Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Quick Birding Break

I've been very busy in the past week with 4 exams, but I still managed to get down to Hamilton for an afternoon last weekend with a few other birders from the university.

Our first goal was to find one of the Snowy Owls that have been seen around Hamilton Harbor recently. Sure enough, a heavily marked owl (so presumably a young female) was apparent at the back of the Tollgate Ponds off Eastport Drive.

The many Northern Shoveler seemed very unconcerned about the owl. They may not have been able to even see it with how close to shore they were, but it's hard to tell. This is my second Snowy Owl of this year's irruption, with hopefully more to come!

We continued on to Fifty Point Conservation Area, where we quickly got reasonable views of my lifer Common Eider. It wasn't nearly as close as some others have seen it, so I didn't bother with pictures, but a number of photographers have obtained excellent photos of this female (e.g Josh Vandermeulen).

Our final stop was the continuing female King Eider a few kilometres down the shoreline. King Eider is far more common on Lake Ontario than Common Eider (probably one of the few places that's true), and this was my 5th. It offered great looks, giving a nice comparison with the Common.

This sort of hasty, twitch-focused birding (for those not familiar with all the birding lingo, a twitch is the act of chasing a reported rare bird) with more time in the car than the field isn't really my ideal thing, but it was great to get out for an afternoon and see some awesome birds.

On Saturday I'm covering in my normal route in the Oakville-Mississauga Christmas Bird Count. I'm looking forward to it despite the very cold temperatures in the forecast. In the past few years I've had some great birds, including Barred Owl and Common Yellowthroat. A full day in the field is bound to turn up some interesting finds, especially as the snow and cold pushes birds to feeders.

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