Tuesday, 31 January 2012

31 Days, 121 Birds

I was going to call yesterday's Blog, Adventures While Birding, only because I created my own driving adventure while looking for birds along the Niagara Parkway.  But by the time I got to writing of the day's events I was just too tired to write about anything but the Fish Crow, a rarity for these parts, and was ready for bed.

However, today's visit to Bayfront Park, a birding paradise, it seems, scored me 2 new birds for the year and helped me surpass my goal of 120 by the end of the month.  Of course, I only set that goal this morning, hoping for at least a few birds today.

But back to yesterday.  I started at Bowen Rd and The Niagara Parkway, in search of the Fish Crow.  There were not nearly as many Crows as in Beachville, but almost all were American Crows.  I stopped at 333 Bowen Rd, as that was where one of the Fish Crows had been heard, and indeed there was a crow in the snow on the front yard pecking away at something dead in a shallow snow grave.  I waited a while, but it did not make a sound, so I moved on.  I drove down to the waterfront, on what was a bright, sunny, but not freezing morning, and looked for gulls.  Sue hates Gulls, and I can't identify them without help.  But I need Gulls.  She just says, "No Gulls" now, every time I ask.  I did see and photograph  a Great Black-backed Gull, and a Herring Gull, and thought I had a Lesser Black-backed Gull, but had to wait until today, at Bayfront to get a confirmation from Barry, who was out looking for the Kind Eider, amongst other birds.  More on that later.

It was while looking at the Gulls that I heard the first "Caw" of what turned out to be the Fish Crow.  There was a pause, and another "Caw."  I turned around, pulled up my binoculars and spotted the crow in the park across the street.  Yeah!  I got my camera on it and saw it as it made it's single "Caw," pause and then make it again.  I even got it on video with my iPhone.  Way cool.

The Fish Crow in the bag, I began heading along the Niagara Parkway, stopping at the side of the road here and there, when I thought I saw something good.  Part of my mind that was not focused on birds knew that these little road side pull offs were not as firm as they seemed under the snow.  And I knew I was in trouble as I was pulling into the rut, but again, thought it would turn out to be fine.  No such luck here.  I had already had trouble getting off a roadside pull off and now I was stuck.  Really stuck.  Now way forward and a tree close behind me.  They key was not to panic.  I panicked.  Got overheated, floored it and then just stopped.  Turned down the heat, took off my jacket, started looking up the number for road side assistance.

How embarrassing.  And what if another birder pulled up.  I'd never live it down.  And I'd have to tell Sue and everyone else that I had to call a tow truck because I drove into a muddy snow covered ditch.  So, the key I thought was, again, don't panic.  You can do this.  I cooled down, and started a slow crawl.  Back, forth, forward, backward.  Almost backed into the tree.  Just missed the tree.  And slowly, but surely, made my way out of the ditch.  Whew!  I cheered.  No one heard me.  I whooped with excitement.  No one heard me.  Who cares.  I got out and I got the Fish Crow.

I made my way down the parkway, stayed out of roadside pull offs, and stopped again just above the Falls.  There, I saw a million gulls.  Really, I counted.  Amongst them was the Great Black-Backed Gull and the Lesser Black Backed.  I took photos and was lucky enough today to run into a long time Birder, Barry - a retired gentleman whom I spent the afternoon with at Bayfront today - who helped me identify the Lesser.

I cruised down the rest of the Niagara Parkway, stopping at a Conservation Area where I photographed yet another mixed marriage duck.  This one's cool.  See below.  I then drove past the Falls to the Adam Beck generating plant.   There were just so many gulls, and this time I must admit, I lost count somewhere north of a million.  I am sure I was seeing Bonapart's but I just didn't know them well enough to count them, due to my lack of experience.  I am sure, though I will prevail and seem them sometime, perhaps in February.

That ended my day at Niagara.  I made one more stop back at Lasalle and hoped again for a White-fronted Goose, but by then the snow was really coming down and I needed to get home.  It took me two hours in very nasty conditions, but I survived to bird another day.  And that I did.  Today.  But I will have to tell you about that tomorrow.


  1. I wouldn't say I hate gulls. I'm just not interested in them and don't want to be tortured trying to figure out what they are.

  2. "There, I saw a million gulls. Really, I counted."