I posted this same grouping on Instagram a couple of days ago. It was such a delightful day of birding I am sharing it on my website as well.
As I headed out to President Murray Park (at least 50 meters away) with my camera I had low expectations. The last week I have gone out hoping to see the Black-backed Woodpecker again and have come back empty handed (empty flash card??). As I was wandering among the trees I spotted a suspicious looking couple with necks craned back , binoculars dangling and eyes darting back and forth. Sure enough it was another couple of birders. With their combined knowledge, hearing and visual acuity they had spotted an American Three-towed Woodpecker flitting way up in a Spruce. They were very gracious in welcoming me to join them in search of interesting birds. With their uncanny ability to spot and identify birds we saw the following.
American Three-towed Woodpecker.
Red Crossbill. These birds eat the cones on the Spruce trees.
With my heart still pumping from excitement I said goodbye and headed home. Rounding the corner to my back alley I could hear a commotion in the neighbours Elm tree. Twelve Magpies were harassing a large bulge on a branch. As I focused on the lump its head swivelled almost 360 degrees and its ear tufts confirmed it was a Great Horned Owl. My camera flew up to my eye and I closed the shutter on the first thing I saw. Thinking it was the owl I moved to re-frame the shot and realized I had just taken a picture of a Sharp-shinned Hawk I had not seen. It flew around buzzing the magpies and the Owl then took off over the park.
I spent the next 15 minutes watching the magpies try and drive the owl away. It seemed quite content to ignore the nuisance and try and sleep. Eventually the magpies flew off and left the owl in peace. It stayed in the tree for another hour or so.