Friday 14 April 2017

Good Friday, Good Birding

Today I decided to do a "Little Big Half-Day" of birding. I started by riding my bike out to Uplands Trail, a place that is rich in birds and is less than 5 minutes away by bicycle.

The woods were alive with the sounds of early spring. Northern Flickers proved to be quite abundant, and there are at least a couple of pairs in the area.

Black-capped Chickadees are starting to pair off and scout nesting sites, if they have not already selected one.

Ruby-crowned Kinglets are moving through. I would learn later in the day that May is for Warbler Neck and April is for Kinglet Neck.

There were a few other woodland birds too, including FOY Hermit Thrushes.

Northern Cardinal

Hermit Thrush 

Eastern Phoebe

Coltsfoot is out in full force.

At the end of my visit to Uplands Trail, I got on a large corvid (the family crows, ravens, and jays belong to) that was making some unusual vocalizations. It was mobbing a Red-tailed Hawk, and, amazingly, the bird appeared to be the same size as the hawk. This alone leads me to believe that I saw a Common Raven, which is very uncommon to the area. However, I can't be sure as I didn't get outstanding looks at the bird.

Later in the day I headed out to Killaly ESA. First, we walked the trail on the south side of the river. Here we found a variety of birds typical for the area, including a FOY Yellow-bellied Sapsucker.

House Finch

Turkey Vulture

American Robin

Chipping Sparrow

Northern Flicker - incredibly common today

This flower was all over the place...I'm not sure what it is though. Any thoughts?

Fig Buttercup

Is this a log or a Muskrat?...I'll let you be the judge of that!

Afterwards, we walked the north side of the river on which the majority of the ESA is located.

The Osprey have returned, however they are still ignoring the perfectly good nesting platform that the city and MNR erected last year.

I was pleased to see a few Six-spotted Tiger Beetles along the trails.

It was a nice surprise to find a pair of Eastern Bluebirds checking out a nest box. With any luck, they will stick around and raise a brood.

Kinglets of both the Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned variety were everywhere.

As usual, there was a Great Blue Heron hanging around.

Eastern Phoebes (or Easter Phoebes as Blake calls them at this time of year) are becoming easier to find as time progresses.

I finally saw my first Yellow-rumped Warbler of the year in Ontario! This species had remained elusive despite how hard and often I looked for it. It's always exciting to see the first warbler of the year!

I find that birding in April gets you excited for the big push in May, but also makes you realize that you are bored out of your mind looking at Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Little Brown Jobs.

Also present were several Cabbage Whites and Red Admirals.

After supper, to finish a great day out in the field, we headed out to Gibbon's Park, which is a spot well worth checking out in April, as early migrants are moving through.

Here we managed to find a Great Horned Owl.

The nest succeeded this year with three owlets.

Remember to follow all the ethics while viewing owls, especially nests, and NEVER use flash photography, as I saw people using tonight. In fact, one photographer had quite the extensive flash set-up that was blindingly bright.

Just as we were about to leave, I heard a soft but distinct peent! American Woodcock!

I always thought that Gibbon's had a great potential for woodcocks, so it was great to confirm my suspicions.

I ended my  "Little Big Half-Day" with 48 species, possibly 49 if it was in fact a raven I saw. Not bad considering I did all of it within a short distance from my house! Hopefully I can get out again soon.

eBird Checklists:
Uplands Trail
Killaly Meadows ESA (South side of Thames)
Killaly Meadows ESA (North side of Thames)
Gibbon's Park


  1. Unfortunately, the mystery yellow flower looks like invasive "Fig Buttercup."