Monday, June 24, 2013

Week 25 Paul's Update (Lynde Conservative Area)

I broke one of my longest no birding periods (a birding fast if you will) with a short outing on Friday at Lynde Shores Conservative Area in Ajax, Ontario. My spouse was flying into Pearson Airport and I had volunteered to pick her up and, seeing that I was headed into Toronto anyways, why not stop by a conservation area near the lake for a while? I took a quick look at eBird to see what I might find and there was a recent report of Purple Gallinule, Black-billed Cuckoos, and a Red-necked Grebe at Lynde Conservation Area. I hadn't been to this particular conservation area before, but it looked like a nice place for a morning walk with a mix of woods, open shrubby grassland, and a large marsh all set on the shore of Lake Ontario.

I arrived about 9:00 in the morning and discovered I didn't have enough coins for the pay and park. Since the machine didn't take cash or credit, I went back to the gas station that I had just passed to get some change. All paid up for the parking, I headed down the trail to see birds. There were lots of grackles, a few mallards, and red-winged blackbirds to start. I then saw a brown thrasher and a gray catbird; seemed like a good birding spot already. After seeing a few dozen song sparrows and the odd goose, I arrived at Cranberry Marsh only to have an unfamiliar bird land on a bush right in front of me. First I thought it was a towhee but then I recognized it as an Orchard Oriole. Nice! There were Great Egrets and Mute Swans in the marsh but no gallinules to be seen. I headed down to the lake shore where I was met by the Red-necked Grebe and a few hundred gulls.

I checked the time and determined it was time to head back towards the car. I took the west side of the big loop trail back to avoid retracing my tracks down to the lake. This quickly went from "wow, what a nice place" to "yikes, this is awful". You see this part of the trail was called the Bird Feeding Loop. I imagined this to mean there would be a few bird feeders where a chickadee or a nuthatch might find some food in the winter. It was nothing like this.

My first encounter along the trail was indeed a bird feeder, which was covered with grackles. And there were the dozens of black birds hanging in the nearby trees and complaining loudly about who knows what. Whatever, grackles like the feeders and black birds are noisy. Moving on, I next encountered an older gentleman sitting on a bench with his grandkids. They were feeding the chickadees out of their hands, which I don't especially like. However, it could have been worse; they could have been feeding the chipmunks by hand. I kept moving down the trail and around the next corner there was a grandma with her two little ones. They were feeding the chipmunks by hand. My next thought was that I need to get out of this place. How much farther to my car? This was turning into a birder's hell. Flocks of grackles. Domesticated mallards. Over-aggressive chipmunks. I trudged on past the all of the people feeding the birds and chipmunks. Out of nowhere one of the really friendly chipmunks darted in front of me. I couldn't help it, I stepped on its tail. I don't know who was most surprised- me or him/her. Now I really wanted to get the hell out.

I arrived at the head of the trail with a few minutes to spare so I went back down the first trail I had started on where there were less people, fewer chipmunks, and no partly domesticated birds. I found a well-placed bench and sat down for a few minutes. A cardinal flew by. A few sparrows came out of the woods and hopped around the trail. And then a Ruby-throated Hummingbird appeared for 15 or 20 seconds. It landed on the tree in front of me and then left as quickly as it arrived. That was it for my morning at Lynde Conservative Area.

208 Orchard Oriole 6/21/2013 Lynde Conservative Area, Ajax, ON
209 Red-Necked Grebe 6/21/2013 Lynde Conservative Area, Ajax, ON
210 Ruby Throated Hummingbird 6/21/2013 Lynde Conservative Area, Ajax, ON

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