A Tale of Two Rainy Saturdays: Sandhill Cranes

Niagara

Last Saturday, on an overcast and rainy morning, we meandered through the Niagara area with no particular destination in mind.  As we travelled along Point Albino Street North, a main road in Ridgeway, I spotted what I thought were garden ornaments.  “Stop the car!” On yonder lawn were three sandhill cranes.

Sandhill Cranes on a lawn in Ridgeway, Ontario

Sandhill Cranes

Juvenile Sandhill Crane on a lawn in Ridgeway, Ontario

Juvenile Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Cranes in Ridgeway, Ontario

Sandhill Cranes

Next stop was Crystal Beach.  A portion of the beach has been privatized.  This narrow pathway serves as the entrance to the public beach.

crystal beach entrance in fort erie, on

Crystal Beach entrance

There was a lovely mix of gulls and cormorants.  We could not access the pier for better views because it was situate on the private portion of the beach.

Gulls and cormorants at crystal beach in fort erie, on

Gulls and cormorants

Red: immature first winter great black-backed gull; green: herring gull; yellow: adult breeding black-backed gull; orange: ring-billed gull

Crystal Beach in fort erie, on

Crystal Beach

Lastly, we wound our way along the Niagara Parkway in Fort Erie.  Here we spotted at least five belted kingfishers.  We did note double crested cormorants roosting in about eight trees at different points along the roadway.  I wonder if they will be allowed to establish a colony along that stretch of roadway.

Colonel Samuel Smith Park

Rock art at colonel sam smith park, toronto, on

Rock art

Rain fell, as forecasted, yesterday. The juvenile least bittern was present. A green heron was situate in the adjacent pond.  These juvenile red-necked grebes were rather confiding.

Juvenile red-necked grebes at col sam smith park, toronto, on

Juvenile red-necked grebes

I was happy to finally manage to get another decent photograph of the belted kingfisher.

Belted kingfisher at colonel sam smith park, toronto, on

Female Belted Kingfisher

Belted kingfisher at col sam smith park, toronto, on

Female Belted Kingfisher

As the lake was a bit rough, the following species congregated in the larger pond:

Great Egret at Colonel Samuel Smith park. Toronto, ON

Great Egret

Juvenile Double-Crested Cormorant at Col Samuel Smith park. Toronto, ON

Juvenile Double-Crested Cormorant

Juvenile Double-Crested Cormorant at Colonel Samuel Smith park. Toronto, ON

Juvenile Double-Crested Cormorant

Gadwall at Colonel Samuel Smith park. Toronto, ON

Gadwall

On the rocks scamped a mink.

American mink at Col Samuel Smith park. Toronto, ON

American mink

Van Wagner’s Beach – Hamilton

The rain had eased a bit by the time I arrived. The lake was rougher here.

wave at Van Wagner's Beach, Hamilton, ON

Wave at Van Wagner’s Beach

I spent some time practicing on gulls.

Ring-billed gull stretched out on beach at Van Wagner's Beach, Hamilton, ON

Ring-billed gull stretched out on beach

Ring-billed gull at Van Wagner's Beach, Hamilton, ON

Ring-billed gull

I’m certainly glad I headed out yesterday. The day’s highlight started with a conversation. I chatted with a birder who had travelled to Colonel Sam from Ottawa to see the yellow-crowned night-heron and the least bittern, both lifers for him. As I led him to the bittern we encountered two birders who had given up looking for the bird. On learning I’d seen it 20 minutes earlier, they joined us and together we located the bittern. Incredibly rewarding experience.

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