Only a few days had past since the attempt to tick Mountain Bluebird for my provincial list. With the lack of positive reports on ONTBIRDS, another try did not seem worthwhile. A report telling of the avian activity at La Salle Marina in Burlington caught my attention though. There were two species present that were not yet on the year list. So on Sunday, instead of exiting at Fifty Road to reach a winery where the only sky-blue observed was the sky itself, Jean and I continued along the QEW until we reached the marina on the north side of Burlington Bay in Halton Region. Travelling around the bay was left to those brave enough to run the 30 KM course on the sunny but freezing day.
At the beginning of the week, I listened to the local TV weatherman discuss the future forecast for the Around the Bay Road Race and then quickly forgot about the event until I approached the Burlington Skyway. "Northshore Boulevard closed?" "Oh yeah. The Around the Bay race." We had to cross the boulevard to reach the marina but it did not take that long for a gap to appear between the runners and we quickly crossed after getting the OK from a police officer.
I had not even stopped our vehicle when Jean called out the first of our two target species. "Horned Grebe straight ahead!" We were still in the car and Jean called out the second species. "...and Ruddy Duck over there."
Well, that was easy. What do we do now? There were a few Horned Grebes in the water near the boat launch and west of it, even more. The diving grebes proved very difficult to digiscope.
A male Ruddy Duck was more cooperative.
After viewing Greater Scaup, Common Goldeneye and a couple of White-winged Scoter we scanned the always present gaggle, east of the marina.
We walked along the Waterfront Trail and observed a few more species before calling it a day. Ticking our target species, especially the grebe, helped keep us ahead of last year's pace. Horned Grebe was not observed in 2010.
Later that evening, I checked e-mails and read a report posted by our birding friend Kayo that caught my interest. No, it was not the Mountain Bluebird. This was for a finch species that we have only observed once and was another bird that remained off of last year's list. 210+ in 2011 is starting to look good.