[Ontbirds]Newmarket Area Weekend Birds

RON FLEMING flemingron at rogers.com
Sun Apr 1 10:48:22 EDT 2007

Eleven weekend naturalists joined me for a pleasant half-day excursion in the Newmarket area yesterday.  The focus of the trip was supposed to be on waterfowl, but a it was evident that a lot of ducks and geese have already passed through.  Hochreiter Road, a focal point here in spring, appears to have run its route already.  The water in the fields has mostly disappeared and most of the ducks and swans have gone.  There were still about 20 PINTAIL, 15 or so GW TEAL, 6 Black Ducks and the usual Mallards and Canadas, but little else.  The adventurous drive down this muddy lane is - at this point anyway - not worth the risk of getting stuck. We observed some HORNED LARKS, a GREAT BLUE HERON, and a sleek male NORTHERN HARRIER along nearby Bathurst St. North.
  The nearby Holland Landing sewage lagoons held a few more ducks for us:
  RINGNECKS (6), WOOD DUCK (2), BUFFLEHEAD (2), and a few more GW Teal.  The most pleasant and productive location, however, was the Cawthra Mulock reserve in NW Newmarket.  Highlights there included a high-flying COMMON LOON, a COOPER'S HAWK carrying a fresh kill, a passing PILEATED WOODPECKER, a singing EASTERN MEADOWLARK, two N. FLICKERS, a local Red-tailed Hawk, some passing TVs, and numerous GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLETS.  
  We observed at least four different Eastern Phoebes and heard a frustratingly familiar song that we couldn't immediately place. Double checking our CDs later, Gene Denzel and I both concluded it was a Fox Sparrow (as revisionist as that may sound).  I went back there this morning before the rain came, hoping to rediscover this handsome spring arrival, but did not find him.  I was, however, led to a very nice consolation prize by a discordant quartet of Blue Jays: my first ever LONG-EARED OWL at the reserve.
  The McKenzie Marsh in Aurora is always worth checking at this time of year.  Yesterday evening and this morning there were two BELTED KINGFISHERS, 18 RING-NECKED DUCKS, 6 HOODED MERGANSERS, 8 COMMON MERGS, and - today - the first PIED-BILLED GREBE of the York region spring.
  Many thanks to the Richmond Hill Naturalists and York Simcoe Naturalists who came out yesterday morning.  Too bad the grebe and the owl waited until this morning to show themselves, but that's birding for you.
  Ron Fleming, Newmarket
  Newmarket is halfway between Barrie and Toronto.  Contact me if you require specific directions to any of the locations described above

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