Yesterday I decided to go Birding in Bayfront Park in Hamilton. It was a warm winter day, the sun was out and I had success there in the past. I was out in Guelph in the morning, so it was a short trip. Once again fellow birders came to my aid. It's a wonderful thing. It's a competition where your competitors actually help you to succeed.
On my way to Hamilton I passed through Puslinch and looked to see if the Mountain Blue Bird was still around and maybe catch the Eastern Blue Bird, which I had missed earlier in the month. No such luck, but when I stopped no the side of the road a little later, I once again pushed myself a little too far into a rut. This time, however, there was no initial panic and I succeeded in getting out with only minimal effort. I have got to stop doing that. So I decided to just head straight to Bayfront and their paved parking lot.
I had been planning on walking down the rail trail path, but a birder/photographer alerted me to the Brant and King Eider along the marina side. I needed a Brant, so I shifted my plans and in so doing ran into Barry, a retired gentleman who knows his birds. Good for me. He had seen the Brant and was willing to help me find other birds as well. We ended up spending the afternoon talking and birding. While looking for birds in the marina, my new bird buddy was willing to look at some of my photos and help me with identification of a Herring Gull and Lesser Black-Backed Gull. That added bird 119 to my list. I had decided at the beginning of the day, that 120 would be a cool number to end January with.
Along the way I spotted a Kestrel and off we ran to get some photographs. It was eating a mouse and close to us in a tree. What a treat. I had seen one earlier in the year, but only briefly in my binoculars before it flew off. Now I got the treat of photographing it and just watching it for about 10 minutes.
After seeing the Kestrel I was walking along the edge of the water and spotted a new duck, one I knew I had not seen before. I snapped a few photos for identification. Just yesterday Sue and I had been talking about a Redhead that had been seen in Whitby and I had thought I might drive out to see it. While, wouldn't you know, the bird turned out to be just that. A Redhead. Sue helped with that identification, as I had forgotten to look it up while there. I also got a great shot of a Turkey Vulture flying overhead.
My new best friend, Barry and I were going over to the other side of the harbour to find the Kind Eider. I had seen one earlier in the month, but they are cool looking birds and a photo would have been nice too. But, no Eider. Instead, a Glaucous Gull, one I had not seen in Niagara Falls and one that Barry was also looking for. I got a great look through his scope and some nice photos.
That's how I ended my first month with 121 Birds.
I forgot to mention that back home, the other night, when I was trying to identify the birds from my Niagara trip, Sue and I sat on the couch, displaying the photos on the TV and occasionally looking at them through our binoculars, trying to see details you might not otherwise catch. How crazy is that? A lot, I am sure. Who does that? Maybe more Birders than I might think. But Birding does bring out the crazy in people. In a good way. Birders are compelled, sometimes obsessive folks who love what they do and will do almost anything to see that one bird needed for their list.
Speaking of which, after dinner last night, I downloaded The Big Year movie from iTunes and we watched facsimiles of Sandy Komito, Al Levantin and Greg Miller race around North American in their Big Year. It's a fun, if not wholly accurate movie, and my inspiration, along with John Vanderpoel's Big Year, do become a Birder and chase new birds in 2012.