Monday, 20 February 2012

From a Peaceful Lake to an Even more Peaceful Place

A nice sunny day and a good day to just take a leisurely walk out at Humber Bay, down by Lake Ontario in Toronto, and look for Ducks.  And maybe even a Northern Shoveler.  It was a good chance for me to see and photograph some of the standard winter ducks I had already seen and work on my identification skills.  I am still learning.

We did run into a lot of Birders and photographers and even ran into a fellow Birder/photographer I had met in Brampton on my Ross's Goose chase.  This time he was looking for Ruddy Ducks and they were there in large numbers.  Rafts of them, in the birding vernacular.  I finally got a good photo of them, rather than one taken from hundreds of yards away.  There were also Buffleheads and Goldeneyes, Mergansers, Mallards and even a white fronted mixed duck.

The payoff for the morning walk came just before we headed home for lunch.  I wanted to get a better look at the Ruddy Ducks through my scope, and while doing that, Sue spotted a pair of Northern Shovelers splash down close by.  Bonus!  The promised Shovelers,(they were the bait to get me down to the lake), arrived just as we were preparing to pack up and leave.  I got the scope on them and a few photos to go along with the ones I got of the Ruddy Ducks.

After lunch I headed off on my own, in search of a few more birds to wrap up the long weekend.  I was supposed to be working, not birding, this weekend, but getting Sunday and Monday off was great.  I decided to retrace my route from yesterday and see if I could pick up a few birds in the Burlington/Hamilton area.  I went back to Bronte and low and behold, if Barry wasn't there looking for yet another hybrid duck, the Redhead/Ring-necked cross-breed.  It was in a great location, in the harbour right out in front of where the Snowy Owl was soaking up the sun.   We had missed it yesterday.  So two birds with one stop.  I got myself a nice photo of the snowy and a look and photo of yet another interesting hybrid.  Neither were additions to my year, but it was nice to get another chat with Berry, who seems to be everywhere.  But then again, he probably thinks that about me.

There was a gaggle of other Birders present at the end of the pier in Bronte and we got talking about the birds seen in the area the last few days.  The topic of owls naturally came up and I inquired as to the location of the Eastern Screech Owl we couldn't seem to find yesterday.  With Barry providing me with a much better set of directions, I headed back out to Woodland Cemetery, after briefly and unsuccessfully looking for a Ring-necked Pheasant up in the Stoney Creek area.

Barry did not steer me wrong.  I quickly found the correct tree next to a sign marked "Section 25" and to the right of a headstone with the appropriate name of "Gardener," three trees to the right of the Green Bench on the west side of the cemetery road.  I identified the broken branch, and immediately spotted the owl.  Before I checked it out with my binoculars, I spotted a bird I didn't recognize hopping back and forth between a headstone, where some seed had been left, and a close by tree.  I snapped a few photos and later learned it was a White-breasted Nuthatch.

I returned my attention to the  Eastern Screech Owl and snapped a few photos and then had a more leisurely look through my scope.  I wanted to hoot with joy, but silently pumped my fist, a-la Tiger Woods and rejoiced in my 8th Owl of 2012.

That was my 88th bird species of February.  9 Days to go and 12 birds for another Century month.  There won't be many more hundred bird months, as it just keeps getting harder and harder to add birds as the year moves along.  Wait and see, I guess.  But not bad for a know-nothing amateur Birder.

So, as the sun set in the peace and serenity of Woodland Cemetery, it was time to head home with my 209th Year Bird in hand and a smile on my face and a long drive ahead of me tomorrow.

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