Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ontario Birds

Ontario is for the birds. I mean this literally. Dense forests, marshland, lakes and streams--the varied habitat supports a huge variety of birds. Lake Superior Provincial Park being right on the big lake puts it on a major flyway and so it also gets lots of migrating birds. For a newbie to the birding world, it is a chance to see birds never seen before. The images in this blog are all birds I saw on my first day in Ontario, some new, some old favorites.

Remember these guys? When I was up in June there were two Common merganser families (well, moms with chicks anyway, as dad's job is over pretty quickly!). The chicks were still fuzzy little balls of fluff, perhaps only a few weeks old, and they followed mom closely.

Well, by late August they were all grown up! On my early morning walk down the shore one family emerged from the mist and swam by as I crouched by a dead cedar. I was happy to see them all looking so well.

Back at our campsite I was visited by two shorebirds, this young Semipalmated sandpiper,

and the larger Solitary sandpiper. It really is amazing what will pass by if you just sit still for a while.

Out on the trail at the Sand (Pinguisibi) River, I saw two warblers high up in the trees, both firsts for me--this Black throated green warbler,

and a young Canada warbler (I think--it's harder to identify warblers when you can't see their wings). I would see more of these the next morning.

Back at the campground the mergansers paraded back and forth, chasing minnows through the shallows. They would often swim with their heads underwater, watching for fish, I assume.

Once in a while they would take off "running", perhaps in pursuit of a school of minnows.

I took a short walk down the campground road and saw a Yellow-shafted flicker working its way along the road, picking ants out of the gravel.

A family of Broadwing hawks hung in the sky over Crescent lake. This I believe is a juvenile.

The best moment of the day came when this little Cedar waxwing went from a nestling to a fledgling. Lisa had noticed the nest in a black spruce in our campsite. I tried to get a few shots of it but it was pretty well hidden. That afternoon, while we were all right there in camp, this little bird made its inaugural flight, fluttering and sputtering across a short opening and landing, rather ungracefully, in this poplar.

It sat there for several hours, peeping plaintively. By evening it had moved farther into the trees between campsites, and continued to peep well after dark. The parents had been feeding it, and we were sure they were nearby, but we worried that its calls would bring a nighttime predator. However, we heard the peeps again the following morning and felt relieved. Not long after the family moved out of the campsite, following their babe as it tried out its wings.

Next: day two and the Pictographs

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