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.
Next we spotted five snow buntings on the roof of a home and one ring-necked pheasant on the property.
As we travelled along a few of us spotted five horned larks near the roadway. They were so cute!
Further on we were enthralled by the sight of one northern harrier and five short-eared owls.
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.
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.
Here I enjoyed the company of mute swans, long-tailed ducks, white-winged scoters, Canada geese, and a few buffleheads.
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!
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.
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.
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!