So far, the dabbling ducks are not showing up at Cranberry Marsh. On Wedensday, the only migrants I spotted were a small group of RING-NECKED DUCKS and a single, lonely ( I presume ) PIED-BILLED GREBE.
However, Lake Ontario was much more active. RED-NECKED GREBES were out in decent numbers ( 30-50 ) with 4 HORNED GREBES mixed into the loose flock. COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS and BUFFLEHEADS made up most of the other water birds. Most interesting, a group of about 50 TREE SWALLOWS were buzzing back and forth, far offshore. I've seen swallows in groups before, even over water but never as far from the shoreline as I witnessed Wedensday.
Observing interesting behaviour is a part of birding that sometimes gets overlooked. Still, an interesting bird behaviour can stick in one's head as much as the exotic sightings and lifers. The most interesting example I can remember is a Northern Flicker during a walk at the Adamson Estate. The Flicker was pecking at a hole in a tree but the movement of the flicker was strange. The bird would pull its head back, pause and drive its head forward into the hole. Another odd thing...there was no noise made when the bird pecked at the hole.
A starling was also sitting in an adjacent tree, calling in a manner that came across as upset. This action continued for a minute until finally the flicker plunged its head into the hole. There seemed to be a struggle, as the flicker did not immediately pull its head out. In a few seconds, the cause of this strange scene became clear. The flicker pulled another starling out of the hole by its legs. The starling thrashed around, protesting like a toddler being pulled away from trouble. The flicker was unmoved by this display and pulled the starling out of the hole, dropping it unceremoniously as soon as it was clear. With a couple of desperate flaps, the starling joined its partner. Together, they abused the flicker. The woodpecker, completely unphased, slipped into its hole. It even gave a bit of abuse back to the starlings before the pests gave up and left.
That walk is one of my favourite birding memories. Next time I see swallows, I will probably think back to Wedensday and the sight of swallows swooping over Lake Ontario's waves.
Things I am Thinking About Right Now...
- 1. Finally Updated; A busy ( and not-so-birdy fall ) fall
- 2. A smew in Ontario ??? And I got to see it !
- 3. Thinking about summer vacation...
- 4. And Sping trips too !
- 5. Quite a few Winter rarities around. May try to add a few more to the list
- 6. Still no snow on the ground...
- 7. Project FeederWatch is going strong. Two eports submitted...
- 8. I think I have convinced my wife to visit Cape May next summer !
- 9. The Elephant Pepper Development Trust ( Check out their site ! )
- 10. Tying to decide how to spend my remaining gift certificates !