Whimbrel, Dunlin, Warblers and a Flour Tale

The “muttering” of a Carolina Wren was cause for investigation.  Near the water’s edge at Lasalle Marina was a family of five Carolina Wrens.  While the parents foraged the wee ones tried out their wings and balance.  I couldn’t tarry too long as my presence attracted the attention of unwanted visitors including chipmunks.

Carolina Wren fledgling being fed by parent

Carolina Wren fledgling being fed by parent

Carolina Wren fledgling

Carolina Wren fledgling

Nearby a Grey Catbird, thankfully not a cat, meowed from the thicket.

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

A Spotted Sandpiper posed nicely during a recent brief visit to Windermere Basin.

Spotted Sandpiper resting atop sign at Windermere Basin, Hamilton

Spotted Sandpiper resting atop sign at Windermere Basin, Hamilton

Last Sunday, notwithstanding the hail, wind and chill I embarked on the 8 km walk from Confederation Park to Spencer Smith Park.  I try to do so once a year.  I didn’t mind the weather as the pedestrian traffic on the beach and trail was very light.  Birds observed along the route included a Great Blue Heron, American Redstart, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Nashville Warblers, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Warbling Vireos, Baltimore Orioles, Great-crested Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbirds, White-crowned Sparrows, Northern Mockingbirds, Peregrine Falcons, Cedar Waxwings, Hermit Thrush, Swallows and a Red-necked Grebe.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Yellow-rumped Warbler in Magnolia tree

Yellow-rumped Warbler in Magnolia tree

Peregrine Falcon on hydro tower

Peregrine Falcon on hydro tower

Great Blue Heron flying towards pond

Great Blue Heron flying towards pond

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

Cliff Swallow on the beach

Cliff Swallow on the beach

Cedar Waxwings

Cedar Waxwings

The previous week Dunlin were resting on the beach.

Two Dunlin

Two Dunlin

napping Dunlin

napping Dunlin

Dunlin

Dunlin

At Spencer Smith Park migrating Surf Scoters were a surprise find.

Surf Scoters observed from Burlington Pier

Surf Scoters observed from Burlington Pier

There are still a few Long-tailed Ducks on the lake.

female Long-tailed Duck in summer plumage

female Long-tailed Duck in summer plumage

On Saturday my target species was Whimbrel. This was my third try in three years.  Finally!! Yesss!  Thirteen Whimbrel flew by!

Whimbrel in flight at Colonel Samuel Smith Park

Whimbrel in flight at Colonel Samuel Smith Park

The warblers were concentrated high in the trees in the area known as the Big Bowl. I was up for the challenge but then I noticed a photographer was shadowing my every move. FYI, it is generally acceptable to piggyback someone else’s find (seeking permission as the situation dictates) but it’s not okay to have them do all the work all the time.

Finds of the day included a Northern Waterthrush and the following:

Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Common Grackle fledgling

Common Grackle fledgling

I nipped into the bird colony near the Canadian Centre for Inland Waters.  Last trip we saw a few intimate couples.  No hatchlings yet.  This spot remains a favourite for flight shots of terns, cormorants and gulls.

Caspian Tern with fish trying to woo a female

Caspian Tern with fish trying to woo a female

I am not sure how the Black-crowned Night Herons are faring this year.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Weird Moment No. 1:    Yesterday along the beach strip I observed a woman depositing a powder-like substance  retrieved from a large ziplock bag to the base of two trees. Initially I thought the substance was either sand or ashes but then I thought, no, this is weird.  As she headed to a fourth tree I asked the obvious question.  The response, “It’s flour.  It helps the birds develop their eggs.”

The flour claimed to help with the development of bird's eggs

The flour claimed to help with the development of birds’ eggs

I gave her my infamous you-are-ridiculously-full-of-crap look.  The activity ceased immediately, likely more so because I took a video.

Weird Moment No. 2:  A most disturbing sight at Hendrie Valley.  An adult squirrel carried another adult squirrel in its mouth along the path, up an embankment and eventually out of view.  They were not fighting and indeed, there was no struggle nor any vocalization.  I checked the internet.  A few others encountered a similar sight including observance of cannibalism.

Adult Squirrel carrying another adult Squirrel

Adult Squirrel carrying another adult Squirrel

A Cooper’s Hawk supped on a chipmunk.  Lots of chipmunks roaming Hendrie.  The hawk will thrive.

Cooper's Hawk consuming chipmunk

Cooper’s Hawk consuming chipmunk

This American Mink struggled with and at one point tumbled back down with the fish.  Grit, determination and pangs of hunger made for a successful trip home.

American Mink heading home with a fish

American Mink heading home with a fish

Here are a few more birds of Hendrie including two warblers species photographed this morning.

Turkey Vulture yawning as it rests atop streetlight

Turkey Vulture yawning as it rests atop streetlight

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

female American Redstart

female American Redstart

male American Redstart foraging at Hendrie Valley Park

male American Redstart foraging at Hendrie Valley Park

Black-and-white Warbler

Black-and-white Warbler

Wrapping up, the 7th annual Spring Bird Festival will be held on Saturday, May 28, 2016 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Colonel Samuel Smith Park.  Features include hourly bird walks (starting at 10:00 a.m.), the Whimbrel watch, displays, live birds and other activities.

 

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