Monday, May 18, 2009

An Evening Stroll Along the Twelve

Last thursday evening Jean and I walked on the Merritt Trail along Twelve Mile Creek. Red-headed Woodpecker and warblers (any warbler would do) were the target birds.

Overlooking the creek's flood plain we would spot our first warbler, a female Black-throated Blue Warbler (#129 for the year list), with a bit of persuasive pishing. We also viewed Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers on the brush and tree lined slope.

No other species of warbler would be seen but it was still a productive hour and 15 minutes of birding. We reached the point of the trail where it changes direction, running parallel with the creek. More importantly, this is the spot we have observed Red-headed Woodpecker in the past. The feeders in the backyards of the townhouses behind us were empty and not attracting many birds but our eyes were focused on the trees. The leaves have yet to obscure a birder's eye view, perfect for spotting our quarry in the dead trees some distance away.

With some patience and Jean's keen eyes, we would add the Red-headed Woodpecker to our year list, #130 . It appeared in the trees a lot closer than I thought it would. Continuing down the trail we would tick our first flycatcher species of 2009, a Least Flycatcher (#131). The song of hidden Yellow Warblers in the greenery below the trail would continue to tease us as we searched in vain for additional species of warbler. Once again, Jean's reliable spotting abilities would find a Scarlet Tanager (#132), though not so close, in full view.

We reached the old trestle for the Niagara, St. Catharines Toronto Railway, where only the supports are a reminder of an interurban system once used to carry passengers to Port Dalhousie. A Canada Goose was making use of the middle support Thursday evening.

Returning along the trail we stopped at the spot where we had viewed the Scarlet Tanager. In its place, considerably closer, was an Eastern Wood-Pewee (#133). Moving on, an Indigo Bunting (#134) appeared on the trail, the easiest tick of the year so far. We located the Red-headed Woodpecker again and observed its mate join it on a branch in front of us. What an amazing view! In the past, the woodpecker has been closer to the creek, 100+ metres from the trail.

At home, waiting for our return and to be opened for the first time was a Birds and Beans bag of Guatemala Huehuetenango coffee. I hope the warblers show their appreciation over the next couple of weeks.

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