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Birding the HSA Articles

WARBLERS: The first returning warblers arrive early in August, and reach a peak in mid-September when finding 10-15 species in a day is fairly easy. Canada, Black-and-White, Blackburnian and Black-throated Green are early, while Yellow-rumped, Palm, Black-throated Blue, and American Redstart come later. Martin Road, HRCA Resource Centre and the Merrick Field Centre in the Dundas Valley and the North Shore Trails are good early spots. As more birds arrive, especially if it rains during the night, the Dundas Marsh, South Shore Trails, Woodland Cemetery and Van Wagner’s Ponds are excellent places to look.

RAPTORS: Late August sees Sharp-shinned Hawks, Osprey and American Kestrels starting to move. The September 15-20 period can bring thousands of Broad-winged Hawks if atmospheric conditions are right. Bald Eagles are seen regularly through September. Northern Saw-whet and Long-eared Owls start to arrive for the winter in late September. The end of September is the prime period for Peregrine Falcons. October brings Northern Harriers, Red-shouldered, Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawks, and Northern Goshawks. Look for Golden Eagles from mid-October well into November. Rough-legged Hawks begin to arrive for the winter in early November. Best spots for fall raptors are usually the High Level Bridge and Woodland Cemetery; if winds have a strong southerly component, Rock Chapel and the area above the northern escarpment may be better.

GULLS: By mid-September east winds, the stronger the better, bring good gulls. Black-legged Kittiwake, Little and Sabine’s Gulls, plus Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers, can often be seen off Van Wagner’s Beach.

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SPARROWS: It may be surprising to see sparrows listed as an attraction, but as many as 11 species, including Fox and Lincoln’s, have been seen on a fall day. Check Woodland Cemetery, Beverley Swamp, Martins Road, HRCA Resource Centre, Merrick Field Centre and Berry CA. Another location, where the much sought after Sharp-taileds usually arrive in early October, is the Dundas Marsh.

WATERBIRDS: Ducks, grebes, geese, swans and loons all use the west end of Lake Ontario as a staging area. It is not unusual to be able to find 20 or more species of ducks, including all three scoters; 3 or 4 types of grebe, occasionally including Eared; and several geese, Brant among them. An enjoyable day can be had by following the shoreline and stopping at Bronte Harbour, Sioux Lookout, Shoreacres, Spencer Smith Park, LaSalle Park, the Beach Canal, Tollgate Ponds, Windermere Basin, Van Wagner’s Beach, and Fifty Point CA. Woodland Cemetery and the Dundas Marsh should also be visited.

DECEMBER-FEBRUARY

WINTER VISITORS: Large flocks of Snow Buntings and Horned Larks, often with a few Lapland Longspur mixed in, are normally found on farm fields throughout the area; a prime spot for them is along Jerseyville Road (be sure to watch for Grey Partridge at the same time.) Depending on the size and timing of irruptions, Pine Siskins, Purple Finches, Evening Grosbeaks, Northern Shrikes, Bohemian Waxwings, White-winged and Red Crossbills and Common Redpolls may visit in winter. Sites in Flamborough Township,
particularly the Hyde Tract, Westfield Pioneer Village and the Beverly Swamp are always worth a look.