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The Pipits: A New Year

Hello Pipits!

Happy New Year to everyone! I just wanted to send out a quick post about our last outing... to Haldimand County to look for Short Eared Owls.

We found them!

It was a COLD and very windy afternoon to be standing roadside along country fields, but an impressive group of 7 intrepid Pipits joined Geordie and I on Sunday at dusk. Although we were car birding (thank goodness for heat and shelter), we did spend some time out in the icy elements looking through binoculars and scopes. My photography suffered ... I really struggled with hand pain from the cold that basically made it impossible to hold the camera properly. But I do have the memories of the owls flying around hunting, flying in amidst the Harriers, and especially, one owl that came and sat in the grass just a few feet away across the road from us and chilled. Wish I had better photos for you folks, but glad some people did have the real life experience!

It wasn't an entirely birdless day either. There were at least 6-8 Northern Harriers hunting the fields around the block of roads that we travelled. A flock of Horned Larks passed by. We also saw Rusty Blackbirds and Red Winged Blackbirds, in a flock of at least 50 blackbird sp. I asked Bob Curry about this sighting. I was surprised to see the Rusty Blackbirds especially. Apparently, they do overwinter in Haldimand and given how mild winter has been until recently, Bob thought it not impossible to see such numbers of Rusty Blackbirds overwintering. This was another lesson for me - I wish I had spent more time at the scope, checking the birds individually as much as possible. It would be interesting to know if eBird shows counts like this for Haldimand.

I'm going to sign off here but I'll attach a few equally poor Short Eared Owl photos below for your enjoyment (squint and they look no better lol).

Thanks to everyone who came out for this outing, your determination to be out in the wild even during these demanding winter conditions is inspirational.

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