It is with a great deal of pleasure that we are finally able to offer outings to our members again, now that we are permitted to have gatherings of people outdoors, with limits that will never be exceeded by our groups. The Delta variant is cause for concern, but we can only hope that more people will get vaccinated and its threat fades into the background.
I always consider 1 September as the first day of fall, so an outing was a great way to get right into migration.
Here are the details of our field trip.
Leader: David Gascoigne
Participants: Carol Anderson, Ross Getsinger, Denise Leschak, Karl Malhotra, Sandye Moores, Angélique Mori, Colleen Reilly, Adrienne Zoe
It was a picture perfect day for an outing, with modest temperatures, bright sunshine and light breezes.
Usually on these outings Miriam accompanies me and she takes photographs while I am busy trying to find birds, identify them and provide some background information to the participants. On this day she had other plans and I am indebted to Adrienne and Colleen for permitting me to use their high quality images. Not only are they fine photographers they are very gracious people.
Before getting into the details of the day's activities let me say a few words about Colleen and her group, The Pipits.
They do field trips based on a range of organisms from birds to plants, amphibians, mammals, insects - anything related to natural history in fact.
Recently, on one of their outings, Colleen crossed paths with our president, Janet Ozaruk, and we are going to explore opportunities for joint cooperation.
Based on the few hours I spent in the field with Colleen I can only say that it will be a pleasure to be involved together.
DesJardins Canal, Dundas, ON
This location is a remarkable spot for birding, with significant attractions at different times of the year.
I have been coming here for at least thirty years, and in September have never failed to locate Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax). Moreover, adults and juveniles are always present and it is instructive to see them together. For some of the enthusiastic naturalists on this trip, it was a first sighting of this species.
Black-crowned Night Heron (adult)
Black-crowned Night Heron (juvenile)
Wood Ducks (Aix sponsa) were also present, mainly keeping to cover at the edge of the water, but occasionally venturing forth to display their unrivalled beauty.
It is always a pleasure to see Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps).
At the end of the DesJardins Canal one finds the Urquhart Butterfly Garden (https://urquhartbutterfly.com/about/frederick-urquhart-a-short-biography/) where a riot of colours awaits the visitor at this time of the year. Some of the many plants found there, planted with pollinators in mind are:
Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
Wingstem (Verbesina alternifolia)
House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) found both food and cover.
Grindstone Creek, Hamilton, ON
The absolute stars of the show at this location were a couple of Green Herons (Butorides virescens) located close to shore and seemingly indifferent to to the cameras pointed at them.
Several Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) demonstrated why they are considered by many to be the aristocracy of the avian world.
Western Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) will soon be moving south, but an individual still here put on a great display for us.
LaSalle Park and Marina, Burlington, ON
By the time we arrived at LaSalle it was time for lunch, which we were able to enjoy en plain air, entertained by a Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) swimming and diving in front of us, joined by a couple of Mallards (Anas platyrynchos) and a Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) or two.
Cormorants were perched at several locations throughout the marina.
Their number does not begin to approach the large flocks present just a couple of years ago as Ontario goes about the unrestricted slaughter of this gentle species, based on prejudice and hearsay, conspiracy theory and lack of science, stupidity and bloodlust, and fisherfolks' greed. We continue to display an amazing proclivity to elect idiots as leaders so we can probably anticipate more of the same.
Adrienne caught this dramatic flight of one of the lucky ones, who escaped the guns of those brave and noble folks who fire away at them, leaving injured birds to die a lingering, painful death, and young birds to starve in the nest waiting for parents who will never return with food.
There was a movement of migratory warblers and other passerines that was the stuff of birders' dreams.
Here are just some of the species that were passing through; these are the ones we managed to capture on camera.
Blackburnian Warbler (Setophaga fusca)
Northern Parula (Setophaga americana)
Magnolia Warbler (Setophaga magnolia)
Philadelphia Vireo (Vireo philadelphicus)
Adrienne had told me that she was very keen to get a shot of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilocus colubris) feeding on Spotted Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) and you will no doubt agree that she succeeded spectacularly.
A couple of Red-eyed Vireos (Vireo olivaceus) joined the throng of migrants forging their way south.
LaSalle provided all the excitement one could wish for. Colleen and Angélique opted to go to Paletta park in the hope of another warbler movement. The rest of us decided to move on to Bronte Harbour in Oakville.
Along the way, through Burlington, at Joseph Brant Hospital our passage was slowed considerably, and we were witness to a disgusting display by anti-vaccination fanatics, bent on disrupting traffic, impeding the flow of ambulances carrying sick patients, screaming obscenities, deriding the doctors and nurses who dedicate their lives to helping others, and spouting nonsense, and carrying signs promoting every conspiracy theory in circulation.
It is sad that legitimate protest has descended to this.
Bronte Harbour, Oakville, ON
We had a very pleasant stroll around the harbour but bird life was sparse.
Red-necked Grebes (Podiceps grisegena) have for several years been the main attraction for birders, spring through fall, and breeding has taken place consistently. This year we saw only two birds, quite far out, and no sign of young.
We were unable to get a picture of the birds present, so I am adding a couple from my files, taken at the same location in years past.
When we parted company to return home we all agreed that it had been a fine day's birding, enhanced by the pleasure of each other's company.
I plan to run this same excursion again on 25 September and look forward to another fine outing.