Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Late winter birding

Yesterday evening, I had plans to attend Brandon's talk on Hurricane Sandy in Burlington, so I decided to leave Cambridge in the early afternoon and check a few spots along the way.

It started off well when I saw a few birds sitting low in some trees just off the road. Turning around, I was happy to see that they were Bohemian Waxwings, not European Starlings as I had originally suspected. About 60 of them, their trills ringing in the air. Last winter I had exactly 1 sighting of this species in Ontario. This was my 10th sighting already this winter.

Continuing on, 10 minutes later I noticed a massive flock of redpolls, so I pulled over and scanned them. At least one bright, frosty redpoll stood out (an exilipes Hoary Redpoll), though the flock was constantly flushing and it was difficult to get an accurate look at them.

Redpolls - Peter's Corners

I made it to Hamilton and checked several locations along the harbour and lakeshore, all the way to Stony Creek. The only highlight was this Eastern Screech-Owl sitting 10 feet up a tree. The condions were calm on the lake, but most ducks were too far out to see well!

Eastern Screech-Owl - Burlington

Eastern Screech-Owl - Burlington

I eventually made it to to the Saltfleet area above the escarpment and finally came across the small flock of Eastern Meadowlarks that had been overwintering. Some were even in full song! Spring was in the air. A Northern Shrike was watching a flock of House Sparrows and American Tree Sparrows, Northern Harriers cruised the fields, and a nice dark morph Rough-legged Hawk was perched on the smallest branch at the very tip of a tree.

Eastern Meadowlark - Saltfleet

A few days ago, I joined Mark Field in a trip to Niagara to look at gulls and ducks. To be perfectly honest, we didn't have a very good day bird wise, though an adult Little Gull down at the Queenston Docks was nice to see! I was able to get a couple of half decent, although distant, photographs in the falling snow.

Little Gull - Queenston

And the other day I was out walking around at a natural area near my house when I came across this very photogenic White-breasted Nuthatch. This is the first good photo I have of that species now!

White-breasted Nuthatch - Cambridge

As I write this, Northern Cardinals and House Finches are singing outside my window - a welcome sound indeed. Though we are getting another bout of winter weather today and tomorrow followed by cold and sunny conditions, we are almost into the month of March. Once we get a bit of warmer weather I'll probably do a 2-3 day trip to the Pelee area to see some early migrants and hopefully find some rare waterfowl. But that will have to wait a week or more!

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