Horned Grebe

15 April 2013.  LaSalle Marina, Burlington ON. The basic premise of this blog is that for me, there’s always a bird of the day, it doesn’t matter how dreary the day, how many or how few the birds, there’s always at least one that makes me say Wow!

Horned Grebe in breeding plumage

Horned Grebe in breeding plumage

With that in mind, today’s Bird of the Day was a Horned Grebe found this afternoon at the frequently visited marina where strange birds often show up.  I stopped there on my way home from picking up a few grocery items, just in case.  The variety that makes this marina so full of potential through winter months, has thinned out.  There were plenty of Mallards, Mute Swans, and American Coots around, but just when I thought I’d seen all there was to be seen, I spotted the Horned Grebe.  It was working its way up and down a length of rocky shoreline, diving and then surfacing ten yards further along.  I soon worked out a way of lying in wait for it and managed to get a couple of decent shots.

American Coot.  Not often seen out of water, note the spatulate toes

American Coot. Not often seen out of water, note the spatulate toes

Field Sparrow.  The all-pink bill is a good field mark.

Field Sparrow. The all-pink bill is a good field mark.

Tree Swallow, early to arrive and has already claimed a nest site

Tree Swallow, early to arrive and has already claimed a nest site

I’d spent the morning at the bird observatory and enjoyed it.  The list of birds seen was heart-warming though hardly ‘write home’ material.  The first Field Sparrows of the year arrived overnight, they’re closely related to American Tree Sparrows many of which have been with us through the winter and are just leaving to breed in the far north above the tree line; kind of a changing of the guard.  Yesterday’s wave of Golden Crowned Kinglets has abated and Ruby-crowned Kinglets have started to follow behind, I counted three on the census and there will be many more to come. A Belted Kingfisher coursed around, following the river up and down and then circled over the banding lab. Noting the rather deperate-looking, stop-and-go flight of kingfishers I wondered aloud why it is that some bird species seem built to fly strongly and effortlessly, swallows, falcons and ducks for example, while others like Belted Kingfishers seem to be on the verge of falling out of the sky. Thinking back to my schooldays I’m sympathetic, I bet they’re always last to be picked for the flying team.