October 24 2012. RBG. Burlington ON. Yesterday it rained all day, but today the rain has moved on, leaving in its wake perhaps the most incredible migration surge in many weeks. There’s nothing like bad weather to supercharge the fall migration.
I walked around a circuit of woodland, pond margins, riverside and old cemetery this morning and the sheer numbers of White-throated Sparrows, Cedar Waxwings and Golden-crowned Kinglets on the move was amazing. On my two kilometers walk (one and a bit miles) I estimate that I saw perhaps 300 Cedar Waxwings, they’re easy enough to spot, but less conspicuous although just about everywhere I looked for them were White-throated Sparrows and Golden-crowned Kinglets.
The best of the day, and Bird of the Day, came towards noon when I happened upon a seemingly endless stream of Golden-crowned Kinglets working through some low weeds beside a pond. They showed no fear of a big-lens photographer or me as we moved close for a good picture. They’re constant movers, always flitting, hovering and hopping, and from 60 or so shots I think only one or two do them justice.
There was other good stuff around too. I found a single Fox Sparrow among a group of White-throats and mused that Fox Sparrows may be the Pavarotti of sparrows; good singers and a little on the heavy side. And while we’re on show business, as I gazed at a group of ducks, I was prompted to wonder if Walt Disney’s inspiration for Donald Duck came from the funny spatulate bill of the Northern Shoveler.
Back to Cedar Waxwings though, I spent a while photographing large flocks of them in the tops of some nearly bare trees. They were feeding on Tartarian Honeysuckle berries, which partially explains how this invasive non-native shrub has spread so successfully. Not that I blame the waxwings, they have to eat. And It was interesting to see that some juvenile waxwings were still begging food and were obligingly attended to by adults. Then just as I framed a tree-top group of waxwings for a photo, a Coopers Hawk swept by causing the panic captured in this photo.