Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Waterloo Sightings - Golden Eagle

At lunch today, Ken and I went over to check Laurel Creek Reservoir in Waterloo to look for waterfowl and whatever else might be on the water.  We saw a few ducks including Long-tailed Duck as well as a fair number of gulls.  After watching for about 5 minutes, the whole flock of gulls took off.  We both looked around to see what might have startled them and Ken guessed an eagle, maybe even a Golden Eagle.  As if on cue we spotted a juvenile Golden Eagle soaring high above the reservoir!

There are very few records of Golden Eagle in Waterloo Region and ebird does not show any from within the city proper.
Juvenile Golden Eagle - note the white patches on the wing

Long-tailed Duck among gulls

Monday, 17 October 2016

Cackling Geese - Fergus

Fall is a great time to see large waterfowl concentrations in Ontario.  Greater White-fronted Geese seem to be popping up everywhere these days.  I heard a report of Cackling Geese in Fergus at the Nexans ponds over the weekend, so I decided to check it out.  I found at least two, but I think there may have been more mixed in with the flock.

For those of you not into bird watching, Cackling Geese are a tiny species of goose that looks to most people like a miniature Canada Goose.  The stubby bill, small neck, white collar (sometimes visible) are good ID features for this species.

The bird dead centre exhibits some classic features of Cackling Goose, I didn't get good looks at the two birds to the left, but they may be Cackling Geese as well.  Note how big the Mallard behind appears.

Cackling Goose behind the Mallard
Canada Geese have such a range of forms that I still find some birds tricky to ID.  I think it is easier to judge size when the birds are on the water, than when they are on land.

Monday, 10 October 2016

It's Thanksgiving! Fort Erie and Area

This Thanksgiving long weekend was spent down in the Stevensville and Fort Erie area.  On Saturday we got permission to check out Marcy's Woods on Point Abino.  It was the first time I have been there and I was impressed with the scenery!  Below are some scenic shots from our walk.

The sand dunes were definitely a highlight of this area.  We saw a few Monarchs sheltering in he dunes, this one happened to fly by as I was taking the shot!


Birds weren't making much of an appearance here, so I photographed a few mushrooms, to be ID'd at a later date...unless you know what they are?

I also spent Sunday and Monday morning birding a little bit around the Fort Erie shoreline and Niagara River.  I walked through the beach grass and stirred up whatever I could.  I didn't see anything rare but managed to find lots of sparrows, the odd warbler, pipits, Wilson's Snipe, Marsh Wren, a late House Wren and lots more!

Mather Park Sunrise

A sample of the beach grass I walked through
Song Sparrow (left) and White-crowned Sparrow (right)
Chipping Sparrow
Gray Catbird
Greater Yellowlegs among Ring-billed Gulls
I found the long staying Red-throated Loon at the Catherine Street parkette.  It was neat to see it still has some of the red on it's throat!

Coming back from my bird watching trip, this little bird greeted me at the door.

It was a great Thanksgiving weekend spent with great people, food and of course...birds.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Fall Outings

Unfortunately I have not had a lot of interesting things to post over the last little while; at least, nothing that I was able to capture with pictures for the blog!

I'm sure most of you within the birding community are aware of the spectacular birding happening out of the Hamilton area this past week, the highlights being a Shearwater!, all 3 Jaegers, Sabine's Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwake among others.

I went birding after work on Thursday and Friday this week, and saw lots of very distant Jaegers, but unfortunately none came in close enough to ID.  We did however, get awesome looks at a juvenile Black-legged Kittiwake that whipped by.

The winds were fierce on both days, building the waves to over 2m.

I also stopped by Thickson's Woods last week looking for birds and instead found this Giant Puffball mushroom!  There were several of them scattered throughout the woods.

I also found this cute little female Black-throated Blue Warbler.

I'm looking forward to a nice Thanksgiving with my inlaws in Stevensville next weekend!

Monday, 5 September 2016

Labour Day Weekend Bird Watching - Merlin vs. Kingfisher

On Saturday morning Ken Burrell and I headed down to Hamilton to do some bird watching.  We started out at Edgelake Park and had loads of warblers!  Magnolia Warblers were by far the most common, followed by redstarts.  We also had a Canada Warbler and a couple Wilson's Warblers.  We had some good luck with shorebirds at the Tollgate Ponds where we saw Whimbrel, Sanderling, White-rumped Sandpiper and American Golden Plover among others.  At Windermere we were surprised to see the Marbled Godwit! We saw over 80 species in a few hours, unfortunately most birds were too far (or quick) to get photos of.

I've been enjoying my new spotting scope, the Vortex Razor HD!

Lesser Yellowlegs
We spotted this cute Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at the Grimsby Sewage Lagoons.

This morning, Cait and I went to Luther Marsh to see what we could find.  Below are a few shots from the trip.

Sandhill Cranes
Trumpeter Swans
We stopped at our last spot before heading home and I saw a Merlin (a small but mighty falcon) fly across the pond.

I was just showing Caitlyn a Belted Kingfisher through the spotting scope when all of a sudden the Merlin appeared in view and tried to attack the Kingfisher, which dove into the water several times to escape.  This went on for about 30 seconds before they both perched in opposite trees.  In the shot below you can see the Merlin in the top right and the Kingfisher bottom left.

The Kingfisher got bold and flew directly into the tree and sat right above the Merlin!  I thought it was pretty ambitious of the Merlin since the Kingfisher is about the same size!  After a brief standoff, the Merlin darted out across the pond looking for easier fare and quickly caught a dragonfly.

Kingfisher sitting above the Merlin

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Red Knot - Tollgate Ponds

On my way home from Kingston this weekend I decided to swing by Hamilton to see if I could see some interesting birds, in part to test out my new spotting scope (Vortex Razor HD).  Many awesome shorebirds have been reported from Hamilton the past week or so.  My first stop was the Canada Centre of Inland Waters where a Red Knot had been reported.  I looked for a few minutes but with no luck, so I moved on to the Tollgate Ponds.  I had been there for 15 minutes when a stout shorebird popped up right in front of me, and there was the Red Knot!  It was great to see this species that I so infrequently find. The Rufa subspecies of Red Knot is considered an Endangered species in Ontario.

I also stopped by Windermere Basin, but didn't find the Marbled Godwit.  My last stop was the Redhill Stormwater Pond, which is an absolute death trap to get in and out of at rush hour.  But, I was rewarded with 10 Stilt Sandpipers, so it was all worthwhile.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Algonquin -Burnt Island Lake

Last weekend I went on an extended weekend getaway to Algonquin Park with Paul, Jen and Caitlyn for a canoe trip to Burnt Island Lake.  I have been to this part of the interior before and it was just as great as I remembered it.

Burnt Island Lake

View from our campsite for 3 nights.

Shiloh - He was a good dog except when he tried to get out of the canoe and nearly flipped it!
Anticipating heavy rain on Sunday, we decided to set up this tarp system.  We were limited by a lack of rope and suitable trees, but it held up somewhat.  There was a decent thunderstorm on Saturday night and the wind was so fierce it ripped the eyelets out of the tarp in several places.  We woke up around 5am and had to adjust some things to keep our stuff dry!

 The incredibly strong winds persisted on Sunday all day, and we decided to move the tents to a more sheltered spot in some trees.  We made a wall with the tarp.  You can see in the photo below, the force of the wind kept it suctioned to the trees on the right.

Surrey peeks over the log while Paul sterilizes some water.
 The last night was quite chilly, dipping down to around 10 degrees.  Late at night we woke up to the sounds of a wolf pack howling across the lake.  A beautiful sound, hearkening back to the days when I worked as a park naturalist in Algonquin and helped lead the wolf howls.  It was a great way to end a wonderful trip.