Thursday, April 07, 2011

Birding in Southern Ontario's Bruce County

I am not your traditional idea of someone who enjoys birding. This is a new interest for me and my photos are pictures of opportunity. This means that I have spotted these amazing creatures and have been able too capture them. Across Bruce County hundreds of various species of Ontario birds can be seen sitting on telephone poles, farm fence lines, swampy areas, farmland on side road concessions, national parks, waterfalls, wooded area and occasionally they may be spotted near the ruins of an old abandoned home. Another great spot is always near the water, like inland lakes, dams and common fishing spots.

The smaller species of birds are fairly easy to capture. These birds will allow people to get a bit closer than the larger birds of prey. I make a point to not intrude on the birds’ habitat and always maintain a safe distance. I move very slowly to take my shots and then I leave the area as soon as I am done. Please remember that making sudden or fast movements will spook a bird, so if you want to capture their image, just remember to be patient.

Bird photos around The Bruce Peninsula National Park

Some of my favourite spots to capture birds, are near swampy areas. I have noted a variety of species in these areas and am always left wondering, ‘What type of bird is that?’ I have developed a natural curiosity about taking photos of birds; some birds have incredible beauty and size while others are scavengers and sometimes a menace.

My favourite birds to capture, are birds of prey like Hawks, Falcons, Vultures and Owls. They are a beautiful sight to capture and some of the best spots to see various birds of prey are up and down the Grey Bruce Line. There are various hawks like the red tailed hawk, white tailed hawk and the peregrine falcon that can be spotted daily throughout the swampy areas along this road. These birds prefer open areas, like fields with high perching places nearby from where they can watch for prey. Hawks are commonly seen on large tree tops along the roadside to spot and seize mice, ground squirrels, rabbits, reptiles, or other prey. They do not allow humans to get too close, so you will need to be patient and have a good zoom in order to capture them.

Another favourite bird that I love capturing is the Osprey. This is a powerful raptor, bird of prey and is commonly known as the “sea hawk or a fish eagle”. They can be spotted near Oliphant and Wiarton as there are various perches built in these areas. Ospreys are often mistaken for bald eagles, but they can be identified by their white under parts. Their white head has a distinctive black eye stripe that goes down the side of their face. Ospreys are also very territorial and where there is one, their mate is always close.

The grey and blue herons are a common site in Allenford, Stokes Bay, Sauble Falls, Lockerby (Paisley) and Tobermory. Also the great Egret, also a member of the heron family can be seen in Sauble Falls and Allenford. These members of the heron family frequent marshes, lakes, humid forests, and other wetland environments to catch small fishes, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and crustaceans in shallow waters.

If you would like to see swans, I always recommend visiting Southampton at Fairy Lake near the Bruce County Museum or Harrison Park in Owen Sound. You will see ducks and other water birds that frequent the area, but the swans are the birds to see here. Swans are easily spotted, noting their long curved necks and webbed feet. These majestic birds can be seen floating serenely around ponds with their mate. There are seven different species of swans that exist and they are the: Whooper, Trumpeter, Tundra, Mute, Black-necked, Black and Coscoroba.

Throughout Bruce County, there are hundreds of small species of birds. We all commonly recognize the Bluejay, Cardinal, Chickadee, Robin and wild Finch. These smaller birds are much easier to capture, as they have become domesticated by being fed wild bird seed. Recently, I had an amazing experience at the Bruce Peninsula National Park, where baby chickadees would eat wild bird seed directly from my hands. This was unique and powerful experience for myself and my son and one that has sparked the desire to continue capturing various bird species in Bruce County, Ontario.

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