Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Great day along the bay

Today, Laura had plans to meet up with some friends in Hamilton for the day. I was more than willing to drive her down, spend the full day birding around the lakeshore, then picking her up and driving back home.

I met up with the one and only Barb Charlton this morning to look for rare Passerines at Bayfront Park in Hamilton. Barb was "stuck" on 320 species for the year in Ontario, and with no new rarities around for her to try for, we decided our best bet to find something interesting was to check out the Waterfront Trail. If you can recall a number of really rare December birds had shown up in recent weeks including Black-throated Green, Black-throated Gray, Wilson's, and Orange-crowned Warblers; a Blue-headed Vireo, and multiple Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers (check out Brandon's photos of some of the goodies here: http://www.blog.peregrineprints.com/2011/12/black-throated-gray-warb.html).

Barb and I didn't have much success though we briefly heard a gnatcatcher. A few Mockingbirds kept a close eye on us, however.

"Mocker" mocking us

She left to do some Christmas shopping and I would have been wise to follow her lead and get started on mine. Instead, I headed back down the waterfront trail, determined to find some of these birds. I made it all the way to Princess Point before turning back. There was not much to show for it except for this extremely RARE morph of a Double-crested Cormorant. The only field mark to distinguish it from a normal "cormie" is that it only has one wing.

Double-crested Cormorant, one-winged variant

Eventually I saw some of the birds as the Black-throated Gray put in an encore performance. I ran into Ross Wood here, and he was pleased to add this bird to his Ontario list.

Black-throated Gray Warbler - Bayfront Park, Hamilton

Heading back to my car, I found not one, but two gnatcatchers! The second was crawling around near my feet, gleaning insects. This photo is about 90% full frame, and I was shooting with a 300 mm lens. Gives you an idea how close I was!

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher - Bayfront Park, Hamilton

Around this time, I had an interesting conversation:

Random passerby: "Hello."
Me: "Hello." (just being friendly, ya know)
R.P.: "Are you with a school group or anything? There's all these young guys walking around and taking pictures."
Me: "Nope, not with a school group. Just looking for birds!"
R.P: "You're a birdwatcher? I thought all birdwatchers were old and wore floppy hats!"
Me: "Actually the demographics are changing- you'd be surprised how many of us young guys and gals there are."

It's a conversation I have all the time! Lets break that stereotype (except for the Tilly hats -they're pretty awesome).

Just then, Tim King posted a nearby Snow Goose to the listserv, so I hustled over and watched it for a while. Nice bird!

Snow Goose - Bayfront Park, Hamilton

And a CANG, cause no one gives them any love.

Canada Goose - Bayfront Park, Hamilton

With a few hours to spare I headed over to Bronte Provincial Park for no particular reason. I walked around for a few hours, enjoying the crisp air and seeing a few birds (Pileated Woodpecker, White-crowned Sparrow, Northern Mockingbird, Eastern Bluebird,etc). Twas a great day in the field, but I think now I better get started on whittling down that Christmas list!

Eastern Bluebird - Bronte Creek Provincial Park


  1. I had to laugh at your comments about the stereotypical birder image. I just had that same conversation with my wife last night. But she says although we're geeky, it's a cute geek and she likes it. I tried to convey that she doesn't have to be embarrassed, there are many of us who are "young" enjoying the birds.

    It was nice to actually meet you in person. Thanks for sharing a few moments with me on the trail.

  2. Is was nice meeting you too, Brian. Hope you weren't too late for work after...