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Birding the HSA Articles

WATERBIRDS: As many as 15 species of ducks will winter if harbour or lakeshore ice permit. All 3 mergansers, Northern Pintail, both scaup and American Black Ducks are among those which can be found. Common Loon, Horned Grebe, Double Crested Cormorant and Black Crowned Night Heron may also over-winter. Glaucous and Iceland Gulls can often be found. The Lake Ontario shoreline points mentioned above, Windermere Basin, Tollgate Ponds, and the usually ice-free Desjardins Canal should all be checked, as should Bronte Harbour.

RAPTORS: Some of the raptors which arrive in fall don’t go any further than just south of the city. Northern Saw-Whet Owls are often found at Taquanyah CA, while numerous Long- and Short- eareds select suitable habitat between Hagersville and Caledonia and the north shore of Lake Erie. Rough-legged and Red-tailed Hawks and Northern Harriers also like this area. Eastern Screech Owls can be called in most deciduous woodlots in the region. Snowy Owls are quite cyclical, but one usually chases ducks at Windermere Basin for at least a few days each winter.

MARCH-MAY

RAPTORS:Starting March 1 members of the Niagara Peninsula Hawkwatch spend at least 8 hours a day counting the different species of raptor which follow the Niagara Escarpment on their way north. Beamer CA is the place to be. Red-tails, Rough-legs, Red-shoulders, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s and Sharp Shins are the most regular passers-by in March. April brings many more Sharp Shins, plus Northern Goshawk, American Kestrel, Osprey, Northern Harriers and, usually, lots of Broad-wings. Bald and Golden Eagles are usually seen between mid-March and mid-April. On a good day in April it is sometimes possible to see as many as 12-14 different species of raptor. Stragglers of many species, often immature birds, continue to fly through in May.

WARBLERS: While Point Pelee and Long Point are rightfully famous for their spring warblers, Hamilton is right behind. On a good day in mid-May, usually after overnight rains, it is possible to see 20-25 species, including Kentucky, Connecticut, and Worm-eating. Shell Park, Dundas Marsh, Woodland Cemetery, Chedoke Golf Course, and the breeding locations mentioned below are all excellent places to look.

OTHER PASSERINES: Most northern sparrows, flycatchers, thrushes and other songbirds pass through in spring. Many, occasionally even a Summer Tanager, Olive-sided Flycatcher or White-eyed Vireo, stay for a day or two, but if the weather is right they may go past without stopping. Again, overnight rains help to bring them down for birders to see.

WATERBIRDS: American Coot, Common Moorhen, Least (declining) and American Bittern, Virginia Rail and Sora all arrive by early May and stay to breed in the area. Look for them in Dundas Marsh, Valens CA, Mountsberg CA, Beverley Swamp and other suitable habitat.