Sunday, 13 November 2016

Tuesday Rambles with David - Mountsberg Conservation Area

08 November 2016

     Mounstberg C.A. lies southwest of Milton, ON and was the location chosen for this week's Ramble with David, our regular Tuesday outing. 
     I had not been there previously so Mary Voisin who is quite familiar with this location graciously scouted it out before the day of the hike, and her diligence contributed in no small measure to the enjoyment of a very fine day together.

     The day was quite overcast and visibility across Mountsberg Lake was not especially good, but the lake harboured a wide variety of waterfowl, and other species were spotted by checking the trees along the shore.

   Despite the poor light Franc was able to capture this remarkable shot of a Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis plunging into the water.

     The combination of distance and gloomy light was challenging but the following images will at least give an idea of the variety of waterfowl present, as well as the prolific number of some species. 
     There was a very large congregation of America Coot Fulica americana, a species not always easy to find in southern Ontario. We were very pleased when we first saw a few of this species but as we scanned around the lake we realized there were many more.

     Not to be outdone American Wigeon Anas americana had a substantial presence also.

     If you look carefully at the picture above you can see a female Ring-necked Duck Aythya collaris swimming between a male and female American Wigeon.
     There were many Hooded Mergansers Lophodytes cucullatus, alas none was close enough to obtain terrific pictures, but the following shot at least gives an idea of the sheer numbers of this very handsome species.

     Far out across the lake, on the opposite shore an adult Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus was perched majestically, surveying his (her) realm. Bald Eagles feed primarily on fish, but as part of the lake ices over they will readily turn their attention to the waterfowl present. An injured Mallard Anas platyrynchos quickly becomes a fine meal for a hungry Bald Eagle.

     We first heard and then saw this Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus hammering away at a tree.

     Dark-eyed Juncos Junco hyemalis were quite common and Franc captured this image of an individual in a tree, just before it took off like a missile hurtling through the air.

     Based purely on my own observations Cedar Waxwings Bombycilla cedrorum have had a very good breeding season this year and we saw lots of juvenile birds feeding on the abundant berry crops. The sheer volume of berries of various kinds seems to auger well for a winter with ample food for this resident species.

     An American Red Squirrel Tamiasciurus hudsonicus seemed to be doing his stretching exercises.

     Mountsberg C.A. is a large area comprised of several different habitats, all enjoyable, and I will look forward to returning at different times of the year to observe the seasonality of the bird life.

     This Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias was stalking its prey in an offshoot of the lake which formed a kind of discrete wetland.

     Carol was perched at one of the openings in the blind to get as good a view as possible.

     In this shot Mary seems to be explaining something to the others - some of them are even paying attention!

     Look at this fine group of women - great birding companions all; fine company under any circumstances, in fact.

Carol, Mary, Miriam, Francine
     One of the very important missions of Mountsberg C.A. is the rescue, rehabilitation and care of injured raptors.

     Birds that have been injured due to various causes - collisions with vehicles, errant bullets from careless hunters, etc. are nursed back to health, and if possible released back into the wild. For those birds for whom this is not possible, they are housed in spacious enclosures and cared for for the rest of their lives. They can be used for captive breeding purposes and some are used as educational birds also. While all of us would prefer for the birds to be wild and free, I applaud this effort to care for them and to have them educate the public, especially children, thereby engendering a new respect for, and empathy with, birds of prey.

     The following images by Miriam and Franc show just some of the species housed at Mountsberg. It is really quite fabulous to be able to observe these birds at close range.
Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Snowy Owl
Barn Owl

Golden Eagle
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

Peregrine Falcon
Turkey Vulture
Turkey Vulture
     As always it was a superb way to spend the day with great birding and great companions. I think this little "gang of eight" may be doing this forever!


  1. Bonjour cher ami,

    Une bien agréable sortie que celle-ci !... Des photos pleines de belles surprises. J'aime beaucoup celle du Goéland plongeant ! Elles sont toutes magnifiques en réalité ! Il est tellement émoustillant de surprendre tous ces animaux... Lorsque je regarde celle de votre petit écureuil, je me dis que j'aimerais bien avoir son agilité !
    Je suis aussi fascinée par l'oeil vif de tous ces rapaces !

    Merci David pour ce magnifique reportage.

    Gros bisous ❀

  2. Glad to read about you leading these Tuesday walks. We used to go to Mountsberg with our kids years ago. Grear extreme close-up of the Turkey Vulture!

  3. What a peaceful looking place.
    Magnificent photos are all of them, it's good to see the eagles up close, butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.

  4. Excellent photos of lovely landscapes, beautiful birds and an exercising squirrel. The Center for birds of prey looks very interesting. More places like that would be needed everywhere, but financing them is a problem especially in these days.

  5. Hi David.

    Beautifully these pictures.
    Nice area and lots of birds and ducks.
    The birds of prey are really beautiful.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  6. What a collection, I love your birds of prey David.

  7. Such lovely autumn colour, and those owls!!!!

  8. Beautiful birds and a perfect outing with friends. Loved the dive shot and all of the birds you saw on the water and your portraits are amazing.

  9. Wow sounds like a great day out and some fabulous photos. I have always said when I come back to this world next time around I want to be a Peregrine Falcon!! Good to hear that the birds are released back to the wild if they recover well enough. Have a good day Diane

  10. Gorgeous pictures and portraits of birds !!

  11. Hi. Really stunning photography. Beautiful birds. Fitness squirrel is so cute.

  12. Turkey Vultures do look like big chickens. Crazy evil airborne bloodthirsty chickens but chickens nevertheless..........

  13. Your post serves as an excellent reminder that great company, and a few birds, can turn a dull-weather day into something very special, David.

    It's always sad, however, to see magnificent raptors in cages, even if it is for very good reason. I applaud the people that are caring for these birds, and the educational work they do which, hopefully, will mean a better life for raptors (and other species) in the future.

    Love to you both - - - Richard

  14. Looks a lovely place to visit and I so enjoyed reading and looking at this post.
    Lovely to see all of the photographs ... as my Grandson would say 'they are AWESOME' and they are!

    Such a variety of shots and I did like seeing the American Red Squirrel too.

    Long may you all enjoy such walks together.

    All the best Jan

  15. First of all, beautiful shots as always! I love the Great Blue Heron and that action shot of the diving gull - always such a lovely sight. Thank you too for the kind words on my last post, sometimes it can be helpful to take a short break and return feeling refreshed, as you said! I'll be back next week with lots of new posts! - Tasha

  16. Hi Both, another interesting post and super read, you appear to have a wonderful circle of followers. Also some great images Miriam of the injured Raptors. All the best. John

  17. Fantástico reportaje mi amigo David!!! Un fuerte abrazo desde España.

  18. such lovely sights
    that bird diving into the water is an amazing capture
    loved seeing the owls too

  19. Hi David,
    This is a post full of beautiful pictures of nature and many wonderful birds.
    The hairy woodpecker is quite nice but the squirrel I find amazing to see. The pictures of the water birds are really beautiful to see. The large bird of prey in the tree you had spotted beautiful. This really enjoy all that lives in nature;-)
    The Raptors are all great pictures

    Greetings, Helma

  20. Hello David and Miriam, Great to go out with friends to enjoy nature. Love the photos Miriam took of the Raptors who are nurced back to health. Those people are doing a great job.
    Take care,
    Regards, Roos

  21. Wow, awesome pictures of birds of prey.
    Very nice to see David.
    Greetings Tinie

  22. So awesome bird images! And Squirrel is so cute!

  23. Hi David!
    Quite some pics here!!
    Franc's gull diving is indeed incredible!
    These outings with friends are great souvenirs :)
    Warm hugs to share with Miriam, keep well and enjoy the new week

  24. Hello David,
    Wonderful array of different birds.
    The Raptors are really beautiful.
    I have to laugh at the squirrel stretching.
    Best regards, Irma

  25. I missed this one David. A grey Canadian day turns into a fest of raptors. Splendid stuff and no reason not to support rehabilitation of birds back into the wild.

    I was really hoping to see some sunny pictures of Cuba with both you and Miriam puffing on a Havana whilst birding. Oh well, it's something to look forward to. Meanwhile our October warm turned into November gloom with nothing to brighten up the days except a Canadian visitor sampling the delights Of Knott End Chippy.

  26. Beautiful birds of prey, wonderful David.

  27. Hello David.
    The beginning of your post is a poem ! Its very nice.
    This raptor center shows beautiful specimens.