Kitchener’s Peregrine Falcons

In downtown Kitchener, there is a family of peregrine falcons, that is being tracked by several nature clubs.  The mother has returned year after year.  The father, was found in a driveway a month ago with a broken wing. He was taken to the University of Guelph, where surgery was performed on his wing. He is doing well and will hopefully be able to return to the wild.  Of the four chicks, three have fledged successfully over the last week. The fourth disappeared from the nest area and is believed to have been picked off by another predator, perhaps a great horned owl.  The chicks are acquiring flying skills and remain fairly close to the nest. They are being fed by their mother, who at this point is transferring what she catches to the chicks, in the air.  This sequence has been caught in the following photos.

Mother peregrine carrying gull to the chicks.

Chick approaching mother to receive the gull.

One chick moves in to receive the gull from its mother, while another one, which had tried for the gull, flies by.

Chick flies off with the gull, while mother watches.

“The Bruce”

This week, we spent a very pleasant couple of days on the Bruce Peninsula, a long extension of the Niagara Escarpment that separates Georgian Bay from the rest of Lake Huron.  Our weather was sunny and clear, which enhanced the beauty of the crystal clear waters of the lake.

It was a great time for sightseeing; traveling to Flowerpot Island, seeing underwater shipwrecks, birds and flowers. The variety of wildflowers is impressive, and The Bruce Peninsula National Park has preserved areas where there are a wide variety of wild orchids and carnivorous plants. The area has been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  More than a hundred years ago, the naturalist John Muir was attracted to the area, by its diversity.

A Few Pictures from a Quick Drive across Canada

We had occasion to drive from Ontario to British Columbia earlier this month. Here are a few photos taken en route. We look forward to repeating the trip, taking more time to appreciate nature and the beauty of the country.

Ring-billed gull

Georgian Bay

North of Superior

On the PrairiesBarn swallow

Willet

American white pelican

Alberta Badlands (Dinosaur Provincial Park)

Vesper sparrow

Lark sparrow

Rocky Mountains (Banff)

Steller’s Jay

View from the Roger’s Pass (BC)             

Birds of Early Summer

It is that time of year when young birds have fledged, but parents remain active protecting and feeding their offspring. Birdsongs are prevalent but the challenge is spotting and photographing the birds in the dense foliage. A brief trip to Snyder’s Flats yesterday revealed more than 30 species.

Eastern meadowlark

Tree swallow

Recently fledged house wren

Very recently fledged catbird

Distraught catbird parent trying to draw me away from its fledglings

Cedar waxwing

Eastern kingbird

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

We have passed by the Montezuma NWR in Upstate New York on numerous occasions, travelling to and from Providence RI. With its large accessible wetland, it has looked like an intriguing place to visit. This past Sunday, we finally stopped and took the automobile circle tour.  It is a great wetland, and we saw many birds, including great blue herons, great egrets and a green heron as well as numerous marsh wrens, and duck species.  I hope we will have a chance to visit the reserve during migration season.

Nature: on the Edge of the Urban Environment

Today, we had to be in Hamilton. On the way home, we decided to stop at a number of locations around Burlington Harbour and in the Hendrie Valley.  Despite the fact that these locations are at the edge of the Greater Toronto/ Hamilton Area (population in excess of 7 million), there is a great diversity of nature. It is a credit to those in the area who have worked hard to maintain such a vibrant ecosystem on the edge of one of the most industrialized areas of Canada.

Catbird

Chipmunk

Angry bird (red-eyed vireo), scolding and attacking a blue jay, along with about six nuthatches.

Caspian terns -fishing

Wild iris

Female mallard

Song sparrow

Raccoon

Juvenile trumpeter swan (seen from above on a marsh boardwalk)

Bobolink

One of my favourite summer birds in Ontario is the bobolink, generally found in native grasslands.  Bobolink numbers have decreased substantially over the last fifty years, and it is a bird of special concern to a number of conservation groups. I first heard of the bobolink in my days with Rio Tinto, which has an association with Birdlife International . At the time, I was doing work in Paraguay. The bobolink migrates between Argentina and Paraguay and grasslands of Canada and the northern United States. A farming friend in Kentucky reports that he sees the bobolink on his farm, on migration within one day of the same day, each year.  In 2017, we saw about 200 in a flock on a levee of the Mississippi River in Western Kentucky.  Exactly one year earlier, another observer reported on eBird seeing about the same number at the same location.

 

Birds in England

In late April, we had the chance to travel in south central England (Dorset, Somerset and Hampshire).  While most of the following birds are considered common in England, it was a pleasure to see these species of a different continent.

Grey heron

Black-headed gull

Mallard

Robin

Chaffinch

Bullfinches (female and male)

Great tit 

Gold finch

Coot

Blue tit 

Great-crested grebe

Wren (winter wren)

Tufted ducks (female and male)

Greater black-backed gull

Great spotted woodpecker

Ontario Warblers in May

Having been in Europe for the first half of May, I missed much of the warbler migration. Stops at Thickson’s Woods (Whitby), Prince Edward Point Nature Refuge, Long Point and Mc Gregor Point however still proved to be eventful. The following pictures were taken this month from those locations.  At long last I managed to see a golden-winged warbler, but unfortunately a photograph proved elusive as she hopped from branch to branch, behind branches in the foreground.

Black-throated green warbler, after banding at Long Point

Magnolia warbler (female)

Magnolia warbler (male)

American redstart (female or juvenile)

Chestnut-sided warbler (female)

Black-throaed green warbler

Northern waterthrush

Black and white warbler