Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Wet and Mild New Year

It was not your normal New Year's Day in southern Ontario. A combination of unseasonably warm temperatures and rain melted the snow cover overnight.

The first bird observed for in 2011 was a Black-capped Chickadee at our feeder.

In the afternoon it continued to rain so we decided to check out a few feeders, including the St. Johns feeder that had the Christmas Day Eastern Towhee. If it was still there, it would be a nice New Year tick and a great start to the Bird-A-Day challenge (more on that later).

The annual St. Catharines Cycling Club New Year's Day ride looked to be a wet one. Driving to west St. Catharines we saw club member Marv Srigley on his way to the fish and chip shop (the traditional start for cycling club rides). Despite the rain, he smiled when I honked the horn and waved.

The feeders on 5th Avenue were gone. Hopefully it's only temporary. All we found were House Sparrows in the tangle of branches by the roadside.

Nothing unusual at our first stop in the Town of Pelham. Continuing on to the next feeder and still hoping for Northern Shrike, we ticked a Northern Harrier as it flew over a field to our left and Northern Mockingbird (2) in the trees to our right.

Wild Turkeys were front and center at the feeders near Short Hills Provincial Park.

In St. Johns, we parked our car at the front gate of the conservation area and walked to the spot we viewed the feeders from on Christmas Day. We could see a birder viewing the feeders from his car. As he was leaving we discovered it was our friend Kayo (Niagara Falls CBC compiler). My posting of the Eastern Towhee on ontbirds sent him after the bird late last year and he was successful in finding it. Kayo has provided some great tips to Jean and I so we were glad we were able to return the favour. Unfortunately, neither Kayo or Jean and I ticked the towhee on New Year's Day.

Though the towhee was absent, Jean and I observed a worthwhile substitute. Approximately 24 Common Redpolls landed at the top of a deciduous tree on the property before quickly moving on.

With a day time high of 12 degrees Celsius, streams and small creeks were flowing freely.

After looking at feeders, we moved on to the small bodies of water in my home town of Thorold. At Lake Gibson, Mute Swan (2) and Common Merganser (1) were observed south of the Beaverdams Rd bridge. With my back turned, Jean chased after a bird she spotted in the brush.

Jean? Where you going? What did you see? Something but we could not find it again.

Not many waterfowl at all in the open spots of Lake Gibson. North of the bridge, all we could find was one male Bufflehead.
The water from Lake Gibson flows through a hydro channel to Lake Moodie and we found a variety of waterfowl on the man-made lake. Hooded Mergansers, Canvasbacks and Ring-necked Ducks were the highlights.
In the background of the image below is Brock University's Schmon Tower. The crane to the right of the tower is used in the construction of the the new Brock Health and Bioscience complex. The campus has certainly changed since Jean and I walked along the Thistle corridor.

At the Morning Star Mill it was evident that there had been a considerable amount of rain. The water from Lake Gibson was flowing high at Decew Falls.

Though wet, the first day of 2011 produced some good birds. More were to come. On January 2 we participated in the Port Colborne Christmas Bird Count for the first time. We just might obtain a personal best for our winter list.

1 comment:

  1. My New Year's day was disappointing! Dense fog and rain all along Lake Erie, but inland it was fine. I went to Point Pelee for the second year in a row to be the first one at the Tip. Couldn't see a thing!
    Hardly a Redpoll here yet.