Saturday, January 15, 2011

Birding the Upper Niagara

January 3

The first Monday in January was a holiday for Jean and I so we spent the afternoon birding along the upper Niagara River. A variety of waterfowl are found along this corridor during the winter months and I needed only one for my Bird-A-Day challenge. This day, I was leaning towards Tundra Swan.

We stopped at the feeders in Chippawa before starting our Parkway drive. It's great to see that the house on the north side of the street has returned to filling their feeders.

If the ducks and swans were not found due to some odd or unlikely event, I could always use one of the feeder visitors for my January 3 observation. The usual suspects were seen, including Red-bellied Woodpecker and the ever-so-cute Tufted Titmouse. With the backups ticked, it was time to scan the Niagara River for waterfowl.

Travelling along the Niagara Parkway towards Fort Erie we found our first group of Tundra Swans (22) close to the river bank near Service Road #17.

A pair of Redheads were sticking close to the flock.

A few more Tundras at Baker's Creek as well a small float of Greater Scaup and a modest amount of Canvasback. The numbers of Canvasback increased to staggering amounts as we continued our journey up river. The horror! I don't think I'll attempt to count that massive float of Canvasback. There were hundreds upon hundreds of this species. Nearing Service Rd #7, Jean spotted a large raptor flying above the river. As I pulled into a parking area, the bird headed inland but we were able to observe the white tail feathers and white head of an adult Bald Eagle. Oh yeah, more swans seen here as well.

Looking for new waterfowl for the year, we found a few Common Goldeneye with 40 Tundra Swans.

A greater number of Tundra Swans can usually be found near Miller's Creek. There were a variety of waterfowl on the south side of the marina but Jean still managed to pick out a greatly outnumbered American Wigeon amongst the Canvasback, Mallard and Bufflehead.

Upon sighting the southern tip of Grand Island we turned around and headed back to the Falls. The birding day was almost over and I had a decision to make. Should I mark Tundra Swan as the next species for the Bird-A-Day challenge? That lone American Wigeon would be a good choice. The Tundra Swans will be on the river next weekend.

But there was no way I could pass on the Bald Eagle. Jean and I observed this species only 5 times last year so it could be weeks, possibly months before I see another eagle. Without further debate, Bald Eagle was selected for the third day of the challenge. I returned to work the next day and though the work week was shortened, the challenge of not to select House Sparrow or Starling too soon just got interesting.

No comments:

Post a Comment