Friday, July 24, 2009

June 22

Returning to the normality of birding in southern Ontario there have been few chances of adding a bird to the life list (especially in mid-July). Back to looking through the e-mail reports from the Ontario listserve. In the meantime, adding species to the provincial year list will suffice in order to match or exceed last year's total of 187 species.

Thanks to John Black and Kayo Roy (we tested the field trip and hot spot sections of their soon to be published Niagara Birds book), we now know where to readily find the grassland species, Grasshopper Sparrow. We had ticked our lifer Ammodramus savannarum in June of last year (much to the delight of the author of this section, the directions worked) in an area bordering the east side of the Welland Canal. On Wednesday afternoon we returned to the same location.

Walking into the grassland we observed a common sight for this time of year, a Red-tailed Hawk pursued by a Red-winged Blackbird.

It would not be long (approximately 50 metres from the road) before we spotted our first Grasshopper Sparrow of the day. We ticked a total of 4 of the grassland species in this small area. Entering this number on eBird Canada prompted a confirmation request (4 is an excellent count....). Really? I'm slightly surprised but there must be a valid reason for the confirmation.

Walking up the slight rise we continued our search for grassland species.

Looking east from our location.

No more Grasshopper Sparrows were found but a Northern Harrier entertained Jean and I as it soared nearby, repeatedly disappearing and then reappearing from behind some trees.

Further up the path a family of Wild Turkeys (2 adult & 4 young) zig-zagged across the trail to avoid further detection. Having found the bird we sought Jean and I returned to our car and encountered a few individuals of this yellow critter with spots.

Orange Sulphur, Colias eurytheme

Our next stop was a wetland habitat where we were greeted by a lone Great Blue Heron.

Further along the long narrow pond an adult Pied-billed Grebe cared for 3 young.

A hydro canal (and a road maintained by the local power company) runs parallel to the pond for a few hundred metres before emptying into a larger waterway. The larger bodies of water (where I fished in the summer months & played hockey in the winter months in my youth)eventually enter a water treatment facility (yes the Welland Canal is the source of our drinking water) and a hydro generating station atop the Niagara Escarpment.

Walking along the gravel road we found 18 species of birds including, Common Yellowthroat (3) and Eastern Wood-Pewee (2) but no additions for the 2009 Ontario list.

No worries. By comparison, we are still ahead of the 2008 list. Thursday (a crucial t.t. in the Tour) we would continue our search for additions to the 2009 list but with 2 extra pairs of eyes, Jean's father (Frank) and partner (Ruth).

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