astonishing 3 Boreals. In the Ottawa area 2 Northern Hawk Owls were very cooperative and a Great Gray came out of a patch of deciduous woods to hunt the edge at dusk. It has been a great year for owls in Ontario.
Common Redpolls were the most numerous of the winter finches we came upon and we were lucky enough to have a Hoary amongst one of the groups. There was a scattering of Pine Siskins, White-winged Crossbills and a couple of Red Crossbills in Algonquin Provincial Park. It was in this wonderful park that we had Pine Grosbeaks, Evening Grosbeak, Gray Jays, Boreal Chickadees amongst many Black-capped and a pair of Black-backed Woodpeckers.
Amongst a handful of mammal species including a dozy Muskrat and a sleeping Porcupine in a birch tree, there was what I am calling a wolf. I say that before because it did not look like any coyote I had ever seen and I believe that in this part of Canada there may be no pure coyotes or even wolves for that matter. Either way, hybrid or not, it was another wonderful experience for us.