Sunday, April 14, 2019

BIRD LAS VEGAS

We were hoping to see one Burrowing Owl on our outing, we ended the day with nine!
Rob and I recently returned from a 4 night/5 day trip to Las Vegas. It was Rob's first time there and only my second. We stayed at a hotel on the strip, and even though we enjoyed all of the fun Vegas offers, the highlight of our trip was our full day outing with Bird Las Vegas.

I had found out about the bird guide service from an Ontario birding Facebook Group page last year and they came highly recommended from a couple birding acquaintances in the group. I quickly made contact with them and plans for a full day outing.

It's hard to put into words the amazing time we had without sounding like I'm gushing, but it was just so awesome! Justin, our guide, was friendly, professional, and knowledgeable.  It didn't matter if I was asking about a bird, a plant, mammal or an area, he always had an answer. He let us set the pace of the day, and did all he could to make sure we saw as many target birds as possible. Rob and I were more interested in making sure we had good looks at all the new birds we were seeing instead of rushing off to try to get another one or getting the "wow" photo, and it made for a very pleasant day.  We visited three different areas with three very different habitats which made for a great variety of birds.

Here is a list of birds I added to my "Life List":

1.   Abert's Towhee
2.   Anna's Hummingbird
3.   Band-tailed Pigeon
4.   Bewick's Wren
5.   Black-chinned Sparrow
6.   Black-necked Stilt
7.   Black Phoebe
8.   Black-tailed Gnatcatcher.
9.   Burrowing Owl
10. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
11. Clark's Nutcracker
12. Cinnamon Teal
13. Costa's Hummingbirds
14. Crissal Thrasher
15. Eurasian Collared Dove
16. Gambel's Quail
17. Greater Roadrunner
18. Juniper Titmouse
20. Lesser Goldfinch
21. Mountain Chickadee
22. Phainopepla
23. Pygmy Nuthatch
24. Say's Phoebe
25. Spotted Towhee
26. Steller's Jay
27. Verdin
28. Vermilion Flycatcher
29. Woodhouse Scrub Jay


We also saw some sub-species; Audobon's Yellow-rumped Warbler, Slatey Fox Sparrow and a Grey-headed Junco. Rob got a few more lifers than I, he also added Yellow-headed Blackbird, American Avocet and Great-tailed Grackle.   

Below I have used a mix of Rob's photos and some from the Bird Las Vegas Facebook page with permission, as I really wanted to showcase some of the amazing birds we saw.

Anna's Hummingbird - Photo from Bird Las Vegas 
Black-tailed Gnatcatcher - Photo from Bird Las Vegas 
Yellow-headed Blackbird - Photo by Rob Mueller
Costa's Hummingbird - Photo from Bird Las Vegas 
Juniper TitmousePhoto from Bird Las Vegas 
Gambel's Quail - Photo by Rob Mueller
Steller's Jay - Photo from Bird Las Vegas 
Greater Roadrunner - Photo from Bird Las Vegas 
Burrowing Owls - Photo by Rob Mueller

Verdin - Photo from Bird Las Vegas 
Male Vermilion Flycatcher - Photo from Bird Las Vegas 
Female Vermilion FlycatcherPhoto from Bird Las Vegas 
Black-chinned Sparrow - Photo by Rob Mueller 
Rob and I with our awesome guide, Justin. See you in 2020!
People may not think of birding when they think of Las Vegas, but with Bird Las Vegas, they soon will.

Friday, March 22, 2019

MARCH MADNESS

March 2019 marks 30 years since I moved to Toronto from Nova Scotia.

March was welcomed and has been going by in a bit of a blur. Work has been extremely busy, along with busy weekends. During this March whirlwind, I have got some downtime.

I took an extra long weekend to welcome the month, and enjoyed a one night getaway with a girlfriend to the Briars. It had been 5 years since the last time we visited, and it was nice to return for a little spa pampering. 

The Briars in the winter, perfect place for a Girls' Getaway!
For the first time in 5 years, Rob and I were able to attend Toronto Comic Con. We enjoy going to these events. We like the thrill of the hunt for comics we collect, seeing all the different collectibles for sale, but I think the main reason we enjoy it, is the cosplay.

The amount of time and work some of these people put into their costumes is amazing. You see so many different styles of outfits; Superheros, Disney Princesses, Harry Potter and Star Wars characters, the list goes on and on. Everyone is always great about posing for pics too. Please enjoy a few of my "phone pics" from March 16th.

Wonder Woman and Aquaman!

Jabba the Hutt - alot of people got their photo taken with him and made a donation to "Make a Wish" for doing so .
I like how some of the bigger cosplay groups like 501st Legion (Star Wars) and Ontario Ghostbusters raise money for charities at these events. 
Loki and Thor, Thor's costume lit up!

Our favorite cosplayer, Violet, and her other half, Howard. We  met Violet 5 years ago when she was dressed at Vampirella.

Rob with 3 DC comic characters, can you name them all?
Found 3 more Sabrina comic for my collection. 
Another busy weekend this weekend and then we have a week of vacation to enjoy for the last week of March and first full week of Spring!

Click Here for our last visit to Toronto Comic Con in 2014, it was epic!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

SEVEN SNOWY SUNDAY


First Snowy Owl of the day.
February has been a rough month for me, and I am looking forward to turning the calendar page tomorrow morning, and putting it behind me.

The month wasn't all bad though, and the highlight day was Sunday, February 17th, when Rob and I met up with a couple other bird nerds, Michele and Andrea. It had been ages since we'd all seen each other, and it was spirit lifting to get together for an outing. Michele's two sons also joined us and I think they enjoyed the "Owl Adventure" very much.

Our target bird was the Snowy Owl, Michele had never seen one before, or any wild owl for that matter. Rob and I were hoping to see some Snow Buntings, which we did, and we even had a lifer with our first ever Lapland Longspur. I believe these two birds were also lifers for Michele and Andrea. We had a fun and memorable outing.

(Rob took a pic of every Snowy we saw, whether near or far. Click on the images to enlarge)

Snowy Owl number 2
Snowy Owl number 3
Snowy Owl number 4
Snowy Owl number 5
We ran into a few other birders while driving around, and were given a good tip on where to see some Snow Buntings. This made me very excited, as I hadn't seen any in a couple years, and we ended up having fantastic views, and adding a new bird to our life lists.

Flying Snowy Buntings!
Snow Buntings and one Lapland Longspur.
Do you see the Lapland Longspur?
Michele spotted this beauty when leaving the Snow Bunting spot. Snowy Owl number 6
It's easy to just want to remain inside when it's winter, but outings like this make getting out during the colder months worth it.

While we were driving home we took a little detour and added Snowy Owl number 7 to our list. Unfortunately we'd already parted ways with Michele and her boys, but I think she was pretty thrilled to see half a dozen on her first Snowy outing!

Snowy Owl number 7 is there.....