Showing posts from August, 2009

Some signs of autumnal activity

Another breezy morning visit to Rishton Reservoir produced a few more birds today. Lapwing numbers were down to just seven but there were a couple of Snipe and two Common Sandpipers feeding on the far bank. A flock of Pied Wagtails included mainly adult birds with a couple of juveniles but I was pleasantly surprised to see an adult White Wagtail amongst them.
On the water, there was little action with just the usual stuff present. Passerine activity was high though with a flock of four Blackcaps and plenty of Tits moving though. A couple of Linnets fed on the bank of the reservoir. Just two Sand Martins fed over the water.
Back home there have been large flocks of House Sparrows, Greenfinches and Goldfinches (all over 20 birds) and Great, Blue and Coal Tits have been visiting the feeders very regularly. It's difficult to say how many different birds are involved but I reckon it's quite a substatntial number - can't wait to get Mark back here in November. I've seen one ri…

Rishton Reservoir 29 Aug

With the strong winds buffetting the west coast and a bright morning, I thought I'd check on the local reservoir before my brother arrived. There was nothing much doing - as usual. No fishermen on the far bank, so there were some birds over there: 16 Coot, 17 Lapwing, a single Oystercatcher, several Gulls, mainly Black-headed with a few Herring and Lesser Black-backed and a couple of Cormorants.
Over the reservoir itself, Swallows, Sand and House Martins fed low over the water - the Sand Martins will probablby be heading off soon. An adult Great-crested Grebe fished the shallows with its two fully grown youngsters. the two young birds seemed to be practising display moves for a short while - alternate head shaking and synchronised diving; never noticed that before.
The garden birds must have wondered what had happened over the past few weeks with the lack of food. However, they're starting to return now - as is the male Sparrowhawk!

Some birds at last!

Things were rather quiet in the Toronto area with very little of note to see. The weather was hot and sultry and even early morning trips failed to turn anything up.
The final day in Toronto was a Saturday and as such, we could get onto Leslie Street Spit - a rather good birding area that is closed to the public during the week. The trees at the base of the spit held a few Philidelphia Vireos, Cedar Waxwings but not much else.
The main point of interest were the regular skeins of Double-crested Cormorants that flew over heading for the harbour - up to 2000 I estimated. Apparently, they're becoming a bit of a nuisance. A Black-billed Cuckoo showed quite well but too briefly for a photo.
The following day we left the family and headed for a couple of days in the Point Pelee area. Wheatley Harbour is the largest freshwater fishing port in the world! Consequently there were quite a few gulls but only the one's I might have reasonably expected.
Here's a few for John and Bill...

Cranberry Marsh and the Whitby Area

Being about 25 miles down the freeway, the area around Whitby is a good place to bird and one I return to regularly.
This morning I made an early-ish start at Thickson Woods and had lots of commoner birds - Northern Flicker (al least nine), Yellow Warbler, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Mockingbird - as well as a splendid male Baltimore Oriole.I searched in the woods for a while but nothing was stirring so I headed for Cranberry Marsh. Regular feeding meant that that some of the birds were quite tolerant of people, if not tame.Cardinals showed well as did a Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Chickadees and a few other birds. Overlooking the pool is somewhat difficult with the height of the bullrushes but I found a spot where I could see American Coots, Green Heron and two downy rail young (probablly Virginia Rails). An Osprey glided around in the distance over the main pool and a Chimney swift headed south. Great Northern Divers called from Lake Ontario ond lots of Double-crested Cormorants fished th…

Reesor Pond

There were lots of thunderstorms today but we took advantage of a brief break to visit a new site for us, Reesor Pond in Markham.
An easily viewable spot with similarities to Brockholes, we had three Caspian Terns, four Great Egrets, two Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, two Spotted Sandpipers, killdeer, Semi-P Sand and a Least Sandpiper. :-)

And now in Canada

The drive from Michigan to Toronto was rather long but we managed to stop at several places en-route and they provided us with several nice birds. A stop just before Sault Ste Marie yielded Philidelphia Vireo as well as Brown Creeper and several more common birds.
We stopped off at a picnic site just before Bruces Mines in Ontario for lunch and were delighted when a flock of warblers pused through - Black and White, Myrtle, American Redstart and probable Pine Warbler. A pair of Bald Eagles over the road and numerous Turkey Vultures provided some interest and I finally got to grips with Eastern Phoebe.
After a stop off at Espanola for the night, we continued in the same vain. We stopped at a likely spot and immediately got several birds - Blackburnian, Chestnut-sided, Mourning Warblers as well as Indigo Bunting, Alder Flycatcher and Chipping, White-throated, Song, Swamp, Vesper and Lincoln's Sparrows.
A brief call in at Kelley Lake in Sudbury gave us another American White Pelican as …

Michigan birding - and other things

Birding was very quiet over the past couple of days. Morning sorties provided the most birds but we dipped on several of the northern specialities. Whilst searching for Black-backed Woodpecker Bernie leaped from a couple of yards behind me to just in front of me with the exclamation "Jees Louise". I immediately knew she'd seen something that she didn't like - as you can see from the photo, an Eastern Garter Snake had just caught a frog - double whammey!!

At the Obs, there were several birds coming into the feeders including a couple of malingering White-crowned Sparrows, Purple Finches, etc but the Evening Grosbeaks failed to put in an appearance :-(
On the point itself, there were few birds. Ring-billed and American Herring Gulls loafed around and the first day there were three Semi-palmated Plovers, a Semi-palmated Sandpiper and three Sanderling. The following day, two Buff-breasted Sandpipers were a great surprise.
On the final evening, we took a trip down a very qui…


Yesterday's trip up to Paradise was a lovely drive. An adult Bald Eagle over the road was wonderful but the first of three new birds for me, a Sandhill Crane in a roadside marsh, was overdue. Bernie stopped the car amazingly quickly but the spot where it was had no parking spots so we watched it as long as we could before any more traffic came! I was hoping for more but as it turned out, that was our only sighting. Later on we had a Nashville Warbler (feeding young - photo) as well as Magnolia Warbler, two Broad-winged Hawks, lots of Red-breasted Nuthatches and Golden-crowned Kinglet amongst others.Whitefish Point has a Bird Observatory and during the summer, they are carrying out some banding research on juvenile Owl movements. We just had to go along and by midnight we'd seen two juvenile Northern Saw-whet Owls - how cute are they!

Three states in a day

Tuesday morning was the time Bernie and I had been in trepidation of. Heather had her first training session with her new team mates and it was time for us to say goodbye. She seemed perfectly OK - I'm sure she will be fine.
We hired a car and dodged the traffic in downtown Chicago (bit of a baptism of fire) and headed north. After about three hours we came to Horicon Marsh, Wisconsin, where we thought we'd stop for a while - what a spot. It was mid afternoon, not the best time of day, but there was plenty to see. Most obvious were the rafts of American Coot and numerous Pied-billed Grebes along with several Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons and Double Crested Cormorants. There were lots of Black Terns over the marshes and then Bernie said "Do they have Pelicans?" Wow - seven American White Pelicans had sailed out of the reedbed. There were Redhead, Canvasback and lots of Blue-winged Teals and we heard an American Bittern call - not bad at the side of a busy road. Then …

Five days into my holiday and the bins are yet to come out!

Tomorrow is the big day for Heather as she registers for college and moves into her room. After that it's three weeks intensive pre-season training for the soccer team. We've got all her stuff sorted out - bedding, stationary, books, phone, bank accoun and all the rest and so we've had a couple of half days exploring Chicago - a nice city on first impressions. The lakefront in rather splendid - some large amenity areas, gardens and the marina with the impressive Chicago skyine as a backdrop. The central area (The Loop) is dominated by the elevated train track that makes the streets a bit odd looking but easily accessible. A walk north over the river and you enter what Bernie and Heather would regard as Heaven - shopping on North Michigan! Will the credit card ever recover?
Not many birds around in the city as there are few suitable places for them to linger. American Robin around the campus whilst down at the Marina we had Barn Swallows and Rough-winged Swallows as well as …