Toronto, Oakville, Hamilton, Burlington

I’ve been happily wandering lately, focusing primarily on waterfowl.  Below is a brief synopsis of the various stops.

Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington

As the birds of Hendrie Valley were understandably more interested in each other than in their visitors, I walked over to the RBG to view the amphibian exhibit followed by a walk on the grounds.  Whilst poking about a Turkey Vulture and two Bald Eagles flew over.

Waxy Monkey Frog at Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, ON

Waxy Monkey Frog

Dedication Plaque at Royal Botanical Gardens

Dedication Plaque

Juvenile Bald Eagle at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, ON

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Adult Bald Eagle at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington

Adult Bald Eagle

Sculpture at Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, ON

Sculpture

Hand Sculpture at Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, ON

Hand Sculpture

Van Wagners Pond and Confederation Park, Hamilton

A surprise find at Van Wagners’ Pond was a solitary Red-necked Grebe.  Song Sparrows were plentiful at Confederation Park.  One Killdeer was present on the south side of Hutch’s Restaurant and another five on the grounds of the go cart track.

Solitary Red-necked Grebe at Van Wagner's pond in Hamilton, ON

Solitary Red-necked Grebe

Song Sparrow at Confederation Park in Hamilton, ON

Song Sparrow

Burlington Lift Bridge Canal

A lovely Horned Grebe kept us entertained.  The Peregrine Falcons did not come out to play.

Horned grebe at the Lift Bridge in Burlington, ON

Lift Bridge

Canadian Centre for Inland Waters, Burlington

Well, I had always known this as CCIW but I have now learned the proper name is Fish & Wildlife Habitat Islands & Footpath. Ring-necked Gulls are the dominant species on the Islands.  They will soon be displaced by an increasing number of Double-crested Cormorants. Can’t wait for the return of the Black-Crowned Night-Herons, Caspian and Common Terns.

Double-crested Cormorant Colony near CCIW in Hamilton, ON

Double-crested Cormorant Colony near CCIW

Ward’s Island, Toronto

Having taken Thursday off work to “run errands” a trip to Ward’s Island was in order.  I had an hour or so to walk around the harbour.  I was delighted to find a small pocket of Golden-crowned Kinglets and a pair of American Coots.  Long-tailed ducks outnumbered all other species.  Scaups, Red-necked Mergansers, a Horned Grebe, and Common Goldeneyes were also present.

American Coots at Ward's Island in Toronto, ON

American Coots

One of about six Golden-crowned Kinglets at Ward's Island in Toronto, ON

One of about six Golden-crowned Kinglets

Toronto Skyline

Toronto Skyline

Bronte Harbour, Oakville

Saturday’s trip to Bronte Harbour was a bid to check if the Snowy Owl was present.  A local birder suggested it may have been resting at the Suncor Pier.  Highlights were Barn and Tree Swallows, Red-necked Grebes, Redhead ducks, Horned Grebes and a Common Loon.

Adult Common Loon at Bronte Harbour in Oakville ON

Breeding Common Loon

Red-necked Grebe at Bronte Harbour in Oakville, ON

Red-necked Grebe at Bronte Harbour

Shoreacres Park, Burlington

The next stop, Shoreacres Park, was pretty quiet.  We saw but were not quick enough to photograph a Carolina Wren and a White-throated Sparrow.  We heard and then peered into the pines to photograph this Brown-headed Cowbird.

Brown-headed Cowbird at Shoreacres Park in Burlington, ON

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird singing loudly

Brown-headed Cowbird singing loudly

Brown-headed Cowbird wiping beak at Shoreacres Park in Burlington, ON

Brown-headed Cowbird wiping beak

Tollgate Ponds, Hamilton

Word has spread about the arrival of a rare Neotropic Cormorant.  Many birders were present along the stretch and more were added to our numbers in search for the bird.  The bird had been seen earlier in the morning.  By the time we left it had yet to be spotted among the throng of Double-crested Cormorants.  All was not lost as we did enjoy the company of the Double-crested Cormorants, Ring-billed Gulls, a Horned Grebe and a Groundhog.

Is the Neotropic Cormorant here at Eastport Drive in Hamilton, ON

Is the Neotropic Cormorant here

Double-crested Cormorant colony at Tollgate Ponds

Double-crested Cormorant colony at Tollgate Ponds

Double-Crested Cormorants at Tollgate Ponds in Hamilton, ON

Readying nests

Groundhog at Tollgate Ponds in Hamilton

Groundhog

Windermere Basin, Hamilton

Four birders headed over to Windermere Basin to check for the Neotropic Cormorant.  It wasn’t spotted here either.  There were, however, a few waterfowl but they were extremely skittish.  A distant photograph showed the group included Northern Shovelers, Gadwalls, Scaups and Ruddy Ducks.  On land, we were treated to aerial displays by European Starlings.  A Killdeer in the field also caught our attention.

European Starlings at Windermere Basin in Hamilton

European Starlings

European Starlings in flight at Windermere Basin in Hamilton

European Starlings in flight

Mix of waterfowl including Northern Shovelers at Windermere Basi in Hamilton, ON

Mix of waterfowl including Northern Shovelers

Killdeer at Windermere Basin in Hamilton, ON

Killdeer

LaSalle Marina, Burlington

Finally the ice has disappeared.  There were at least 10 birders present, one working with a 2,400 mm lens!  The mix of waterfowl included Trumpeter Swans, Horned Grebes, Scaups, White-winged Scoters, Redhead ducks, American Black Ducks, Common Mergansers, American Coots, etc.  The four Horned Grebes diving along the parking lot edge and the Red-breasted Mergansers’ mating ritual captured our attention.

Male Red-breasted Mergansers

Two Male Red-breasted Mergansers following a female

Male Red-breasted Mergansers, Step 2

Male Red-breasted Mergansers, Step 1

Male Red-breasted Mergansers, Step 2

Male Red-breasted Mergansers, Step 2

Male Red-breasted Mergansers, Step 3

Male Red-breasted Mergansers, Step 3

Male Red-breasted Mergansers, Step 4

Male Red-breasted Mergansers, Step 4

Male Red-breasted Mergansers, Step 5

Male Red-breasted Mergansers, Step 5

Red-Breasted Mergansers at Lasalle Marina in Burlington, ON

Oooh, somebody isn’t taking no for an answer

One of about eight Horned Grebes at Lasalle Marina in Burlington, ON

One of about eight Horned Grebes

Horned Grebe in water at Lasalle Marina

Horned Grebe

Juvenile Trumpeter Swan at Lasalle Marina in Burlington, ON

Juvenile Trumpeter Swan

Horned grebe at the Lasalle Marina in Burlington, ON

Horned Grebe

Today the ease of photographing this Golden-crowned Kinglet increased my joy.

Golden-crowned Kinglet at Lasalle Park

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet foraging at Lasalle Park

Golden-crowned Kinglet foraging

And, finally, today a fellow birder provided me with his recipe for homemade beef jerky.  The marinade (powdered garlic, onion powder, paprika, brown sugar, liquid smoke, salt, pepper, Worcestershire and soy sauce) sounded good.  Quite honestly the look of beef jerky reminds me of mummified body parts. He did show me fabulous photographs he took of Great Horned, Short-eared and Snowy Owls.

Sure was nice to be out and about and I’m thrilled to bits that the ice has left Lasalle Marina. The birds there have had a rather taxing winter.

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