Happy as a Lark

This past Sunday, my grandmother stopped by to see our lambs, chicks, and calves (I hope to post some pictures soon).

As she was leaving the yard, I heard a bird singing in one of the spruce trees on the south side of the house — it would sing every minute or so. The bird was very well hidden in the branches and it took me some time to find it.

When I finally was able to see it peeking through the branches, I saw it was a Lark Sparrow, which I’d never seen before and which is fairly uncommon for this area.  I ran into the house to get my camera, but the sparrow had left and I didn’t get a photo.

Lark Sparrows are more common in southern Alberta, so it was very nice to have one show up in our yard.

When I went outside yesterday morning, I heard the Lark Sparrow singing in the spruce tree again. I was able to get quite a few good photos of the bird and so far, it’s the best “Yard Bird” I’ve seen! Lark Sparrows are very beautiful and have a lovely song — I hope I get to see more soon.

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Spring Migrants around Vermilion

My spring has been very busy, but I’ve been able to do quite a bit of birding these past few months, if not so much blogging.

Here are some of my favourite photos I’ve taken this spring.

An American Robin,IMG_8488

An American Avocet with a Lesser Yellowlegs in the background,IMG_8502

There are an abundance of Tree Swallows around our yard — we put up 20 more bird boxes around our property so hopefully all the boxes will have occupants this summer.IMG_8513

A Lincoln’s Sparrow at my feeding station,IMG_8536

A Lesser Yellowlegs,IMG_8552

A pair of Northern Shovelers,IMG_8474

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

The Northern Flickers arrived a few days ago, and yesterday I saw this one sitting on our roof,

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More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

Kathie’s Birds

Feathers on Friday

If you would like to join me for my Feathers on Friday meme, please put the link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll add the link to my post.

I saw my first American Robin of the season on March 30th — spring has arrived!

An American Robin,

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More Feathers on Friday Posts:

Bird Boy

Birds in Your Backyard

The Cats and the Birds

Wolf Song Blog

Kathie’s Birds

My New Binoculars

My Nikon Monarch 8×42 binoculars have served me well for the past six years, since my grandfather gave them to me when I first started birding. I’ve seen more than 300 species through them, and they’ve traveled with me to the Caribbean, New York City, Ontario, and recently to Europe — I’m still finding sand in crevices from my adventures at Long Point in 2012 and 2013.

However, one of the eye-cups broke recently and both of the objective lens covers broke off a long time ago, and I realized while in Europe looking at unfamiliar species that I could do with better optics. Last month, I started researching new binoculars, since I was ready for an upgrade.

I wanted a pair with similar specifications and that would last me a long time. After some research and because I already have a soft spot for Swarovski optics (my spotting scope is a Swarovski ATM 80), I made my decision. Because I live far from any stores to test binoculars, I had to go with previous experience, what I’ve seen other birders use, and what I’ve read about.

With the help of my mother (to use her credit card), we ordered a pair of Swarovski EL 8.5×42’s from the Pelee Wings Nature Store in Leamington, Ontario. Pelee Wings is an excellent store with wonderful service and very fast shipping. They have a vast selection of optics for birding and guarantee that they will meet or beat any lower price on binoculars or scopes in Canada.

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My new binoculars arrived this past Wednesday and they’re wonderful! They came with a carrying case and strap, a microfiber cleaning cloth, and some Swarovski stickers. They’re a little heavier than my old binoculars, but that’s not much of a problem and a small price to pay for the improved optics. So far I’m very impressed and can’t wait to see what birds these new binoculars will help me find.

Whooping Crane Tours

For the first time ever, Parks Canada is offering guided tours to the Whooping Crane nesting grounds in Wood Buffalo National Park in May, June, and August. Wood Buffalo National Park located in northeastern Alberta and the southern Northwest Territories and is the largest national park in Canada.

Birders have been divided about the opportunity — while some have been so quick to take advantage of seeing the cranes that $3,820 Heli-Hike tour is sold out, others are concerned that the added traffic could disturb this endangered species.

Whooping Cranes were close to extinction in the 1940s, and since then the population of cranes in Wood Buffalo National Park has grown to 310 birds and growing about four percent each a year.

What are your thoughts on these tours by Parks Canada? Do you think that these tours will help the cranes by raising awareness of this endangered species, or do you think the added disturbance will upend all the time, money, and effort that has been put into saving this species. You can find more detailed information at the Parks Canada website here.

A Whooping Crane feeding a chick, at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Klaus Nigge/ Parks Canada

A Whooping Crane feeding a chick at Wood Buffalo National Park. Photo by Klaus Nigge/Parks Canada