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.