11 March 2017
One of the highlights of my birding year is the Annual General Meeting of the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society. It is always a lively meeting with great interaction among bluebird enthusiasts, most times a fine guest speaker, an excellent bucket raffle and a chance to learn new ways to help Eastern Bluebird Sialia sialis regain its former abundance in Ontario.
The lunch break is generally an hour and a half, lots of time to make it down to the DesJardins Canal in Dundas to do a little birding. I was, therefore, happy to eat the sandwich I had brought from home while sitting in the car watching the activity on the water. It was a cold day and I was not dressed for the outdoors so I passed on the walk I would normally take there, doubtless missing a few species.
On the way down to the canal I saw two Red-tailed Hawks Buteo jamaicensis in a tree, obviously a male and a female judging by the size difference, indicating that courtship has begun. By the time I took my photograph one of the pair had flown off and the second one departed soon afterwards.
I can readily bring to mind a few of my birding friends who are not especially partial to gulls, but as a family they fascinate me, and many are stunningly beautiful. This fact is certainly borne out by Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis, the most common gull in this part of North America.
By using the car as a blind it is quite easy to get very close to some of the birds, including this sub adult individual.
Here is a nice study of an adult and sub adult together.
While watching the gulls I kept a keen eye on the other comings and goings on the water and was happy to see a group of five American Black Ducks Anas rubipres swim by, purple speculums almost glowing (the picture doesn't do it justice).
An American Herring Gull Larus smithsonianus seemed to be very actively bathing, with a great deal of splashing and immersing itself underwater.
But perhaps there was a secondary purpose too, for it came up with a tasty morsel.
My principal target remained Ring-billed Gull and I took far too many photographs!
My first Killdeer Charadrius vociferus of the year put in an appearance. Soon their familiar cry will fill the air whenever we are in Killdeer habitat.
And at times three American Tree Sparrows Spizelloides arborea were grubbing around on the ground searching for any morsel they could find.
But did I mention that I like Ring-billed Gulls? I was very happy indeed to spend a little over an hour with them.
My appreciation grows with each encounter.