For the past week or so a few Cave Swallows have been seen in the Oakville, Ontario area. My first observation of this species occurred on November 14. At the time, sunset was minutes away and lighting conditions were extremely poor. I managed to snap a handful of photos but the quality was poor both in terms of sharpness (or lack thereof) and high noise levels.
Earlier this week I went on a walk through parts of The Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga, Ontario. At this time of the year, most leaves have fallen off trees and birds can be spotted more easily. With my bins and camera by my side I set off to see what photo opportunities were about. Many of the birds I came across are locally common; however, I was pleased to get several clean views and photos of birds that I have added to my website photo gallery collection.
This Hermit Thrush enjoyed taking a bath for several minutes along the edge of a small pool in Toronto (October 19). Cloudy skies at the time combined with a relatively fast shutter speed of 1/1250 s increased my ISO setting to 4000 or 5000 for these photos; however, I find the Canon 1D-X is pretty capable of handling the resulting noise, especially when noise reduction is applied as is the case here. Whenever possible I like to capture bird behaviours in my photos. This individual entertained me as it splashed around several times and seemed oblivious to my presence.
Townsend’s Solitaire is a common western bird, but here in Ontario it is rare. It rarely wanders farther east than the western prairies (Dunne 2006). On October 19, at Colonel Sam Smith Park in Toronto, one was found by David Pryor and reported on Ontbirds. I and several other birders and photographers had an excellent opportunity to see and photograph this one-day visitor. Seeing a lifer is always exciting; however, capturing some good photos is always a pleasant bonus.
About a week ago I was searching through a mixed flock of Dunlins and White-rumped Sandpipers. Nearby, I came across a lone Black-bellied Plover. Fall migration for Black-bellied Plover is quite long and can range from early July to early November (Dunne 2006). As I understand it, Black-bellied Plovers do not tolerate close approach, but in this case, I was able to get very good looks and photos of this particular individual.
American Kestrel migration is heaviest in the afternoon, as it is for most falcons. During this period it is quite common for kestrels to halt their migration and hunt. If you examining a small, distant, low-flying falcon, and it suddenly pulls up and hovers, it is clearly an American Kestrel (Dunne, Sibley and Sutton 2012). This situation pretty well describes what happened before me at Hawk Cliff, Ontario this past weekend.
As I mentioned in my previous post about the Western Sandpiper, I was fortunate on the same morning (September 6) to also come across my best looks by far of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. The scaly backed buff-coloured plumage was striking and with the very close views I obtained of this seemingly gentle and tame shorebird, there was no confusing it with any other shorebird species.
On Sunday, September 6 my friend Andrew Don and I headed to Presqu’ile Provincial Park with the hope of seeing either a Western Sandpiper and/or a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Although Western Sandpiper is common in coastal areas in the West, it becomes progressively scarcer toward the East. It is a locally common migrant inland in the West, but it is rare inland in the East (O’Brien, Crossley and Karlson 2006).
On August 27 at Paletta Lakefront Park in Burlington, Ontario I spotted and photographed an Olive-sided Flycatcher; a “lifer” for me. This uncommon large-headed flycatcher often perches on dead snags at the tops of trees and that was exactly the situation here. In the photo below, I cropped it and did some minor cloning to remove a couple of distracting twigs. Additionally I used an 80A photo filter in Photoshop to enhance the blue sky in the background (but using a mask so as not to apply the filter to the bird or branches).
On August 27 at Paletta Lakefront Park in Burlington, Ontario there was a mini influx of migrating fall warblers, flycatchers and vireos. Capturing these birds digitally can be tricky and frustrating at times as leaf coverage is a significant barrier whereas in the spring before the leaves have filled in it is often much easier (relatively speaking) to locate and photograph these songbirds.