With hopes of viewing Common Nighthawk in flight, Jean and I went to the Wetland Ridge Trail Sunday evening. A previous attempt to view a calling nighthawk during a non-birding evening ended in an addition to the year list without seeing the bird.
We arrived at 7:30 PM and had less than an hour of daylight to observe any birds in or around the lagoons. Two people were leaving as we entered and informed us of 2 juvenile Black-crowned Night-herons in the branches of a dead tree in the far corner of the nature area. Sure enough they were still there when we setup the scope. There was insufficient light to digiscope an image of the birds.
We could see a Green Heron at the far end of the north lagoon so we headed that way to get a closer look. The light was fading fast and the heron had left. Only 2 Killdeer remained on the mat of algae. As if in sync, the mosquitoes started biting as the Common Nighthawks began calling. Walking back more nighthawks were heard calling. In a Sumac, less than 10 feet from where we stood, the sixth Common Nighthawk of the evening called loudly. With the little amount of light that was left, Jean and I could not spot the bird in the nearby tree. Though we heard a total of 9 nighthawks without observing any, the night was not wasted. While straining to observe the Common Nighthawk in the Sumac I spotted another bird perched on a hydro tower as I looked back towards the call of another nighthawk. That's an odd looking hawk, I thought. It had its back towards us and when it turned its head around it revealed itself to be a Great Horned Owl. Though we observed a pair (and two young) earlier this year, this was only our third observation of this species of owl. Enough light remained for a scope view of the owl and we were able to make out its white collar.
We left the Wetland Ridge with nighthawks still calling. It was if they were teasing us. As on two previous occasions (back yard and Wetland Ridge) we will most likely observe Common Nighthawks in flight when we least suspect.
Before leaving for the Marshville Heritage Festival, a report of a Snow Goose (with a number of Canada Geese) had Jean and I stopping at the Green Ribbon Trail in Port Dalhousie. At first no geese could be found on Richardson's Creek or Martindale Pond. A flock of Canada Geese flew overhead but did not contain the white goose we sought. More flocks flew overhead, some deciding to land in the waters by the trail. Hey, this group coming in has a white goose in it! Unfortunately it was only a domestic goose.
A Green Heron was perched very close to the trail. Despite the branches Jean managed to get some good images of the bird.
The 2 Wood Ducks we observed earlier were now resting on a log.
As were the many turtles in the pond.
Leaving the trail a photographer pointed towards a large Rat Snake on the bank of the pond. We discussed spotting scopes and digiscoping (with the photographer not the snake) and then Jean and I headed to the other side of the Niagara Region to spend part of the day at the Marshville Festival.
On the way home we stopped at a pond near Port Colborne. I was hoping for shorebirds but the water levels were too high. Though there were no shorebirds there were a few wading birds. An adult Black-crowned Night-heron was flying away as we approached the pond. Towards the south end of the pond, 2 Great Egrets and a Great Blue Heron were busy hunting for prey while 2 juvenile Black-crowned Night-herons stood still on the edge of the pond. Red-winged Blackbirds flew back and forth between the reeds and the field of corn across the road.
Autumn Wild Onion, Allium stellatum
That was it for birding during the long weekend. For shorebirds we will have to plan a day of birding along the shore of Lake Erie in the next few weeks. You never know what you may find. Last year's highlight was the Curlew Sandpiper. Let's hope there will be another Eurasian visitor this fall.