Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Thankful Count Part I

Two weeks ago was Thanksgiving. An extra day off, spending time with family and turkey dinners with a full day of birding thrown into the mix.

Jean and I did not attend the Hamilton OFO trip this year. It was a busy weekend and we decided to assist John Black with the Buffalo Ornithological Society (BOS) Fall Count on Sunday October 10.

We checked out a few spots as a group before heading to our assigned areas.

At the Parmalat sewage lagoons, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Palm Warbler were spotted in the trees. We walked along the farm road and found a sparrow species that we did not observe in Inverhuron. In the reeds lining the ditch at the side of the laneway, we observed 4 Swamp Sparrows (#197).

As we were returning to our cars, a member of our group pointed to a falcon perched on the hydro line on the west side of Stewart Road.

A beautiful Fall morning in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

It was a Peregrine Falcon.

We observed the bird for a couple of minutes and followed it as it left its perch and flew north towards a residence with bird feeders. The falcon missed a Mourning Dove but quickly grabbed another bird without any hesitation. What happened next was interesting. The Peregrine Falcon did not carry its prey to the nearest utility pole. It turned around and headed south. I followed it using the scope until it reached the Garden City Skyway and landed at the base of a light standard.

The falcon had carried its heavy prey approximately 2 kilometres. The benefit of taking its kill to the skyway? On a utility pole the falcon would be in the open. The structure of the skyway offers some protection from a much larger Red-Tailed Hawk with thoughts of stealing the falcon's meal.

We moved on to the Lake Ontario shore before Jean and I set off to cover our area. At Jones Beach we found the usual waterfowl, Mallards, Canada Geese with a few Mute Swan and a couple of unidentified teal species.

Slightly west of the public beach is the Port Weller East Pier. While Kayo and Brian drove to the tip, the rest of us walked along the seaway road. Not a great variety of migrants. Kinglets, White-throated Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers flitted in the brush on both sides of the road. John pointed out a couple of Rusty Blackbirds as they flew overhead and Jean, Paula and I viewed a Sharpie quickly fly by, land in a distant tree and take off as soon as I got the scope on it.

The most interesting sight while walking along the east pier was a young American Kestrel dining on an unknown passerine.

Birding was done east of the Welland Canal and it was time to cover our own areas. With only three ticks needed to reach 200 species for 2010, Jean and I set off for the Niagara Escarpment and our first planned stop. I was hoping the fall colours would not be too distracting.

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