[Ontbirds]Bald Eagle, Merlin, LB Dowitcher - York Region

RON FLEMING flemingron at rogers.com
Sun Sep 14 15:27:15 EDT 2008

Hiking east from Keele Street along the Oak Ridges Trail this morning, Mike Van den Tillaart and I found the birding fairly slow until we arrived at the lake centering Seneca College's beautiful campus in King City.  There we found Belted Kingfisher, Common Yellowthroat, several GB Herons and Wood Ducks before adding the two pleasant surprises, a subadult Bald Eagle perched in a tree by the water's edge and a female/juvenile Merlin slicing the humid air with its pointed wings.  
We inadvertently flushed the eagle as we stepped onto the viewing platform at the west end of the lake, but this gave us a chance to marvel at the bird's great size as it flew across the lake to a tree in front of the Eaton family's historic chateau on the north side.  With the eagle gone from the south shore, the Merlin soon landed there so we enjoyed views of both birds by swinging our binoculars slowly back and forth.  A few Turkey Vultures added to our raptor count for the day but the Ospreys who nest here did not make a showing, apparently (to quote the aptly-named band The Eagles) "already gone".
At Holland Landing later in the morning we found the water levels to be very high in all four of the lagoons.  The exposed mud flats in the second cell were submerged and the few shorebirds still present were lingering in the south end of the first lagoon.  We had one Greater Yellowlegs, four Lessers, two Stilt Sandpipers, and five Sempalmated Sandpipers.  The Baird's Sandpiper, seen at the HL lagoons as recently as Thursday by Don Wiens, was not present, nor were the 5-6 Pectoral Sandpipers seen earlier in the week.  
The only other shorebirds of note in the past week were a Long-billed Dowitcher and a Stilt Sandpiper reported by Keith Dunn and Kevin Shackleton, respectively, both species observed on the north side of Ravenshoe Road east of Woodbine Avenue.  (Dave Worthington already posted about the 5 Stilt Sandpipers and one Wilson's Snipe he had at HL with Dave Milsom mid-week.)
Other than that, Mike Van den Tillaart had some interesting migrants in his Newmarket yard this week including two Cape May Warblers and a pair of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
Ron Fleming, Newmarket
York Region is north of Toronto and south of Lake Simcoe.

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