2023-05-27 Ontario, West of Oakville

House Wren - Troglodytes aedon
My friend Judy gave me a tour of a few of her favorite nearby birding locations. The Paletta Lakefront Park, on the shores of Lake Ontario was one of the most serene and delightful places imaginable.

Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia

My friend Judy has lived in Oakville most of her adult life. During my visit, she tried to show me all of her favorite birding locations. And though she did her best, there was not enough time to see them all. But a couple of days before continuing my journey east to Nova Scotia and the Canadian Maritimes, she gave me a tour of a few of her favorite nearby birding spots. 

Our first stop was at the Burlington Canal under the Queen Elizabeth Bridge near Hamilton Beach Ontario. There, we found a colony of hundreds of Ring-Billed Gulls nesting on a rocky breakwater at the entrance to the canal. There may have been some birds on eggs. But there were plenty of fuzzy babies about a third the size of their parents begging for food from each adult flying back to the colony.

Our next stop was at Paletta Lakefront Park, on the shores of Lake Ontario. This was one of the most delightfully peaceful places imaginable. Most of the shoreline along Lake Ontario is privately owned, and has very limited public access to the lakeshore. When the family that owned this property no longer wanted to live there, they struck a deal with the city, and the property was converted to a public park. Most of the property is wooded, and under a high canopy. Even if there were no birds on the site, the serenity of walking the trails would be worth the trip. In such a place, birds were inevitable. Collecting images in the dense woods was no easy proposition. But that did not stop me from trying.

Our third and final stop of the day was a second visit with the nesting Red-Necked Grebes at nearby Bronte Harbour. Two weeks earlier, we spent time with these birds when they seemed to be just beginning with their nest building on their floating truck tires. We thought it possible that there might be eggs on our second visit, but it was not to be.

When I walked up to the sidewalk near the nest, I met another birder studying the nearby pair. We struck up a conversation, and I learned his experience with these birds stretched back 25 years. Sadly, he reported that for the past five years or more, no babies survived to adult-hood. There are several potential villains in this drama, but minks rank high on the list of suspects. The sun was at a different angle from my earlier visit, and I captured a new series of images of these attractive grebes.

This would be my last hurrah with the Oakville birds. Soon I would continue my drive east, with Nova Scotia in my sights. 

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