The first day of my March Break was March 8, so I ushered it in by driving the roads west and north of Newmarket in search of local birds.
These Newmarket area outings are usually done in the company of my golden retriever, Samwise, but, sadly, we had to put him down Friday night. Today's "field trip" without him was a very bittersweet one so I dedicate this post to the memory of that sweet and gentle companion.
Hoping that this winter's Snowy Owl irruption would create an interesting "spring migration" in the Holland Marsh, I spent some time looking for snowies that either (a) wintered here or (b) have started moving through the area from points south. In a possible mix of the two scenarios, I had 10 Snowy Owl sightings between 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m., though two birds were possible duplications. To be conservative in my count, there may only have been eight birds.
All of the birds were a safe distance from the road, so here is a quick, if somewhat intentionally vague, summary. Eight were north of Hwy. 9 and south of Canal Road (some west of Hwy. 400, some east): north side of Bernhardt Rd. west from Dufferin; west side of Aileen between Keele and Jane; north side of 2nd Concession near Holancin; west side of Rupke Road; east side of Rupke Road; north side of Tornado near Jane; north side of Tornado near Hazel; east side of Simcoe Road where it meets Tornado. Another bird was near the northern end of Bathurst Street past Queensville Sideroad, and the last one I saw was south of Ravenshoe Road in Keswick near Yonge Street.
With all due respect to these snowies, my favourite bird of the day was a song sparrow near the north end of Bathurst. Bring the spring, hardy passerines!
There were also six horned larks and four snow buntings along this northern stretch of Bathurst. Further south on Bathurst near Newmarket (in a field on the west side of the road and north of Green Lane) there were 41 wild turkeys. I observed 37 more turkeys in a field on the east side of 2nd Concession north of Queensville Sideroad.
Have you been watching - and hearing - the birds, now that temperatures are slightly milder? What birds have you seen on the Lake Simcoe Watershed? Add your sightings!