Thursday, December 3, 2015

Birding the Tantramar

Tantramar Marsh Supports Significant Bird Population

Tantramar Marsh
On November 26 we visited the Tantramar Marsh looking for birds and other wildlife.  It was a warm, sunny day and great to be out!  Although we covered all the roads in the marsh we spent more time on the Anderson Marsh Road.  

We were looking mainly for raptors.  The marsh is a good area for them to rest on migration because of suitable habitat and a high rodent population, the main diet of many raptors.  We saw many hawks including 13 Northern Harriers, 4 Rough-legged Hawks, and 2 Red-tailed Hawks.  

Rough-legged Hawk [Internet Photo]

Red-tailed Hawk
Eagles were also taking our attention.  There had been a few sightings of a Golden Eagle there in the last two weeks but in spite of careful searching we did not find it.  However, we did see 2 Bald Eagles.

Bald Eagle

Golden Eagle [Internet Photo]
The Golden Eagle has a very large territory for its 'home range' so was probably hunting over marsh areas across the border in Nova Scotia.  There were some ducks in the many streams flowing through the marsh and they were attracting the Bald Eagles.  The Common Eider shown below was seen in one stream.  A few days earlier a birder had seen an eagle feeding on an eider in this area.

Common Eider
The highlight for me was also another raptor species.  We saw two Short-eared Owls.  These owls have been seen on the marsh lately but it is unusual to see them active during the day.  We saw two of them in flight.  We did not know whether they were feeding or if they were being harassed by the many crows on the marsh.  

Pheasants and Snow Buntings were very numerous.  We saw many groups of Ring-necked Pheasants numbering at least 50 individuals.  There were several flocks of Snow Buntings, some very large.  We estimated seeing between 300 and 500 buntings altogether.  

As you can see we had a wonderful day exploring the Tantramar Marsh.  There were not many cattle pastured on the marsh but there were large round hay bales everywhere.  We did see a group of Scottish Highland Cattle on the edge of the marsh.  They were enjoying the breeze and the lush feed.

Scottish Highland Bull

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