Virginia Rail and Sora

The following birds were photographed at Hendrie Valley:

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Juvenile Blue Jay

Juvenile Blue Jay

Juvenile Wood Duck

Juvenile Wood Duck

Green Heron on the hunt

Green Heron on the hunt

Green Heron stretching wing

Green Heron stretching wing

Belted Kingfisher

female Belted Kingfisher

Last Saturday we pulled over on Eastport Drive. A gent was busy photographing the cormorants when we arrived. Such was his displeasure that he stopped taking photographs and set his face to the most miserable look he could find. A bona fide humbug.  We ignored him as we did not disturb the family of cormorants he was photographing nor did we block his view of them. We took our photographs and left.

Partial view of Double-crested Cormorant colony on Eastport Drive

Partial view of cormorant and gull colony on Eastport Drive

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron on a nest

Black-crowned Night-Heron on a nest

Windermere Basin was our next stop. Here a Green Heron was sunning on a log.

Green Heron sunning on a log

Green Heron sunning on a log

The following day we headed to Kerncliff Park to try for Virginia Rail and Sora. Both species breed here. They vocalize loudly but run about silently.  You always have to be at the ready as you never quite know where they will appear.  A second pair of eyes on the marsh was most helpful.  This Virginia Rail gave us gripping views.

Virginia Rail walking in marsh

Virginia Rail walking in marsh

Virginia Rail in marsh

Virginia Rail in marsh

Virginia Rail enjoying the warmth of the sun

Virginia Rail enjoying the warmth of the sun

Virginia Rail stretching wing after preening

Virginia Rail stretching wing after preening

Virginia Rail

Virginia Rail

In due course, I photographed lifer no. 213, the Sora.

Sora

Sora

We hit the trail for City View. Along the route we saw Northern Flickers, a female Red-breasted Grosbeak, Eastern Towhee, swallows and a singing House Wren.

House Wren singing

House Wren singing

Yesterday we headed to Fort Erie to photograph Purple Martins. There seemed to be fewer martins this year.

Purple Martin house

Purple Martin house

Purple Martin nestling longing for parent's arrival

Purple Martin nestling longing for parent’s arrival

Purple Martin nestling waiting to be fed

Purple Martin nestling waiting to be fed

male Purple Martin

male Purple Martin

Purple Martin with insect

female Purple Martin with insect

After this we headed to Mud Lake Conservation Area in Welland. We tried birding at this spot about two years ago but turned back because (1) the trail was swarming with mosquitoes, and (2) a visitor found ticks on his person. This visit, maybe one or two mosquitoes. Great Egrets were the target. We found four.

Four Great Egrets

Four Great Egrets

Great Egret with fish

Great Egret with fish

As shorebirds were well out of camera range we focused on frogs.

Frog

Frog

Another green frog

Another green frog

I see you

I see you

There were four Osprey at Hendrie this morning. As none were hunting, I spent time acquainting myself with Turkey Vultures. At least 20 Turkey Vultures were variously soaring, roosting, preening, ambulating, and resting.

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture preening

Turkey Vulture preening

14 Turkey Vultures

14 Turkey Vultures

They had no qualms sharing their favourite tree with a rather vocal Osprey.

Osprey (but for the branch...)

Osprey (but for the branch…)

In this heat, birding early in the morning for short periods, preferably close to water, is the best strategy.

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Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks (Bayshore Park, Hamilton)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016, was the hottest day this summer.  Accordingly, I avoided heading outside at lunch. Surfing the internet, I noted a report that Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were found on a beach at Bayfront Park.  I left in the evening taking a chance that they remained on the beach.

Having only visited Bayshore Park once previously, I promptly headed to the wrong gazebo.  I found myself at the grey, not the silver gazebo where the Cops N’ Rodders Car Show was underway.

Vehicle on display at Cops N Rodders Car Show. Note the grey gazebo in the background.

Vehicle on display at Cops N’ Rodders Car Show. Note the grey gazebo in the background.

At the car show two Halton Regional Police officers, on their break, extended a greeting to me.  We chatted for a while.  I inquired whether there was a second beach.  One of the officers advised the second beach was some 750 meters from where we were standing.  Off I went.  Soon the silver gazebo was in sight and as I rounded the bend, the sight of photographers and birders were a sure sign that I was in the right spot.

So, a few things.

  1.  These rare Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were thought to originate in Texas, U.S.A.  These ducks breed in Louisiana and southern Texas.
  2. They are thought to be the same ducks reported days earlier in New York.
  3. This species is a first for the Hamilton Study Area.

A mix of eight photographers and birders were on the beach.  Initially, the light was against us but that soon resolved. Our second issue were the gulls photobombing our efforts.

During their spell on the beach the ducks slept, preened, stretched, vocalized, squabbled a bit, and occasionally ate.

Five Black-belled Whistling Ducks

Five Black-belled Whistling-Ducks

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks heading to the beach

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks heading to the beach

Preening on the shore

Preening on the shore

One sunning, one resting

One sunning, one resting

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks asleep on the beach

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks asleep on the beach

Having a bit of a stretch

Having a bit of a stretch

Having a drink

Having a drink

But for the gulls...

But for the gulls…

Fluffed feathers

Fluffed feathers

Confounded gulls photobombed most photographs

Confounded gulls photobombed most photographs

Black-bellied Whistling Duck on the beach

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck on the beach

Gulls and a tern surround the ducks

Gulls and a tern surround the ducks

Returning to the water

Returning to the water

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks on the water

Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks on the water

The above was my last look at these stunning ducks, just shy of 7:30 p.m.  They departed at approximately 8:30 p.m. and haven’t been seen since.

A little of this and a little of that

I headed to Col. Sam after finally accepting the Bronte Harbour grebes may not successfully breed this year. There were four Grebe families at Col. Sam’s marina. This family had the youngest chicks.

Red-necked Grebe chicks resting with parent

Red-necked Grebe chicks resting with parent

It certainly was an interesting morning. This Great Blue Heron was hunting just beyond the break wall along the pedestrian path. I sat still so as not to flush the bird. The heron had rather odd way of hunting, vis, running into the water in pursuit of fish. I eventually got a clear photograph but this shot was more interesting to me.

This Great Blue Heron ran into the water, missed the fish then returned to shore to resume the hunt for sustenance.

This Great Blue Heron ran into the water, missed the fish then returned to shore to resume the hunt for sustenance.

While following a Song Sparrow feeding a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird, I heard juvenile Yellow Warblers calling for their parents in a nearby tree.

Yellow Warbler fledgling waiting to be fed

Yellow Warbler fledgling waiting to be fed

I chaperoned this Snapping Turtle, alerting cyclists, joggers, pedestrians, as it crossed the path.

I turtlesat this Snapping Turtle as it crossed the busy pedestrian and cycling path.

Snapping Turtle

Snapping Turtle marching towards pond on opposite side of pedestrian and cyclist path.

Snapping Turtle marching towards pond on opposite side of pedestrian and cyclist path.

These young rabbits were romping, running through the covered picnic bench area, down the path, over to the woodlot and back. Ah, the joys of youth.

Two juvenile rabbits romping at Colonel Samuel Smith Park.

Two juvenile rabbits romping at Colonel Samuel Smith Park.

The flicker nest cavity I found back in April or May (can’t remember) is now home to two youngsters.   I hung out for a bit waiting for the adult to return but I got hungry and left.

The tree cavity I found in April or May is now home to two juvenile Northern Flickers.

The tree cavity I found in April or May is now home to two juvenile Northern Flickers.

If you wish to get up close and personal with Wood Ducks, the Grenadier Pond at High Park is the place to be. There were multiple families along the stretch. If you stop anywhere along the length of the pond the ducklings and at times the adults climb the embankment seeking handouts.

female Wood Duck

female Wood Duck

Juvenile Wood Duck at High Park

Juvenile Wood Duck at High Park

Juvenile male Wood Duck having a bit of a rest

Juvenile male Wood Duck having a bit of a rest

This Black-crowned Night-Heron, on the other hand, had no interest in supplementing his diet.

Black-crowned Night Heron hunting

Black-crowned Night-Heron hunting

After lunching at the Grenadier Restaurant, we walked through the zoo, primarily to eyeball the recaptured capybaras. From time to time they would stand by the fence, likely missing their short-lived freedom.

The two famous Capybaras at High Park

The two famous Capybaras at High Park

As we admired the reindeer, a loud booming voice behind us commanded, “Hey, Tundra, come over. These people want to take a picture of you”.   ‘Twas the voice of a chuckling volunteer, who answered all our questions and allowed us to feed Tundra a carrot.

Tundra - a male reindeer at High Park

Tundra – a male reindeer at High Park

Unbearable heat and humidity have caused me to abruptly abandon trips at Hendrie Valley. Fortunately, the mosquito population is non-existent although I heard a chap complaining about the horse flies. Now that I think of it, the same guy complained about the worms and caterpillars hanging from the trees weeks earlier.

Searching for Green Herons I chanced upon a relatively accessible Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers’ nest.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher brings an insect to feed two hungry nestlings

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher brings an insect to feed two hungry nestlings

Close-up photograph of the nestlings taken on June 30, 2016.

Close-up photograph of the nestlings taken on June 30, 2016.

Days later I re-attended to check on the chicks. A fellow photographer I met on the boardwalk was keen to join in on the action. As we photographed the nest, this nestling, driven by hunger, fledged from the nest for a few minutes! What a treat.

Hungry Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nestling

Hungry Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nestling

One of the nestlings popped out of the nest briefly on July 3, 2016.

One of the nestlings popped out of the nest briefly on July 3, 2016.

Rechecking days later, as expected the family had moved on. There are several Gnatcatcher nests in the park. Keep an ear out and you may find singles or a family foraging together.

Juvenile Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Juvenile Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

A photographer and I had opportunity to photograph this Great Blue Heron.

Great Blue Heron climbing a tree trunk

Great Blue Heron climbing a tree trunk

Great Blue Heron in flight.

Great Blue Heron in flight.

Suddenly, just west of the heron, there was the sound of fussing Red-winged Blackbirds. The cause of their protestation – a female Red-Tailed Hawk. The birds chased the hawk to the opposite side of the stream. Soon they were joined by American Crows. What a commotion! Together they mobbed the hawk away from their territory.

American Crows and Red-winged Blackbirds mobbing Red-tailed Hawk at Hendrie Valley.

American Crows and Red-winged Blackbirds mobbing Red-tailed Hawk at Hendrie Valley.

This summer I’ve witnessed Red-winged Blackbirds chasing a pair of Belted Kingfishers. This male was able rest for a while, free of harassment, although a male Red-winged Blackbird did make an appearance but didn’t bother to rally the troops.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Here is a photograph of Eastern Kingbirds chasing an Osprey from their territory.

Eastern Kingbirds chasing Osprey from their territory

Eastern Kingbirds chasing Osprey from their territory

These birds were also spotted at the park:

This gorgeous male Indigo Bunting was photographed at Hendrie Valley. The female was rather skittish.

This gorgeous male Indigo Bunting was photographed at Hendrie Valley. The female was rather skittish.

The juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker was foraging on his own.

The juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker was foraging on his own.

Somebody has bad breath (juvenile and adult Common Grackles at Hendrie Valley Park

Somebody has bad breath (juvenile and adult Common Grackles)

Here a female Baltimore Oriole feeds her young berries plucked from a nearby tree.

Here a female Baltimore Oriole feeds her young berries plucked from a nearby tree.

Time spent at the Lift Bridge Canal and downtown Burlington have also been productive.

The parents of this recently fledged Barn Swallow enjoy the comforts this Jeep affords.

The parents of this recently fledged Barn Swallow enjoy the comforts this Jeep affords.

Male House Sparrow and his young

Male House Sparrow and his young at a parking lot

A female Mallard and her three sleeping ducklings - Lift Bridge, Burlington

A female Mallard and her three sleeping ducklings – Lift Bridge, Burlington

I’m falling for the Common Terns.  They hunt for fish at the tip of the pier at the Lift Bridge Canal, completely oblivious to the presence of humans.

Common Tern searching water for prey

Common Tern searching water for prey

Common Tern hovering over potential prey

Common Tern hovering over potential prey

Don’t let the weather deter you too much.  There’s still lots around. If the birding is slow as it often does at the height of the day, some photographers switch to insects, (butterflies, moths, dragonflies), flowers, etc.  I’m enjoying the ships at the Lift Bridge and the trains at Hendrie.

 

 

 

Birding and Train Spotting

During the week I made two trips to the beach strip in Burlington to check on the Baltimore Orioles.  All three nests are empty.  The fledglings are thriving.

Baltimore Oriole feeding its young

Baltimore Oriole feeding its young

During the last walkabout the begging cries of Warbling Vireo nestlings and fledglings led to the discovery of two nests and this fledgling.

Juvenile Warbling Vireo

Juvenile Warbling Vireo

There are quite a number of juveniles along the stretch including Red-winged Blackbirds, European Starlings, Common Grackles, American Robins and all the other usual suspects.

Juvenile European Starling feeding on berries

Juvenile European Starling feeding on berries

Still working on capturing Chimney Swifts in flight.

Chimney Swifts in flight

Chimney Swifts in flight

The plight of this Rough-winged Swallow was reported to me by beachgoers.  Unfortunately, it was injured and unable to fly.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Saturday, June 25th was the laziest birding outing I’ve ever had at Hendrie Valley.  I pretty much spent most of it socializing.   Loads of fun!  At the entrance of Cherry Hill Gate there were Downy Woodpeckers (adult and juvenile), a Hairy Woodpecker as well as this juvenile Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Red-bellied Woodpecker (juvenile)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (juvenile)

Down the hill and along the boardwalk, Red-winged Blackbirds were observed harassing a pair of Belted Kingfishers.  Onward to the area known as Valley Inn.  I hung out with the raptor photographers chatting about everything from Brexit to soccer as we awaited the arrival of Osprey.  In the interim we photographed visitors to the nearby mulberry bush.

Juvenile American Robin in mulberry bush

Juvenile American Robin in mulberry bush

Red squirrel enjoying berries of mulberry bush

Red squirrel enjoying berries of mulberry bush

A family of geese appeared.

a pair of juvenile Canada Goose out for a stroll

a pair of juvenile Canada Goose out for a stroll

Finally, an Osprey appeared.

Osprey on the hunt

Osprey on the hunt

Later I joined the train spotters at the bridge near Laking Gardens.  Among the group were two visiting American train spotters/photographers.  I learned quite a bit about trains in the hour plus I spent with the group and tried my hand at a few photographs.  I left with the thought – there’s something for everybody at Hendrie.

Reflection

Reflection

GO Train heading to Appleby GO station

GO Train heading to Appleby GO station

Double stacked railway cars

Double stacked railway cars

Please do visit glc392, a member of this great group of guys, to view spectacular photographs of trains.

My little buddy, Rastro, an Australian Shepherd, joined us for the afternoon.  As Rastro has a touch of arthritis we ensured we only visited locations requiring minimal walking.  He helped us find this snake.

Eyed by a watersnake

Eyed by a watersnake

These snakes were photographed last weekend.

Northern Watersnake

Northern Watersnake

Garter snake sunning along the path

Garter snake sunning along the path

Our first stop was Kerncliff Park, in Burlington, to try for Virginia Rails.  No luck but we did observe House Wrens, Brown Thrashers and quite a few Painted Turtles.

Tiny Painted Turtles appearing to kiss

Tiny Painted Turtles appearing to kiss

Next was Eastport Drive.

Ring-billed Gull chicks harassing adult for food

Ring-billed Gull chicks harassing adult for food

Adult Ring-billed Gull regurgitates food for its young

Adult Ring-billed Gull regurgitates food for its young

I almost puked. Consequently, the balance of the photos of this quartet were out of focus.

Next up was the Great Lakes and Rebecca storm water ponds in Oakville.  Last week we observed a female Hooded Merganser.

Hooded Merganser (female)

Hooded Merganser (female)

This week we encountered a doe and her fawn.

White-tailed deer fawn

White-tailed deer fawn

Thereafter, we stopped in at Bronte Marina.  The Red-necked Grebes have rebuilt their nest and are sitting on a new batch of eggs.  No chicks yet at the second nest but it appears quite precarious.  The Killdeer chick is doing quite well.

Last stop was Lasalle Marina.  The park trail is in dire need of a visit by hawks or the Pied Piper of Chipmunks.  Waaaay too many. There are two Mute Swan families on the water.  This is the younger group.

Mute Swan feeding cygnet

Mute Swan feeding cygnet

Rastro enjoyed the outing.  Having been thoroughly spoiled by all of us, he slept on the ride home.

Today, I returned to Hendrie.  The heat was too much for me until I observed two photographers on the boardwalk.  Picking up the pace, I soon joined them in photographing a doe and her one year old fawn.

female White-tailed Deer observed at Hendrie Valley

female White-tailed Deer observed at Hendrie Valley

female White-tailed Deer

female White-tailed Deer

I had enough energy to snap a few photos of this Hairy Woodpecker.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

CCIW was definitely cooler.  Here I encountered five photographers enjoying the challenge of photographing the terns and cormorants but probably not the gulls.

partial view of the multitude

partial view of the multitude

Lift every voice and sing

Lift every voice and sing

Caspian Tern choir - there is always one that never joins in

Caspian Tern choir – there is always one that never joins in

Caspian Tern in flight

Caspian Tern in flight

Caspian Tern chick and parent at water's edge

Caspian Tern chick and parent at water’s edge

Caspian Tern chick cools off in the water

Caspian Tern chick cools off in the water

Caspian Tern chick stretching its wings

Caspian Tern chick stretching its wings (This confounded gull almost always photobombed my attempts at capturing the chick on its own.)

Until next time!

Ring-billed Gulls foraging behind ship

Ring-billed Gulls foraging behind ship

Wee Watch 2016

Following up on last week’s post, a Piping Plover chick hatched at Darlington Provincial Park on Thursday, June 16th, the first to be born on the Canadian shore of Lake Simcoe since 1934! What wonderful news!

Here are a variety of youngsters encountered recently at local haunts, including today, June 19th.

Wood Duck duckling

Wood Duck duckling

Ring-billed Gull chick

Ring-billed Gull chick

Ring-billed Gull chick trying to get some rest

Ring-billed Gull chick trying to get some rest

Mute Swan cygnets resting in the shade

Mute Swan cygnets resting in the shade

Exasperated male Cardinal seeking a handout to assist with raising Juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird

Exasperated male Cardinal seeks assistance while raising a juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird. Unfortunately, I had not brought any oiled sunflower seeds to the park.

Female Northern Cardinal foraging and being shadowed by the juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird she is raising

Female Northern Cardinal foraging and being shadowed by the juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird she is raising with her mate.

A close-up of the juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird being raised by a pair of Northern Cardinals

A close-up of the hungry brute aka juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird being raised by a pair of Northern Cardinals

Adult and juvenile Blue Jays

Adult and juvenile Blue Jays

Juvenile European Starling foraging alone along the path

Juvenile European Starling foraging alone along the path

Young and inexperienced European Starling

Young European Starling alone with no one to look to for guidance

Young Blanding's Turtle (endangered)

Young Blanding’s Turtle (threatened) at Hendrie Valley Park. “Threatened” means the species lives in the wild in Ontario, is not endangered, but is likely to become endangered if steps are not taken to address factors threatening it. The most significant threats to the Blanding’s Turtle are loss or fragmenting of habitat, motor vehicles, and raccoons and foxes that prey on eggs. Illegal collection for the pet trade is also a serious threat. Blanding’s Turtles are slow breeders – they don’t start to lay eggs until they are in their teens or twenties – so adult deaths of breeding age adults can have major impacts on the species. [Source: Ontario.ca]

Juvenile Canada Goose

Juvenile Canada Goose. The family was inseparable. Am happy the parents have abandoned their hissing.

Barn Swallow and nestling

Barn Swallow and nestling.

Caspian Tern and Ring-billed Gulls with their young

Caspian Tern and Ring-billed Gulls with their young

Caspian Tern family at the water's edge. The youngster was taking a bath.

Caspian Tern family at the water’s edge. The youngster was taking a bath.

Adult and juvenile Caspian Terns

Adult and juvenile Caspian Terns

Female mallard and her duckling

Female mallard and her duckling

Mallard ducklings

Mallard ducklings

A trio of Mallard ducklings

A trio of Mallard ducklings

Remember this Red-necked Grebe’s nest at Bronte Harbour?

Nesting Red-necked Grebe No. 2 standing allowing for view of eggs

Nesting Red-necked Grebe No. 2 standing allowing for view of eggs

This nest in the Outer Harbour Marina lost all of its eggs, possibly because of the birds piling on too much material. Per G. Edmonstone.

This is what we encountered June 18th. I’ve now read “possibly because of the birds piling on too much material”, per G. Edmonstone.

Only one of the two Killdeer chicks have survived

Only one of the two Killdeer chicks have survived

On a happier note, these are today from the beach strip.  This is the from the first of three nests.

Female Baltimore Oriole feeding her nestlings

Female Baltimore Oriole feeding her nestlings

Male Baltimore oriole feeds his nestlings

Male Baltimore oriole feeds his nestlings

The chicks in nest No. 2 remain hidden. These photographs are of nest No. 3.

Baltimore Oriole chick fledged on either June 18 or 19, 2016

Baltimore Oriole chick fledged on either June 18 or 19, 2016

Baltimore Oriole fledgling stretches wings

Baltimore Oriole fledgling stretches wings

Female Baltimore Oriole and her hungry fledgling

Female Baltimore Oriole and her hungry fledgling

Baltimore Oriole fledgling mouth agape begging for food

Baltimore Oriole fledgling, mouth agape, begging for food

Male Baltimore Oriole attending to nestling while fledgling sits on branch above

Male Baltimore Oriole attending to nestling while fledgling sits on branch above

Fledgling Baltimore Oriole asking to be fed

Fledgling Baltimore Oriole asking to be fed