Sunday 31 December 2023


One of the most notable aspects of the part of Canada I visited - its an hour from Toronto - was the presence of Mennonite farms in the area.

Some of the families who live on these farms still use horses as a main for of transport - and some still use horses on the farms.

We stopped at a Mennonite Church / Meeting House where there were a large number of horses tethered outside.

I could not resist some pictures.

 Got to love a horse!  SM

Friday 29 December 2023

Winter Landscapes

I have to admit that I like both winter and agricultural landscapes - and when I was in Canada I was able to take some pictures of both.

I spent my time in Canada with David from Travels with Birds, and as a wonderful host he showed me around.

We spent one afternoon in the agricultural areas to the north of Waterloo.  Although we did see some snow it was rather mild for the time of year.

Many of the farms in this area are run by Mennonite families, and you can often see the distinctive way in which they build their homes.  I am no expert on such things, but I enjoyed what I saw.

It's safe to say it does not look like this anywhere near Melbourne!  SM

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 596 - A few Highlights

Greetings everyone - I hope you survived Christmas and are now ready for the New Year.

My Christmas activity of all sorts was rather curtailed by a dose of Coivd - the first I have had, and I genuinely hope its the last as well.  I to be honest, I've not felt that ill in a very long time.

I have done very little at all in the last week, and as I result I have not processed any pictures from my recent trips.

So, here are a few highlights of the year, given in the hope that they bring a bit of cheer to one and all.


Brown Falcon

Golden-headed Cisticola

Little Raven

Pacific Heron

Australian Pelican 

Powerful Owls

Rainbow Lorikeet

Southern Scrub Robin

Shy Albatross

Tasmanian Native Hen

Bullers Albatross

What a year - and I have not included any pictures from my recent trips.

As ever, to join in with WBW click the link below.  SM

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Wednesday 20 December 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 595 - Great Lizard-Cuckoo

When I was away last month I also went to Cuba.  Not a place that has really been on my radar in the past, but what a remarkable country.  Amazing birds, food, history - and for the most part - great weather.

One of the first birds we found in Cuba were a pair (?) of Great Lizard-Cuckoos (Coccyzus merlini). This bird is only found in the Bahamas and Cuba.  The birds we saw were on the mainland of Cuba which make them the sub-species Coccyzus merlini merlini.

Unsurprisingly this species was a life tick for me - and it was a great way to start birding in Cuba.

This bird is a common breeding bird in Cuba, it is 42 to 54 cm long, about half of which is the tail, and weighs about 100 to 155 g. Both sexes have the same plumage, but males are slight larger than females.  When they call, the starting phrases seemed similar to the laughing call of Laughing Kookaburra.  The call certainly made me do a double take the first time I heard it.

These birds feed on frogs, snakes, birds' eggs, nestlings and large insects. Unlike other cuckoos this species builds its own nest, and incubates two to three of its own eggs. 

These birds were rather far away, and often shaded or hidden by foliage, so pictures were not always easy to get.

This is the WBW post that covers Christmas - so I hope you have a good break, see lots of Christmas birds (winter or summer depending on hemisphere) and have a generally good time!

As ever, to join in with WBW click the link below.  SM

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Wednesday 13 December 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 594 - Black-Capped Chickadee

I may recent trip to Canada, I think that the Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) was the bird I saw most often.  With the exception of one rather birdless afternoon, I can't recall a place that I went where I did not see them.

Closely related to both the Marsh and Willow Tits I used to see in the UK, they were are wonderfully familiar and often friendly bird.  On a number of the walks I went on it was clear that the Black-capped Chickadees had become accustomed to being fed from the hand by passing walkers.  There were also numerous stumps and logs that had been used as 'feeding tables'.  

For many people these are probably 'just' Chickadees, but I really liked them!

As ever, to join in with WBW click on the link below.  Cheers  SM

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Wednesday 6 December 2023

Wild Bird Wednesday 593 - South Polar Skua

This bird is a South Polar Skua (Stercorarius maccormicki) and I only know this because much better birders than me (tenuously) identified the bird in the field and made a confirmed ID based on the pictures take on the boat! 

This is a rare sighting, and as this species 'shows little interest in vessels' I suppose we were very lucky to get such good views.

I am no expert, but as far as I can tell, one of the key ID features that separate this species from the more frequent Brown Skua is the contrast in colour between the underwings and the body.  The South Polar Skua also has a 'finer bill and smaller head'.

Its at times like this I am thankful for experts!

I have to say it was an impressive bird - having the bulk and attitude you would expect from a bird that lives over the Souther Ocean.

As ever, to join in with WBW click on the link below.  SM

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