...after being in serious work mode at the cottage, which is now closed up for another season, wahhhhh. You have no idea how challenging it is to combine two households back into one, but it's now over and done with for the year, so once again I'm focusing on Durham Region for my birding.
On Tuesday I went along the hydro line path that runs through Heber Down Conservation Area and found some lingering fall colours:
Another view of the area:
The highlight of my hike was two new species for the season, a flock of Fox Sparrows:
The noise of my camera shutter drew in my second species, several Hermit Thrushes were at times too close for my lens!
A White-throated Sparrow fed in the bushes that had gone to seed:
Thickson's Point/Woods was my next and final stop for the day, as it had been ages since my last visit there. An immature Northern Harrier flew in off the lake (!):
As I continued into the woods, a noisy Red-bellied Woodpecker went silent, as did all other birds, as another hawk flew into the woods to rest. A Cooper's Hawk, possibly?? Yay or Nay, anyone?
Not only did this fellow put a damper on things, but rainshowers added to my misery, so I quickly returned to the car. Dan, a fellow birder, pointed out a Northern Mockingbird to me, my final bird of the day:
On Wednesday I met up with John at Lynde Shores Conservation Area to look for some reported shorebirds by the creek from the day before, but we dipped on those. However, I still managed forty-two species for the day between there and the Cranberry Marsh Raptor Watch, and we even saw a deer:
I had my first American Tree Sparrow, Bufflehead, and Common Merganser for the season (wahhh, winter is coming!). A few surprise stragglers included some Eastern Phoebes and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
I ended the week with a trip to Hall's Road to join in at the Cranberry Marsh Raptor Watch, with limited success on the raptor front, but I daresay this Peregine Falcon flying overhead was one of the highlights:
The usual suspects around the feeders kept me busy, and one of my new favorite birds is once again the colourful Fox Sparrow that's moving through the area:
Dark-eyed (slate-coloured) Juncos are precious little visitors that spend their winter with us here:
A female Eastern Towhee occasionally ventured out onto the path to feed...
...as did a female Northern Cardinal, it saddens me that she's often underappreciated as her colourful male counterpart gets all of the attention. Isn't she lovely??!!
One of the resident Blue Jays, perhaps the same one that actually grazed me on a fly-by when I was looking for raptors on the platform:
A Song Sparrow was enjoying the feeder:
Red-winged Blackbirds, like these first year birds below, often butt into the line at the feeder:
Rusty Blackbirds preferred to feed on the ground:
The darlin' White-throated Sparrows are gorgeous to watch:
I love these adorable sparrows so much that I just have to include some orphan images from last week, too:
So based on the number of raptor photos here, it was a relatively quiet day for the hawk watch, with mostly Turkey Vultures, Sharp-shinned and Red-tailed Hawks moving through, so I left for the day.
But on my way home I spied a raptor on the wing in the industrial area east of Sobey's Pond, so of course I took off after it: an adult Red-Tailed Hawk was perched on a lamp standard, check out the colour of its tail, beauteous!!
My final treat for the day was this colourful male American Kestrel that was hunting in a field, but kept returning to the same location on a wire:
The American Kestrel (also known as the Sparrow Hawk) is the smallest falcon in North America, but happens to be the most colourful hawk in the world, according to one of my field guides:
And I just have to brag about my Lifer from last week too: I accompanied John last Friday as he scouted out the Durham shoreline in advance of the Pickering Naturalists' outing last week-end, beginning at Hydro Marsh in Pickering:
Even though it may appear that John is looking into a jungle here, I can assure you that there is indeed a marsh that he's checking for ducks:
This Solitary Sandpiper was my Lifer for the day/week, whoohoo! Not the best pics, but I don't care:
On the down side, it was unfortunate that it took me a full day to discover that this was a Lifer, as it would have eased the pain and suffering caused by my scope crashing down on the pavement by
my own incompetence the blustery winds at Rotary Park in Ajax. Not on the grass, noooooooooo, of course not. Pelee Wings has come to the rescue, though, with a replacement thingamajig, so I'll check out my optics, collimation, etc, in the morning. Fingers crossed!!
So this entry brings me almost back up to date now with my blog, although there are still some cottage stragglers out there, so consider yourself warned!!