I started my day at the Kortright Centre at Major MacKenzie and the 400 walking down into the Marsh Boardwalk hoping to find the Finch by the feeders. I did get a wonderful look at Juncos and Chickadees and entire flocks of Cedar Waxwings. Now those are beautiful birds. I watched them for a long time, took pictures and just enjoyed the quiet of the forest. Later, still hoping for the Purple Finches, I ran into another birder, one whom I am sure I have seen before, who thought he might have seen the Purple Finch. So I stayed there with him for a while until we discovered we were looking at two House Finches. The flash of red had him, and me hoping. But I guess, that is the thrill of birding. Never knowing what you might see on a given day.
And, for sure, I was not expecting a second owl in two days. After spending the morning down in the woods, I was returning to the Visitor's Centre when, at the very top of the trail, across from some feeders I was scanning, what did I see, but a Barred Owl. It was just sitting on a tree branch, not 15 feet from the path. Unbelievable. I was thrilled. I started snapping photos and checking it out through my binoculars. As I was on my way to get warm, I spotted a group of school kids just coming out of a class and asked if they had seen the owl. Their guide,(sorry I've forgotten his name), asked where, and in what was the most heartwarming part of the day, I guided them all to the tree where they could get this, perhaps, once in a lifetime oh so close look at the owl, right at eye level, out in the open, in the wild. I stood there with them for nearly ten minutes, and completely forgot how cold I had been. Birding is good.
The next most heartwarming part of the day was finding there was an open cafeteria in the Visitor's Centre and, to my delight, they had grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu. Yeah me! That and a cup of coffee were all I needed to get a second wind and head out to Hamilton in search of an elusive Goose. I had intended to continue on to the Niagara Parkway, but by the time I was at Lasalle Park, the freezing rain was coming down pretty hard.
At Lasalle, I searched in vain for the White-fronted Goose, but did get a great photo of a Sharp-shinned Hawk, a bird I had seen but not yet photographed this year. I was pretty much done for the day, but thought to take one last look near the boat launch. As it turned out there was a man feeding corn to the swans, and it brought in quite a crowd of swans, geese and ducks, including a black duck. And there was a noticeably smaller goose with a bit of a white ring around it's neck. Finally, a Cackling Goose? Everyone on the bird alerts had been talking about them, but I doubt this is it. I thought it might just be a runty Canada Goose, but thanks to another birder, Barry, who examined my photo, he confirmed that it was, indeed, a Cackling Goose.
So it turned out to be a pretty good day of birding. In addition to the Barred Owl, Cackling Goose and Sharp-shinned Hawk, I saw lots of song birds, lots of crows and starlings. And even a Red-tailed Hawk flying over James Gardens.
Now I have to go back to work for three days and hope a new flock of interesting birds shows up next week.
The "oh so lovely" Cedar Waxwings: