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|
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!