30 May 2017
For the first time in several weeks we had everyone together and looked forward to our day of birding.
Francine and Jim recently bought a book called 100 Nature Hotspots in Ontario and they have been scouting out various locations, one of which was the Devil's Punch Bowl in Stoney Creek, and spent a fine afternoon there, so we decided that would be the principal focus for our regular Tuesday excursion.
The main attraction for the general tourist is the unique geological formation from which the site gets its name.
But for the avid birder there are many varied and interesting trails to visit with a very pleasing assortment of species.
It did not take us long to spot our first Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus sallying forth from a convenient perch to snag every passing insect.
And American Yellow Warblers Setophaga aestiva were also quite common.
As far as I can recall we saw only males, females doubtless now being occupied with the task of incubating their eggs.
An Eastern Wood Pewee Contopus virens was perched unobtrusively in the woodland.
Grey-cheeked Thrush Catharus minimus is relatively unusual as a Hamilton area migrant (2006, Birds of Hamilton and Surrounding Areas. Robert Curry) which added an extra measure of delight to this sighting of an individual skulking in the dark recesses of the forest floor.
At the bottom of a steep trail there was a railway track and Franc heard a good deal of song from Indigo Buntings Passerina cyanea coming from that direction. It goes without saying that you would never let your kids play on the tracks, but who can stop a dedicated bunch of birders on a mission?
Our foolhardiness was well rewarded. Franc's ears had not deceived him and there was a whole group of Indigo Buntings seemingly engaged in some kind of courtship contest with much vocalization taking place.
Not to be outdone a male Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis belted out a few refrains of his own.
And a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak Pheucticus ludovicianus joined the fun too.
It was lunchtime and we headed to a local bakery where they kindly permitted us to eat out own food at their picnic tables. It worked well for them, however. Several people bought stuff in the store and they had a garden centre there too and Judy and Mary loaded up.
One of the trails is called Dofasco 2000 and we decided to try that after lunch.
It was a pleasant area and Judy and Mary had their presence recorded for posterity, front and back!
Two good looking friends from whichever angle you view them!
Before heading home we agreed to at least walk a little of another local attraction to scout it out for a possible future visit.
This area seems to hold great promise and we had not gone far when this Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe posed nicely for a picture.
The best bird of the day still awaited us, but this Olive-sided Flycatcher Contopus cooperi, was well worth waiting for. This species has declined measurably in recent years and is not often seen.
It was a great day out and the weather cooperated.
Thank goodness Jim and Francine bought that book. I wonder what other great destinations they will discover for us?