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.

A Little Birdy

You calling me LITTLE ???
You calling me LITTLE ???

OK… not you. It’s kinglet time in “Our Woods” and this year we’ve been out looking for kinglets – the first little guys to pass through on their way to their summer place in Muskoka. They are usually plentiful for a few weeks and then, too quickly, nada. The earliest we’ve seen them is March 31 and the latest April 28. Yesterday and this morning my mission was to identify and photograph the ruby-crowned kinglet particularly, just because they, and their golden-crowned cousins, are tricky to capture on film. Fast little folk, flitting all over, eating bugs, never resting long enough to look at the camera and smile. Nevertheless I tend to picture their energetic mealtime as joyful rather than desperate. The photographer surely qualifies as desperate – tracking the tiny beasts with the naked eye and aiming the camera’s 300 mm zoom only to find them – if she/he’s lucky – somewhere close enough to where they just were. Forget auto-focus! The cedar branches all around will confuse the heck out of that mechanism. No. You’ve gotta focus manually and hope they’re not gone. Kinglets give you a lot of blurry action shots – and fits. Patience. The kinglet quest would, at one time, have been called a “film gobbler.” This morning I lucked out. Anita, so sad…, stayed in bed and missed quite a show: a Northern Oriole perched momentarily high above whistling “C’mon!” to some sexy follower – then one more treetop and gone northward. A female yellow-rumped (Myrtle) warbler feeding almost as fast as the kinglets showed my camera just enough identifiable plumage and the slightest blurry hint of shoulder yellow.  Yep! Myrtle! Check! And lots of ruby-crowneds in the cedars and, bravely following bugs, even on bare branches of deciduous trees only just beginning to bud. The photos that follow are the best I could do. I was so busy and happily hyper that I gobbled my very tasty breakfast of left-over Peking Mallard Duck when I got home. Just kidding. Had Peking duck in Peking (Beijing, whatever…) in 2008 and, trust me, there never are any left-overs. They don’t taste that great, but they are sooo skinny!

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Anywaaayy, first, the softly-blurred ruby-crowneds:

“What rubies?”, you say. Well, the female isn’t ruby-crowned and the male doesn’t show off all the time, but you can tell they’re ruby-crowned because of the white eye-ring. The golden-crowned have a stong b&w streaking through the eye and no eye ring. Continue reading “A Little Birdy”