|A Black-billed Cuckoo sits quietly in the early-morning light|
(As always, you can click on the pics to enlarge)
|Eastern Kingbird with breakfast|
Turns out we did hear a rail and even got some fleeting glimpses of it. My first ever Virginia Rail! Sure, its the more common rail, but still a great one to see.
We also got a decent look at a Sedge Wren there and a cooperative male Common Yellowthroat, but also the female who in my experience are not so easy to see and she put on a very nice show for us - one of the real highlights of the day for me.
|She might not have wanted me to photograph this moment|
It was around this time in our day that I suggested we heat things up by setting a target number of species for the day. I think we were somewhere around twenty-five species at this point and I didn't want to wuss out by setting it too low so I suggested Seventy-five - a pretty big number for a primarily grassland habitat in non-migration. Mark accepted the challenge, it was still only 9:30 in the morning, after all. I was extremely doubtful, but it gave us something to shoot for. Here are some of the other birds we got in the morning:
Top Row: Female American Redstart calling; The best look I've had at a Vesper Sparrow.
Bottom Row: Badass Savannah Sparrow; Why it pays to look closely at every distant bird: Provincially-endangered Loggerhead Shrike (#49 on the day).
After lunch we were back at it. The early-afternoon was predictably a bit slow, but there were some nice moments, including this American Woodcock walking along the bank of the canal below the Kirkfield Liftlock.
At about 5:45 pm, we were driving down Cranberry Lake Road when Mark gently eased the car to a halt thinking he had seen either a deer or a cow. Either one of those would have been quite exciting, but we had to settle for these guys (#68 on the day and a lifer for me).
|Sandhill Cranes! And with young!!|
From there we went looking for Upland Sandpipers (...and successfully: #69) and also found a Blue-winged Teal (#71, below) in a small pond with some Mallards.
We finished the day where we began, back at Sedge Wren Marsh on Wylie Road, after finding an unexpected Trumpeter Swan (#72) in Mitchell Lake and a Kestrel (#73) on a telephone wire along the way. Walking the marsh trail, we heard and then saw three Common Nighthawks (#74) flying overhead and though my ears could barely make them out at first, we did hear two Ruffed Grouse drumming to end the day bang on Seventy-five!
A great number and a great day. I can't believe it took me so long to write about it.