April 17 2018 Northern Mockingbird singing catbird, green frog & other calls near parking lot; Eastern Phoebe with beautiful male Myrtle YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER around pond at bottom of GD Trail; American Woodcock scared up at top of GD forest right beside path — rich body colour, wing twittering heard; recent turkey tracks following path in GD forest (included in count because tracks were so fresh but we couldn’t see it — any rule about this? We defer to higher authorities :)). We met Peter & Alex finishing their CC transect where they saw a Woodcock right beside the path near Hickory Valley Platform — funny that we failed to find it minutes later but saw one on GD anyway. A fun cold morning!
After a late storm
April 17 2018. Cold SW wind and hard crunchy snow/ice on trails. The continued freeze and snow cover has forced many birds to find food in and around soft wet areas and the shoreline. We found two American Woodcocks, one at the bottom of the hill near the fenced garden, the other along the trail at a low area of permanent water. ( The American Woodcock (27-31cm) is smaller than the Eurasian (33-38cm inc’l bill)
Also notable were Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Blue-winged Teal and a pair of American Wigeon
Captain Cootes Route – much better than expected
April 13 2018. On this cold, grey (but dry!) morning 2 very nice volunteers, Dolores and Sandra, provided much appreciated skill in finding and counting 47 species with 765 birds in total! Highlights were 2 full adult Bald Eagles and a pair of Horned Grebes. One eagle carried a fish in its claws – to a nest perhaps?
Cold light wind but very birdy along the shore with about 100 of each Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck and Double-crested Cormorant. Also one Pied-billed Grebe, 1 flyover Common Loon, 1 Caspian Tern, 11 Tree Swallows, 2 pairs of Ring-necked Ducks, 3 White-throated Sparrows with one in full song, and 3 sightings of Osprey from different locations along the shore, one hovering repeatedly over the island area — very nice to watch. A good birding day ahead of the ice storm!
Grey Doe route with bad weather expected.
April 13th. 2018. With a nasty rain and freezing-rain system on its way it would be tempting to think the birds have all left town. It sure felt like it today, only 22 species, but where could they run to?
April can be so brutal. I remember about 3 years ago that April delivered almost non-stop rain and cold. So this is normal – which is why the neo-tropical migrants know to stay away until May. I have come to expect Baltimore Orioles to appear on May 5, sometimes the 3rd, I’m waiting.
Best today (for me) was a singing Winter Wren – I could watch and listen to them all day. But a couple of Eastern Phoebes were welcome too (only one on the transect route, in Long Valley.)
Hamilton Naturalists’ Club and Longwatch Hike
Ten days makes a difference
Our bleak March 20th. Spring Equinox transects stand in contrast to the transects done yesterday and today (30th & 31st). Just ten days have elapsed but now our observers are seeing 30 to 35 species. On Grey Doe yesterday nine Turkey Vultures and the first Killdeers. Along Captain Cootes trail were a Horned Grebe and the songs of Song Sparrows, American tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. On Cherry Hill route today a single Tree Swallow – early but not record-early. It’s a start.
Spring Equinox – sounds promising but…
March 20 2018. As a sort of fun event to celebrate the Spring Equinox we sent teams out to do ‘warm up’ transects of each of our three routes. One clear theme emerged – it was far too cold for either birds or birding.
David, on his own, walked the Captain Cootes transect, heading right into the teeth of a bitter east wind. Still he recorded 23 species overall including an American Crow carrying a stick which he noted as some kind of harbinger of spring. Lyn and Deb, on the Grey Doe route, were a little better sheltered from the wind but its roaring in the tree tops made birding by ear out of the question. They too recorded 23 species including one Song Sparrow and one Northern Flicker and you can easily persuade yourself that both are early migrants (Something we live for these days.) Ross, Sheena and Peter birded the Cherry Hill route which took us out of the wind. We had the impromtu company of a grandmother and her two grandsons, Elon (9) is an enthusiastic future birder with a passion for seeking out vultures. The boys were entertaining if distracting and the best we could come up with was 17 species with the help of 43 Mallards
There are better days to come.
2018 Spring a look ahead
Two things happening on March 20th.
- A Spring Equinox Transect. We’ll cover all three routes and record our data mostly for the sociability and as a warm up. Use the contact link if you want more information.
- We will meet afterwards at the RBG Nature Centre for sandwiches and, at one 0 clock, a preview of the season ahead.
Water levels on Cootes Paradise are normal – at least not as crazy as last spring; not yet anyway
Large flocks of Tundra Swans stopped over on Cootes Paradise last Thursday night (March 1).
Long Watch Fall 2017 season draws to a close.
It’s been a rather mixed fall. We’ve seen a lot of unusually warm weather with mid-September temperatures in the low 30s (Celsius) -or about 85 F. Birders have been anxiously watching and hoping for changes in conditions, especially anticipated are cold fronts from the north-west to stir things up.
It’s now mid October and most birds that head south have gone. We’re seeing White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes and a few lingering Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warblers. Any day now Dark-eyed Juncos and Fox Sparrows should show up.