We arrived on Friday 16th May, late in the afternoon so there was no time for birding other than bits and pieces in the garden, which included American Goldfinch, Common Grackle, American Robin, House Finch and Mourning Dove.
|Male American Robin - this bird was clearly already feeding chicks|
|Female Americam Robin - Listening for worms|
There are numerous trails in the local area that meander through the various housing estates and these provided the ideal location to re-acquaint myself with some of the commoner species and their calls. Early in the morning the network of paths are little used, except by the odd jogger or dog walker that is, but it doesn’t seem to make much difference to the birds at that time of the day. I don’t remember seeing Chipping Sparrows during my first few visits, but they appear to have become a fairly common species now. Although it maybe that I have just become more familiar with their call, which is a continuous and distinctive chipping.
|Chipping Sparrow - a common garden species here|
|White Trilliums - the petals turn pink as the flower ages|
Birding the trails can be quite slow at times with Blue Jays, Northern Cardinals and American Robins the most vocal, and numerous. However as the sun got up on the morning of 18th May I started to pick out a few more bits including, more Chipping Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos and an Indigo Bunting. The latter being a first year male, so not the bright blue plumage of a adult, but with some brown juvenile feathers still present.
|Male Indigo Bunting - the grey and brown feathers age|
this as a second calendar year bird
My first Warbler of the trip was a male Tennessee, which was feeding and singing in a flowering Maple tree. It was showing very well but its energetic feeding style combined with the leaf cover made it difficult to photograph. Whilst watching the Tennessee Warbler I picked up Hairy Woodpecker, Norther Flicker, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, which highlights the value of just standing in one place periodically.
|Male Tennessee Warbler - this species lacks the bright colours of other warbler species|
|Male Tennessee Warbler|
The other species seen included Black-capped Chickadee, Barn Swallow, American Crow, Brown-headed Cowbird and Red-winged Blackbirds.
Balls Falls Conservation Area is located along the Niagara Escarpment and only about an hours drive from Oakville, that is when the traffic is good. It took considerably longer for us, but then what do you expect on a holiday weekend. There are a few trails and cycle paths and a small waterfall, that is probably about one tenth of the size of Niagara. There wasn’t much time for birding, but in what time I had I picked up Gray Catbirds, Song Sparrows, more American Robins, some Bank Swallows, (Sand Martins in the UK) and a cracking Eastern Phoebe.