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


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.



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


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


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




Bullfinches (female and male)

Great tit 

Gold finch


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


From Vancouver

The Boundary Bay IBA and Reifel Bird Sanctuary (Ladner) are great places for bird watching, year round.  They are particularly good for ducks and raptors, at this time of year. Without exaggeration, I easily saw more than 100 bald eagles a day, and more than 50 great blue herons a day.  In addition, there were very large numbers of swans (tundra), back-crowned night herons, harriers, as well  as some short-eared owls (Boundary Bay).

Northern harrier

Northern pintail

Wood duck (female) 

Great blue heron

Wood duck (male)

Juvenile bald eagle

Bald eagle 

Ring-necked duck

Northern shoveler

Eurasian wigeon