Birding May 12-22

May 22: The black-throated green warbler still eludes us, but we’ve not been out every day.  Today we were treated to our first 2017 magnolia warbler and also the bay-breasted, the latter also having been identified on May 12, when I also saw a catbird. It was cool and had rained a lot yesterday – but warm enough to bring out lots of tiny, gnat-sized bugs that warblers love to feed on, so the woods were busy.

At our feeder a year-round downy woodpecker was gorging itself on sunflower seeds for a long while. They are usually more polite. Here are a few photos:

This morning we identified a wood thrush in tall trees, very leafy, trees… by its call. I recorded it  on my iPad and compared its song to the fluty calls of the orioles and other thrushes, easily accessible via the free Audubon Birds app. The wood thrushes like forested areas with tall trees. Hermit thrushes and veeries tend to be much lower down preferring brush and safe undergrowth.

I saw a broad-winged hawk in our back yard a couple of days ago. Hawks are always a treat. I wish them good squirrelling…

Watched our local great blue heron being chased south by red-winged blackbirds today over the lower ” lake” in “Our” Woods.

Birding May 3 and May 10

Black and White Warbler – May 3, 2017
First sightings May 3:
  1. Black and White Warbler.
  2. Barn swallow
  3. Northern Rough-winged Swallow.

That day we also listed the Song Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-rumped Warblers aplenty and, yawn, a grackle. In addition to the numerous red-winged blackbirds.

First sighting May 10:
  1. Great Blue Heron (four times, it was almost like he was chilling with us!)

Also seen (by me) for the first time: the splendid, spiffy Black-throated Blue Warbler. He had a girlfriend. As we walked North they were keeping pace with us as they fed on the bugs.

Other sightings: yellow warbler (m & f), ruby-crowned kinglet, and what I think was a chipping swallow on the grass (rusty crown, dark eye-line, and quiet), but my Spotter doesn’t agree. The female red-winged blackbirds, in noisy abundance, must have been finishing nests – one didn’t like me approaching what must have been her nest to get a view of the lower “lake.” She put on quite a display of tail feathers. Pity I didn’t bring my camera today. I left my viewing point to her, but not before seeing the Great Blue Heron, disturbed by my Spotter walking by the nearby shore, wing over my head. We saw him three more times. The swallows were swooping over the upper lake, still here. There was one lone cormorant today. They usually move on further north.

Our Magnolia is still in full bloom. The blooms usually get hammered by the rain and fall soon after it blooms properly, but not this year. And perhaps the cold weather, with no frost, has helped preserve them.

A few more photos:

Two 2017 First Sightings

 

The above two photos, taken today at our feeder with the Sony’s 70–210 E-mount lens fully zoomed, show that the migration continues. This species has graced our sunflower seed feeder since 2011.

When I returned in the Toyota shuttle from delivering the car for its annual maintenance my spotter excitedly announced her sightings of the above and a black-throated blue warbler, who was in the two pink rose bushes that climb, and crown, our ancient arbor at the bottom of the deck stairs. I was too late for that warbler.

A few other recent photos:

Update May 2: Could not find the night-heron the next day and haven’t looked since. 

Birding Can Be Puzzling – April 28th

Our Woods was cool (7° C.; 45° F.) on the morning of the 28th. My spotter and I went out around 8 AM. As we exited the wooded path into a grassy knoll my spotter saw this big bird in the woods near the stream where I flushed the heron on the 27th. I snapped this with my Sony Alpha A-6000 using its 200 mm zoom and DMF manual focus, since there was a lot of brush in between the lens and the bird. This heron is smaller than the Great Blue, but still a good size.

Using the 8X Bushnells I noted clearly that the eye was an unmistakable red. Before I could get a better picture it flew over our heads.  The eye colour and its other colouring narrowed it down to two possible night-herons: the Black-crowned and the Yellow-crowned. I cannot be sure which. The Black-crowned is more common this far north. I went out early this afternoon and didn’t spot it, but will be out there hoping to get a better photo tomorrow if it is still there. It looked a little stressed, so I don’t know. We also saw a sandpiper but they are tough to identify.

A few more photos from April 28:

 

Birding in Our Woods – April 27

Cormorant display, May 1, 2015
This morning Anita was at the gym so I went out at around 8 AM on my own without my favourite spotter, but with my old, trusty Bushnell Birding Series 8X binoculars in case I spotted anything.

Heard the chipping sparrow’s machine-gun call as I stepped out the front door. It was in the large willow across the street from us. They had arrived in some numbers and I heard them throughout my one hour walk in Our Woods. The spectacular, dependably early, Myrtle warblers were out in force finding tiny insects invisible to me. Peewee commonly heard. Redwing blackbirds were abundant and the males plenty vocal as usual. Saw a couple of females, too. They cautiously don’t announce their presence. Saw the ruby-crowned a few times.

By the two blue benches near the small, well-maintained playground I walked down to the creek that runs SW through the park and flushed what I assumed was a great blue heron, which flew NW along the creek to escape me, probably to the lower “lake,” one of two “made” from the three old quarry pools when the old quarry became a housing development, though I didn’t see it again as I walked counterclockwise around both lakes. The Myrtles, also called yellow-rumped, were plentiful at the N end of the lower lake.

Out of duty I report a grackle in the wild, having already seen a couple, uninvited, at the sunflower seed feeder off our backyard deck. We like to assist the nuthatches, white and rose-breasted, chickadees, juncos, downy and hairy woodpeckers, cardinals and occasional blue-jays by shooing the gourmand blackbirds when we see them. Ah yes! Mustn’t forget the double-crested cormorants, seen today: 4 on the lower lake and 11 on the upper. We first noticed them in Our Woods in 2015.

Spring Birding Resumes (for us) – April 23

These mallards from April 24, 2016 contributed to one of my favourite mood photos

Robins appeared on Feb. 18th!  this year (earliest ever!) in Our Woods, and we had a good day on April 23 when we saw a peewee, looking for it after hearing its “pee-a-wee call.” Also seen, a Baltimore Oriole in flight, the earliest GTA sighting recorded on ebird.ca being in Hamilton that same day. Then there was the usual stuff: our 1st brown creeper, ruby and golden crowned kinglets, and we heard the song sparrow.

The Autumn Leaves

As a three-year-old, I can remember sitting on the floor in the living room near my dad’s old Montreal-made Willis upright piano, while he played one of his very favourites, Autumn Leaves.

Here is Eric Clapton doing a sweet, sweet version. The photos were taken this morning before I raked the back yard to give our overseeded lawn a little more sunlight. The maple, shown here, will produce more. I’ll mulch them later.