Monday, October 08, 2007

High Park - October 7

Another great day of birding at High Park, proving that poor weather isn't always a bad thing. Slight chance of rain, fog in the morning, overcast skies, and a lower temperature likely held back a lot of birds during their migration and High Park once again experienced a fallout of sorts. The most abundant species in the park was Yellow-rumped Warbler with hundreds of birds at the southern end. Pishing was also working extremely well and I could bring over 10 birds within a few meters within seconds. After seeing a Northern Mockingbird, I decided to post my sightings again onto Ontbirds, basically hoping get people out there to the park and witness the heavy songbird migration that's in full force.

Here is my Ontbirds post, followed by my list for the day along with further details on individual sightings:

At noon on Sunday, October 7, I had a Northern Mockingbird at the south end of High Park, Toronto. The bird was about 50 meters west of Colborne Lodge drive, directly across from Grenadier Pond. It was perched on the hydro lines.

In addition, it was another excellent day of birding at High Park with large numbers of migrants, no doubt due to the weather conditions holding them in the park.


Yellow-rumped Warbler - I counted over 250 just at the south end of the park
Orange-crowned Warbler - 2
Northern Parula - 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler - 1 first fall female
Magnolia Warbler - 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler - 3 (2 females, 1 male)
Black-throated Green Warbler - 1
Blackpoll Warbler - 5
Northern Waterthrush - 2

I also counted over 20 White-breasted Nuthatches (outnumbered Red-breasted), 3 Brown Creepers, had both Kinglet species, 1 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, 1 Black-billed Cuckoo, both White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, and decent numbers of migrating Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Robins, and Starlings. At Grenadier pond, I had 2 Pied-billed Grebes, 8 Northern Shoveler, and 1 Peregrine Falcon. Also, there were 8 Red-breasted Mergansers flying overhead.

In total I had 43 species in the span of 3.5 hours (10:00am - 1:30pm).

High Park is located at the west end of Toronto near Keele and Bloor. The main entrance is on the south side of Bloor, or you can access the park via the Queensway on its south end at Queensway and Colborne Drive. If you're getting there by transit, get off the Bloor subway line at High Park station and cross the street.


I'm so glad to have High Park within a short streetcar ride away. It's very convenient and I've had some great birds there already. I wish the islands didn't require so much planning or else I would visit them more often to birdwatch as well because they sound like they're pretty active right now. However, the great aspect of High Park, at least right now during fall migration, is that if there aren't many songbirds about, you can always check out Hawk Hill and watch the hawk migration, something else I've been doing frequently this past month.

Here is my full list for the day:

Double-crested Cormorant – a few on Grenadier Pond
Great Blue Heron – 1
Mute Swan – 4 on Grenadier Pond
Canada Goose – a few migrants but mostly local birds
Wood Duck – 6
Northern Shoveler – 8 on Grenadier Pond
Red-breasted Merganser – 8 migrants
Peregrine Falcon – 1 local bird
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Black-billed Cuckoo – 1
Belted Kingfisher – 1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker – 1
Downy Woodpecker – around 20 birds
Northern Flicker
Blue Jay – only a few birds
Black-capped Chickadee – abundant
Red-breasted Nuthatch – fewer than usual
White-breasted Nuthatch – 20+ (some were being very tame and one landed on my hand)
Brown Creeper – 3
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 4
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – 10
American Robin – abundant
Northern Mockingbird – 1
European Starling – abundant
Orange-crowned Warbler – 2
Northern Parula – 2
Chestnut-sided Warbler – 1 first fall female
Magnolia Warbler – 1
Black-throated Blue Warbler – 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler – 200+
Black-throated Green Warbler – 1
Blackpoll Warbler – 5
Northern Waterthrush – 2 late migrants
Northern Cardinal
White-throated Sparrow – 20+
White-crowned Sparrow – 1
Red-winged Blackbird – a few migrants
Common Grackle – quite a few migrating
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Total Species: 43 This number is up from other days, probably because I visited a variety of habitats and also spent more time exploring than restricting myself to the vicinity of Colborne Lodge. Also, no raptors at the hawk count. In fact, no hawkwatchers at the hawk count. The conditions were too poor for any raptor migration to occur.

Last thing: I'm uber-excited about birding my old stomping grounds, Point Pelee. The OFO convention is this coming weekend and I can't wait to get out there and bird the Pelee Birding Circle!


UPDATE, 2008: It was brought to my attention that some of the counts that I made during my trips to High Park in the fall were probably overestimates. Most numbers are still accurate, however, Tennessee Warbler, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Downy Woodpecker numbers, in particular, were probably overestimates. I was counting by memory so a few counts might be high and I also made rough estimates with some species, which is why I added a '+' sign after many of the counts. I plan to be a lot more careful with reporting numbers in the future, making sure I write them down and not overestimate any numbers and provide a false impression of how many birds were present.

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