Instead of heading to the cottage this week-end to freeze my butt off, I took advantage of the blue skies and excellent winds that were directionally correct today to see hundreds of migrating raptors down at Cranberry Marsh:
This phenomenon only occurs in the fall at this location. Migrating hawks, falcons, eagles, and vultures are reluctant to fly over Lake Ontario as they migrate south for the winter, so instead choose to safely fly along the shoreline. When the winds are from the north or northwest, their numbers are usually higher as they are blown off track and are forced to fly back in our direction, and today that certainly was the case!
Most of the migrating raptors we saw were coming from Thickson's Point in the east, starting off as incredibly small specks in the distance, then were eventually identified as they got closer to us, and were counted and recorded by experienced birders:
During the three to four hours that I was there today, we saw mostly Turkey Vultures, Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrels, and Broad-winged Hawks.
As for quantity, my BOTD was definitely the Turkey Vulture, with a mug that only a mother could love:
I was fortunate to see quite a few Broad-winged Hawks; this sequence below is of the same one:
A young Red-tailed Hawk amused us:
On the path to the viewing platform the usual suspects were throwing themselves at us for food, including Black-capped Chickadees and Blue Jays, as well as Northern Cardinals, Mourning Doves, and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Rusty Blackbirds were foraging on the ground for seed:
Several White-throated Sparrows were also feeding, between practice sessions of their trademark "home sweet Canada, Canada, Canada" song. But trust me, some of these sparrows needed serious voice lessons, as their song frequently came out as "ho swee Cannaraaa Canaara Caanaawaaaaaaa" trailing off to nothing, it was too funny. Let's hope they clean up their act by next spring, otherwise they won't have a prayer of attracting a mate!