Hawks and Owls Car Hike + Burlington Pier + Lift Bridge Canal

On February 7, 2015 we joined on the Hamilton Naturalist’s Club Winter Hawks and Owls Car Hike.  Expected species included Rough-legged hawk, Short-eared Owl, Great-horned Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl, Northern Shrike, and other over-wintering species.  Our starting point was Tim Horton’s (Mud and Centennial) in Stoney Creek.  Attendees ranged in age from about 10 to 60+.

We slowly wove through nearby roads, stopping on the way to view significant findings.  On the first leg of the trip we saw wild turkeys in a field.

Wild Turkeys in Stoney Creek, ON

Wild Turkeys

Next we spotted five snow buntings on the roof of a home and one ring-necked pheasant on the property.

Snow Buntings in Stoney Creek, ON

Snow Buntings

Snow Buntings on roof in Stoney Creek, ON

Snow Buntings

Ring-Necked Pheasant on roof in Stoney Creek, ON

Ring-Necked Pheasant

As we travelled along a few of us spotted five horned larks near the roadway.  They were so cute!

Horned Lark with food in Stoney Creek, ON

Horned Lark

Horned Lark in Stoney Creek, ON

Horned Lark

Further on we were enthralled by the sight of one northern harrier and five short-eared owls.

Female Northern Harrier and 2 Short-Eared Owls in Stoney Creek, ON

Female Northern Harrier and 2 Short-Eared Owls

Female Northern Harrier battles Short-Eared Owl in Stoney Creek, ON

Female Northern Harrier battles Short-Eared Owl

We had no success in locating the northern shrike, the rough-legged hawk, or the snowy owl.  On our journey back to Tim Horton’s we had excellent views of a merlin.

Female Merlin on a pole in Stoney Creek, ON

Female Merlin

Female Merlin in Stoney Creek, ON

Female Merlin

We had a light snack then headed out to call on the owls.  At one stop coyotes responded.  On one of the last stops we heard an eastern screech owl calling from a woodlot.  That was a pretty neat and new experience for us. While the group carried on to another location we headed to a restaurant in Burlington.  I was B-E-Y-O-N-D starving.  One of my travelling companions remarked that if famine was on the land I’d be the first to go.  This was followed by references to only the fittest survive.  As they laughed and ribbed me I comforted myself with the knowledge that I had expended a lot more energy than they did on Saturday.

In the morning I stopped at Lasalle Marina only to find the water was frozen and all but six ring-billed gulls had departed.  I then made my way to the Travelodge Hotel and the Burlington Pier.  The ice formations were incredible.

Ice at the Burlington Pier

Ice at the Burlington Pier

Ice under Burlington Pier

Ice under Burlington Pier

Here I enjoyed the company of mute swans, long-tailed ducks, white-winged scoters, Canada geese, and a few buffleheads.

Mute Swan at the pier in Burlington, ON

Mute Swan

White-Winged Scoter at the pier in Burlington, ON

White-Winged Scoter

White-Winged Scoter couple at the pier in Burlington, ON

White-Winged Scoters

Male Long-Tailed Duck at the pier in Burlington, ON

Male Long-Tailed Duck

Male Long-Tailed Duck swimming near at the pier in Burlington, ON

Male Long-Tailed Duck

Male Long-Tailed Duck Dives at the pier in Burlington, ON

Male Long-Tailed Duck Dives

Male Common Goldeneye at the pier in Burlington, ON

Male Common Goldeneye

The next stop was the Lift Bridge Canal.  As I walked along the beach trail a bird of prey flew in to feast on something.  Brilliant find. A new species for me.  A Northern Harrier!

Male Northern Harrier with prey on the beah near the lift bridge in Burlington, ON

Male Northern Harrier with prey

I had been to the Lift Bridge Canal before I headed to Montreal.  At that time someone estimated the long-tailed duck tally at 1,200.  Here’s a look from the Halton side of the Lift Bridge.  Each white speck is a long-tailed duck.

Burlington Lift Bridge

Burlington Lift Bridge

This visit they were more disbursed but just as gorgeous. Mixed in with the throng at the east side of the bridge were redheads, three greater-black-backed gulls, scaups, red-necked mergansers, a horned grebe, mallards, herring gulls, white-winged scoters, and trumpeter swans.

Redheads and Greater or Lesser Scaup at the lift bridge canal in Burlington, ON

Redheads and Greater or Lesser Scaup

Female Red-Breasted Merganser at the lift bridge in Burlington, ON

Female Red-Breasted Merganser

Greater Black-Backed gull & Glaucous gull inspecting carcass at the lift bridge canal in Burlington, ON

Greater Black-Backed gull & Glaucous gull inspecting carcass

Herring Gull at the lift bridge canal in Burlington, ON

Herring Gull

Horned Grebe at the lift bridge canal in Burlington, ON

Horned Grebe

Male Red-Breasted Merganser ar the lift bridge canal in Burlington, ON

Male Red-Breasted Merganser

Unfortunately, western side of the pier is cordoned off due to construction on the bridge.  On that side the were numerous buffleheads, red-head ducks and goldeneyes.

A great day was had by all.  New to us were the ring-necked pheasant, the horned larks, the short-eared owls, the northern harrier and the glaucous gull!

 

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