Birdwatching at Col. Sam Smith Park: April 13, 2020

Well, that was fun!

Rain was predicted for the entire day but, when I saw a few hours without it in the forecast for the afternoon, I headed to Col. Sam Smith. For a change, I wanted to do an entire post without a single botany photo. This is difficult for me because all of those burgeoning plants seem to be calling my name.

To complicate matters, winds were the strongest I have ever seen at this location. It reminded me of my Antarctic cruise ship days when I would spend hours keeping tourists safe near the high cliffs on Deception Island. There is a spot here called “Neptune’s Window” and I never visited it without being accompanied by howling winds.

The winds at Col. Sam were so strong at times that it was difficult to stand and even more difficult to hold the camera steady. I did my best and here is what I was able to photograph.

Park Scenes:

The parking lot at the foot of Kipling Ave is closed:

LAND BIRDS:

Winds were so powerful that small birds were absent.

Red-winged Blackbird (male)
Red-winged Blackbird (male)
American Crows
European Starlings
Starlings are building their nest here

I am hesitant to show dead birds but I did find this male House Finch and was impressed by the lovely colours:

House Finch (male) back
House Finch (male)

DUCKS, GREBES, MERGANSERS, GEESE, SWANS and CORMORANTS

Mallard (male)
Mallard (male)
“Bib” Duck with female Mallard
Gadwall
Blue-winged Teal with female Gadwall
Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal (female)
Blue-winged Teal (male)
Buffleheads
White-winged Scoter (female)
Long-tailed Duck (female)
Long-tailed Duck (male)
Long-tailed Duck (male)
Lesser Scaup
Horned Grebe
Horned Grebe
Horned Grebe
Red-necked Grebes
Red-necked Grebe eyeing nest area
Red-necked Grebes
Red-necked Grebes
Red-breasted Mergansers
Red-breasted Mergansers
Red-breasted Merganser (male)
Canada Goose
Mute Swans
Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorant

The real stars of the day are the gulls who seem to be able to stay in one spot in the sky with no effort.

RING-BILLED and HERRING GULLS:

Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull with Ring-billed Gull (smaller)
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull

Charles Lucien Bonaparte was a nephew of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. He studied ornithology in the United States and the Bonaparte’s Gull is named after him.

By the breeding season, Bonaparte’s Gulls will have a black head and you can see that this individual is developing one. These gulls can be identified almost as far as they can be seen in flight by the white flash in the leading edge of the wing.

Bonaparte’s Gull
Bonaparte’s Gull
Bonaparte’s Gull
Bonaparte’s Gull
Bonaparte’s Gull
Bonaparte’s Gull

NATURE POETRY

April the Beautiful, with streaming eyes,
Weeps o’er the havoc that rude March has made.
The dales are musical with her sweet sighs,
Tears mark her footsteps o’er the moistened glade.    – John Askham (1825–94)

Miles Hearn

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