Once again, OntBirds to the rescue. I seem to be better at spotting and identifying birds if:
1. I know what I am actually looking for before I set out to a location.
2. If there are other Birders in the area when I arrive at the location.
And thus, today was a perfect example, as I drove/walked in the footsteps of the previous days Birders, Ken and Angie Williams. Ah, the luxury of advance bird reports for the beginning birder.
I headed up 50 Rd to where it turned into 10th Rd, north of somewhere, I am not sure where, and observed the Northern Harrier flying over the fields just south of the railway tracks. I think it was south. I get directionally challenged around the lake in Hamilton/Niagara. I then just GPS'd my way to a dead end road where I found a gaggle of 48 Wild Turkeys,(and this time I really did count them). Of course they kept trotting off,(if turkeys indeed trot), behind a large bush, then after a short time reemerging in a kind of conga line of wild turkey-ness. Kind of cute.
I stayed a while, scoped the birds and hoped to find the Ring-necked Pheasant, but to no avail. Now, if I had seen the Pheasant, would it have been to avail? Never mind. I had my second bird of the day and now decided to cruise the roads in a hopefully non-suspicious manner and find some of the other birds recently reported in the area. I had plenty of time before sunset, when I suspected that the Short-eared Owls would be out hunting mice in the fields along 10th Rd.
I drove along Green Mountain Road and up to Mud Rd, where I saw a pair of Northern Shrikes flying into a field east of the Tim Horton's, where I had just enjoyed a coffee and Chicken Wrap. I also saw Starlings and an American Kestrel enjoying his lunch of a dead mouse on a tree branch. And to think, I chose the chicken wrap. Oh well.
Next up was forgetting to drive along 8th Rd and search for the Screech Owls that had been seen yesterday. Drat. Well, at least Screech Owls aren't that rare. Of course, the way things go, I won't find one the rest of the year and will regret not upgrading my swiss cheese memory to something with a little more cheesy-memory matter.
No worries. I headed back down to 10th Rd and with the help of birders who were spending the day there, waiting for sunset and the appearance of Short-eared Owls, I got a great look at a pair of Eastern Meadowlarks. I never got a great photo, but did get one of them in my scope as it rested in a nearby tree.
While there I met a very nice birder, a retired gentleman by the name of Clive, who was great at spotting birds in flight and soon he soon spotted the Horned Larks in flight over the nearby fields. I got a quick look in my binoculars, but just fuzzy photos. Darn those quick moving, flighty and uncooperative birds.
With lots of time still to spare, we walked along the path next to the railway tracks, where we saw more Harriers, both male and female, some hawks, but not much else. There was still lots of time until the owls came out, so Clive offered to buy me a coffee at the local Tim Hortons. Nice guy. Pretty much all birders have been quite friendly and helpful to me, but this was the first time I got a free coffee. Cool.
We arrived back just on time to see the first Short-eared take flight. I tried to get some pictures, but the owls moved too fast to get a clear shot. However, though the binoculars they were amazing to watch. It was really cool to see the owl dive bomb, what I assume was a local mouse, who never knew sunset meant dinner time. And not for the mouse.
Now it was really getting cold, so time to pack up and head home with 6 new birds for the year and now just 4 away from 200. Thanks again to all the kind birders out there today. Not sure I could have done it without them.
Tomorrow I may just be on my own, though. Heading up to Algonquin Park for the day.