Thursday, 24 May 2012

The Social,(Birding), Network

Wednesday morning was cool and foggy, but it was the day when it comes to The Colonel Samual Smith Park Annual Whimbrel Watch.  Every year around this time hundreds, if not thousands of Whimbrels migrate through Toronto from their wintering homes in California,(where I saw my first), Mexico and Florida to their summer breeding grounds in the furthest northern regions of Ontario and all the way up to Alaska.  These birds will fly, non stop, up to 2500 miles during their migration.  And every year a group of intrepid birders, led by Wayne Renaud will sit on the tip, at the southern most point of Colonel Sam and watch for and count the migrating birds.

When I arrived just after 7am, I found a Who's Who of Ontario Birders all watching the skies for the inevitable influx of Whimbrels, along with a variety of other waterfowl and shorebirds.  Jean Iron, who's scope I looked through many months ago to see a King Eider was there.  And so was another King Eider, a second year male.  I once again got to thank Jean for kindly letting me see the Eider way back then, when I knew nearly nothing about the birds I was chasing.

There were more than a dozen birders on the point, all of which I had met at some point during the last 5 months, whether in Colonel Sam or on various bird outings or in various birding locations.  It was quite the social atmosphere.  I am not used to being social, nor do I normally enjoy it in random crowds, but here, amongst people who shared my passion and all had vastly more experience than me, it was a pleasure to talk with most of them and fun to hear of their birding adventures, built up over a lifetime, not just 5 months, as it is in my case.  Still, I must admit, I enjoyed sharing tales of my Big Year, with them and they, it seemed, enjoyed hearing of my adventurers.

To top it all off, I did see and photograph a good flock of Whimbrels as they flew over and then got to experience the wonder of nearly a thousand Double-crested Cormorants fly by in a long, nearly unending stream, and then land in the bay in front of us, like a giant raft of black birds.  It was an awe inspiring experience.  Both the birds and the people I met and got to know there yesterday morning.

The Whimbrel Flock:

Masses of Double-crested Cormorants:

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