October 25 2016 . RBG Cootes Paradise, Hamilton, & Sedgewick Park Oakville, ON. Today just seemed like a good day to be outdoors. It was a light jacket kind of day: bright and breezy and lots of swirling airborne leaves. I explored a couple of favourite locations, the first along a lakeside path to a lookout over an expanse of mudflats, the second the perimeter of a sewage treatment plant where summer birds are known to be lulled into a false sense of security by the abundant insect life.
The first half of the day was enjoyable but not very rich in bird life. I was happy with a close encounter with a Red-tailed Hawk, the spectacle of dozens of spiraling migrating Turkey Vultures and a nervous flotilla of Northern Shovelers, but other than that it was a little quiet.
After a short stop for lunch I decided to see what could be hanging around the treatment plant. It was a busy place: dozens of American Robins clucking and squawking among themselves as they fed on Multiflora Rose berries; many Yellow-rumped Warblers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets; an Eastern Phoebe, and to top it off, two warblers from opposite ends of the glamour spectrum: A Blackpoll Warbler and a Northern Parula. The Blackpoll was devilishly difficult to see and even harder to photograph. It is, as you can see, a faded, dull, greeny-grey-yellow overall, with faint streaks along the breast and back, a couple of pale wing-bars and an indistinct broken eye-ring. ( A note of contrition here. At first I took the Blackpoll to be an Orange-crowned Warbler. It’s not; Orange-crowneds don’t have wing bars for one thing and are yellow under the tail – not white. I jumped to conclusions, I do that sometimes.)
The Parula by contrast is a study in the tasteful use of colour; truly a picture is worth a thousand words. This individual was startlingly open and unconcerned by the presence of people or heavy vehicles, tame is not the right word here; but it showed no fear. It may, I hate to think, be in trouble (certainly if it tries to stay here for the winter), it was repeatedly opening its beak as if yawning, as if it was trying to clear something troublesome from its throat. A beautiful little bird but something’s amiss.