Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bird-A-Day Challenge:On Ducks and Creepers

A previous visit to the marina in Port Dalhousie revealed a few good birds that could be easily added to my Bird-A-Day challenge list during the work week. So the plan for the third week of the challenge was to stop at the Dalhousie Yacht Club, pick a species and go home. From Monday to Thursday I ticked American Coot, Canvasback, Common Goldeneye and American Black Duck. On the Friday, I was scheduled to close the building so no chance of adding another marina pick. I settled for a visitor at the backyard feeder, a Dark-eyed Junco. For the weekend, I had a target bird in mind. The bird was reported on ontbirds earlier in the week and observed at Dufferin Islands Nature Area in Niagara Falls. The bird was a Northern Pintail.

On the Saturday, Jean and I went to the Falls to observe the reported duck. As we approached the pond in the west end of the nature area, it appeared the Northern Pintail was not there. No open water and I suspected that the ducks sitting on the ice were most likely all Mallards.

To my surprise, the Northern Pintail flew across the road in front of our vehicle as we arrived at the parking area near the pond. The male pintail was not afraid of the people feeding the Mallards nor of us and we could approach it closely after it returned to its original location to feed with the Mallards by the frozen pond.

We turned our binoculars towards the birds on the wooded slope but the Northern Pintail wanted to be the center of attention.

I have never seen a duck, other than a Wood Duck, resting on such a narrow perch.

The many birds seen on the slope were also looking for handouts and at times were in your face. American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos were on the ice as well as the slope. It seemed they were everywhere.
Mourning Dove

Black-capped Chickadee

Northern Cardinal

Downy Woodpecker

"Hey, where's that Northern Pintail?"

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Jean and I left Dufferin Islands and parked the car at the nearby Niagara Parks Greenhouse. We crossed the Niagara Parkway for another attempt of scanning for the nemesis bird on the Niagara River.

What a shocker. No Purple Sandpiper. In the large trees near the Engineerium though, Jean spotted a Brown Creeper and heard a second calling from a neighbouring tree.

Both the Northern Pintail and Brown Creeper were added to the year list and if I Jean had not observed the creeper, the somewhat tame pintail would have been added for the 22nd day of the Bird-A-Day challenge. I selected Brown Creeper because I planned on returning to Dufferin Islands the next day. The Northern Pintail would still be there, right?

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