Saturday, May 23, 2009

Victoria Day Birding

On the holiday Monday Jean and I returned to the section of the Merritt Trail we birded on May 14. That day we did not reach the pond. So on Victoria Day we would start at the south end of the trail to look for any herons hunting along the edges of the small pond, its water levels controlled by the adjacent Twelve Mile Creek. If we had arrived sooner, we most likely would have ticked a Black-crowned Night-heron. Before we reached the pond, a photographer showed us a photo of the heron he took earlier that morning. Unfortunately it was no longer there.

All that we found near the pond were two families of Canada Geese, one family resting on the path that separates the creek from the pond.

While we surveyed the pond, Jean's Dad and his partner Ruth were slowly approaching us. They were on their daily hike and clean up along the trail. Frank and Ruth should be commended for the work they do in keeping the trail clean. Every day is Earth Day to them.

They would leave us to continue picking up any trash while we searched for any new birds for the year list. As you travel north along the trail, the pond on the left narrows and fills in with brush and fallen trees, becoming quite boggy. From this environment we would hear a short, one note call. Our best vantage point was off the trail in an open area of the woods where the bog-like habitat ends. We would eventually spot the bird, as it moved under and between the decaying logs, slowly noting each distinguishing field mark. The light yellow eyebrow, dull pink legs and constant bobbing of its tail clinched the i.d. of this thrush-like bird. We have observed Swainson's Thrush and the warbler Louisiana Waterthrush on this trail in the past but this time we had a another species of warbler, the Northern Waterthrush (#143).

We continued our walk north along the Merritt Trail and found a pair of Wood Duck on the opposite side of the creek near an outtake pipe below the General Motors plant. Jean and I would eventually catch up to her Dad and Ruth and accompany them to the spot where we had observed a woodpecker pair a few days ago. Once again, we would see the Red-headed Woodpeckers flying from tree to tree. Other than the two Cedar Waxwings (#144) in a flowering Hawthorn, no other new birds were seen this day. I did not realize that these waxwings were our first sighting for 2009 until entering the day's observations on eBird Canada. We have yet to see our lifer Bohemian Waxwing but we'll have to wait until the winter months in this part of the country. Comparing sightings from last year, we are ahead by 12 species. Here's to maintaining that gap.

On the way back we would stop and find the Northern Waterthrush for Frank and Ruth to observe. In return, they would show us a ditch that a beaver had created south of the pond. The gnawed trees along the trail also provide evidence of a beaver's presence on the creek.

A day of birding done, we would join Frank and Ruth for lunch discussing the birds and other wildlife we have encountered so far this year. I'm not sure if we'll return to this trail soon. To get more warblers there are some better spots in the region. Please be patient, our warbler encounters will soon be posted.

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