Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Solstice Tick or Two

Not only was it the first day of summer but it was also the first day of my week's vacation. A week that will surely be filled with viewing World Cup matches. I had some concert tickets to pick up at the Jackson Triggs winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake so a short stop at Niagara Shores on Lake Ontario before returning home would add an easy tick to the year list.

Only 2 eastern species in the family Hirundinidae remain to be ticked and as we approached the parking area through the trees, I could see a small number of swallows flying in the blue sky straight ahead. We walked to the edge of the bluff and viewed 100+ Bank Swallows collecting insects above the still water of Lake Ontario before entering nesting holes to feed their young.

Rather than walk to the eastern edge of the nature area to observe birds in the scrubland of the former Department of National Defence lands (there were too many dogs running loose), we walked westward towards the pond. A family of Belted Kingfisher were resting on the fallen trees on the beach, the male occasionally leaving its post to chase away another kingfisher trespassing on its territory.

We observed an unexpected tick as we looked out on to the lake. Well, I really should not be surprised at this time of year. Though not close to shore, we could see 4 Common Terns flying towards St. Catharines. A Caspian Tern flew very close to shore, giving us a great view of how its large orange bill differs from that of the Common Tern.

Not much action at the pond. Could it be the dog and its accompanying human (throwing sticks into the lake) were responsible? Red-winged Blackbird, Grackles and a couple of Yellow Warblers were all we could find.

So after a quick 60 minutes of birding at Niagara Shores, I obtained two ticks when I was only expecting one. The remaining member of the swallow family left to observe is the Purple Martin. We have a spot in Fort Erie where we can check out some martin houses. Hopefully, there will be shorebird or two as well.

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