Saturday was supposed to be sunny as well, but thick clouds moved in late in the morning and that same cold north wind kept temperatures in the single digits. I started the day off with a walk at Jack Pine Trail where I hoped to photograph the Winter Wren. I didn’t hear him in his usual spot behind the OFNC feeder, but when I heard the chickadees calling excitedly a little further down the path I discovered a juvenile accipiter flying over the marsh. It dove into the cattails but failed to catch anything; it emerged from the vegetation and landed on a tree branch with its back to me. Then he turned his head and saw me, and I saw the yellow eyes of an immature bird. He flew off before I could see any features that would identify him.
I finally found the Winter Wren at the back of the largest loop near a downed tree. However, no new birds had arrived at Jack Pine Trail, so I decided to head elsewhere. My next stop was the woods behind the Nortel campus where, if the day had been warmer or sunnier, I might have seen some butterflies; as it was, it seemed too cold even for the Chorus Frogs I hoped to find! I heard a Purple Finch singing at the top of a tree, and when I located it I was surprised to see a female instead of a bright red male.
At least two Tree Swallows were flying above the nesting boxes at the back of the trail, and these made the visit worthwhile. Neither landed for a photo, but it was good to see these early migrants – the first Tree Swallows of the year for me – hawking for insects against the gray and cloudy sky.
The only other thing that caught my interest were a number of these green and purple Trout Lily leaves emerging from the ground. Trout Lilies have beautiful, trumpet-shaped yellow flowers which bloom briefly in the early spring; they belong to an informal group of woodland flowers known as spring ephemerals because they must bloom and reproduce before the leaf canopy fully blocks out the sunlight. As such, their flowering time is brief.
It was starting to warm up so I decided to head over to Mud Lake to see if any turtles were basking on the logs near the Turtle Bridge. Someone had posted a picture of a Blanding’s Turtle last week, and as I hadn’t seen one in a couple of years I was hoping to spot this yellow-throated turtle among the usual Painted Turtles. I saw only a handful of turtles in the usual spot by the bridge, none of which was a Blanding’s Turtle. They were the first ones I’d seen this spring, so I attempted to take a few pictures despite the gloomy sky.
A pair of Wood Ducks were swimming on the far side of the bay, and a couple of Canada Geese and mallards swam right up to the bridge looking for handouts. I spotted a muskrat busy foraging in the area, swimming first on one side of the bridge and then on the other.
I ended the day with a trip to the Richmond Lagoons were I found five Northern Shovelers were swimming at the back of the first cell. This was my second year bird of the day. There were no other waterfowl present, though several Canada Geese flew over while I was there. A couple of Tree Swallows were flitting over the water as well.
I was a little disappointed only to see two new year birds on Saturday; I hoped that Sunday would turn out to be a better day….and a sunnier one!