Today is March 23 and it is snowing out. I was out doing errands and decided to pop down to the West Side Marsh to see what I could see. This is my favourite quick birding trip and below you will see a Google satellite shot of the area.
The red X's are the rough location of four Osprey poles that have been erected by the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority. More on the Ospreys later.
Today I stopped to look at this pond and the first thing that I saw was a group of about a dozen Hooded Mergansers. These are a beautiful bird and it was nice to see them. There were also a couple of Buffleheads as well as Mallards and Gadwall in evidence. In the larger waterfowl, there were lots of geese paired up along the shoreline and at least four pair of resident Mute Swans. One of the swans was acting kinda funny and as I watched it, I realized that it was trying to chase off an animal in the water. A River Otter! For me an unexpected find, although I have heard of reports in other areas not to far away. Other birds seen today were Ring Billed gulls, Crows, Grackles, Red Winged Blackbirds, Brown Headeed Cowbirds, Robins, Mourning Doves, Chickadees, Junco, Purple Finch, Tree and Song sparrow. On the actual lake I saw Common Goldeneye and on the drive down to the marsh a single Turkey Vulture.
The Ospreys are not back yet. They are one of the last raptors to show on the return migration. They also tend to be under represented by the usual hawk watch sites. I think this is because they are more likely to fly over open water and most hawks will not. The hawk watch sites are mainly set up where the migration is constrained by a body of water. This is the case at the Beamer's Point Hawk Watch in Grimsby Ontario which is at the west end of Lake Ontario. I will be keeping you all posted on the life and times of these Ospreys when they do return in about a month.