Yesterday was a Big Dip Day, as Rosemary, John and I travelled to the west end of Lake Ontario to not see some reported rarities, including a secretive Le Conte's Sparrow and odds 'n' sods at Van Wagner's Beach. But the day was fun regardless, and if nothing else, has whetted my appetite for winter birding!
As we loaded up the car at John's, Cedar Waxwings were feeding on mountain ash berries:
Our first Dip for the day was at the "Rona Pond" in Waterdown, and after patiently surveying this old quarry for the Le Conte's Sparrow, we packed it in and continued over to Van Wagner's Beach after lunch. It too was quiet, and the glaring absence of any local birders translated into our second Dip for the day. Our third Dip for the day was at Windermere Basin, due to dredging activity going on in the water, so we headed back to Burlington to the marina in LaSalle Park.
How desperate was I by now?? I was so desperate that I took photos of a Double-crested Cormorant sunbathing on the rocks:
There were other birds out on the water though, including Canada Geese, Trumpeter Swans, Mallards, American Black Ducks, and American Coots. As we could see more waterfowl off in the distance, we decided to follow the North Shore Boulevard to take advantage of various lookout points along the way.
On our way out, Hawkeye John spotted an odd fellow amongst the Canada Geese in LaSalle Park:
At one of Burlington's "Windows to the Lake", Rosemary and John checked out the view, with the Skyway Bridge in the distance:
We added Hooded Mergansers, White-winged Scoters, Common Goldeneye and Bufflehead to our day list, and at our next stop, Spencer Smith Park, we were overjoyed to find more birds that were closer to shore, including my favourite, the Long-tailed Duck:
John and Rosemary watch as they move closer to shore. Note John's brilliant red baseball cap as the Leafs continue their losing streak, so he may as well pack away his blue one, which only sees the light of day if/when they win:
My first Surf Scoters (aka Goggle-nose, Horse-head, and of course Skunkhead for the adult male) for the season were plentiful. After looking at my photos, I'm leaning towards them being immature males versus females, but there could be a mix of both:
In Rosemary's words, this one Surf Scoter did his best penguin impersonation, as he somehow managed to raise himself up out of the water and briefly parade around before sinking back down into the water:
Our final stop at Sioux Lookout in Burlington....
...yielded some of the usual suspects, solving the "how-do-they-get-the-green-in-goose-poop" mystery:
duck goose was off on its own in the park:
So despite it being a Big Dip Day, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and I'm now especially pumped for winter birding as these "winter birds" are wonderful to see again in these above-average temps!
But autumn leaves beckoned me this afternoon, so Tessa kept me company in the backyard as I did some final raking for the season: