Mountsberg Conservation Area + The Pitfalls of Skinny Jeans

As a novice birder I have had a few rude awakenings. Firstly, it is a very, very, I repeat very bad idea to go birding in skinny jeans particularly in the summer.  I have no qualms in telling you that that at some point during my hike my legs felt like they were being crushed by anacondas.  If that wasn’t bad enough the jeans felt like dead weight.  Oh, and on top of it all, mosquitoes have a field day as they can easily pierce the jeans which are, of course, meant to be worn as second skin. The second lesson was never, ever leave home without insect repellant.  In my pre-birding life I think I may have used repellant three times over my lifetime.  I hate the smell.  I decided to apply it “uber gourmet style” on the weekend.  Let’s just say I was the prime target for mosquitoes, flies and all manner of pestilence.

Windermere Basin

Our visit to Windermere Basin made it plain that we required more powerful telescopic lens.  Anyhoo, catfish and spotted sandpipers favoured us with their company while a deer in obvious need of medical attention wrenched our hearts.

Spotted Sandpiper at Windemere Basin in Hamilton, ON

Spotted Sandpiper

White-Tailed Deer with an eye infection at Windemere Basin in Hamilton, ON

White-Tailed Deer with an eye infection

Mountsberg Conservation Area

We left for Mountsberg Conservation as delicate one that I am, I needed shade.   We had read of the opportunity to view raptors and to do a bit of birding at the site.  At Mountsberg all the raptors on display have suffered permanent injury.  Therefore, they cannot be released into the wild.  On a happier note, Mountsberg is also involved in a successful eastern loggerhead shrike recovery project .

On arrival we learned that a red-headed woodpecker had been spotted in the parking lot two days earlier.  We encountered eastern kingbird and cliff swallow nests as we strolled around the property. We noted the pristine purple martin house that has remained empty for 20+ years because it did not meet the birds’ high and specific standards.

Eastern Kingbird and chick at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Eastern Kingbird and chick

Cliff Swallow chicks at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Cliff Swallow chicks

This creature attracted the most curiosity.

Upsidedown Squirrel at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Can you guess what it is?  Five of us including two passersby could not identify it even with binoculars.  We speculated then collectively held our breaths when it fell minutes later. Turns out it was a squirrel!  None present had ever observed or even knew squirrels had the ability to hang upside down.   We all had a good laugh.

The first highlight of the trip was the osprey nest.  One parent searched for food while the other guarded the two youngsters in the nest, sounding the alarm at approaching canoes.  The webcam seen in the photograph was rendered inoperable during the nest building phase.

Osprey guarding nest at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Osprey guarding nest

Osprey guarding nest at Mountsberg Conservation Area, Milton, ON

Osprey guarding nest

Osprey nest at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Osprey nest

The second highlight was the raptor exhibit.  Here is a selection of the birds:

Red-Tailed Hawk at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Red-Tailed Hawk

Snowy Owl at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Snowy Owl

Turkey Vulture at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Turkey Vulture

Gyrfalcon at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Gyrfalcon

Injured Broad-Winged Hawk at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Broad-Winged Hawk

Broad-Winged Hawk at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Broad-Winged Hawk

Bean the American Kestrel at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Bean the American Kestrel

Bald Eagle at Mountsberg Conservation Area in Milton, ON

Bald Eagle

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