Sunday, September 18, 2011

A few (okay, more than a few!) from Rosetta and Bluffers Park

Yesterday I had 3 pet sits and all of them were in the evening.  This never happens, so I decided to do a bit of wandering both at Rosetta and then down at Bluffers Park.  There weren't a lot of birds of prey at the Rosetta McClain Gardens Raptor Watch but a few other birds were on the move, starting with these Canada Geese:

These juvenile American Robins took advantage of the fountain and spruced themselves up:

A number of Northern Flickers also went through, first they migrated the wrong way until the local Cooper's Hawk came through and they went the right way!

This ship was slowly making its way out of Toronto.  You can see Niagara Falls on the right side:

Gull over the lake:

It's a's a's a Squnk!

Butterfly folded itself up on the grass:

Poses by a grey squirrel and a red one:

Blue Jay at the top of the tree, looking for peanuts:

A broad-winged hawk flew over:

Down to Bluffers Park to visit with some ducks:

A very friendly juvenile Northern Mockingbird was hanging out in the bushes:

He didn't get a ticket because it was Authorized Parking!


I was dying for fries with ketchup...go figure, the snack bar was open and the smell of grease must have done it.  I sat down and suddenly had a bunch of customers:

I decided to go over to the eastern part of the park.  When I got out of the car I saw a circling bird of prey which I immediately tried to turn into an eagle.  It was a red-tailed hawk and it was ratty looking!  It was circling at the top of the bluffs and kept calling out that oh so cool keeeeeeer sound!  What I didn't realize at the time was there was a second red-tailed hawk that wasn't ratty looking.  I guess they were having a conversation:

This is part of the reason the bluffs erode.  This was caused by Swallows:

I drove up to the top of the Bluffs in hopes of finding the hawks, but they weren't around.  Here's what it looks like from high above:

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ahhhh, it feels like Fall!

I had a little bit of time this morning to go to Rosetta McClain Gardens because the much anticipated Northwest winds were due to arrive, and with them large numbers of migratory raptors!

There was quite a large group at the park and the birds were flying through quite quickly.  First, some gorgeous shots of the lake and clouds, and don't forget, you can double click on any shot to enlarge:

And in this next one you can see the mist from Niagara Falls, next to the Skylon:

Blue Jay on a bench:


Sharp-shinned hawk

Broad-winged hawk:

Totally crappy picture but an eagle is an eagle is an eagle.  This one was in the Markham/Kingston Road area but never made it's way to the Watch.  I saw 3 while walking dogs today and this was the closest. It was low when furthest from me and climbed higher as it approached:

Eagle with gull:

Back to the watch for a third time, and we saw a rainbow.  It started off over the edge of the bluffs where the poplar (RIP) used to be, then travelled across the lake:

And the Northern Cardinal who comes for peanuts showed up late in the day:

Bruce, Walter and I were the last ones there and we left just before the snow flew (okay, maybe not but it was REALLY cold!)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A few treats from Rosetta McClain Gardens

I love this time of year, especially since I've become a part of the Rosetta McClain Gardens Raptor Watch.  For those who don't know what a Raptor Watch is, there are a number of them along migratory routes on the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and more.  People count migrating birds of prey between August and December, and for the official Raptor Watches, data is compiled annually on the number of birds that are counted.  Does it sound boring or strange?  I'm pretty sure a lot of people think we're nuts!  However, when you get hooked, you're hooked for life and we get a charge out of spotting birds of prey when they're tiny dots in the sky or when a Bald Eagle flies past us at eye level! And yes, it's true, we DO see eagles in the sky over Toronto, they don't nest here (yet!) but they have made a remarkable comeback after being endangered for a long time.

I hadn't been down to the park much during the day but had been going in the late afternoon.  A couple of weeks ago I was driving towards the park when I saw a big, dark bird circling low near Kingston Road and Warden Avenue.  Whenever it circled at an angle I would see the flashes of white head and tail and knew it was an adult bald eagle!  I went towards the area it had been in and was happy to see it was still circling while climbing higher and higher until it was up by the clouds.  It migrated along the shoreline and out of sight soon after.

A couple of days later I was with my friend Gord at Rosetta and we saw another adult fly by us and 20 minutes later a juvenile went past.  Neither of us had a camera but we were glad to have seen them, regardless.

This past weekend I did have my camera with me (and I will remind you all that my lens is nothing more than an all purpose lens and is not good for photographing birds in flight) when another eagle went by.  This was a sneaky eagle; we generally see them in the distance and watch them as they get closer but somehow this one got past us but was kind enough to circle so we could oooooo and ahhhhh over it.

You can see a gull below it, that gives you an idea of how big eagles are!

The white tail feathers show that this eagle wasn't born this year and although I'm not sure how old it is, I would say it's a second or third year, making it either 1.5 or 2.5 years of age.  Eagles are considered to be adults at 5 years of age when the head and tail are fully white.  In this picture you can't see any white:

Today, we had another surprise, a Northern Goshawk.  We normally see these later in the season so it was pretty cool:

And last but not least, I saw a very busy spider on my way back to the car:

It was a fun few days because even when the birds aren't showing up in huge numbers, whatever we do see is appreciated.  The camaraderie amongst the birders keeps us laughing and the excitement of seeing special birds is always fun.