Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Hey Rocky! Watch Me Pull a Pintail Out of My Hat!

Now that the excitement and controversy of viewing the Phainopepla has subsided (whom am I trying to kid), I finished up the following post of our hike to Woodend Conservation Area.

November 8

Sunday's weather was even more wonderful than that encountered during my Saturday hike. The thermometer reached 20 degrees Celsius while Jean and I were hiking at Woodend Conservation Area Sunday afternoon. The seasonal high in southern Ontario at this time of year is 7 degrees! No wonder there were many cars parked along the roadway of the conservation area. Everyone was out for hike, not just birders looking to add to their year list.

We started walking east on the Bruce Trail, near the entrance to Woodend, and found dozens of American Robins flying from tree to tree. The trail descends the Niagara Escarpment at the west end of the conservation area, meeting with the Wetland Ridge Side Trail. Our plan was to take the side trail to view the lagoons of the Wetland Ridge Trail. Walking further east along this section of the Bruce Trail will be left for another day.

South of the side trail is the Niagara Escarpment.

To the north, (hidden behind the tall grass) a vineyard and the campus of Niagara College.

As we hiked to the lagoons of Wetland Ridge (I was a few paces ahead of Jean) a flash of brown glided between Jean and I. As I do not have eyes in the back of my head I did not see what passed between the two of us. What Jean saw was no bird. When the animal grabbed onto the tree trunk, Jean immediately exclaimed, "Bob, it's a flying squirrel!". It was 3:00 PM and very sunny. What was this nocturnal creature doing outside of its home?

Jean was able to capture some great images of the rarely observed Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans).

I never grow tired of looking at the exposed layers of rock on the Niagara Escarpment.

Arriving at the Wetland Ridge we walked along the south end of the lagoons. No waterfowl in the south lagoon.

Walking on the path between the two lagoons revealed that all the waterfowl were in the north lagoon. Over 30 Bufflehead and a pair of Northern Pintail were found.

The college has placed a different style of Wood Duck nesting boxes in the lagoons. A hollowed out roll of hay supported by a triangular frame.

Though the colours have fallen from the majority of the trees on the escarpment it was a great day for a November hike.

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