Spring Migrants and Snowy Owl at Colonel Samuel Smith Park

Resistance was futile. I headed to Colonel Samuel Smith Park in Toronto on Saturday. The grounds have been nicely cleaned up. The birds were plentiful and I had so much fun.

Three birders were peering intently up a tree. I asked one of the gents (he was super handsome) what they were looking at. They were photographing a sapsucker. He showed me pictures he had taken on his phone. I helped him identify the Winter Wren. When he showed me a picture of the Fox Sparrow I told him he sucked. He laughed and told me where he saw it. I thanked him, wished them well and soon found the bird foraging on the opposite side of the dogwoods. This is a new species for me. Woo hoo!

Fox Sparrow

Fox Sparrow

Happiest moment of the day was encountering a birder who had entered the park around the same time I did. When I asked if he saw anything interesting (a common greeting among birders) he told me the Snowy Owl was being harassed by gulls. I was surprised the owl was present given the boater activity at the marina. I re-found the owl and was mere feet from it. I was soon joined by an avid teenage birder and his very supportive mum. He gave his mum a go at photographing the owl.

Snowy owl

Snowy owl

On the opposite shore I noticed a pair of birders were intently photographing something on the water. I let out a squeal of delight when I spotted the Common Loon they were seeing. The lad and his mum also abandoned photographing the owl in favour of the loon.

Common Loon

Common Loon

The snowy owl left us to return to the marina area then flew back to the shore below the feet of the photographer on the opposite shore. Lucky chap was in the right place at the right time. The owl landed below where he was standing.

Snowy Owl harassed by Ring-billed gulls

Snowy Owl harassed by Ring-billed gulls

Gulls harassed the owl causing it to flee to the safety of the top of a nearby building. The gulls continued their aerial assault for a few more minutes then returned their attention elsewhere. How I wished I had some Timbits to distract them.  I took this photograph some distance away with the super-zoom feature of my bridge camera.

Snowy Owl on roof

Snowy Owl on roof

Later on I exchanged greetings with two chaps effecting repairs to the swallow nest boxes. One gave me the following task, “If you see any swallows, tell them their homes are ready for occupancy!”

Readying the nestboxes

Readying the nestboxes

Here is a selection of the 45 species I observed:

Two Dark-eyed Juncos

Two Dark-eyed Juncos

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow on branch

Tree Swallow on branch

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Osprey

Osprey

Winter Wren

Winter Wren

Two horned grebes

Two horned grebes

Two female Brown-headed Cowbirds

Two female Brown-headed Cowbirds

American Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow

American Robin

American Robin

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

Black-crowned Night-heron

Black-crowned Night-heron

Four Black-crowned Night-Herons

Four Black-crowned Night-herons

Female Common Grackle

Female Common Grackle

Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee

Fuzzy look at Eastern Phoebe

Fuzzy look at Eastern Phoebe

Male Common Grackle

Male Common Grackle

Hermit Thrush

Hermit Thrush

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Red-necked grebes

Red-necked grebes

Northern Flicker

Northern Flicker

I found this raccoon napping in a tree.

Raccoon

Raccoon

Around noon I rounded the bend along the marina only to be confronted with what I thought was an off-leash dog  heading in my direction. It was actually a coyote being pursued by an off-leash dog. The coyote passed to my right along a hedge. Too late to snap photographs once I figured out what was happening. Ultimately, the dog returned to its yelling owner.

There were a good number of birders and photographers at the park. Another set of three birders at the dogwoods were using a cell phone to call out kinglets. We all burst out laughing because the sound was akin to a sick mammal. Another photographer thoroughly enjoyed the morning photographing six horned grebes at the marina. He was positively glowing when he left. Great fun had by all.

Thank you, Colonel Samuel Smith Park!

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