A Spotted Towhee visiting a feeder was last reported on January 22 and though it was not seen on the Friday, Jean and I drove to Port Colborne on Saturday to attempt observing the Niagara Region rarity.
Upon arriving at the lake shore home we could see a small group of birders at the end of a sloping driveway. Some faces were familiar and none had observed the towhee, one birder having watched the feeder for 1 & 1/2 hours. One by one the birders left, all heading for the west side of the city to view an annual visitor to the residential area by Lake Erie.
The temperature was -10 degrees Celsius so we limited our time to 30 minutes, knowing we had another bird moments away. As with the Varied Thrush earlier this month, Jean and I would not see the Spotted Towhee.
We arrived at our second stop of the day and the birders we met at the previous spot pointed out our first lifer of 2009. Despite the pointing and verbal description of its location I initially could not spot it. As a fellow birder continued to aid me in observing the bird I heard Jean say "I see it!". "What?" "Where?" Though it seemed like an eternity, I finally clued in to where the bird was located. The bird was an Eastern Screech Owl (#253). It was resting snugly in the hole of a large Maple tree.
With only Jean and I remaining on the quiet street, I captured some images of the owl. Photos will be posted at a later date as I am still using 35 mm film. Yes, film!
During our return home, we stopped at a Hydro water channel that remains ice free during the winter months. I scanned the hundreds of Canada Geese in hopes of adding a Cackling Goose to the year list. Though none were found, Mute Swan and Belted Kingfisher were added to the year list.
Although 0 for 2 on reported birds this month a lifer Eastern Screech Owl certainly makes it less disappointing.
The Spotted Towhee appeared twice on Sunday, once in the morning, then again in the afternoon. On Monday the bird was not seen. I will continue to monitor the Ontbirds reports to determine if a weekend visit is in order. Hopefully it will make as many appearances as the Point Pelee Spotted Towhee.