9 May 2016
Leader: David Gascoigne
Members: Miriam Bauman, John Lichty, Jim Huffman, Francine Gilbert
Guests: Peter McLaren, Carol McLaren
We had four cancellations the night before the trip, but the people who participated were treated to a fine day of birding, with close encounters with a range of interesting species.
The drive across Toronto was abysmal and it took us an hour longer than it did last year to make the same trip. Every time I visit Canada's largest city I shake my head at the gridlock. Soon this whole metropolitan area is going to grind to a total halt.
When we arrived at Thickson's Woods we were all happy to get out of the car and stretch our legs. We were ready to start birding!
It took us about a half hour just to get to the woodlot, the birding along the road was so terrific, with many warblers to keep us occupied, and several Baltimore Orioles Icterus galbula decorating the trees.
Barely had we entered the woods than we saw a flock of about fifteen Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum seemingly content to simply watch the world go by.
Black-throated Green Warblers Setophaga virens were both numerous and co-operative and the sound of cameras clicking was interspersed with bird songs, as many enthusiasts were able to get close-up shots.
It is always a great pleasure to have Jim Huffman and Francine Gilbert accompany me on my walks. Jim quietly observes and is adept at spotting birds, while Francine is ebullient in her sheer delight at the panoply of nature's beauty spread before her.
Ovenbird Seirus aurocapilla is a species not always easy to see; it does not show itself willingly. We were lucky indeed to be able to get pictures of this individual.
Myrtle Warbler Setophaga coronata is one of our commonest wood warblers but it is a beautiful little bird and usually easier to find than most other warblers.
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis is a resident species but its presence in the breeding season enhanced the pleasure of our day.
Surely one of the most stunning birds to enliven the spring woods is a Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea and we were all enthralled to see at least three of them. The individual in the picture below has not quite attained full breeding plumage and remnant green patches of non-breeding plumage may be clearly seen.
It was a happy group enjoying the marvel of spring migration.
It was quite a surprise to find a Wild Turkey Meleagris gallopavo in the woods. I have never seen one here before, although this species is proliferating and it really should not seem unusual to find one here in prime habitat.
We decided to go over to Whitby Harbour to have our picnic lunch and it was on the way to the car that we spotted a singing male Orchard Oriole Icterus spurius, an uncommon species in the area.
Whitby Harbour is a delightful spot to have lunch but there was a cold breeze coming off Lake Ontario and Peter and Carol decided to eat in the car. The rest of us braved the cold to sit at a picnic table, but when Francine offered to share her hot coffee I was happy to take a cup.
After lunch we returned to Thickson's Woods.
We had been seeing Black-and-White Warblers Mniotilta varia all day but never in a position where we could photograph them. Finally this individual enabled us to get a picture.
The floor of the woods had several stands of ferns, all emerging in their characteristic fiddlehead shape.
Leaving the southernmost perimeter of the woods proper it is but a short distance to Lake Ontario, where we scanned for ducks, cormorants and gulls.
Back in the woodlot we were finally able to get a reasonably open Blackburnian Warbler Setophaga fusca for a picture. As was the case with the Black-and-white Warbler we had seen this species several times, but always hidden by leaves and moving about very quickly.
It was a great day's birding, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone.
Thanks are due to those who joined my outing and to Miriam especially who took all the photographs to leave me free to help the others to find and identify their birds. A complete list of all species follows below.
Species en route: Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Rock Dove, American Crow, Common Starling.
Species at Thickson's Woods: Trumpeter Swan, Common Merganser, Red-breasted Merganser, Wild Turkey, Mourning Dove, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Phoebe, Great Crested Flycatcher, Blue-headed Vireo, Warbling Vireo, Blue Jay, Black-capped Chickadee, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Blue-grey Gnatcatcher, White-breasted Nuthatch, Swainson's Thrush, American Robin, House Finch, American Goldfinch, Ovenbird, Golden-winged Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Nashville Warbler, American Redstart, Blackburnian Warbler, American Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Palm Warbler, Myrtle Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Common Grackle, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Scarlet Tanager, Northern Cardinal.
Species at Whitby Harbour: Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Double-crested Cormorant, Ring-billed Gull, American Herring Gull, Caspian Tern, House Sparrow.
Total species: 59