Friday, 8 February 2013

Birding! With photos!!

My camera arrived the other day so needless to say I was pretty excited to try it out. Considering that it is a Nikon D40, a very basic SLR that isn't meant for "serious" wildlife photography, it actually performs well. It is a bit better than my old camera which I had been using for 4 years (Nikon D80). The ISO performance is better and there are slightly more frames per second than my old camera - a welcome change!

Two days ago, I had to be in Toronto for a speaking engagement in the evening. I left around noon and planned to stop at several locations along the north shore of Lake Ontario. One of my stops was the famous winter warbler location of Sedgewick Park in Oakville. You may recall me talking about this place earlier in the winter. The species list for this winter here was phenomenal, with 5 species of warblers (2 Yellow-rumped, 2 or 3 Orange-crowned, Nashville, Cape May, and Bay-breasted) and 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Unfortunately it appears that most of these species have met their demise as I could only locate a single Yellow-rumped, a species that regularly overwinters in parts of southern Ontario. It was nice to try out the new camera on a real live bird!

Yellow-rumped Warbler - Oakville

I did not see a whole lot throughout the rest of the afternoon, mainly because I was too ambitious in the amount of stops I had planned on making in limited time. I should have known that would be a problem and as a result I cut out a few stops and could only devote an hour to looking for the Western Grebe in Toronto.

It has been nice not doing a big year and so not having to chase some of these rarities. That is why I had not gone for the grebe in the past 4 or 5 days since it had been found. However since I needed to be in Toronto anyway, and I had never seen one before in the winter, I gave it a shot! Unfortunately the grebe was a no-show, though a Red-necked Grebe was cool to see in its place. Apparently the Western will move around a bit and will be viewable from Humber Bay sometimes, as opposed to Sunnyside Park.

Yesterday, Chris Law was in town so we teemed up for a few hours of Dundas area birding. We were able to see a bunch of interesting winter birds throughout the day, including Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and Wood Duck. A highlight for me was the woodpecker activity behind the Olympic Arena in Dundas. Of particular interest was the Pileated Woodpecker working a tree at eye level! With a bit of stalking I was able to get quite close. We also had about 5 Downy, 1 Hairy, 2 Red-bellied, and 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

Pileated Woodpecker - Dundas

I finally saw my first mockingbird for the year. Unfortunately it was deep in a bush and lighting was poor but I still grabbed a few shots.

Northern Mockingbird - Hamilton

Driving back towards Cambridge, we were happy to find a pair of Eastern Bluebirds in someone's yard along Harvest Road, northwest of Dundas. Another new year bird for us!

Eastern Bluebird (female)


  1. Congrats on the new camera! Sweet pics

  2. Great post. It was nice chatting with you the other night at Kory and Sarah's. Thanks for the tips for my upcoming trip to the desert.

  3. Great pics! I was at the Olympic Woods that day, got the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on my new P&S camera (nothing special, but great compact for getting a shot to id later if I can't id in the field), but the Pileated flew off just as I was trying for a shot.

  4. Great photos. Congratulations on your new camera. Hello from Montreal.

  5. Thanks all! The Yellow-bellied Sapper was indeed nice to get, though it was heard only. Would love to "see" one in the winter sometime.

  6. So glad to have found your site! Rare to find such enthusiasm for the species in our backyards. Awesome. :)