Notes From a Northwester Ontario Backyard – June 2017

Hello again and welcome to Lilac season, up here anyway!  I know in other areas, Lilac season is already over but we’ve had an incredibly cool spring & it looks like early summer, at least, will be the same.

Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly on Lilac blossoms

As promised, a report on my annual Birdathon, which I held with my husband’s help on his birthday, May 20th.  It started out pretty chilly in the morning but warmed up into the teens C by afternoon and stayed nice & sunny.  Here are a couple of photos from the day:

Bonaparte’s Gull

This Hermit Thrush posed beautifully for me in the morning sunshine. I’m amazed at how many of them I saw throughout the early spring … easily seeing a dozen at a time during a walk.

This Broad-Shouldered Hawk followed us (or we followed it) for a few miles on one back road … he/she was hunting for breakfast.

This Savannah Sparrow was warming up in the morning sunshine.


All in all, it was a great day.  I had initially thought that, because of the cool/cold spring, the Birdathon wouldn’t go well …. I hadn’t been able to pick out many Warblers or other spring migrants so I didn’t have a whole lot of hope.  As it turned out, I needn’t have worried:  we had our best Birdathon EVER with a tally of 71 species!  Funny how things turn out sometimes.  🙂  I send out my great thanks & appreciation to all who donated for my cause.  I raised over $1100 for Bird Studies Canada this year.  🙂

The week after our Birdathon, we made a trip to Dorion, ON., an hour east of Thunder Bay, for the 9th annual Dorion’s Canyon Country Birding Festival.  We haven’t missed a year yet and as per usual, there was great fun to be had all weekend.  The weather was mostly good (at least it didn’t snow!) & we had a great time hiking through trails to Ouimet Canyon (a natural wonder of NW Ont. where Peregrine Falcons nest) …

Vantage point: standing on a lookout, looking to the right of Ouimet Canyon

… and through the beautiful trails of Hurkett Cove & Lake Superior’s Black Bay in Dorion.  Heaven on earth.  Some photos from the weekend:

A Red Eyed Vireo

The bird I look SO forward to seeing each year: the Pelican

A Northern Parula

My lifer sighting! An Eastern Wood Pewee, a type of Flycatcher!

A VERY lucky shot of a Golden Crowned Kinglet at the top of a birch tree

A Cormorant in flight

A Chestnut-Sided Warbler

My husband and I had a great half hour period on our own at the head of one trail when I discovered that we were surrounded by Warblers:  Yellow-Rumped, Chestnut-Sided, Redstarts, Black Throated Greens …. they were EVERYwhere at head level!  It was incredible!  I can’t wait for the 10th annual next May.  🙂

Unfortunately, we have seen this spring throughout our region that we have ticks up here now.  I photographed a moose that was covered in them ….

A moose covered in ticks at the end of winter.

… and a Hare at the festival that had ticks on its face:

Snowshoe Hare with at least 3 ticks on its face

They were pitiful looking creatures, especially the moose.  Enough ticks on one animal can cause anaemia and death.  So sad to hear the insects have made their way up here now.

On to other news.  We came home from the Bird Festival to discover a bear had been visiting the yard that weekend, while we were away.  I knew something was missing from my feeder post – my husband found my peanut feeder in our woodshed!  The next morning, we got up to find the bear had returned and torn down my platform feeder during the night.  Thankfully, when we rebuilt our feeder system last summer, we built it strong so the post was not damaged, just some brackets and one hook.  We were planning to remodel the platform feeder itself anyway.

Since then, I have very little seed out in the yard but what I do have is still bringing in some lovely visitors like ….

Purple Finches (in my blooming crab apple tree)

Super busy & super cute Chickadees (this one is in my honeysuckle shrub)

Hummingbirds were quite late this year ….. or at least our sightings of them were.  I didn’t see my season’s first one until May 31st when I normally see them by the 15th.  They are busy now with both males & females vying for my 2 feeders regularly.  I have lots of flowers out for them now too.

Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird in the rain, on my newest feeder.

We were surprised 2 weeks ago, while we were sitting on our back deck, to look over and see a Groundhog on our firewood pile in our driveway.  Two weeks before that, we had a Pine Marten running around our backyard and climbing our pine trees.  Add in the bear visits & it was a fairly busy spring for mammal sightings in the yard!

Groundhog in our woodpile …. check out those chompers!

I’ll leave you this month with a smile …… just because.  🙂  Happy Summer!  See you in July!

My Funky Chicken flower pot 🙂

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2 Responses to Notes From a Northwester Ontario Backyard – June 2017

  1. gilda blackmore says:

    I had no idea that pelicans could be seen that far north!
    Your trip sounds wonderful.

  2. Doris says:

    You always amaze me Tammie
    Thanks again for the great read and beautiful pictures