With the official arrival of spring less than three weeks away, many will remember this winter for different reasons. Some will think back to the record breaking low temperatures, the bitter wind chills and non existent January thaw. Maybe it will be the highway closures, indoor recesses, or dead car batteries. Sure all of these things stand out, but for me it will be the amazing birds that we experienced in our area.
It all began back in December when the Snowy Owl irruption started. Several of these birds were spotted just outside the city with some even within city limits. Many of these birds have been seen time and time again in the same locations throughout the winter months. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see one of these beautiful birds there is still time. Reports of them continue to come in, but once it begins to warm they will quickly be gone. Don’t wait, an irruption like this is not common. This link shows a map of all the Snowy Owls reported to ebird in our area. Latest reports suggest the area of Westminster Drive and Old Victoria Road just south of London may be your best bet to locate a Snowy. Please keep in mind to be respectful of the owls and others enjoying their beauty as mentioned in Be Respectful When Enjoying Nature.
Another highlight and real bonus of the cold temperatures this winter is the abundance of waterfowl that has moved inland to the Thames River. Adding four new species to my life list, including the first winter sighting of Red-throated Loons in our county in 116 years is something I will always remember. Although the numbers and varieties peaked a few weeks ago, there are still some great opportunities to view some beautiful species that would otherwise winter on the Great Lakes. The section of river from Springbank Park to Greenway Park provides the best views and varieties.
Don’t let this winter slip by without taking advantage of the wonderful birding opportunities it has presented us with. I myself was never a fan of winter until I learned to embrace the beauty of nature that only graces us during winter months. Years down the road when everyone is reminiscing about their winter weather miseries of 2013/14, I will fondly remember Snowy Owls and waterfowl.