Sunday, 20 November 2016

The King of Eiders

This weekend I was at my parents in Kingston with Caitlyn and had the pleasure of doing a quick bird outing to Millhaven with my Dad to try and find a previously reported King Eider.

This is a species that I have had a lot of success with "twitching".  This species doesn't seem to move around all that much and will often stay in the same area for several days or weeks.  We found this bird quite quickly upon arriving, and on the way back also picked out a Cackling Goose among a larger flock of Canada Geese! This particular eider stayed well out from the shoreline and although we had fantastic scope views of the bird as it floated and occasionally dove, I only managed a couple identifiable photos.

King Eider is a species of Arctic breeding duck that typically winters in the coastal waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean but also shows up regularly in the Great Lakes during migration.

Female King Eider - Millhaven Nov.19/16

The photo below is of a male I saw two years ago in November in St. Catherines.  No wonder it is called the "King Eider!"
Male King Eider - St. Catherines Nov. 29/14

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Chatham Hawk Watching

I decided to take Friday off of work and go bird watching with Ken at Zion Road near Wheatley.  We were hoping to see large numbers of migrating raptors and we had a decent selection of species including a couple of surprises.  Our best birds of the day were a Golden Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk and a big surprise of a super late Broad-winged Hawk!  Unfortunately most of the hawks were really high, and the largely blue sky made it difficult to spot them.

The lookout from the end of Zion Road
Red-shouldered Hawk

A small "kettle" of Turkey Vultures
 I also made a quick stop at Blenheim Sewage Lagoons to see the continuing Cattle Egrets, which seem to be showing up everywhere this fall!

Cattle Egret pair - minus the cattle
Cattle Egret are not a native species in North America, but actually spread to the Americas by flying over from Africa!  A neat example of colonization without human facilitation apparently.  Below is a map I pulled off wikipedia showing the spread of this interesting little egret species.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Lake Simcoe - Pacific Loon, Little Gulls etc.

I decided to head up to Minet's Point on Kempenfelt Bay to try and find the Pacific Loon(s) that had been reported a few days earlier.  Although they hadn't been reported in a couple of days, I figured that they were still around.  It was this weekend last year that I went up to try to find the very same birds and was successful.

When I got to Minet's Point, the sun was shining and steam was rising from the lake surface into the frosty air.  I scanned through the flock of hundreds of Common Loon several times but was not able to spot any Pacific Loons.  I took a bathroom break in the nearby port-a-potty and then came back for another try.  This time I spotted a smaller loon with a narrow, pointy bill diving with a group of Common Loons.  The silvery nape and back of the head confirmed Pacific Loon!  Unfortunately it was too far away to get any pictures.

Common Loons
 I also saw some Little Gulls flying around Kempenfelt Bay!
Little Gull - note the dark underwings
 I like the shot below.  Three species are present in this photo- our largest gull species Great Black-backed Gull next to one of our smallest - Bonaparte's Gull.  A few Herring Gulls are also in the background.

I tried to get a shot of the Bonaparte's Gulls diving for fish, but all I got was this bird under water!
Here are a couple shots of the two Pacific Loons I saw on Kempenfelt Bay last year:
Pacific Loon (2015)

Pacific Loon (2015)

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!