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Owling At Amherst Island with Authentic Canadian Tours

On Saturday Jan 29th,a few of the Rosetta McClain Gardens Raptor Watch gang,went on the maiden tour of Authentic Canadian Tours,run by our buddy Murray. We were joined for our Owling Experience by Murray and his wife Deb,who hosted myself,Walter,Lee,Brad and Pam,plus several of Murrays family and a few friends. We got underway by just after 7am and made a stop to pick up a few folks in Durham area. Onward to Amherst! Along the way we saw a few roadside Redtailed Hawks,at least one Common Raven and Walter and Lee spotted a Pileated Woodpecker. We also saw a Coyote in a field,from the bus. The sun rose as we drove,revealing a beautiful day.
On arrival at the ferry dock,the bay was covered by ice,except where the ferry had broken through. Walter and I spotted it way out,and could hear it breaking the ice as it went.
Amherst Island Ferry

We boarded the ferry,and got underway. The sound of crushing ice was loud. We searched the ice and sky as we crossed,when we spotted a lump on the ice. With binoculars I recognized it as a Coyote. I snapped a few quick photos as below. They are my first of a Coyote so I was quite pleased. Im not sure what it was thinking..."hmmm this spot in the middle of a frozen lake looks like a good spot to rest?"

We did our best to see all we could. We spotted a few Rough-legged Hawks,winter visitors from the high north and Arctic. We saw a few dark-morph Roughies. In the distance 2 Bald Eagles being harrassed by 2 Common Ravens was a good sighting. We stopped for a visit to a sheep farm that sold woolen goods,before heading onward to search for a Northern Hawk Owl. As per several posts on Ont Birds,the Hawk Owl was found easily at the address #3600,in short order. It was off the road a fair distance but binocular views and better yet Brad's scoped views provided everyone with a decent look at what for some was a Life Bird.

Northern Hawk Owl

We then proceeded to Owl Woods. We had spoken to a few people in our travels that has said only a Northern Saw-whet Owl had been spotted Saturday. ONLY! The road into the woods was impassable,so we walked in the 1.5km to the Owl Woods.

For me the walk was a personal victory,so although I lagged,and spent only a short time with the Saw-whet,in the interest of leaving directly to walk back to the bus so as not to hold up everyone,it was a great sighting. The little beauty sat in clear view,snoozing comfortably,paying us no mind at all. A short video clip can be seen here of the little Saw-whet.

Northern Saw-whet Owl(8inches tip to tail)

We made one more pass to see if the Hawk Owl was in a better position to be viewed,but no luck,so we drove along near the Kingston Field Naturalists property and spotted a Snowy Owl on a fence post. It was distant,but again Brad's trusty scope gave each person a good view.

Needless to say we had a great time. Heading for home we saw a couple more Coyote along the highway. We stopped off at Colborne at The Big Apple and I successfully resisted something called a Carmel-Apple Pie...that was tough! By about 730pm we arrived back in Toronto,all very satisfied,having enjoyed some great Owls,met some new friends and enjoyed Authentic Canadian Tours inaugural tour. Im sure we will all get out again with Murray sometime in the very near future. Its a great chance to go abit further afield and leave the driving to someone else and especially great for those of us non-drivers to get the chance to go to someplace new,with such great creatures to enjoy! Thanks to Murray and Deb for a great day. I wish all the best to you both and Authentic Canadian Tours. Moose at Algonquin...Carden Alvar...I can hardly wait to see what else U come up with.