3 October 2015, Hendrie Valley, Burlington ON. The blustery weather that blew in a couple of days ago intensified to nearly gale force overnight. I left home this morning under racing skies in all shades of malevolent grey and as I drove past Lake Ontario I could see it was pounding its hard shorelines with long tumbling whitecaps and towering plumes of spray.
I walked the census route sure, that in the sheltered valley, there would be some interesting birds. Just as before the valley harboured hundreds of Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-throated Sparrows all staying low out of the wind. There were many Ruby-crowned and Golden Crowned Kinglets and a bright flash of yellow in one of the darker corners of the forest turned out to be a beautiful, bright Black-throated Green Warbler.
Bird of the Day was a small group of Rusty Blackbirds who were feeding around the marshy edge of a large pond. Rusty Blackbird populations have declined precipitously over the past few decades. The general consensus is that losses of wintering wetlands, contaminants in their boreal breeding grounds and perhaps poisoning have been the causes. The rustiness, so evident in the shot below, and from which it gets its name, is apparent only in the late summer, fall and early winter.
Being generally blackish and brownish, the Rusty Blackbird is not the sort of bird to capture the public imagination the way Eastern Bluebirds or Wood Ducks did when their numbers were seen to be in free-fall. Few people seem to care that the Rusty Blackbird species is dwindling fast.
We rarely see Winter Wrens in any sort of numbers but when we do they are always a treat. This one watched me closely as I tried to keep track of the Yellow-rumped Warblers, kinglets and White-throated Sparrows numbers. Getting a photo of it was tricky as it was always on the move but I was flattered by the attention it paid me.
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