Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Day Off Calls for an Afternoon of Birding

A recent article in the St. Catharines Standard not only prompted a May 28 posting but also reminded me that I had yet to visit Niagara Shores this year. The last time we were there was during the Niagara Falls Christmas Bird Count and we did not get far. Travelling in John Black's car we would get stuck in the snow and ice that covered the gravel road. Our time was spent freeing the car with the help of additional birders following in a second vehicle . Once we freed the automobile we would continue our count elsewhere.

With the snow long gone and a temperature well above freezing, we picked up some meatloaf sandwiches from a local take-out restaurant and headed for the conservation area to sit under the shade of the trees and look out onto Lake Ontario, observing a large number of the latest species to be added to the year list, the main purpose for this visit.

300+ Bank Swallows (#150 for the year) were flying above the lake and the conservation area while we ate our lunch.

Before we would finish and start exploring the park, an Osprey (#151) was observed flying along the shoreline, in an easterly direction, towards the old town.

We descended a path in the 200-300 metre wide bluff to reach lake level. As you can see, the Bank Swallows are living up to their name.

It was tedious and down right impossible to capture an image of the swallows as they entered an exited their nest burrows. We'll let John Madden take over on the play by play of the next image.

"Thanks Bob. Another beautiful day in the Niagara Region and today we are looking at some bluffs along the Lake Ontario shoreline, close to the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. What we got here Bob, is 2 Riparia riparia in a pattern to enter their nests. They are totally oblivious to the humans on the beach. A third Bank Swallow, from what I can determine, has exited its nest to join the hundreds of other swallows flying above. I don't like the looks of this bank over here. What's it like to be a Bank Swallow flying through the air, capturing insects on the fly and returning to the nest, I don't even want to think about! It freaks me out! Back to you Bob."

"Thanks John." Jean and I returned to the open field above the beach and headed for the fence line dividing the conservation area from the Parks Canada land. I believe the proposed amphitheatre will be further east, on the former rifle range of the Department of the Defence.

Yellow Warbler were observed while walking the foot path along the fence. The many trees to the right and large amount of brush on the left provide an excellent environment for birds. Some staying well hidden. The territorial call of a male Ring-necked Pheasant was heard as we walked further along the path but the brushy area was too thick for any chance of viewing it.

A Magnolia Warbler popped out of this tree on the other side of the fence.

No other warblers this day.

Returning to the parking lot, we walked along the edge of the open field bordering the forested section of the conservation area. A Warbling Vireo and Indigo Bunting would finish off our day of birding here.

A quick stop at some settling ponds on the way home produced no new shorebirds for the year. 3 Semipalmated Sandpiper, 4 Spotted Sandpiper, and 1 Lesser Yellowlegs were spotted along the edges of one pond. The other pond's water level was rather high and only contained families of Canada Geese.

To my surprise, I had picked up a hitchhiker, most likely during the visit to the conservation area. The grass was quite long along the fence line. While entering the day's observations on eBird Canada, I felt something crawling under my shirt sleeve. Yep, a Brown Dog Tick. Damn, I hate those things. Once you find one tick, you think every little itch felt is another. Ah, the perils of birding.

No comments:

Post a Comment