Heron observation + a Brant + Hanlan’s Point trip

Valley Inn, Hamilton

Am having a marvy time photographing juvenile Black-crowned Night Herons.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron having a bit of an scratch

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron having a bit of an scratch

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron waiting in the shadows

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron waiting in the shadows

Two of us observed and photographed this juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron as it foraged in the rain.  We believed we were recording tool-baiting behaviour. “Herons place bait, either natural or artificial, in the water to lure prey. The behavior is called Baiting. They can use real food, such as bread, maize, or dead insect, or choose as a lure something that floats, such as stick. Fish are attracted to the lure, coming within striking range of the baiting bird.” (See here)

Black-crowned Night Heron checking if bait attracted prey

Black-crowned Night Heron checking if bait attracted prey

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron retrieving the bit of wood

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron retrieving the bit of wood

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron rethinking strategy

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron rethinking strategy

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron retrieving the bit of wood from water

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron retrieving the bit of wood from water

Black-crowned Night-Heron with stick

Black-crowned Night-Heron with stick

This went on for a few more minutes. Afterwards the heron waded over to where we were standing then hopped onto the edge of the pier, mere feet from us.

Landing less than 20 feet from us

Landing less than 20 feet from us

We weren’t quite sure how to interpret this look!

Looking for parental guidance perhaps?

Looking for parental guidance perhaps?

Recently, this beaver tarried for about ten minutes to consume lunch.  What a thrill!

Beaver consuming lunch

Beaver consuming lunch

Cute beaver

Cute beaver

The Lesser Yellowlegs are quite entertaining. When not foraging they are fighting.

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs stand-off

Lesser Yellowlegs stand-off

See how well the Green Heron camouflages with its surroundings.

Nicely camouflaged Green Heron

Nicely camouflaged Green Heron

This is one of five Northern Shovelers observed last Friday.

Northern Shoveler

Northern Shoveler

Gotta love this Great Blue Heron.

Mirror, mirror on the wall who's the fairest of them all? (Great Blue Heron)

Mirror, mirror on the wall who’s the fairest of them all? (Great Blue Heron)

I took a brief walk through yesterday noting a seed notice posted at the Cherry Hill Gate entrance.

Seed notice at Cherry Hill Gate entrance

Seed notice at Cherry Hill Gate entrance

Interesting. I still think they need to state clearly that only nyger or black-oiled sunflower seeds should be offered.  In the past week or so I’ve removed beer nuts, flavoured peanuts, and pumpkin seeds left as offerings to the birds by visitors.

Bayshore Park, Hamilton

A Brant arrived at Bayshore Park in Hamilton on September 22, where it remains to date (September 28th).  I made a beeline to the park after work. The Brant had an unbridled appetite.  I had to wait eons for the bird to look up.  It felt like eons because I was also contending with flies (horseflies?) feasting on my legs.

Brant at Bayfront Park, Hamilton

Brant at Bayfront Park, Hamilton

Brant strolling in the evening

Brant strolling in the evening

Brant preening

Brant preening

Brant (in profile)

Brant (in profile)

Heading back to the parking lot I stopped to photograph this juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron foraging in the water beneath a large weeping willow.

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron

Whilst doing so I heard, “Is the Brant still here?”  Lo, it was the voice of B. Coombs.  After greetings and confirming directions, I let it slip that I was thinking of joining the Toronto Ornithological Club’s outing he was leading at the Toronto Islands on Saturday, September 24th.  And so I did avec mon Sherpa.  Loads of birds.  Seventy-one species were observed during the walk from Hanlan’s Point to Centre Island.  The Blue Jay count was estimated 500! ‘Twas a never-ending stream of jays. There were fourteen species of warblers.  We observed Dark-eyed Juncos, White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows, and two Common Ravens soaring over the city as we stood on the ferry dock. Here are a few photographs:

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Northern Harrier (juvenile)

Northern Harrier (juvenile)

Field Sparrow

Field Sparrow

female Rusty Blackbird

female Rusty Blackbird

Black-throated Green Warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

I left prior to the last leg of the trip and missed out on an American Bittern.  This was after missing  a photo op of a Grey-cheeked Thrush due to a poorly timed washroom break.  As the song goes, “If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all”. Lol!

Back on shore, we had a lovely lunch at Stoney’s Bread Company in Oakville.  The soup is to die for!

Last week at Lasalle Marina, Common Mergansers, a Great Blue Heron, a Belted Kingfisher and this Pied-billed Grebe were observed.

Pied-bill grebe

Pied-billed grebe

Am still having loads of fun and good eats!

 

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Happy Valley!

On cooler days I’ve walked from Beach Road and Eastport Drive to Spencer Smith Park. On one such walk the cries of juvenile raptors caught my attention. I was curious as the Lift Bridge’s Peregrine Falcons did not have young this year. I soon found a trio of American Kestrels. The sun was harsh. Fortunately, this kestrel found a perch on the underside of the Burlington Skyway Bridge.

american-kestrel-perched-under-burlington-skyway-bridge-begging-for-food

American Kestrel perched under Burlington Skyway Bridge begging to be fed

Along the route to Spencer Smith Park, I heard/saw Warbling Vireos, Baltimore Orioles, Northern Mockingbirds, two Great Black-Backed Gulls, etc.

great-black-backed-gull-tugging-avian-carcass-on-the-beach

Great Black-backed Gull tugging carcass on the beach

This Semipalmated Plover has pluck. I have visited the bird about three or four times. Each time the bird has successfully managed to dodge the throng on the beach.

semipalmated-plover-finds-a-spot-to-forage-among-the-throng-of-beachgoers

Semipalmated Plover finds a spot to forage among the throng of beachgoers

semipalmated-plover-on-the-beach

Semipalmated Plover on the beach

semipalmated-plover-resting-on-the-beach

Semipalmated Plover resting on the beach

semipalmated-plover-resting-on-the-beach-2

Semipalmated Plover keeping an eye out for predators

Been having loads of fun lately hanging out at Hendrie Valley and Valley Inn. I’ve enjoyed spending some time with the group I nicknamed the Boys of Summer as I only see most of them in the summer.  We’ve had many good laughs. I shall miss them when they move on.

These last two-three weeks photographers from as far as Ajax and the Niagara area have migrated to the area to photograph the Osprey.

photographing-osprey-at-valley-inn

Photographing Osprey at Valley Inn

osprey-on-the-hunt

Osprey on the hunt

Some days the Osprey spend much of their time roosting in nearby trees.

osprey-resting-on-a-branch

Osprey resting on a branch

osprey-in-profile

Osprey

Fortunately, rather cooperative Great Egrets, Green Herons, juvenile Black-crowned Night-Herons and Great Blue Herons are nearby.

green-heron-on-the-hunt

Green Heron on the hunt

Sometimes I telepathically ask a bird to do something other than standing still.  Sometimes it works!

green-heron-contorts-body-during-preening

Green Heron contorts body mid-preening

green-heron-yawning

Yawning

green-heron-stretching-wing

Wing stretch

green-heron-stretching-after-preening-voyeuristic-midland-painted-turtle-in-the-background

Green Heron stretching while Midland Painted Turtle observes all

green-heron-hunting

Green Heron hunting

wild-looking-juvenile-black-crowned-night-heron

“Wild looking” juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron

black-crowned-night-heron-juvenile

Black-crowned Night-heron (juvenile)

black-crowned-night-heron-juvenile-seeking-sustenance

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron looking for something to eat

juvenile-black-crowned-night-heron-standing-on-one-leg

Juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron standing on one leg

stoop-to-poop

Stoop to poop

great-blue-heron-scratching-an-itch

Great Blue Heron scratching an itch

great-blue-heron-and-raccoon-in-the-fog

Great Blue Heron and raccoon in the fog

So, do you remember the #Melanistic Great Blue Heron?  Well, after the rains and much pruning, guess who is now confirmed to be oiled?

youd-look-crazed-too-if-youd-spent-weeks-preening-your-feathers

You’d look crazed too if you’d spent weeks preening your feathers!

More recently a small number of quite confiding Lesser Yellowlegs have posed for the photographers.

lesser-yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

lesser-yellowlegs-3

Lesser Yellowlegs

lesser-yellowlegs-2

Lesser Yellowlegs

I often stray to see what I what other birds are around.

black-throated-green-warbler

Black-throated Green Warbler

northern-flicker-a-preening

Northern Flicker a-preening

common-yellowthroat-male

Common Yellowthroat

turkey-vulture-warming-in-the-sun

Turkey Vulture warming in the sun

While we still miss our beloved guinea pig, Caramel, for a bit of fun and to help raise the profile of guinea pigs, we attended a pignic last Saturday at Greenwood Park, Toronto.  The guinea pigs were beyond adorable!

guinea-pig-pignic-announcement

guinea-pig-on-the-red-carpet

Guinea pig posing on the red carpet

guinea-pig-check-up

Common Ringed Plover & Piping Plovers

Much to the delight of birders, two great species appeared last weekend. Two juvenile Piping Plovers travelled from Darlington Provincial Park to enjoy a few days on Burlington Beach.

Juvenile Piping Plover

Juvenile Piping Plover

Juvenile Piping Plovers on Burlington Beach

Juvenile Piping Plovers on Burlington Beach

Also on the beach:

Things are looking up! (Spotted Sandpiper)

Things are looking up! (Spotted Sandpiper)

Juvenile Mute Swan

Juvenile Mute Swan

The bigger draw, however, was a Common Ringed Plover at Tommy Thompson Park. This is the first record of the species in Ontario. I tried for it on Sunday (#species 214), enduring the 2.5 to 3 km walk from the park entrance to Cell 2 where the bird was located.  I was just thankful it was not hot, hazy or humid.

Common Ringed Plover at Tommy Thompson Park (Toronto)

Common Ringed Plover at Tommy Thompson Park (Toronto)

Birders of all ages travelled great distances to see the bird.

Birders viewing the Common Ringed Plover

Birders viewing the Common Ringed Plover

This video of the plover, recorded by Jean Iron, is a treat.

Only one book in my library mentioned this species.  If it interests you, this site provides a wealth of information:

Having a bit more energy in the tank I walked to the protected colony where cormorants, herons and egrets breed.

Juvenile Black-crowned Black Heron at Tommy Thompson Park

Juvenile Black-crowned Black Heron at Tommy Thompson Park

Adult Black-crowned Night-Heron

Adult Black-crowned Night-Heron

One last photograph prior to leaving the park!

Image of Toronto Skyline taken at Tommy Thompson Park using minature feature of camera

Image of Toronto Skyline taken at Tommy Thompson Park using minature feature of camera

The putative juvenile Great Blue Heron at Hendrie Valley Park has been the topic of discussion. Is it oiled or melanistic? Only two habits I note are a bit off – the bird preens more than the average great blue and I’ve witnessed it gag a few times. All will be revealed in due course. In the meantime, it’s a rather interesting bird.

Great Blue Heron preening

Great Blue Heron preening

Trying to keep cool

Trying to keep cool

Putative melanistic Great Blue Heron

Putative melanistic Great Blue Heron

Putative melanistic Great Blue Heron standing in the rain

Putative melanistic Great Blue Heron standing in the rain

Also seen at Hendrie Valley Park.

Great Blue Heron trying to keep cool

Great Blue Heron trying to keep cool

Great Blue Heron on rail at the boardwalk

Great Blue Heron on rail at the boardwalk

American Goldfinch (male) feasting on thistle

American Goldfinch (male) feasting on thistle

Warbling Vireo

Warbling Vireo

molting Blue Jay

molting Blue Jay

Midland Painted Turtle

Midland Painted Turtle

Juvenile House Wren

Juvenile House Wren

Green Heron at Hendrie Valley

Green Heron at Hendrie Valley

A check at Confederation Park netted more herons (Great Blue, Green, Black-Crowned), terns and a few song birds.

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

Great Blue and Black-crowned Night-Herons sharing a tree

Great Blue and Black-crowned Night-Herons sharing a tree

juvenile Common Tern begging incessantly

juvenile Common Tern begging incessantly

juvenile Cedar Waxwing

juvenile Cedar Waxwing

Passersby had a chuckle at this novel way to explore the trail with grandma.

New way to tour with grandma (father pushing wheelchair while riding a hoverboard)

New way to tour with mother-in-law while riding a hoverboard

We worked up quite an appetite after birding last Saturday.

Lunch for four at Southern Smoke Barbeque (we took two doggy bags home)

Lunch for four at Southern Smoke Barbeque (pulled pork fried chicken, mac and cheese, ribs, hush puppies, cornbread, wings)! Yum! We took a doggy back home.

Then it was off to Bronte Marina. Only one of the two Red-Necked Grebes nests at Bronte Marina was successful this year. The two youngsters are gorgeous. One is more self-sufficient than the other. Kudos to the parents for their tenacity.

Two juvenile Red-necked Grebes at Bronte Marina

Two juvenile Red-necked Grebes at Bronte Marina

Juvenile Red-necked Grebe swimming in the cool of the evening

Juvenile Red-necked Grebe swimming in the cool of the evening

Great Egrets (High Park) and a melanistic Great Blue Heron (Hendrie Valley)

Eh?

Eh?

Decisions, decisions!  I opted to start at Grenadier Pond.

A view of Grenadier Pond

A view of Grenadier Pond

Reflection photo no. 2, taken further along the path

Reflection

Reflection photo no. 1

Nestboxes

Black-crowned Night-Heron resting on a log

Black-crowned Night-Heron resting on a log

Black-crowned Night-Heron's profile

Black-crowned Night-Heron’s profile

Then stopped briefly at the zoo.

Two American Black Duck opportunists taking full advantage of never-ending supply of food at the High Park Zoo

Two American Black Duck opportunists taking full advantage of never-ending supply of food at the High Park Zoo

Then off to the duck ponds near the children’s playground.

Multilingual Signage at duck ponds

Multilingual Signage at duck ponds

This is a fab spot to photograph Wood Ducks, Great Egrets, Green Herons and Kingfishers.

Juvenile Wood Duck (male)

Juvenile Wood Duck (male)

Juvenile Wood Duck

Juvenile Wood Duck

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Green Heron

Green Heron

Green Heron on a branch

Green Heron on a branch

Green Heron hunting

Green Heron hunting

There’s a little story about these catfish.  Six of us were taking our pictures when a chatterbox joined in.  After some time, the listener’s ear was beyond fatigued.  Said photographer (not me) asked chatterbox (not me – I photographed them earlier) directed the individual to the catfish. Ah, silence reigned for 20 minutes.

Catfish galore

Catfish galore

On day one there was one egret present.  The photographers said three egrets were foraging prior to my arrival.  On day two I arrived a bit earlier and saw three.  Of course, he who arrived shortly after sunrise viewed seven in the pond. One Great Egret foraged within 20 feet of us.  A good time was had by all.

Reflection shot of two Great Egrets

Reflection shot of two Great Egrets

Great Egret searching for prey

Great Egret searching for prey

Another reflection photograph of a Great Egret

Another reflection photograph of a Great Egret

A preening Great Egret

A preening Great Egret

Great Egret on the hunt

Another look at a Great Egret

Another look at a Great Egret

Great Egret preening on a tree limb

Great Egret preening on a tree limb

Great Egret resting on a tree limb

Great Egret resting on a tree limb

Shaking after preening

Shaking after preening

Hendrie Valley

The water levels are low.  The water lilies are spreading and clogging the ponds.

Shrinking pond

Shrinking pond

As the Great Blue Herons and others have less room to forage, they are appearing below, just beyond and above the boardwalk.

Great Blue Heron's eye

Great Blue Heron’s eye

Last Sunday a photographer in full camo gear sporting two cameras said he photographed a black heron.  I scratched my head.  I asked to see a photo but he was so over the moon happy that he didn’t heard me.  Yesterday, August 6th, a couple reported observing a brown heron.  I asked to see a photo but it was buried in the hundreds of photographs they took during the day.  I remained puzzled.  Today, I ran into a photographer I met several weeks ago. He spoke of a melanistic Great Blue Heron.  Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?????  As I had helped him out previously he told me exactly where to find it.  What a brilliant sight. I will be returning soon to try for better shots.

Another look at the melanistic Great Blue Heron

Another look at the melanistic Great Blue Heron

Melanistic Great Blue Heron

Melanistic Great Blue Heron

You never know what you’ll find at Hendrie!

White-tailed Deer

White-tailed Deer

Muskrat

Muskrat

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs

Groundhog enjoying supper

Groundhog enjoying supper

Lad proudly displays a toad he found

Lad proudly displays a toad he found

Piping Plovers @ Darlington Provincial Park

At Bronte Harbour I trained my lens on Cliff Swallows, a pair of Killdeer chicks and terns.

Cliff Swallow in nest

Cliff Swallow in nest

Cliff Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Killdeer chick sitting resting in the grass

Killdeer chick sitting resting in the grass

Killdeer Chick

Killdeer Chick

Tiny ballerina

Tiny ballerina

Size comparison - Common Tern on left and Caspian Tern on right

Size comparison – Common Tern on left and Caspian Tern on right

A pair of Rough-winged Swallows are building a nest in the exhaust of this boat. It’ll be quite the rude awakening when the boat starts up.

Veteran's Dream

Veteran’s Dream

On Saturday we made our way to Darlington Provincial Park to visit two Piping Plover nests. The Piping Plover is listed as endangered both federally and provincially and is considered one of North America’s most endangered birds.

Signage at Darlington Provincial Park

Signage at Darlington Provincial Park

Piping Plover on nest

Piping Plover on nest

The second nest was some distance from the first. During the journey we observed Red-breasted Mergansers, Spotted Sandpipers, Killdeer, Yellow Warblers, Black-crowned and Great Blue Herons.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

On the return journey as we approached the first nest we heard a melodic sound ahead. Lo, two Piping Plovers were foraging on the beach. We stood still allowing both to freely roam the beach. What an incredible experience!

Two Piping Plovers on the beach

Two Piping Plovers on the beach

Piping Plover in flight

Piping Plover in flight

Piping Plover on the beach

Piping Plover on the beach

As we headed to the parking lot we heard the unmistakably rich song of a Marsh Wren.

Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren

Baltimore Orioles, Gray Catbirds, Warbling Vireos, a House Wren, Cedar Waxwings and an Orchard Oriole were heard and/or observed.

Orchard Oriole

Orchard Oriole

House Wren

House Wren

After a stop at the general store on the property for some snacks and pamphlets we hit the highway. A few kilometers on the road we heard the roar of motorcycles. As they passed to our left we noted they were members and probationary members of the Outlaws MC Canada motorcycle club.  While their website indicates they are not a gang, other sites say otherwise.  Click to view article.

The Outlaws

The Outlaws MC Canada

This morning prior to heading out I heard about the snippet of the violence in Florida. The extent of the tragedy had yet to be confirmed. I left home to decompress. I was unfocused. Hendrie was quiet. I wasn’t quite half-way along the boardwalk when I spotted a deer to my left. I motioned to two visitors to have a look. We watched the following unfold.

Red-winged Blackbird atop white-tailed deer

Red-winged Blackbird atop white-tailed deer

Red-winged Blackbirds on a deer

Red-winged Blackbirds on a deer

Red-winged Blackbirds on the deer

Red-winged Blackbirds on the deer

Next was a visit to the trail just north of the Canadian Centre for Inland Waters. Some of the Caspian Terns have had their young.

Caspian Terns

Caspian Terns

Caspian Tern and young

Caspian Tern and young

A couple of guys were fishing (two fly-fishing) for carp. The more successful of the lads caught this 20 1/2 lb. carp.

20.5 lb. carp

20.5 lb. carp

Then off to walk the beach strip. The Baltimore Oriole nest I’ve got my eye on is complete. The parents visited the nest separately. I heard the cries of young but am not sure if they were from the oriole nest or a nearby nest. I’ll keep monitoring their activity.

I went off the paved trail to the foot path as I had mid-week when I encountered this female Great-crested Flycatcher.

Great-crested Flycatcher

Great-crested Flycatcher

Today a fledgling Red-winged Blackbird was calling from the shrubs.

Red-winged Blackbird fledgling

Red-winged Blackbird fledgling

Red-winged Blackbird fledgling shaded by leaves

Red-winged Blackbird fledgling shaded by leaves

Red-winged Blackbird fledgling fast asleep

Red-winged Blackbird fledgling fast asleep

This made me smile as did this Ring-billed Gull and chick.

Ring-billed Gull and chick

Ring-billed Gull and chick