Hits, Misses and Pleasant Surprises

Welllll, this was a weekend of hits and misses.  At this time last year, I had seen a good variety of warblers.  This year I seem to be missing the action.  Friday’s visit to Colonel Samuel Smith Park in Toronto was a miss.  Met a chap I ran into the previous Friday. Whereas on Thursday he had photographed a good number of warblers, on Friday, he had photographed three birds over the hour or so he had been at the park.

Colonel Samuel Smith Park

After some time I moved on to Hendrie Valley, in Burlington.  Prior to leaving I saw a number of birds, including the following:

American Redstart

American Redstart

Warbling Vireo

Warbling Vireo

Red-necked Grebes and egg

Red-necked Grebes and egg

Red-neck Grebe yawning

Red-neck Grebe yawning

Killdeer

Killdeer

Common Mergansers

Common Mergansers

Female American Redstart

Female American Redstart

Hendrie Valley

As stated above, Hendrie Valley was my next stop.  Grindstone Creek was the area of focus.  These two herons were quite comfortable, notwithstanding the din of the nearby construction.

Great Blue Herons

Great Blue Herons

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

On the opposite pond I watched this Double-Crested Cormorant surface, struggle with, and eventually consume a catfish.

Double-crested Cormorant with catfish

Double-crested Cormorant with catfish

Double-crested Cormorant struggling with fish

Double-crested Cormorant struggling with fish

Double-crested Cormorant resurfaces with catfish

Double-crested Cormorant resurfaces with catfish

Down the hatch

Down the hatch

This is a great spot to photograph Terns, Herons, and Osprey.  Occasionally, Bald Eagles make an appearance.

On my way out this House Wren posed near the boardwalk.

House wren

House wren

Lasalle Marina

Lasalle Marina in Burlington was next. Baltimore Orioles, Eastern Kingbirds, Tree and Northern Rough-winged Swallows and Spotted Sandpipers have returned. Three Spotted Sandpipers were working the tip.

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

I watched this American Robin gathering nesting material.

American Robin gathering nesting material

American Robin gathering nesting material

Northern Rough-winged Swallows were preening on a nearby branch.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

I checked a little area favoured by Golden-crowned Kinglets.  In this pocket there were Baltimore Orioles, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, a Yellow Warbler and a Warbling Vireo.

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Further along the path I noted the movement of this Black-and-White Warbler was quite similar to that of a nuthatch.

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Cutie of the day:

Gosling

Gosling

I previously meant to share the story of the Kinglet and I.  A few weeks ago I watched this Golden-crowned Kinglet gleaning the branches.

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet

Golden-crowned Kinglet checking branches ahead

Golden-crowned Kinglet checking branches ahead

Golden-crowned Kinglet checking overhead

Golden-crowned Kinglet checking overhead

Golden-crowned Kinglet oblivious to danger

Golden-crowned Kinglet oblivious to danger

Suddenly and without warning…

Oops

Oops

I extricated the kinglet and set it free. It’s feathers were incredibly soft and it was more weighty than I expected.

Puslinch, ON

I made the executive decision to visit St. Jacob’s Market in Kitchener on Saturday. The GPS sent us an unfamiliar route.  Happily, we found an Osprey’s nest in a soccer field at Wellington Road and Watson Road South, in Puslinch.

Osprey nest

Osprey nest

Osprey (zoomed in)

Osprey (zoomed in)

We had a great time at the market purchasing vegetables, plants, bread products, browsing the antique market and enjoying some great food.

Shoreacres/Paletta Mansion

On our way back we stopped at Shoreacres/Paletta Mansion in Burlington.  Here we encountered two of our favourite bird photographers.  We had a good time chatting, exchanging stories, viewing each other’s pictures, photographing and identifying the birds in the nearby trees.  New to us was the Blackpoll Warbler.  During our stay we spotted the following species:

Blackpoll Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Philadelphia Vireo

Philadelphia Vireo

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

Blue-headed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

Fledgling American Robin

Fledgling American Robin

American Robin with food for young

American Robin with food for young

Colonel Sam Smith Park

Sunday I was crestfallen when I arrived at Colonel Sam.  Apparently, on Saturday 60+ species were observed in the warbler patch. A pair of birders from Hamilton were similarly disappointed.  There was an ebb and flow of birders.  Most left for the Leslie Spit.  I had to work hard just to get a glimpse of a Canada Warbler.

Canadian Centre for Inland Waters

Afterwards I did a brief check at the Canadian Centre for Inland Waters.  Black-crowned Night-herons are roosting on the island closest to the parking lot.  The path remains well maintained. I made it to the cormorant colony.  Seems to me there are less cormorants on the islands.

Kerncliff Park

Today, we made an attempt to find a Virginia Rail at Kerncliff Park. We learned the bird was in the northwest corner of the park.  We arrived to find three territorial geese guarding the area.  They fled once a dog walker neared. We heard the rail during the commotion.  After waiting for about 20 minutes for it to appear we left for another walkabout. On our return while chatting to park walkers I spotted the rail!  Yes, a new species for us!!

Virginia Rail

Virginia Rail

Virginia Rail (zoomed in) - notice the nearby snake

Virginia Rail (zoomed in) – notice the snake in the foreground

We photographed these additional birds

Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher

Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow

While one of the couples present reported a noticeable decline in the number of birds at the park over the years, Kerncliff’s boardwalk remains a fabulous spot to observe snakes, turtles and other amphibians.

Watersnake

Watersnake

Water snake on the reeds

Water snake on the reeds

Water snakes

Water snakes

This week as I stepped down from a tall chair at Starbucks I noticed a brilliant photograph of a bird on a phone directly across from me.  Before I could catch myself I asked, “Excuse me, are you a birder?”  Turns out he is a wildlife photographer.  He was more than pleased to show us examples of his fabulous work.  We talked about his travels, his experiences and future plans. We thanked him profusely and wished him well on his next adventure.  His website is here.

So, if you want to mix it up and try your hand at wildlife photography without the long trek to the Toronto Zoo or African Lion Safari, he recommended Killman Zoo in Hamilton.

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2 thoughts on “Hits, Misses and Pleasant Surprises

  1. Great posts and blog here! I initially noticed your “cormorant vs catfish” shots. That looks like a huge fish caught and en staring down its captors throat here! So could the bird really manage to win the struggle and gulp that whole thing down okay? Does the cat fins put up a good fight, if eaten, does the poor prey get swallowed thrashing all the way down as well?!

    • Thank you, Kyle. Yes, the fish is swallowed whole, live and usually head first. By the time the fish is half-way down the throat there is no struggle. It’s pretty fascinating to witness.

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