In addition to the usual species, there were a number of Redhead and a couple of Ring-necked Ducks. Both species were ticked along the Niagara River on previous occasions. In fact, the Redhead was chosen the day before after a failed attempt to find wintering Tundra Swans. A recent WNY Buffalo bird report on ontbirds indicated that the Tundras are still on the river. I simply picked the wrong spot to look for them. But apparently, luck was on my side the holiday Monday. To the naked eye, it appeared there were more Mute Swans than the usual pair. A closer look through the scope revealed that the six additional swans (adults and 1 juvenile) were another Cygnus species, Tundra Swans.
On Sunday, I thought a new spot that was not too far from St. Kitts might produce a waterfowl species I had yet to tick for the challenge.
Jean and I went to Vineland to look at the ducks on Lake Ontario, a stop for the MNR Duck Count. Waterfowl observed included White-winged Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser and the species I was looking for, Greater Scaup.
A male Long-tailed Duck diving while a female Greater Scaup is content with taking it easy.
For the moment, the scaup was the bird of the day. Travelling home, I drove along the rural roads in the Town of Lincoln, up and then down the Niagara Escarpment, in search of Eastern Bluebirds. Jean and I have not observed this species of thrush since the Port Colborne CBC on January 2. That day, a Rough-legged Hawk made the list.
No bluebirds on the Sunday afternoon drive but at the edge of a field, a member of the family Mimidae stood at the top of a small tree. Northern Mockingbird replaced the Greater Scaup for the bird of the day.
On Monday February 28, I returned to Vineland after work. The Greater Scaups were still there. Aythya marila was the last species for the Bird-A-Day challenge. The next day I had an appointment in the early evening and I decided the best chance of continuing the challenge in March was to look for a Herring Gull below Lock One on the Welland Canal. I had cast the dice. On previous visits, I observed Herring, Glaucous and Great Black-backed Gulls but this day, all I could find were Ring-billed Gulls standing on the ice. East of the canal, Jones Beach was no different. The distant gulls appeared to be Ring-billed as well. After one last futile attempt, driving home along the empty Welland Canal (water and gulls), my Bird-A-Day challenge came to an end. Even if I had observed a Herring Gull, I could not see it lasting much longer. One or two more ticks but I'm certain I could not have taken the challenge into an eighth week.
With the Bird-A-Day challenge set aside until next year, I can now work on adding species to the 2011 Ontario list. Thankfully, there are some OFO trips and BOS counts coming up. February was slow for additions but that was due to a well birded January. Jean and I currently stand at 75 species, a number we did not reach until March 21 last year. In addition to the trips, the ontbirds report will be helpful, especially if the reported bird, one such as a Great Horned Owl, is in the Niagara Region.