Monday, November 18, 2013

LaSalle Marina Visit

Earlier this week (yes, I'm pretty much caught up on my posts!), ror the first time in ages, I took a lunch hour to do some birding.  Once out, I realized how much I had missed doing it.  Strangely, even though I enjoy it, I'll have to admit much of my lack of outings is laziness.  I headed to LaSalle Marina with hopes of seeing Canvasbacks (a duck which I still have not seen) that were reported on the Hamilton birders group, along with other migrating warblers that had been seen.

The weather was nice with the temperature gaining a few degrees and the winds of the day before calmed down, but there was not much activity in the way of birds. The early migrating ducks were showing some appearances thought: Buffleheads Redbreasted Mergansers, and Scaups were there in small quantities.  The Trumpeter Swans that overwinter here were noisily making sure they were noticed.  I did spot one lone Redhead Duck which is my first self found bird of that variety and only the second time I've seen one.  I also saw female Buffleheads, which strangely I had never seen before - or just never noticed maybe?

Redhead (l) and Bufflehead (r)

I walked the boardwalk hoping to get a glimpse of the foxes that have been frequenting the beach area with an apparent comfort with the many visitors in the area, but they were not to be seen.  A White-breasted Nuthatch gave up on handouts from me and went back to finding the food it is supposed to find in the crevices of the tree bark.

White-breasted Nuthatch

A walk down and back along the trail east past the beach yielded only a couple Northern Cardinals and Chickadees... surprisingly quiet.  I visited the opposite side of the Marina and saw a few other birds around the rocky break wall.  A female Bufflehead did a nice slow cruise quite close by giving me opportunity to add a nice few shots of the fairer sex of that variety.

female Bufflehead

Notice the stiff tail feathers fanned out in the picture above.  It uses these as a rudder to help it steer underwater as it dives for small underwater insects and crustations.  Along with Goldeneyes, and Wood Ducks, Buffleheads don't nest on the ground like most ducks, but lay their eggs in tree cavities, nesting in cavities created by other birds like woodpeckers such as the Northern Flicker.

female Bufflehead

female Bufflehead

On the unprotected side of the wind-break, the Red-breasted Mergansers were foraging.

female Red-breasted Merganser

I also spotted a bit of a find - at least two Horned Grebes.  They were not too excited about me being around though so I had only a few moments to try and get some shots as they bobbed in the waves
from the wind that had slowly been picking up during my hour there, or dove out of sight.  The pictures aren't the greatest, but do show the more defined border between its black crown and white neck compared to an Eared Grebe.  I was hoping the Eared Grebe would be the ID, another bird I've not seen yet.

non-breeding Horned Grebe

non-breeding Horned Grebe

As I headed back to the car, a clear and unique bird song caught my attention.  I spent a good five minutes trying to locate and track it down, but never found it.  Usually as I move about I can pin point the location, but it would singing a few phrases, and then stop only to move slightly and through me off.  I never did find it, and could not remember it well enough to play bird songs to try and ID it that way.  A mystery never to be solved.  Just makes me realize that that part of my ability is pretty thin and would help me to know where to look and what I'm looking for.  Maybe some day.

Till then,
keep enjoying HIS handiwork!

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