My first session at this year's festival was Sparrows By Voice. It provided an excellent overview of identifying sparrows by song and sight. The entire session was spent at the Windmill Ranch, a Nature Conservancy property on Wylie Road. FIELD SPARROW, SONG SPARROW, EASTERN TOWHEE and an oddly still BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER provided good looks. The highlight were picture perfect scope views of CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and GRASSHOPPER SPARROW. The view of the Clay-colored was about 10 times better than the view I managed in 2010. Outside of birds, the group also had good looks at a huge NORTHERN LEOPARD FROG, a GREY TREE FROG and a GARTER SNAKE. We also heard a calling Golden-Winged Warbler but alas it was distant and hidden. Still, the morning was off to a good start.
Even the drive back to the Carden Rec Centre ( aka Festival Central ) was productive. When half your drive is along Wylie Road, it is bound to be productive. RED-EYED VIREO, another GRASSHOPPER SPARROW ( easily identified ), UPLAND SANDPIPER, EASTERN MEADOWLARK, BOBOLINK, WILSON'S SNIPE and EASTERN BLUEBIRD were observed and provided great views to boot !
My second session was a Wilderness Explorer session at another Nature Conservancy Property. Being mid-day, the birds became far quieter. FIELD SPARROW, EASTERN TOWHEE, ALDER FLYCATCHER and a soaring BROAD-WINGED HAWK were the best birds that were out. Turning over a stone allowed nice looks at a MILK SNAKE ( Threatened in Ontario ).
The next day, I travelled back to Carden with THE DAUGHTER for an early session called Birding by Ear. We learned a lot about bird songs but sadly the birds were not very co-operative for views. NASHVILLE WARBLER, BLACKBURNIAN WARBLER, SONG SPARROW, EASTERN TOWHEE and EASTERN KINGBIRD were the best we could get.
The next session was supposed to be a fossil hunting activity at a local quarry. Sadly the weather turned nasty with plenty of wind, lightning, thunder and sideways rain. The session was cancelled but as we returned to the Carden Rec Centre the weather began to clear. We had a long wait ahead of us before the last session so I made the executive decision to head out to Wylie Road for some quick birding.
This little sojourn turned up some nice bird; more WILSON'S SNIPE, UPLAND SANDPIPERS and BOBOLINKS. As we drove towards the Sedge Wren Marsh, I heard a familiar song- one long buzz followed by three short buzzes...a golden-winged warbler. I started looking among the scrub forest on the left side of the road and quickly picked up the shape of a small bird at the top of a dead tree. A quick look through the binoculars and it was clear that I had a view of my first Golden-Winged ! The view was a bit distant but the yellow patches on the wings of the bird were clearly visible. On top of that distinctive field mark, the lttle bird threw it's head back and sang it's buzzy little song.
|See him in the dead tree to the left of the tall green trees...|
The memory of the bird singing makes me smile because it reminds me of this image.
|Still with original price tag on cover...|
This image is the reason why the Golden-Winged Warbler is my favourite warbler. Before I saw this magazine cover, my favourite warbler may have been the Blackburnian or one of those other brightly coloured species. This picture caught my attention immediately from its position on the newstand. Everything about the image is amazing; the all-white background, the bird captured in mid-song, it's perch on a leafed branch. Awesome...Then I turned the magazine around and saw this on the back cover...
|That man looks familiar...Where have I seen him before ?|
I ordered the print. Now it is framed, hanging over my bed.
So, to finally see the bird, singing no less was great for me. As I drove back to the Carden Rec Centre, I was buzzed. My daughter was happy for me too. I felt a little guilty because she was looking forward to the fossil hunting; we had been in 2010 and had a great time, while coming away with a bunch of nice fossils. She took the cancellation in stride but now I went out and found my life bird. Everything worked out well as we went for our third session of the day and it would have nothing to do with birds...more on that to come !