Monday, March 25, 2013

The Three Birding Musketeers

This Saturday was the first time that I had gone out on a real birding adventure with other people.  I've gone out for to bird before, but by "real birding" I guess I mean that we had somewhat mapped out where we were going, what we were hoping to see, and kinda walked off the beaten path at some points!  Originally, we were planning on meeting up with the Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists Club, but we weren't able to catch up with them in time so instead, we created our own adventure!

The three of us included myself, my boyfriend Michael Colley, and one of my favourite gals Emma Bocking (who got all excited when she realized she'd be in a post!)  We started off the day driving to Burlington hoping to reach LaSalle Park.  Being new to the area we of course got all our directions wrong, but that always leads you to the best places!  We first stopped at under the Skyway Bridge at the shipping channels.  There, we saw about 100 absolutely beautiful Long Tailed Ducks.  I was very excited as this was one duck I've been wanting to see this entire spring so far and is a Lifer for me!

Lifer:  A species that you have never seen before and can now add to your life's list of seeing. It's an exciting thing.

Long-tailed Duck
We stayed probably for 30 minutes watching them play in the water, chase each other, display for the females, it was so much fun to watch. Hearing their call sounded like a bunch of friends laughing together.

We then identified some Red Breasted Mergansers, these were very cool to see also!  The males are so distinct looking with their bright heads and fro, the ladies...are a little more drab but her red eyes were so stunning!  Emma then pointed out that there was another species that we couldn't seem to classify into either of those categories.  Sneaking for a closer view and using a specific waterbirds guide book, we were finally able to ID it as being a White-winged Scoter.  Now that right there is a funny looking bird!  It was surprisingly difficult to ID this one only being A) it was a lifer for all of us and B) almost all of them there were females!  We were only able to spot 1 or 2 males in the crowd, which to us was a little odd!
White-winged Scoter

Red-breasted Merganser with a bunch of Long-tailed Ducks
We then tore ourselves away and drove up to the Sioux Lookout Park where we saw a few more Long-tailed Ducks, Buffleheads, Merganser and Mallards.  We then searched through ebirds recent sightings page through our phones and came up with heading over to the Windermere Basin in Hamilton.

We pulled off the side of a highway and parked and somewhat assumed that the gate we were hopping over was indeed the place we were supposed to be!  All of us were laughing at a saying in the one Youtube video "Shit birders say"..."So..technically we're not supposed to be here".  Once inside the area we wandered around trying to find out where the water actually was people were seeing all these ducks.  Finally we managed to find the water, but man did that place stink!! I was really convinced that it used to be (or at least was near) a sewage lagoon.  We ended up finding them all (as well as a path that would have led us there!).  Here we saw American Coots, Buffleheads, Mallard, and some Lesser Scaup (Another Lifer!).  Later while driving away we saw some Shovelers too which were really awesome to see.  

We ended up continuing to a few more spots and mainly saw the same species (minus one Cooper's Hawk in someone's backyard!).  It was SUCH a beautiful day out and I was so happy to have gotten to spend it in the outdoors with some awesome people.  Hopefully it'll happen again soon!