I have a condo, and I'm happy... How happy? I made a page about my “patch” for my website, a month before I had even seen the place I ended up buying (I just knew I wanted this building, with a view of the lake) ... Check it out! :
I'll try to update it when I can... Here’s a breakdown of each day thus far...
My view !
Nov 23 – got the place! It was still a bit light, but I decided to avoid the windows and get my first birds in the morning of the 24th... The weather forecast was calling for post-cold-front NW winds, which I thought would be perfect for a waterbird flight!
24th – Set up my scope pointing at the horizion and just started looking! I may have seen a gull sp zip past a window, but I didn’t count it... First birds I saw were Long-tailed Ducks! Species #1 !!! Not surprising considering there are bazillions of them in view at all times...
Next 4 were White-winged Scoter, Ring-billed Gull, House Sparrow and Herring Gull... Was happy to get some gulls early ;)
I picked up more regular ducks, and some Bonaparte’s Gulls (only ones I’ve seen in the first week) – which was cool... I started looking around on the water and spotted a first winter male KING EIDER!!! Species number 12 on the “condo list”... Boom... Not totally surprising considering there had been one reported here for days, but still awesome.. (it may have actually been a “new” bird, keep reading to the next day)
After a bit more fun, I couldn’t really stand around much longer (I had waited 6 months for a condo, and even the birds couldn’t hold me down)... This whole time I was out on the balcony, so I started moving inside.. That’s when I discovered something remarkable ---- my windows are clear and clean, and I could see all the same birds inside where it’s warm! With no wind! I haven’t birded on the balcony since...
After poking around inside for a bit, I picked up some Cormorants and puddle ducks (NOPI, GADW etc) and got another cool bird in the form of 2 Red-throated Loons...
I spent the rest of the day only casually looking while I started cleaning the place, but I did manage a few Black Scoters in the afternoon to give me the trio on day 1... Not a bad start!
Nov 25th --- watch was delayed by several hours (ok, the whole morning) – cause I went out and got hammered the night before... Only new waterbirds from the condo were a flock of Hooded Mergansers I picked out among the Long-tailed Ducks... Also picked up a few “patch” birds driving to get stuff to put into my empty place (Incl Great Blue Heron) ... The real highlight came in the form of a SECOND King Eider! I think this may have been the bird that was around “all along” – because it looks just like a typical 1st winter male... The one the previous day was very brown with only a bit of colour in the bill... Again, not a surprise, given that two were reported here the previous day – but it was pretty cool .... And maybe I can claim my first rarity at my place as self found ;)
Nov 26th – Moving day! Only “patch birds” were the stuff I saw driving (Sharp-shinned Hawk)... My Dad and I had a BARN SWALLOW that's been hanging out around the Burlington Water Treatment place while driving down the road.. Pretty cool :) – and now I had all of my stuff piled up in my place! (actually in piles)..
Nov 27th – After this day, I was getting pretty positive that this condo was a good idea. Got my first Redhead flying past with a group of G Scaup.. I then had my first in-condo raptor in the form of a Red-tailed Hawk! I then walked to a different room, where I could still see it soaring around close to the building... But WAIT! That’s not a Red-tail! It’s a Peregrine Falcon !!!
I zipped back to my binoculars and discovered that two adult Peregrine Falcons and the Red-tailed Hawk were all soaring around my building, riding the updrafts (sometimes no more than 50-70 feet from my window).. Boom! I actually took a photo with my point and shoot of a Peregrine... Man that’s nice.
Does it get any better? Well no, Peregrine’s are the best... But we tried hard when I picked out a mega-flock of EVENING GROSBEAKS flying west , up high (just above eye level at 16 stories up)... I guessed about 80 birds! Sa-weeet!
Nov 28th - I watched for a bit, but no new birds.. Had 2 Red-tails, including a very very darkly marked “northern/arctic” juvenile that came close – but no pics.. Also had a Crow sp (ok, just a crow) “migrating” along the lakeshore up high and going west.. Was odd.
Nov 29th – another day with some time to watch! (didn’t work this week) ... Some more Hooded Mergs... 5 Double-crested Cormorants (getting late boys, groups of 2, 1, 2) and a NEW patch bird! Mute Swan baby! (who knew MUSW could be exciting) .. Two swam past on the lake.. Now that I can count them, I hope they get stuck in some ice and get eaten by a Golden Eagle..
Nov 30th – spent 8am – 11am ish at Van Wagner’s doing a watch (not in the patch).. By the time I got back around 1130 (in 30-40kmh E winds), I managed a few cool birds. They included my first Common Loons !!! for the patch, along with a Red-throated. Lots of Hooded Mergs, Mallards and American Black Ducks on the move, presumably getting frozen out of the north! Also a surprising number of Great Black-backed Gulls on the move...
AAAnnnnyyywaaayysss ... I’m sure “condo birding” updates will become more regular on the blog! Although I also don’t have any decent internet here, so blog posts may become more sporadic... We’ll see... My ability to respond to emails certainly can’t get any slower...