Sunday, May 5, 2013

Bayfront Park Finds

Another dated post here... The weather has finally been spring like here in Southern Ontario!  And it's great!  A couple weeks ago, I headed to Bayfront Park for a lunch break that needed to be shorter. The park is a quick 2 minute drive, almost literally down the hill from where our office is. I hadn't been there for quite some time and thought I'd see what there was to see.

In the Marina side of the park, a pretty pair of Lesser Scaups were dabbling around.  Click on the picture to see it full-size: I never knew Scaup's heads were iridescent.  This shot shows it brightly glowing purple.

Lesser Scaup pair

Next, heading off the paved trails, in a small, un-manicured portion of the park along the water's edge there was a small flock of Tree Swallows having spousal discussions about whether the price matched the location and the view of lots of brand spanking new bird nesting boxes around the park. 

Tree Swallow Pair

Keeing with the iridescent theme, these pretty little birds bright colours are brilliantly blue.  I didn't realize though that the females also have some nice little specks of the blue iridescence in their plumage too.

female Tree Swallow

male Tree Swallow

 As I rounded the point towards the "beach bay" I thought spotted a familiar shape, but check myself. This is necessary because in the Hamilton area, "that" silhouette is usually a Double-Crested Cormorant .  But, a second look confirmed my initial impression.  A Common Loon was diving for food.  Initially it was relatively close.  I wonder if it is a first year bird... though distant, the cropped pictures still seem to show just the slightest of the remaining brown plumage characteristic of a juvenile.  Not sure though.

Common Loon

Though not common in the area, they are often seen during the migration period.  Not sure how many have been noted in the Bayfront Park area though.  Mostly I've heard them observed/reported along the shores of Lake Ontario.

Common Loon

As I continued along the trail, a European Starling lingered long enough in one spot for me to get a couple pictures.  They are always on the move with their twitchy, almost nervous pursuit, appearing as if they are frantic for food after having gone without for days.  In the spring, they are actually beautifully decorated with highlights purples and greens with contrasting feather tips dipped in a light tan. 

European Starling

The relatively common Song Sparrow, aptly named for its prolific singing, posed nicely for me for this shot.  Its mother will be upset though for not wiping it's beak before the pictures.

Song Sparrow

Last spring in February, at almost exactly the same location, I discovered my first White-winged Scoter.  This year, it was definitely not my first of the year, but I spotted a lone bird sleeping, bobbing in the gentle waves, not an apparent care evidenced by its bill tucked under a wing.  Once it had drifted close enough to the shore, it stretched and went to finding lunch of mussels and crustaceans along the water bottom.

White-winged Scoter

White-winged Scoter dive.

Standing on the armourstone blocks that edge the water, I could clearly see it swimming, hunting with great speed through the boulders and obstacles in the water just ahead of me only meters away. Then he would pop to the surface and crunch the foraged mussel or captured crayfish and swallow it shells and all.  They have powerful mussels in their crop which break up the shells of their meal and they break down and then digest the tough meals.

White-winged Scoter eating Crayfish.

White-winged Scoter eating mussel.

Keep enjoying HIS handiwork!


  1. Brian, nice shots... you're using your new lens well. love the loons, and that tree swallow box looks to be well made!

  2. Bri, these are beautiful pictures! I love the close up pictures of the small birds, with their colours (which I haven't always noticed, especially the starling), and the fine, fine feathers that show up so clearly. So great to have a new lens, eh, Bri? Love, Mom


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