The past month I’ve been hitting the birding pretty hard trying to capture as much of the spring action as I can. A highlight of the month for my first ever trip to the famous spring migrant trap – Ontario’s Point Pelee National Park located on the northern coast of Lake Erie, and also famous for being the most southerly point in Canada! Flying into Windsor in mid-May, I based myself in Leamington which is only a 15 minute drive away. One of the first birds I encountered was the Common Grackle, and there were a lot of them! This particular one pulled a rather dramatic pose as I focused on it and snapped away:
And in a relatively un-dramatic pose:The mornings I was there were quite foggy and the light was quite dull, especially in the forested areas, however I was able to get some shots of sparrows, grosbeaks and thrushes:
On an even more colourful note, this shot from Pelee – this time a Yellow Warbler. I was packing my gear into my vehicle after a long afternoon of birding when I noticed this fellow ‘attacking’ the hood of the car next to mine. It seems he thought his reflection was a rival male…he must have been surprised to find someone whose tenacity was matched only by his own!:
But alas my main target – warblers other than the Yellow variety – were not overly abundant (at least that I could locate) and almost all were high in the tree canopy making for less than pleasing photographic opportunities. So, having noticed that another ‘warbler mecca’, Ohio’s Magee Marsh preserve on the south side of Lake Erie, was only about 2 hours’ drive away I decided to pay a visit…boy was I glad I did! I know this is the Bird Canada site, but it seems sinful not to share some of the warbler riches I photographed there, especially since many of them also breed in Canada…so please indulge me just a little:
From a photography perspective, shooting warblers at Magee was much more preferable as there much less tall trees and therefore the birds were often much lower down. That said, the crowds were also quadruple the size of Pelee which made for pretty busy boardwalks and trails at times.
Returning to Calgary, it was time to catch up some of the local action. The lakes, ponds and marshes were still very active with many birds actively courting, displaying, ‘making little birds’ or just showing off their breeding plumage:
And lots of action from the Black-necked Stilts too:
While the omnipresent Red-winged Blackbirds are always characters and fun to shoot to what poses and faces they might pull:
I had been looking for bears but after 90 mins I’d seen a whole lot of nothing, so started heading for home. About a minute later I saw 4 folks carrying telephoto lenses coming down the road toward me ‘walking with a purpose’, so I stopped and asked if they’d seen anything. They responded, ‘Oh we’re birdwatchers’ and I replied ‘Same here’, and they then proceeded to tell me they had spied two male Harlequins heading upstream in our direction so they kindly let me join them and about two minutes later we got a wonderful swim/fly-by ! I was also very surprised that the birds were swimming upstream against the fast current, but it also meant they moved fairly slowly giving me time to better get them in focus.
Looking ahead to the summer, for me this means a lot of family camping trips to provincial parks in southern Alberta, so I hope to be able to showcase an even greater variety of birds next time!