My friend Barry, a very experienced birder, and I were out for most of the day on Sunday. We began at Gage Park, where a Great Horned Owl and Red-Breasted Nuthatches had been spotted. Despite a thorough search, nary an owl was seen nor a Nuthatch heard.
Our next stop was the top of the escarpment, mostly within the boundaries of Stoney Creek. Highlights in the area were great looks at Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, various Sparrows, some Northern Cardinals, and a really good look at a Northern Shrike. Numerous Red-Tailed Hawks were flying around as well; some in pairs were likely courting. We failed to spot a Ring-Necked Pheasant which has been seen in the area bounded by Ridge Road, Mud Street and 10th and 11th Lines.
We made various stops along the Lake Ontario shore before lunch; White-Winged Scoters, Long-Tailed Ducks, and Common Goldeneyes were seen in the water. One stop rewarded us with two Long-Eared Owls and a Northern Saw-Whet; my first! They’re cute little characters, even when disgorging un-digested food. Heading back to the car, we passed a Northern Mockingbird. It was so close we didn’t need binoculars at all.
After lunch at Hutch’s (thanks Barry!), we checked the Red Hill Creek at its end. Lots of waterfowl were there, including Hooded Mergansers, a Herring Gull, and a Northern Pintail. A short hop across the road netted another Pintail; they have such spectacular plumage! A Mute Swan was also nearby.
Next we went to Windermere Basin. Ruddy Ducks aplenty were there, along with geese and other duck species. One Red-Breasted Merganser steamed along the water in front of us, occasionally dipping its head into the water. I’m always so amazed that they can handle such cold!
We had a quick look at the Trumpeter Swans at LaSalle Park in Burlington, such a delightful racket. I hope that conservation wins the day and that they’ll continue to have that area to enjoy. There are enough docks at the marina, and it’s about time we think of nature after all that humanity has done to muck things up.
Our final stop along the water led us to the ship canal. A Peregrine Falcon was way up on the lift bridge in a nest box; preening and having a look around. White-Winged Scoters and Long-Tailed Ducks swam by; gorgeous birds.
A quick trip through the Woodland Cemetery showed us that Rusty the red-morph Eastern Screech Owl (that’s the name we’ve given him/her) was home, basking in the sunlight.
Our final stop was at the Valley Inn/Laking Garden properties of the Royal Botanical Gardens, where we saw some lovely Song Sparrows, White-Throated Sparrows, Black-Capped Chickadees, Northern Cardinals, and White-Breasted Nuthatches. Delightful birds with which to wrap up a great day of birding!