Saturday, November 27, 2010


November 21

At this time of year the amount of daylight hours we can take advantage of are greatly reduced. Throw in a 5 day work week and you find your birding limited to the weekend. On Friday November 19, I received the weekly Hamilton Naturalists Club Birding Report on Ontbirds. 2 species of scoter and Red-throated Loons were present off Lawrence P Sayers Park in Stoney Creek earlier in the week. All were needed for the year list and one would be a lifer if we were lucky enough to observe it.

Though the park is the size of a postage stamp and surrounded by the larger yards of private residences, it still provides a good view of the lake. Without public accesses, this would be a sad world indeed.

As I was setting up the scope we could see Common Merganser and many Common Golden-eye on the lake. Our first species of scoter was seen approximately 150 metres from shore. The small flock was in flight, their white secondaries easily observed. White-winged Scoter and already on the year list.

There was a strong northeast wind and at times the waterfowl would disappear between the waves.

To identify a bird we would have to wait until it reappeared near the crest of the wave. We spotted our second scoter species. This one we studied for some time since it was mixed in with a few White-winged Scoters. The scoter was all black with no sign of a white comma-shaped patch surrounding the eye. We've done it! #200 for the year list and lifer #303 was a Black Scoter. The tick was quickly followed by #201. Further out on the lake, we could see a black scoter with white patches on its nape and forehead. A Surf Scoter!

No loons were seen while at Sayers Park so we travelled east (less than 1 kilometre) to Green Road. North of the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) there are a few roads that end at the Lake Ontario shoreline that provide a good vantage point for finding waterfowl.

A few White-winged Scoter were observed close to the shoreline.

More Surf Scoters and Long-tailed Ducks but no sign of Common or Red-throated Loons.

Our time was limited so we left the region of Hamilton thrilled to have met our goal. 40 days remain before the list resets itself to zero and we start this mad obsession once again. Can we reach 205? Possibly 210? We'll try. There are still a few target birds we need including a couple of gull species (Lesser Black-backed and California). Perfect. The next attempt at adding to the list will be the OFO Niagara River Gull Watch.


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