Ann and I left the house by 9 a.m. and lasted for just under four hours today. Ma Nature won the battle with a 42º humidex temperature in the end, but we got some abfab birds, including one of our target birds for the day, whoohooo!
We began in north Pickering at a marsh, and we were greeted by- you guessed it- Cedar Waxwings:
A Spotted Sandpiper was bobbing along in the guck:
A Kildeer was melting away (I admit to never noticing his red eye ring until now):
... note the rufous rump and broad white wing-stripe as he lands:
We also encountered a Mallard, several Red-winged Blackbirds, a Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flickers, Eastern Wood-Pewee (audio only), and the BOTD, Virginia Rails! It was incredibly difficult to see it through the reeds and cattails, but we spent a good hour there and were rewarded in the end.
Before that, though, this Bullfrog chilled in the water, despite being covered by mosquitoes, if you look carefully on his back behind his eyes:
After hearing the Virginia Rail's bizarre voice and odd noises for quite some time, it finally came into view for Ann and I, we were thrilled, although it was not a cooperative subject due to its highly secretive nature. You can see what we were up against with it hiding in the cattails, then scurrying along in the water, it took us several attempts to photograph it (both sexes are alike, so we're not sure if it's a male or female):
Great views here of its gray cheek and reddish bill, we loved the colour of the eye too, what a looker!
Now the fun begins: this chicken-shaped marsh bird runs erratically, ie it takes one cautious step, then pauses, then takes three reaaaaaally fast ones, then pauses, etc, etc, Ann and I went insane trying to get acceptable shots that were in focus, so we were both pleased to see some decent results.
"On your mark..."
It was amazing it could move that fast in the heat!!!
We continued north to the Clairmont Conservation Area for our target bird, an Indigo Bunting, but we were subjected to other interesting subjects first, starting with this sparrow, who is NOT singing but PANTING, I kid you not, that's how hot it was today:
However, these House Sparrows opted to have some "hot fun in the summertime", a bit of bird porn for John:
Here she's no doubt screaming at him "Aren't you even going to ask me my name???"
Even this Monarch Butterfly was melting away:
Ann and I had to restrain ourselves from hurling ourselves over a bridge into the creek to cool off when we saw this Eastern Phoebe by the water's edge, it was too hot for him to even do his usual tail-bob:
But our target bird beckoned, singing away in the heat at mid-day, ya gotta just love him, our Indigo Bunting:
We returned to the comfort of the air-conditioned van and drove next to Glen Major, where we
staggered through the heat on our knees for chased more Indigo Buntings, along with a House Wren, an Eastern Bluebird, and this wonderful singing Gray Catbird by the parking lot:
But we were done like dinner with the heat and were no longer ashamed to admit it, so we caved and returned home, but en route hit the marsh again for some Wood Ducks, a first for me to see babies!
A mother Mallard and her three ducklings swam around in the sludge, I have no idea what the three of them are looking at, or is it a synchronized swimming move??
The Cedar Waxwings were still there, but I'll spare you the pain of any more photos of them today. Despite it being cut short, it was one of the most productive outings in a while, especially as I announced yesterday that the BIRD DROUGHT had begun- HAH, what do I know???
Thanks again to Ann for
her air-conditioned van a great time, I suspect we will both think back on this day six months from now as we complain about a windchill of -40º...