Monday, April 9, 2012

A Slow but Unusual to Spring Migration

The weather keeps flopping back and forth between chilly and nice. So, even though there have been some unusual sightings reported here and there, there still hasn't been any solid indication that spring migration is really and truly in full swing.

What is really unusual is the snowy owl sighting out at Long Point, this past weekend. It is not typical for this species to be here so late. Too, there are also unusual reports of birds species coming into Ontario such as black vultures and fish crows. These are sightings that would be common in the state of Florida, and yet here we are getting them coming in, and so early in the season. There is even talk of possible nesting behavior being seen with a fish crow pair, found at Bronte Harbour.

My husband and I did make our way over, in order to see the fish crows for ourselves. We had only seen them once before, on a visit to Florida. Funny enough, that is also where we saw our first black vultures.

The fish crow pair were keeping company with an American crow, so it was easy to see the difference between the two; right off the bat. The former was much larger and it made the traditional "caw, caw"sound that most of us are familiar with. We also heard the fish crows make the "uh, uh" sound that is typical of their species; so that was great. Will this be the start of a really stellar birding season? I sure hope so.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Really Fine Day

What a great day! We reached a high of 19 degrees C, and it felt much warmer than that. The litmus test was the walk along Lake Ontario at Sam Smith park. Sam Smith is a nice place for a stroll. It's pretty big, and all kinds of activities are enjoyed at there. It is also a good place to go birdwatching. Come the spring, this place is hopping with warblers and other migrants. There is also a wimbrel watch. It amazes me that any birds go there at all, because the place is always so full of people and dogs.

Today, my husband and I went around the park looking out for early migrants. There was not a whole lot to see, but it was nice to be there with this lovely weather. There were a lot of red neck grebes, and some horned grebes still in winter plumage. It was lovely to see so many song sparrows about, as well as the robins and red-winged blackbirds. Many years ago, the robin was considered to be ubiquitous, but that title should now go to the red-winged blackbird. You will see them everywhere, once the winter season draws to an end.

At first, it is nice to hear their 3-note herald to spring: "doo-da-dee"! (To me, it sounds like they are singing "Burger King!") After a while, it starts to wear on you. All the same, I love to see them, and their cocky antics can be very amusing.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Lovesick Romeo

My husband and I got some birding in last weekend. I hope to post the pictures soon. It was a beautiful day, and so we went to LaSalle Marina, in Burlington, in order to see if the ring-necked ducks were still there. They were, which was great, because they are rarely seen in our parts. We also saw some Canvasbacks- another duck species though not rare, are not seen so often, either. I also enjoyed watching the Common Mergansers strut their stuff in order to impress a lone female.

The best sighting was the juvenile King Eider, of course. He was still hanging around, and we could see it was because he was love sick: over a female Mallard! This female had an entourage of males (Mallards) surrounding her, and behind her like a bad smell, was the young King Eider.

It looked like she was trying to shake him, but couldn't. At some point, she did manage to elude him, and the King Eider, ended up flying right up to the beach where we were. It was great for us, because we had such a close up view. However, that poor duck was searching frantically everywhere! He kept looking around here, and there. He didn't seem to know that she was much further into the lake. I felt sorry for him. But, c'est la vie!

Well, from there we went to Bronte Harbor to see if the Snowy Owl was still there, and yes, it was. And so was a horned grebe with winter plumage, as well as an early Kildeer. The latter bird is a sure sign that the spring migration is under way, so I was really happy about that. And it was cool that the Snowy was still around, too!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Well, here I am again. I stopped writing this blog for the longest time, because I didn't feel like changing my account and sign-in (it's a long story). In the interim, I have seen many new species, and enjoyed the return of many familiar ones.

Last year was the year for unusual bird sightings. There didn't seem to be too many birds about, but there were certainly a lot of sightings of rare birds; to make up for any deficit. I saw a smew, a razor-billed auk, and a mountain bluebird, among other things.

The mild winter was definitely a draw for some warbler species. Imagine seeing a half-dozen passerine species in the month of December - something that would be normal at spring migration. These sightings were all at Bayfront Park, in the Hamilton area. The topper was the Black Throated Gray warbler. This species is not normally seen in the eastern half of Canada. It really made my day, to see this little beauty.

This year, my husband and I managed to get a look at a Snowy Owl at Tommy Thompson Park, in Toronto. We missed seeing one last year, and I was a little sad about it. The Snowy always looks, to me, like a miniature snowman from a distance. But, if you can manage to get closer, they really can take your breath away. Unfortunately, though, some people can't resist the temptation to get too close to this wonderful bird. What I don't like, is the landfill that surrounds it: seeing at these birds, surrounded by rebar, and broken tile; really bothers me.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Long Time no See

It's been a really long time since I've posted anything, so I thought I had better do so now. I hadn't gone birding for almost the whole of July, as my husband was out of the country. He went birding there, and saw about 20 or so new species. The closest I got was the sight of a male American Goldfinch that serenaded me outside my window, one morning.

We had gone to Riverwood, and saw more flowers than birds. We saw a House Wren, and a flycatcher of some sorts; and that was about it. July was a cold and wet month. Birds don't seem to like that too much. Now that hot steamy weather has returned, there are birds coming out of the woodwork. I don't know where they managed to hide themselves, but I'm glad that something is still here. So far, thank goodness, nothing is in fall colours (or eclipse plumage).

After the first week in August, my husband and I went to Tommy Thompson, in the hope of finding some bird species. At the end of our walk, we were pleasantly surprised to a young Cooper's Hawk flying around the shoreline. He or she perched on some rusty rebar, in order to look us over at its leisure. The sandpipers that were there, disappeared in a flash. The same with the Terns and the gulls that normally scan that part of the shore for fish. I don't even think there were cormorants nearby.

A few days later, we went to Reesor pond, to look at shorebirds. For some reason, this year, there are a lot of Egrets hanging out. Some counts were as high as one dozen in the very small pond. We saw quite a few; along with several Great Blue Heron, Dunlin, Kildeer, Spotted Sandpiper, and that sort of thing. At one point an Osprey flew into range, but didn't stop. I guess the fish there were not big enough to bother with.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Love is in the Air

We went back to Tommy Thompson Park on July 1st. The weather was great- hot and sunny, and we saw a lot of the usual birds. There were some species missing, but we did get to see some Common Terns bathing in the water, close up. My husband got some really great shots of that; mine were of them flying about or perching on rocks with their catch. There was a lot of them chasing each other around whenever one of them caught a fish. I think that even the ones who caught something would sing about it to all and sundry.

It's nice to see babies everywhere, darting about: ducklings, goslings, baby sandpipers, baby everything...

Today we went to Colonel Sam Smith Park to check on the Red-necked Grebe pair that were nesting. They were still there, but I think they were on nest number 2. They were no hatchlings about, and it appeared that this brood consisted of one egg. Regardless, it was great to see they were being so vigilant, and taking turns staying on the nest. In fact, when one mallard was silly enough to get within a metre of the nest, the other parent dove under the water, and surprised it from below. the result was a shocked duck that took off like a shot, and scared all the other ducks around.

Of note, today were a young Orchard Oriole pair. I think they were courting, and we were cutting in his act. The male was very young, and looked like a Hooded Oriole. This really bothers me, because my first thought whenever I see an immature O.O. is that it's a Hooded. Well, maybe someday I'll see one here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Bird Drought Continues

I don't remember things being so slow this time last year. We have visited Tommy Thompson Park a few times, and haven't seen very much. The yellow warbler has been ubiquitous, which is great, but there seems to be a drop in the number of flycatchers and gnatcatchers that we used to see.

In general, we are seeing a lot of baby birds- terns, gulls and cormorant chicks, but not Kingbird, Yellow Warbler, and Baltimore Oriole chicks. Also, the warblers seemed to have moved further north. Of note, we have seen a Western Sandpiper, and Upland Sandpiper.

We went to Carden Alvar, and saw more Upland Sandpipers, and a Wilson's Snipe. The trip was disappointing because we thought that we would see more species. For example, there were supposed to be Yellow-billed and Black-billed Cuckoos in great numbers, but we didn't see any. Nor did we get a glimpse of a Loggerhead Shrike.

This evening, we decided to bird the Spit. Right above our heads when we parked the car, were a small group of baby Barn Swallows. It is very unusual to see Barn Swallows at rest. We hung around and tried to capture some shots of one of them getting fed. This proved to be more difficult, than I thought. I could never anticipate which nestling would get fed. At one point, the parent briefly rested on the hydro line, in order to check us out, so I got to get some shots before they all flew off to another spot. I am hoping that, at least, my husband was able to get of shot of one of them being fed. They were awfully cute.