Monday, October 1, 2012

The Big "100"

As mentioned in my last post, I spent a few mornings at the mud flats of Coote's Paradise off the east side of Princess Point created by the lack of rainfall from the very dry summer and fall.  I waited for the golden glow of the early sun's rays to come over the tree tops.  With the slow advance of the edge of light, mud and water and shore birds became light enough for photographing.

Well, I hit the 100 mark on my birding life list!  Though not anywhere close to the huge count of Josh Vandermeulen who is currently doing an Ontario big year (At the time of this post, his blog reports he sits at 331, and we are all hoping he can surpass the record of 338.) I'm still pretty pleased with my 100th bird on my list.  At first I had not planned to do the list thing, but somehow it just happens as you start to tally what you have seen so far.  I'll introduce bird 98, 99, and 100 in order, all shore birds.

The first shore bird was from a group of Lesser Yellow Legs, wading in the soft mud hunting for small creatures living there.  These birds breed in Northern Canada and have pretty much finished their migrating pass through our area on their way south, mostly to South America.

Lesser Yellowlegs arriving.

Lesser Yellowlegs wing stretch.

Lesser Yellowlegs

Lesser Yellowlegs and turtle.

The next shore bird I found were a group of Least Sandpipers wading along the eastern shore just off the recreation trail which links with Bay Front Park.  They are the smallest of the Sandpipers (often called Peeps).

Trio of Least Sandpipers
My 100th life bird happened by accident really.  I was taking pictures of the Least Sandpipers and saw this bird up closer and snapped some shots thinking it was a more brave bird of that group.  But when editing, I noticed the markings seemed different.  To tell you the truth, I didn't even know what the Least Sandpipers were till after receiving some help from some other birding/blogging friends Caleb and Dwayne - thanks!  I have to admit that for the most part, many of the shorebirds all looking very similar and hard to clearly distinguish.  I'm sure if saw them more often and was routinely IDing them, that would change, but that is not likely to happen. For now anyways, the key to IDng the Least Sandpipers is their yellow legs.

Life Bird #100 - Semipalmated Sandpiper

A song sparrow was also foraging, resting the drier mud portions for bugs and other food.  Some Mallard ducks were preening across the water.

Song Sparrow
Female Mallard Ducks preening.

A Great Blue Heron seemed to be waking from what may have been its roost for the night.  I think they usually will roost in trees, but this may have been a safe spot for the night.  It was definitely going through a thorough stretch routine of each leg, wing, neck... That neck of theirs is quite something.  All herons have very long necks, and they seem to have a couple of hinge points allowing them collapse quite compactly.  I search on the net quite a bit and didn't find anything specific about it.  Notable is that herons do this, but cranes and geese fly with their necks fully extended.

Great Blue Heron waking up.
Great Blue Heron wing stretch.
Great Blue Heron neck stretch.

On the way back to the car, heading back to work, I had to try and capture these sights... the dew was heavy on the huge number of spider's webs all over the golden rod and other brush.

Morning dew on a spider web.

On the way home that night, I saw quite a few birds and stopped making me quite late for supper.  Some how, at the moment it seem perfectly logical that a stop is justified and that it will only take a couple minutes.  I don't often have the camera in the car on the ready, so this time I didn't resist.

I stopped first at a bridge on Hwy 5 which crosses Spencer Creek where I very regularly see a Great Blue Heron  in the shallow waters.  I thought I'd try and sneak up on him.  I didn't work and I only got some blurry fleeing flight shots.  What I hadn't noticed was a Green Heron right on the shore, just in front of me, close to the bridge.  I was just about to leave and I must have finally scared it and it flew up into a tree a little ways off.  I have had similar things happen often, and I have to remember to look around more carefully after having seen one bird - often there are others.

Green Heron.

On my detoured route home, I drove past, turned around and shot this Red-tailed Hawk from my window before it grew too wary of me and flew off.  Further on my drive I repeated for a much larger Red-tail which was likely a female, being larger than the males.

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

I've noticed this set of woodpecker holes on a dead tree I pass every day to and from work.  I've seen a woodpecker right at the hole once during the summer, but as mentioned earlier, I rarely have the camera with me and am often on my way to work or just about home.

Woodpecker nest?
This time I stopped and noticed a dead Elm close by where there were a number of Red-bellied Woodpeckers flitting about from branch to branch along with a number of other birds.  There are 6 birds in the picture below, and at least four different birds.  If someone is really good at silhouette, they can fill me in on what they think the other birds are.

Can you find the 6 birds in this photo?  One is a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Below is some help... I've received a few comments already on this one. :)

1. ???
2. Blue Jay
3. Mourning Dove
4. ???
5. ???
6. Red-bellied Woodpecker

Just down the road is Fairchild's Creek and again I almost snuck up on a Great Blue Heron.  A Belted Kingfisher chided me as well and stayed long enough for a distant photo.

Belted Kingfisher

I seem to have days where I get to see lots of birds all one after the other, and then other days when I see next to nothing.  Well, I'm still behind on posts, so there are more to come for the blog anyway.  One more blog post on the Princess Point area of Coote's Paradise to come, and then a post on a trip up to the Lodge again.  Fall is coming with the crisp air, full bodied clouds and blue skies, amazing colour display of the turning leaves. favourite season.


  1. Congrats on making it to 100!!! Great shot of the Lesser Yellowlegs landing! The spider webs are gorgeous. I also love the Red-tail close up. Great shots Brian!

  2. 1 - Looks like a Goldfinch
    4+5 - Look like Cedar Waxwings



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