22 August 2016
Many regular readers will recall the account of a visit we made to the Westmount Golf and Country Club in April this year:
It was with a good deal of pleasure that we accepted the invitation of our friends Ron and Thelma Beaubien to accompany them on an early morning walk once again. The course is tranquil at 06:00 and a lovely place to walk and enjoy nature. As a sure sign that fall is approaching the temperature when we started off was a mere 11°.
Although the sheer diversity of birds was not as great as during our previous visit there was an interesting variety, and a couple of noticeable highlights. Having seen a pair of Wood Ducks Aix sponsa there in the spring, we had been wondering whether they bred at the club. Given the number of undisturbed tracts of woodland it certainly seemed likely that a suitable cavity would be present. We had our confirmation. Two young males, on their way to acquiring adult plumage were seen and they were quite confiding. I am sure that they are well habituated to human activity given that they have been raised in the vicinity of a very active golf course.
The pictures above were taken in poor light but it is important to include them since they are the two birds that we saw, and in some ways the murky light is quite atmospheric.
Here is what they will look like when they are in full regalia.
Ducks the world over display a stunning range of plumage; few, however, are more handsome than a Wood Duck.
Ron had been chatting to us about the number of Red-tailed Hawks Buteo jamaicensis he had been seeing on the course this year as he played golf, sometimes three at a time. I suspect that these were birds of the year having fledged from this nest that we located.
Red-tailed Hawk is the most common raptor in our area and is in fact widespread over the entire continent. It comes in a mind boggling range of plumage from almost chocolate brown to a pale cream.
The common feature on adult birds is a red tail whence the bird takes its name.
The presence of Red-tailed Hawks at a golf course should be cause for rejoicing. These efficient birds of prey will render valuable service in keeping the population of rodents under control.
The final very interesting observation we made was of a female Common Green Darner Anax junius which had somehow gotten stranded on the grass. Perhaps it was too heavily laden with dew to take flight, or perhaps it was waiting for rising temperatures to facilitate flight. In any event it gave us a great chance to photograph it up close.
Our thanks go out again to Ron and Thelma and to the management of the golf course for having an enlightened attitude towards wildlife and permitting us to roam the course before the day's golfing gets underway.