Local Birding: Lasalle Marina to Spencer Smith Park

After running some errands last Tuesday evening I rewarded myself with a visit to Lasalle Marina. While the west side of the marina was ice-covered, there were pockets of open water on the east.  Scanning the large concentration of waterfowl, I got pretty decent looks at three species I was after: Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks, and Canvasbacks.

Redheads (male)

Redheads (male)

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

Canvasbacks (male and female)

Canvasbacks (male and female)

Canvasback (male)

Canvasback (male)

Canvasback (male)

Canvasback (male)

Along the path two Carolina Wrens, a Dark-eyed Junco, a Brown Creeper, a Song Sparrow were busy foraging.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper

Brown Creeper (foraging)

Brown Creeper (foraging)

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Saturday morning at the Lift Bridge was simply lovely.

Lift Bridge Canal

Lift Bridge Canal

The water flowed east, emptying the canal of ice.

Ice heading east

Ice heading east

This American Coot climbed on for a brief ride.

American Coot

American Coot

I couldn’t figure out what this falcon was eating but it was obviously delicious.

Peregrine Falcon consuming prey

Peregrine Falcon consuming prey

By this point four birders I recognized from the Whitby area arrived to survey the birds.

Windermere Basin was pretty awesome.  I started at Eastport viewing the Northern Shovelers and other waterfowl.   The Whitby birders soon stopped by.

Northern Shovelers

Northern Shovelers

Juvenile Northern Shoveler

Juvenile Northern Shoveler

While we were watching the shovelers and others, a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk was mucking about.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Then it was on to the viewing platform with two local birders, including Barry C.  From this spot a Northern Harrier was observed hovering low and slowly above the berm.  I didn’t have the right camera for the job.

Crappy photo of a Northern Harrier

Crappy photo of a Northern Harrier

I chatted briefly with Barry who informed two Bald Eagles were spotted earlier on.  How I pouted, kicking myself for spending too long with the shovelers.  But as the avian gods would have it, I did spot two Bald Eagles (an adult and a juvenile) as I headed out!

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Saturday’s next stop was the behind the Waterfront Hotel where I found three Surf Scoters.

Juvenile Surf Scoter (male)

Juvenile Surf Scoter (male)

Juvenile male Surf Scoter

Juvenile male Surf Scoter

Two of the three ultimately found a spot for diving and foraging near the promenade at Spencer Smith Park.  I watched them for quite a while.

Male Surf Scoter

Male Surf Scoter

Surf Scoter (male)

Surf Scoter (male)

Female Surf Scoter

Female Surf Scoter

About 15 minutes later I noticed a bird in my peripheral vision. Utterly caught off guard, I took one quick photograph.

Common Loon just beyond promenade

Common Loon just beyond promenade

Naturally, I abandoned the scoters for the loon.  What a workout that was!  Photographing loons is a real treat. They remain submerged for prolonged periods, resurfacing well beyond where you anticipate. In this instance, I was standing near the playground. The loon resurfaced closer to the pier! Once it dove again, I moved to half-way between the two points, scanning the waters to the left and right and further out. The loon resurfaced well west of where I was standing. And so it went on. I looked like a royal “loonatic” going back and forth but what did I care!

Common Loon

Common Loon

Common Loon at Spencer Smith Park

Common Loon at Spencer Smith Park

Common Loon

Common Loon

Common Loon

Common Loon

Prior to leaving I checked in a small group of White-winged Scoters behind the hotel.

White-winged Scoter resting

White-winged Scoter resting

Sunday morning I had the right camera in hand at Windermere Basin but the party was over.  No raptors were observed during my stay.   I did find two House Finches nearby singing atop pine trees.

House Finch atop pine tree

House Finch atop pine tree

What fun!

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