Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Birding on the Shores of Lake Ontario

Valley Inn Drive, Hamilton Ontario

The shores of Lake Ontario are excellent for birding at this time of year. Migrating flocks rest on the north shore before crossing the lake and many northern ducks overwinter in sheltered bays.
It is often difficult to see birds that congregate in areas not accessible by foot. A few spots are idea for both birds and birders. One of these is found in Hamilton, Ontario where Grindstone Creek enters Burlington Bay. A large marsh attracts swimming and wading birds and a single lane bridge and narrow roadway allows easy access for people.

Grindstone Creek Marsh

The wetland above may look bare in this shot but it is full of birds. We saw several Great Egrets and Great Blue Herons, various shorebirds and a number of small ducks. The trees were alive with perching birds and the list of species seen by members of the Hamilton Naturalists' Club in the past week is impressive.

Shooting Ducks

Many serious photographers spend hours at the water's edge waiting for a perfect shot. We tiptoed around them as they watched a juvenile Great Blue Heron fish nearby. Here are one local photographer's pictures taken at this spot last week. The big cameras and lenses do produce superb results.

Uncooperative Green-winged Teal Ducks

My camera is very small in comparison and I found binoculars more useful for seeing the birds. A group of Green-winged Teal Ducks were dabbling in the shallows but they put their heads under water for every shot. (They are like some people I know!) The male on the right was in breeding plumage and was a new bird for me.

Juvenile Male Wood Duck

The Wood Ducks were more obliging and this lovely juvenile looked right at the camera as I took his picture. We could not stay long but it would have been easy to spent the day here. A trail followed the creek upstream to the grounds of the Royal Botanical Gardens, another worthwhile place to visit. I will be sure to plan more trips to this area.


  1. Your photo of the Wood Duck is just as lovely as the "big lens" shot Ruth! :c)

  2. Anonymous7:42 am GMT-4

    Nice pictures! You have to love the way the ducks play hide and seek from the camera.

    I will have to mark down this spot in Hamilton and plan a visit. Birding is one thing, but finding the spots and hitting them at the right time is also important. I saw my first yellow-rumped warbler this week. My list is growing slowly.

  3. What a fun place to visit. Lovely photos even without the big lens.

  4. I think your photos are wonderful.
    There's something about duck butt pix that makes me smile.

  5. Thank you for your very thoughtful comment on my poverty post...

    I have to get up to this area as I have said it is so close to where I live. I hope you won't mind, but the photo that you have as a female wood duck is I think a young male. The white stripe on the cheek as the female has a white patch on her neck. Your duck has a red iris and no white patch around the eye as a female has. Also if you look closely, he is beginning to get his breeding colors so he was probably hatched in May. I really hope you don't mind my information...

  6. Water levels in that wetland look really low. Is that true? I'm assuming it's connected to the Lake O. Our Lake O down here, in the Everglades, Lake Okeechobee, was low, but recently rebounded 5 feet in the wake of water from Fay.

  7. Wow!That looks like a most interesting place to watch and photograph birds.The pictures really do show the naturalness of it.

  8. Jayne- You are very kind. I do admire the pro shots a lot. They are better rthan many in birding guides.

    Cheryl D- Glad you saw a new warbler. I saw my first last year at this time near the Grand.

    NCMW- I like to walk so the big lens is out for me!

    Lynne- Thanks...I liked the duk butt too. ;-)

    RW- I am no bird expert and fall birds are most confusing. Please correct me without apology!! Thanks.

    Robert- Thanks for visiting and for your recent comments...
    This marsh does empty into Lake Ontario. We have had a lot of rain this summer and fall and water levels are up. There are a number of flood control dams on creeks and rivers in our area stream flows are controlled. THis was my first time here. I will have to note the water levels in the future.

    Ruth- I do wish I had more time to spend here!

  9. Anonymous8:14 pm GMT-4

    Now I know your secret! A ginormous camera/lens!

  10. Those are great pictures Ruth! I would love to see a wood duck that close too.

  11. LOL, I can relate to those ducks ducking their heads. The white fronted geese at Squaw Creek were very shy. If we slowed down to take a picture, they'd fly off. The other ducks, herons, egrets wondered why they were flying and flew too! It was frustrating, but you had to laugh!


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