Sunday was a good day for adding birds to the year list. The first required little effort. I was standing in the back yard with the dogs, enjoying the rising sun, when I noticed a woodpecker in the neighbouring yard. "Hey.", I thought. "That doesn't look like the Downy." "He's back!" I rushed into the house to get the binoculars. Luckily the bird had not vacated before my quick return. Observing the woodpecker with the bins confirmed my suspicions. Red forecrown, chin and throat with a yellowish belly. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (#76) had returned. I'm not sure of his final destination but it or another of its species passed through our neighbourhood in early April of last year. It was also recorded in October on its return flight to the species' winter range.
Later in the day, I picked up Jean from work and we headed for the Green Ribbon Trail for our second attempt at ticking the migrating Fox Sparrow. It was a beautiful day, sunny and 13 degrees. The "okalee" calls of a few male Red-winged Blackbirds along the creek were heard immediately. As we descended the slope to the pedestrian bridge we spotted the 77th addition to the year list. 2 Brown Creepers were seen, doing what they do best, creeping up a tree on the slope to our right. We continued along the path towards the bridge. The previous years, Fox Sparrow were observed in this area. There was no sparrow action at all. No Song or American Tree flitting around the brush like last time. We crossed the pedestrian bridge and continued along the path. I was beginning to think it may still be too early for Fox Sparrow until a small reddish-brown bird flew low, across our path. We observed the sparrow for a few minutes as it kicked the leaf litter around by the edge of the pond. We continued to follow the bird with our binoculars as it jumped in and out of view in the brush. For the third year in a row, we observed Fox Sparrow on this short trail. Only 1 this year though, #78 for the year list. Hopefully the decreasing quantity with every year is not a trend that will continue next year.
Before returning to our car, we paused to watch 2 brightly coloured male American Goldfinches singing for the affections of 1 female. An American Tree Sparrow was seen sitting in a tree. We should return to Martindale Pond soon, either here or at Jaycee Park overlooking the Henley. We need to add Caspian Tern to the year list and they can be found in this area by Lake Ontario. After that, warblers will pass through. So stay tuned for the results of our lifer warbler pursuit.