7 Pleasures of Birding, 3 Locations, 1 Eastern Screech Owl

I found this on the web while “busy at work” today:

The 7 Pleasures of Birding (per Chris Cooper from the movie, “Birders: The Central Park Effect):

1. The beauty of the birds;

2. The beauty of being in a natural setting;

3. The joys of hunting, without the bloodshed;

4. The joy of collecting (life lists, day lists);

5. The joy of puzzle-solving (identifying the birds);

6. The pleasure of scientific discovery (observations about behaviour, etc.);

7.  The unicorn effect – “After you’ve been birding for even a little while, there are birds you’ve heard of or seen in books that capture your imagination, but you’ve never seen for yourself…and then one day, there it is in front of you, as if some mythical creature has stepped out of a storybook and come to life.  There’s no thrill quite like it.”

 ♦

I headed out last Sunday morning to Van Wagner’s/Confederation after reading it was a hub of activity on Saturday. The morning was blustery and a bit nippy. Two birders with scopes occupied the lookout point while three were scoping from an alcove at Hutches Restaurant. Given the conditions and the imminent start of a marathon along Beach Road I left after taking a few pictures of a gull feeding frenzy.

Bonaparte gull amongst ring-billed gulls at Van Wagner's Beach in Hamilton, ON

Bonaparte’s gull amongst ring-billed gulls

Feeding frenzy - ring-billed gulls and herring gull at Van Wagner's Beach in Hamilton, ON

Feeding frenzy – ring-billed gulls and herring gull

Next stop was Hendrie Valley. A good number of cedar waxwings, American robins and European starlings were busily consuming berries in the trees along Plains Road.

American robin finds a berry at Hendrie Park in Burlington, ON

American robin finds a berry

Inside the park mallards were gingerly traversing a thin layer of ice.

Male mallard is a star on ice at Lasalle Park in Burlington, ON

Male mallard is a star on ice

I didn’t intend to stay long because I hadn’t had my morning coffee yet and I could feel a wee bit of grumpiness threatening to rise to the surface. I headed directly to the pond at the west end. The water levels were uncharacteristically low. You know it’s a slow morning when you find six photographers concentrating on one great-blue heron.  These regulars usually target birds of prey.

Great blue heroncool pose preening at Hendrie Park, Burlington, ON

Great blue heron

Anyhoo, as we chatted and laughed the heron carried on preening.

Great blue heron preening at Hendrie Park, Burlington, ON

Great blue heron preening

The group had been at Lasalle earlier in the morning photographing the sunrise and a screech owl. After having learned the location of the owl, I took photographs of the northern shovellers, a great blue heron in the adjacent pond, a lingering turkey vulture, a white-breasted nuthatch, a tree sparrow, and a downy woodpecker, I headed out for a piping hot cup of coffee.

Finally a northern shoveller pops his head out of water at Hendrie Park in Burlington, ON

Finally a northern shoveller pops his head out of water

Great blue heron at Hendrie Park in Burlington, ON

Great blue heron

Turkey vulture flying at Hendrie Park in Burlington, ON

Turkey vulture

White-breasted nuthatch readying to pierce a peanut at Hendrie Park in Burlington, ON

White-breasted nuthatch readying to pierce a peanut

Tree sparrow finds seeds provided by park visitor at Hendrie Park in Burlington, ON

Tree sparrow finds seeds provided by park visitor

Curious downy woodpecker at Hendrie Park in Burlington, ON

Curious downy woodpecker

As soon as I arrived at Lasalle, the presence of four photographers gave away the owl’s location. In the hour or so I was there (much of it spent trading experiences and sightings), there was a steady ebb and flow of photographers. One chap I was chatting with drove in from Cambridge and the other from Dunnville. Here is the adorable juvenile screech owl.

Eastern screech owl hears a nearby dog at Lasalle Park in Burlington, ON

Eastern screech owl hears a nearby dog

Juvenile Eastern screech owl at Lasalle Park in Burlington, ON

Juvenile Eastern screech owl

Juvenile Eastern screech owl resting at Lasalle Park in Burlington, ON

Juvenile Eastern screech owl resting

After my daughter arrived to take her own pictures of the owl, we took a walk along the boardwalk and enjoyed views of lads fishing.

Lads fishing at Lasalle Park in Burlington, ON

Lads fishing

On our way back we encountered a birder sending out calls to attract winter wrens. There were about four in the underbrush. He consented to our piggy-backing his exercise. We were able to photograph the winter wren when it popped out from under the leaves.

Winter wren at Lasalle Park, Burlington, ON

Winter wren

A few meters on we spotted a bufflehead.

Female Bufflehead at Lasalle Park in Burlington, ON

Female Bufflehead

So, what was a sort of slow, mish-mash of a start turned out to be a rather brilliant day. Two new species – the screech owl and the winter wren!

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