Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Beautiful Day

It's a beautiful day
Don't let it get away
Beautiful Day

During the week of June 30, the nation's birthday shortened the work-week on Thursday July 1 and when there is day off, Jean and I usually spend part of that day birding.

On June 30, the Ontario year list stood at 163 species. The last 2 additions were incidentals and they are described on eBird Canada as "observations made when birding was not your primary purpose." We spotted a Great Egret in flight as we headed for the Canada-U.S. border for a day at the Buffalo Zoo with our niece and nephew. Though it was not a birding trip, I started a New York list with some usual suspects. A Peregrine Falcon was #163 and it could not have been an easier tick. Jean and I were sitting on the back steps after a day's work when a bird flew towards us from the east. For a brief moment I thought the bird was very large for a dove but as it past over our position and then our house, there was no doubt that we had seen a Peregrine Falcon.

OK. So we knew we would be birding on Dominion Day but the question was where? An e-mail settled the dilemma quite easily. The weekly Hamilton Naturalists Club birding report came through on Ontbirds and informed all that some good birds were seen in the fields surrounding the Dofasco Trail on 10th Road East near Hamilton. Birds needed for the year list included, Willow Flycatcher, Field Sparrow and Black-billed Cuckoo. So off to Saltfleet we went.

Prior to this latest visit, Jean and I have birded the area surrounding 10th Road East a handful of times. All due to reports on Ontbirds.

In July of 2007, we observed a lifer Eurasian Collared-Dove at the intersection of Ridge Road and Fifty Road (east of 10th Road E). The dove was the second record for the Hamilton area and fourth for the province of Ontario. Later that year, we returned to the area on Boxing Day to view a Northern Hawk Owl (lifer #227). The owl stayed in the area for quite some time and we ticked it again in late January for the 2008 year list.

July 1 was the first time we hiked along the Dofasco Trail. The trail is used for cycling,walking and cross-country skiing and provides good vantage points for observing shorebirds resting in the flooded fields in the spring. From the 10th Rd parking area, we walked east along the trail.

American Goldfinches were plentiful.

No Field Sparrow along this section of the trail but a Savannah Sparrow sat still long enough for a digiscoped image.

Many Song Sparrows were observed as well.

After a short break and an exchange of lifers seen over the past year with another birding couple, Jean and I walked along the trail west of 10th Road.

Still no Field Sparrow. More Eastern Kingbirds and quite a few more Song Sparrows.

We decided to turn around before reaching 8th Road East. West of 8th Rd. the trail continues, cutting through Vinemount Swamp and eventually reaching the Devil's Punch Bowl. We thought it best be left for another day, when we are more prepared for a mosquito infested environment. On the way back to the car, Eastern Meadowlark and Bobolink were observed in the field north of the trail. The best bird of the day was right on the trail. A Brown Thrasher!

For all of 2009, we went without observing this species. "Bummer.", another birder I recognized from OFO trips replied upon hearing of my thrasher woes. Though we had ticked a thrasher during the Carden Alvar trip, I was thrilled to get a closer look at this bird as it strolled along the gravel path.

No additions to the year list on this hike. Field Sparrow and Black-billed Cuckoo remain to be ticked. But as it was Canada Day, it still turned out to be a beautiful day. Happy Canada Day José! Wherever you are.

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