Monday, 27 September 2010

Canada trip-part six!!

this has dragged on too, too long now, and now, this post will end the bloody holiday write-up once and for all! So, I bid you all to salute your farewells, and shed a tear for Canada, for she is no longer!

31 Aug
I made the rather foolish mistake of spending too long out in the sun on the tip. As a result, I was feeling sick, hot, dizzy and nauseous a lot on this morning. I missed out on a few birds- Black-billed Cuckoo and Tufted Titmouse the best of them. But I saw a Black-billed Cuckoo earler in the trip, so no harm done there.

However, when MOURNING WARBLER and Sharp-shinned Hawk were being banded, I did make it out of the room! And staring out the window, into the woodlot, revealed 2 Blackpoll Warblers, a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, several Cedar Waxwings, 2 Grey catbirds and 2 Cardinals.

I don't envy the guy who banded this one!
We then visited LPBO headquarters, near the town of Port Rowan. Highlights were a flyover Osprey, two Ruby-throated Hummginbirds, two Song Sparrows, three Turkey Vultures, three Wood Duck and 40+ Red-winged Blackbirds. We also saw this...
The nest of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, brought into HQ

We spent the evening walking around Long Point provincial park, and relaxing on the beach. The only birds of note were three singing Warbling Vireos a few Northern Flickers, and two Caspian Terns, but the beaches of Lake Erie are pretty spectacular.

We visited another one of Dad's old friends in the evening. She had a property in the middle of Norfolk county (that part of Ontario, named for its flat, largely agricultural landscape) and on here she had dedicated her time to making it as fantastic for wildlife as possible. She had several hectares of land that were about as good an insect habitat as it is possible to find. This made it great for sparrows, though the Grasshopper or LeConte's Sparrows that had bred here were either gone or hiding. However, she did have 14 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds on her feeders, and Nighthawks flew overhead, with a single CLIFF SWALLOW. There was also a single Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, gnatcatching from wires, and in the woodland were singing Wood Thrush and House Wren, both lifers. I also found the feather of a Turkey, but sadly that particular bird can't count on my list!

01 Sep
A good morning at Old Cut, with the following seen;

2 American Woodcock
1 Northern Harrier
1 Downy Woodpecker
1 Northern Flicker
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
1 Eastern Wood-pewee
1 Trail's Flycatcher
1 Least Flycatcher
10 Tree Swallow
1 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
2 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 Swainson's Thrush
3 Gray catbird
20+ Cedar Waxwing
3 Magnolia warbler
1 Black-throated Blue Warbler
1 Bay-breasted Warbler
1 Black and White Warbler
3 Blackpoll Warbler
1 Ovenbird
1 Mourning Warbler
3 Cardinal
20 Bobolink
100+ Red-winged Blackbird

The highlight was also the only lifer, two American Woodcocks that flew over around 06:30, heading from the marshes opposite into the woodland. I also visited the Bobolink net, which had 20 birds hanging around it, some of which I saw get banded. I myself banded a Cedar Waxwing and a Gray Catbird.

We spent the afternoon of 1 Sep at Niagara Falls. The scenery was spectacular, and I got a great many photos, while birds seen were;

300+ Ring-billed Gulls
50+ Bonaparte's Gull
100+ Double-crested Cormorant
1 Red-winged Blackbird
a few Chipping Sparrows
1 Least Sandpiper

ad Ring-billed Gull, with Niagara Falls as a backdrop!

juv Ring-billed Gull in Niagara

The falls themselves

record shots of Bonaparte's Gull and Double-crested Cormorant

and one more of Niagara

On the way back, we stopped at Big Creek Marsh, a few miles from Old Cut. The highlight was 3000+ Red-winged Blackbirds (!) and 100+ Common Grackles. two Night Herons flew into the marsh to roost, as did 12 Sandhill Cranes, probably the same birds I'd seen on Aug 29th. I also saw three lifers. three Blue-winged Teal flew over, and in the marsh were six Swamp Sparrow and a Marsh Wren. i thought two Great Egrets were lifers too, but sadly remembered they are the same species I've seen in Britain, France and Cyprus.

Back at Old Cut, at dusk, i saw a fantastic SEVEN AMERICAN WOODCOCK! They were all flying from the wood and fields out onto the shore of Lake Erie, were they feb on the mud at night. Most of the views i got were brief, but a few showed really well, flying right overhead. They are very small birds, about halfway between a Snipe and a Jack Snipe in bulkiness.

By the end of today, I had seen 119 species in Canada, including 93 lifers.

2 Sep

my last morning at Old Cut, and I went out with a bang! I banded a Canada Warbler, a Gray Catbird and a Veery. I now had 10 birds with my initials in the Long Point database. two Blackpoll Warblers, 2 Black-throated Blue Warblers, 2 Gray Catbirds, and single Wilson's Warbler, Cedar waxwing, Canada Warbler and Veery.

My day totals for this morning were;

1 American Woodcock (in hand!)
2 Chimney Swifts
6 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
1 Downy Woodpecker
2 Northern Flicker
2 Eastern Wood-pewee
4 Traill's Flycatcher
3 Least Flycatcher
1 Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
1 Red-eyed Vireo
3 Warbling Vireo
10+ Tree Swallow
1 poss Northern Rough-winged Swallow
6 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 House Wren
1 Marsh Wren
3 Swainson's thrush
1 Veery
4 Gray Catbird
50+ Cedar Waxwing
3 Magnolia Warbler
5 Cape May Warbler
2 Black-throated Blue Warbler
8 Blackpoll Warbler
3 Black and White Warbler
6 American Redstart
2 Wilson's warbler
1 Canada warbler
3 Northern Cardinal
1 Swamp Sparrow
4 Song Sparrow
30+ Bobolink
1 Brown-headed Cowbird*
2 Baltimore Oriole

the highlights of this morning were my two lifers, Cowbird and Yellow Warbler. However, the Canada Warbler was great, as was seeing Woodcock in the hand, getting another view of a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, loads of Cape May warblers and holding a Bobolink in the hand.

American Woodcock

Those two lifers took me to 95, annoyingly close to the hundred mark! Driving back to Toronto, we had one last stop, to try and rack a few more birds up. We had seen almost no wader habitat anywhere on the trip, but we were hoping Townsend Sewage Lagoons might have a few birds.

Here, we saw Green-winged*and Blue-winged Teal, Baird's* Least and Semipalmated Sandpiper, Semipalmated Plover, Killdeer, Solitary and Spotted Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope*, Lesser Yellowlegs, Bank Swallow, and Yellow Warbler. I had three lifers, taking me up to 98. I wouldn't see any more on the trip. But that only gives me more incentive to go back again!

Lesser Yellowlegs and Least Sandpipers
Following this, it was a drive back to Toronto, to spend our last night in Canada with the Beadles.

I saw a few Nighthawks, and a Killdeer flew over. I was hoping Hurricane Earl would delay our flight for the following day, but it just fizzled out. However, to say goodbye on behalf of  Canada, were some wonderful, joyous and charismatic city dwellers...

Surprisingly, my first Raccoons of the trip. They showed brilliantly in the trees around the beadle's house, and James and I got a few decent photos, with the help of torches. But, all too soon, our last full day in Canada had come and gone. The following day, we would leave for the airport at 17:00 hrs, and I would be bidding fairwell to Canada for at least the next few years...

3 Sep
A day spent in Toronto, without much birding to be done. We went up the CN Tower, for many years the tallest building in the world, and then again for few years between 9/11 and when oil-rich arabians started shooting up for the sky. We spent all day hanging around in Toronto, with House Finch and Cardinal the only birds of note to be seen. But it ws a nice final day, saying goodbye to the Beadles, who had been so kind and welcoming for the past two weeks.

As we drove to the airport, a Common Nighthawk came out, hawking insects in the afternoon sunshine, with its flappy, primeval way of flight. It was wishing me goodbye, and at the same time telling me to come back over, soon. I made a vow to myself, that I would make a visit to this place again, as soon as I can. Maybe if I go back soon enough I might see that same Nighthawk, flapping around as dusk closes in.

Due to a delay in our flight, we left Toronto at about 21:30. I got to see the sun set in the Canada sky one last time, and eat one last Tim Horton's donut. : )

My first bird back on british soil was a Kestrel, scanning a field for mice on the Gatwick Runway

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