Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bald Eagles and more

Bald Eagle from The Record

Last week a local photographer, David Bebee, captured this image of a Bald Eagle flying near the Grand River along a trail that I frequently walk. The eagles have arrived for the winter and there have been a number of sighting by birders in the area. I have never seen a Bald Eagle in the wild and hope to see one this season.
Last weekend I walked a trail where eagles are frequently reported. I was there shortly after dawn, which isn't too early any more. I was also looking for some different woodpeckers as a Red-headed Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker and a Pileated Woodpecker had also been recently reported in our local birding forum.

Common Mergansers with Canada Geese

The river was full of birds and at first glance they all seemed to be Mallards and Canada Geese and gulls. But a careful second look revealed two pair of Common Mergansers in the mix. The interesting birds are usually just out of my camera's range for a good picture.

Common Goldeneye

A number of small diving ducks travelled in larger groups of about twenty birds, including these Common Goldeneyes. There were also quite a few Buffleheads around.
There were many Robins and Cedar Waxwings around the berry bushes in a sheltered area below the high river bank. I did see one Hairy Woodpecker and while some dead leaves blocked a clear camera view, I did get an adequate look at the tail feathers to make certain that this was not a Downy Woodpecker.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpeckers are noisy and large in comparison to their Downy cousins and lack the black spots on their outer tail feathers.
I saw a large brown raptor in a willow tree upstream from where I stood. When it flew away, there was an enormous, noisy bird scatter. Another birder who had a scope said it was a juvenile Bald Eagle, one that he had seen several times recently. I do believe him, but I won't count it as my sighting until I can ID it myself.

American Coot

There are some excellent photographs posted on our birding forum by avid birders with expensive cameras. Many of them have been visiting the shores of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, braving very cold winds to get pictures of wintering birds. I took the picture of these American Coots in the Hamilton harbour a couple of weeks ago. Here are a few links to pictures worth viewing of less common birds being seen in SW Ontario.

Long Tailed Ducks, Rusty Blackbird, Bohemian Waxwings, Scoter, Common Redpoll


  1. At our university's marine biology research station (on the Puget Sound), there are bald eagles that regularly nest up on the bluff. Our graduate dean--whose research is on glaucous winged seagulls--calls the bald eagles "devil birds." Of course, the bald eagle is a predator upon seagulls....

  2. Having said all of that, I hope you get to see a bald eagle. It's a real treat to watch them.

  3. Anonymous9:35 pm GMT-5

    Congrats on the eagle and also love the rest of your birds that you found! The Golden-eyes are such great birds !

  4. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you see that eagle too Ruth, and will be breathless right there with you if you get to snap a photo!

  5. Anonymous9:40 am GMT-5

    Very nice! I haven't seen a hairy woodpecker in years. We used to have them here but apparently, not anymore. Thanks for sharing.

  6. I saw my first bald eagle out in BC this summer. It was from quite a distance though.

  7. Hi Ruth - It sounds like you'll sight your first Bald Eagle soon. And hopefully you will be able to get a picture of it and post your thoughts and experiences in sighting it. I look forward to hearing about it.

  8. Ruth, you really know your water birds. I'd be lost, with a field guide in my back pocket.

    Yesterday I was enjoying the marvelous photos on the links you provided when I was interrupted and never got to comment!

    I wonder just how long and how heavy those lenses are to capture such wonderful images! Amazing.

  9. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you Ruth! We've had a few sightings of an adult Bald Eagle along the Thames here in London (ON) in the last couple of months. I saw it from a distance but wasn't able to catch up to it to get a good shot! Here's hoping you have better luck!

  10. Ginger- I think the gulls outnumber the eagles here about 10,000 to 1. (wild guess!) But we have not special gull species. Perhaps some of you west coast eagles would be welcome to our river :-)

    Monarch- I like Golden-eyes too. We only have them here in the winter.

    Jayne- I will have to brave some very cold mornings to find the eagles, but I will be happy to find one.

    LauraO- I have seen two this month. It is easier to see them with the leaves gone.

    AC- They are so common in the west. I hope they continue to make a comeback here.

    MaryC- If I see one I will be happy. If I get a good picture I will be ecstatic!

    Mary from ON- I rely on guidebooks a lot. Yes, the photographers who post those excellent pictures have cameras larger than I want to carry!

    Sherri- Thanks for visiting and commenting. My daughter lives in London and I have walked in Spring Bank Park with her (I think that is the right name) I will have to check the Thames R. when I visit her.

  11. I get the feeling that you are gradually crossing in to the serious birder category.Nice photos-looks like a good area! Bird Forums can be very helpful.

  12. Larry- Our local bird forum has some very serious birders, but they are nice and polite and tolerate amateurs like myself. It is compelling to try and locate an uncommon bird that has been reported in your area. Right? ;-) Reading your posts has encouraged me to do more birding.


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