Friday, 7 October 2011

Hamilton birding (October 7)

After writing my first midterm of the semester, I thought I would celebrate/relax by doing some birding towards Hamilton. The first stop on the agenda was Coote's Paradise, a favorite place of mine. Everytime I go there I seem to see decent birds - recent visits have produced both godwits and Nelson's Sparrows.

The day was absolutely beautiful - 23 degrees C and sunny. If it wasn't for the hoardes of Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-throated Sparrows, one might think it was still August.

As expected, the usual creek cormorants kept a close watch on me.

Double-crested Cormorant - Coote's Paradise

An American Mink patrolled the far bank of the creek.

American Mink - Coote's Paradise

Eventually I arrived at the large pond on the south side of the trail - a place which happens to be a favored haunt of Nelson's Sparrows. These secretive sparrows are rare to uncommon migrants in southern Ontario, though Coote's Paradise usually has some present for a few weeks in early October. I only took about 15 steps before flushing a little grey and brown sparrow. A few seconds of quiet pishing got it to perch up for me, just long enough to confirm its identify as a Nelson's, before it dashed back down. Eventually it crept back up into the higher parts of the grasses and I was able to grab a diagnostic shot.

Nelson's Sparrow - Coote's Paradise

As I continued, I ran into Barb Charlton and Dave Don who had just returned from a trek to the end of "the willows". They informed me that 2 Hudsonian Godwits were feeding on the mud at the end. Perfect! After a brief chat I continued on my way, but not before I photographed some Rusty Blackbirds at the edge of the mud.

Rusty Blackbirds - Coote's Paradise

female Rusty Blackbird - Coote's Paradise

The Hudwits were still there when I arrived - two juvenile birds in crisp plumage. I spent some time taking some shots of them since they were relatively close and the first ones I had seen in quite some time.

Hudsonian Godwits - Coote's Paradise

Hudsonian Godwits - Coote's Paradise

I eventually made it all the way back to my car (no easy task while carrying binoculars, a camera, and scope on tripod!) and headed back to Guelph. On the way I made a brief detour to check out Mountsberg Reservoir since I had never been there before. 3 Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, about 60 coots, and some ducks (Redhead, Hooded Merg, Woodie, A. Black, both teals) were the highlights.


  1. Josh, where do you find your best birding at Coote's? I work in Hamilton but have never really done any birding there. I know Princess Point, and went to Mac and walked the trails back there years ago. Nice finds.

  2. Josh, great birds and accompanying photos. I would love to see a Hudsonian Godwit. Some were seen in Stoney Point today. Good birding!

  3. Nice set of pictures, Josh. I like your sneak peak of the Nelson's. It gives the viewer the impression that he's sneaking through the grass to catch a glimpse.

  4. Brian,
    "The Willows" (access off of Coote's drive ,east of Olympic Drive) is the only place I have really checked out. The whole area is good though, and there are lots of hiking trails in the area. The mudflats at the end of the willows tend to be a good location for shorebirds.
    Dwayne - glad to see you got the birds near Comber. Looks like a sweet flooded field!

    Herman - glad you enjoyed. They really are one of my favorite sparrows.