December 6th. 2017 Sedgewick Forest Park, Oakville, ON. I’ve scarcely touched my binoculars in a month, not since we wrapped up two months of bird population transects that started in with Chimney Swifts and ended with Fox Sparrows. Today with a north-west wind blowing cold and hard a young birder friend reported watching a wind-tossed Golden Eagle circling high overhead. Late fall cold fronts are legendary for Golden Eagles, and while he may nurture some lingering doubts I’m happy to believe that’s what he saw.
Meanwhile on a more mundane birding front, and perhaps inspired by my friend to get out, I visited one of this area’s most celebrated sewage treatment facilities. Such places are not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but birds like them for the nourishing insect life to be found thereabouts. Every late fall and early winter this place holds a few oddities, last year for example I wrote “ American Robins all clucking and squawking … many Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets; an Eastern Phoebe and …Probably the drabbest warbler we ever encounter, an Orange-crowned Warbler and arguably the most beautiful a Northern Parula.“
On arrival today I could hear a Winter Wren purring to itself somewhere low and gloomy, and see and hear small groups of American Robins, House Finches and American Goldfinches. A couple of warmly-dressed birders were prowling around, pointing and staring at a tangle of old grapes and blackberry, but I was under-dressed so stayed just long enough to see two or three Yellow–rumped Warblers, a pair of Northern Cardinals, a bashful Hermit Thrush and, Bird of the Day, a glowing Nashville Warbler. The place wasn’t devoid of colour, after all House Finches show some crimson-red and Yellow Rumped Warblers have butter-yellow rumps (as you might expect). But this little Nashville Warbler with its yellowy-orange throat and breast seemed to radiate light from within the woody tangle.
Here’s a Nashville Warbler, just as engaging, but photographed at another, greener time of year.