Doug, John and I bravely battled the morning rush-hour traffic across the city today in pursuit of a reported Acadian Flycatcher and Hooded Warbler in The Happy Valley Forest in King Township:
It was a good thing that our agility training was up to par, as the trail we followed to where the Acadian Flycatcher had been seen was quite lovely in the warm, summer sunshine but at times extremely treacherous as we had to haul ourselves over and/or around fallen trees, branches, or logs, but it was worth it in the end. Along the trail we were serenaded by a wonderful Wood Thrush, Winter Wren, Ovenbirds, and a Hooded Warbler, but sadly no visuals on any of these were offered up to us.
As a consolation prize we spotted a stunningly beautiful Red Eft on the trail, this is the terrestrial stage of the Red-spotted Newt (I just knew that some day that the Amphibian Identifier sheet from the Toronto Zoo would come in handy!!). It was bright orange in colour with black-bordered red spots- I just wish I could share what it looked like, but this is my punishment for leaving behind my toy camera in the car, as my other lens was too powerful to capture it, grrrrrrrrr.
We weren't exactly sure how far along the trail we needed to go to locate the Acadian Flycatcher (Ontbirds indicated "five minutes" in, but we were unclear if that included a time allowance for our obstacle course activity), but we soon heard his "pee-tsup" call and observed it for about 20 minutes as it initially lingered on a tree skag (my photo Hell continued, not one shot was in focus, I was not at all happy in The Happy Valley Forest!) and then eventually he moved onto a tree branch further in the forest, merrily calling away. Mission accomplished though, we had found the bird, my first Lifer of the day.
We re-traced our steps back along the trail and as our other target bird, the Hooded Warbler had gone silent on us (at that very same moment a brutal hill stood in front of us), we returned to the car, and at last I can now offer up this Northern Pearly-Eye Butterfly, what a sophisticated beauty!
Are you not totally impressed with me providing the name now?? Hah, my flutterby books arrived in the mail this past week, but my eyes are still glazing over as I peruse them, so with John's help, I seem to have a positive ID!
We departed for Wasaga Beach on Georgian Bay next for the breeding Piping Plovers (with the mandatory Timmie's stopover first, of course):
As indicated below, the Piping Plover is endangered in Canada, yet only since 2007 have successfully nested along the shores of the Ontario Great Lakes at Wasaga, Sauble and Oliphant beaches:
They do not choose their nest sites wisely, as they do so in the sand right on the beach, leaving themselves wide open to any number of threats, including predators (gulls, dogs, cats), human disturbance, and adverse weather conditions (chicks were killed last year by a hailstorm), to name a few. As a result, the nesting area is fenced off, with wire enclosures put over the nest to protect the eggs from predation. The birds and their nest site(s) are monitored daily by volunteers, the Piping Plover Guardians:
We were greeted by friendly volunteers upon our arrival who indicated to us that the male was taking his turn on the nest, as the (slightly drabber) female was on a break. Admittedly it's tough to see him, he's lying on the sandy beach, just to the left of the centre of the "pen", he's white below with a dark ring around his neck:
Here he is on the move now, to the left of the "pen". They're incredibly well-camouflaged, even the field guides describe their colour as "dry sand", and they're not kidding, unless the Piping Plovers move they're virtually impossible to see:
There are two eggs, with an unconfirmed third one, the volunteers try to take advantage of the "changing of the guard" to count them.
Dad's dealing with an itch:
Meanwhile his Bride continues her incubation time-out on the shoreline, she's also tough to spot:
So this pair was my second Lifer for the day!
But time was now running out as we were on a deadline to return back home, but we squeezed in a brief stop at Minesing Wetlands. (BTW, we later heard that a 5.0 magnitude earthquake had hit Ontario and Quebec while we were in transit, drat!).
John and Doug are at a stand-off here as to who can do the higher keg-toss with that yellow can....
We had no idea how massive these wetlands were, barely skimming the surface in our thirty minutes there, but recognized its great potential for a return visit.
So I ended the day with two Lifers, and as well as another Year Bird (Wood Thrush). Not counting the Hooded Warbler, only a half tick Lifer, perhaps tomorrow at Glen Major/Bluebird Trail I can see one??? Hmmmmmmmmmm