Friday, December 28, 2012

Walk Along Hamilton Beach Trail

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Location: Hamilton Beach Trail @ Confederation Park
Getting There: Free Parking just off Van Wagners Beach Road in parking lot
Species of Note: Lots of seabirds! Long-tailed Ducks, unexpected winter sighting of a Turkey Vulture.
Obscurity Rating: 0/5 - A very popular trail! 
Data: eBird Checklist

Today we took off for an urban hike along the very easy, flat, paved trail known as the Hamilton Beach Trail along. Dilia and I had decided to come here after spending some time looking up where to find some new birds to see, and discovered that this whole area of Hamilton we have not spent much time in that is a haven for rare and migrating water birds, and a few owls have been seen around the area, historically. We're always looking for owls.

Now that I've started to more seriously use eBird, a tool for recording observations of bird species, I'm able to keep track of what species I have and have not seen. After some fiddling with the iBird (birding field guide app for iOS/Android), I was able to identify a fairly common duck to Hamilton's shores I had like never seen before, the Long-tailed Duck. They're a migratory duck, and from the map indicators on iBird and Cornell's Bird Guide I'm going to assume Hamilton is a popular stop-over during their winter migration.

Looking up at some point during our walk I spotted what should be quite a rare winter sighting: a Turkey Vulture gliding by, very high up. These buzzards are not rare at all in Hamilton, during any other time of the year. Either this bird was just following the shoreline or escarpment south a bit late, or had decided to take a risk and overwinter in Hamilton. As this post is written about a month later after the January cold-snap, I'd venture to say the second option would have been a very bad idea.

Also seen on this walk, some pretty crazy ice build-up on the shoreline trees. See the pictures below!

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