Sunday, 3 May 2009

Paletta Park, Bronte Harbour, Shell Park, La Salle Park May 3, 2009

North Shore of Lake Ontario
Paletta Park, Bronte Harbour, Shell Park and La Salle Park
May 3, 2009

We left home at 08:30h on a beautiful sunny morning. The temperature was around 8 degrees C with a predicted high of 18 degrees C. Spring migration is now far advanced and we looked forward to a glorious day of migrants. How grand it is to be a birder!

Paletta Park, Burlington

Situated just west of Appleby Line along Lakeshore Boulevard in Burlington, this restored 19th century mansion on the shore of the lake, is a migrant magnet at this time of the year. There is a small wood lot with a creek running through it, as well as manicured lawns and other ornamental plantings. Since it is right on the lake, it is an ideal location for waterfowl, gulls and terns. It is also a welcome spot, especially for a mixed group of birders, for it has clean, warm washrooms!
Immediately upon arriving, we located a couple of Yellow Warblers and at least three Blue-grey Gnatcatchers, a species not so many years ago considered quite rare. We had hoped for more warblers and vireos but we could find none. A birder we encountered at the head of the trail advised that he had seen Chestnut-sided Warbler, Warbling Vireo and Philadelphia Vireo, but we neither heard nor saw any of these species and conversations with other birders revealed that they didn’t either. However, it was very pleasant to be there and we were charmed by a female Mallard with eleven young. There were lots of Red-winged Blackbirds and Northern Cardinals and numerous other common species.

Bronte Harbour, Oakville

Bronte Harbour always merits a visit for the variety of waterfowl and gulls often found there, but especially so in recent years for the Red-necked Grebes that have nested on tires in the inner harbour. I believe that every year but one they have successfully raised young. There were two tires anchored in the water and one was occupied by a sitting grebe. As far as we could tell, the second tire had not been used.
Traditionally the walls of the Lighthouse Restaurant hosted a large number of Cliff Swallow nests, but the ones that have not been sealed off by wire mesh have been entirely expropriated by House Sparrows. We saw many Barn Swallows but there was not a Cliff Swallow in sight.
Three Caspian Terns were fishing outside the breakwater and when one dived and came up with a fish it was harassed by the others, but finally succeeded in swallowing the fish while in flight.
It was pleasant to see so many people out and about taking in a fine spring day. People walked their dogs, children were pushed on swings, young lovers clung to each other as they promenaded around the harbour, kites were flown. It was invigorating to be close to the water.

Shell Park, Oakville

Over the years Shell Park has produced several rarities, but regardless of the success or failure of a day’s birding, it is always a pleasant place to visit. We enjoyed a great hour and a half there, the highlight being two Brown Thrashers. We also saw a couple of Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I doubt that we have ever seen so many Northern Cardinals in one area, and their song constantly filled the air.
We had lunch at Shell Park and a fine repast it was. Before leaving I had made sandwiches of a superior French ham with a fine Gruyere cheese, layered together on a crusty toasted garlic bread lightly coated with Dijon mustard. How wonderful! We also had a quantity of fresh blueberries. The trees are all coming into leaf, tulips were resplendent in the gardens, birds were singing and the sun was warm and inviting. What could be better?

La Salle Park and Marina, Burlington
The road to the park was closed due to the boats that had been stored all winter being deposited by crane into the water, so we parked on a nearby road and walked down.
We saw both Barn Swallow and Northern Rough-winged Swallow, as well as a variety of waterfowl including both Mute and Trumpeter Swans.
People thronged the area. We saw everything from ancient citizens with walkers and canes to youngsters barely able to keep their balance enjoying the weather. Even non- birders seemed to enjoy the plentiful waterfowl and despite injunctions not to feed the birds, many were doing so. I am sure that some inner need to connect with nature is satisfied by so doing.
Had we been able to drive right into the parking area at the marina, we would have missed the highlights of the visit to La Salle. On the way out we heard and then located a Carolina Wren lustily singing for all its worth and in the same tree both Northern and Orchard Orioles. What a fine farewell to a delightful day of birding.

Our backyard, Waterloo
We made for the patio as soon as we had unloaded the car. How lucky we were to see a glorious adult White-throated Sparrow in full courtship plumage, several Pine Siskins, an abundance of American Goldfinches, Chipping Sparrows, American Robins bathing in the bird bath, House Sparrows, Black-capped Chickadees, a male Downy Woodpecker and others. We decided to dine al fresco, so we had a fine French Roquefort cheese aged in caves in the Pyrenees slathered on crusty bread and an oriental salad, accompanied by a superb bottle of Masi Campofiorin. A mixture of ethnicities no doubt, but a wonderful repast nonetheless.
Once again, birding and its attendant delights had provided us with a day of rich pleasure.

All Species

Red-necked Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Canada Goose
Mute Swan
Trumpeter Swan
Lesser Scaup
Long-tailed Duck
Common Goldeneye
Red-breasted Merganser
Turkey Vulture
Red-tailed Hawk
Ring-billed Gull
American Herring Gull
Caspian Tern
Common Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Barn Swallow
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Carolina Wren
Brown Thrasher
American Robin
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
Black-capped Chickadee
Blue Jay
American Crow
European Starling
House Sparrow
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch
Yellow Warbler
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Orchard Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

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