Sunday 10 April 2011

Toronto migrants

The weekend was spent in Toronto at the Leslie Street Spit with Mira. My favourite place to be in Toronto! It is a decently sized park that takes a full day to walk around and thoroughly search for birds in every area. There are many habitats and I've learned over the last 3 months where I will likely find certain families of birds. Only one habitat is missing... mudflats!!!! Well there's definitely more than one habitat missing but that one is noticeable in my mind. There are limited areas of sandy beaches that attract shorebirds so it's difficult to find them there. Although it can be pretty good for Whimbrels in May! I found about 100 there last May so hopefully I will again this year.

Another good thing about having a preferred local park is that you can visit it regularly and easily monitor migration as it progresses. Having that sort of attachment to a park makes it really exciting at this time of year. Two weeks ago I found 41 species on the Spit despite my efforts for at least 50! This past weekend I fairly easily found 64 species without putting a big effort in. I even had a nap for 3 hours on Saturday! Resulting in a terrible sunburn to my pale pale face...

Right from the get go on Saturday Mira and I found a flock of Golden-crowned Kinglets. Not a surprising find but a warm welcome because I hadn't seen them there since early January. Meaning there must be other migrants around...

In the first flock of Kinglets we found our first Winter Wren of the year. This is an exciting time of year!

Later on down the trail a small bird ignorantly zoomed past us in pursuit of insects. Tree Swallows were back in numbers and I ever hopefully double checked everyone of them to make sure no Violet-green Swallows were concealing their identity! My determination to check every swallow has already begun to diminish.

Eastern Phoebes with their tail-wagging antics were also in hot pursuit of insects.

According to the Cornell Lab or Ornithology Phoebes are "loners" because they "rarely come in contact with other phoebes". Later in the Spring and Summer when they're more spread out that may be the case but not now! At times I saw 6 within 5 meters of each other!

Several over-wintering waterfowl, as well as migrating ones, remain along Lake Ontario and will do so for about another month. Including the many hundreds of Long-tailed Ducks.

We also found our first snakes and turtles of the year. 12 Painted Turtles were basking on a log and 6 Garter Snakes were hanging out in some piles of garbage.

But the most exciting find of the weekend (for me at least) was the 2 Yellow-rumped Warblers. A vanguard of many thousands and millions of warblers to come over the next 6 or 7 weeks to Southern Ontario. When I found the birds I was pretty excited so I pursued them for at least 10 minutes admiring them. In two weeks time (and probably less) I'll be blatantly ignoring them as I plow through them trying to find the other species of warblers and passerines.

I have one more weekend in Toronto (next weekend) to enjoy the migration as it marches forward before a weekend in Prince Edward County and 3 weeks in Point Pelee! Part of me does wish I could stay here and witness the migration from the Spit but I have a feeling I won't have any regrets about being in Prince Edward County and Point Pelee! ;)

I've also been doing a bit more taxidermy lately. I'm trying to finish a Yellow Warbler now so I'll hopefully post pictures of it up in the coming week. I promise not to include pictures of its guts spilled out on my table. Just the beautiful finished product... let's hope it turns out nice!