This weekend we went to High Park on our annual May search for the Orioles return to the city; but with it came some other great surprises.
The Orioles were found within minutes from exiting the car where we parked at High Park. I haven't heard that song since last August but I didn't forget it. Funny how it sticks with me even if I only see these birds for maybe a span of 4 weeks per year.
We know a "hot spot" in the park where we are pretty much guaranteed to see some Orioles and were not disappointed. That rush of excitement upon first glances of their return is something only one who appreciates our feathered friends can understand. I bet more people would be stunned by the visual beauty of an Oriole if they just stopped and looked at one (not that they are easily seen).
In the span of the next hour or so we happened to see a number of Ruby Throated Hummingbirds in the same area. I didn't expect to see them in the area already. It is early May and frost is still happening the occasional night. They were quite attracted to some shrubs we learned are called "Weigelas". The bright red flowers and the nectar within are a real treat for the Hummingbirds. The one thing about Hummingbirds is that they do not stop moving... so good luck in photographing one, especially still in the ranks of being an amateur photographer like myself.
A number of very small birds buzzed about the area too and we had no idea what they were. We made mental notes of a lot of the details about them... blue grey backs, dark wings, white undersides, long tails, white rings around the eyes, overall size, etc. With the help of our friend Lynda at our local Wild Birds Unlimited store, and a guide book we saw a new species to us... a Blue Grey Gnatcatcher. Another tough one to photograph, constantly moving and often higher up in the trees.
A lot of other new calls and songs were heard but nothing else stood out in our sights as a new species to identify.
I wanted to make mention that a visit to High Park is not just about the birds. Sure, it's a big part of it, but any outing to a park/forest/waterfront is also just about enjoying the day. Taking in the warm sun and enjoying all around us. To be surrounded by trees or water sure is nice. The less concrete I see, the better. The lack of noise of the passing cars and trucks as we go deeper into the park is great. I have learned over the last couple years that going out with just the mindset of seeing some birds is not the best way to go about things. I would get so wrapped up in just that, ignoring the beauty around me, the joy of what else the day and area had for me... and there are times when the birds just weren't around for whatever reason.
As the forests get greener everyday, the window for good bird spotting lessens... something others interested in attempting to watch the birds need to keep in mind. I will attach a few other of my favorite photos from this day out... enjoy! I am off to research these little Blue Grey Gnatcatchers as I know nothing about them, only now, that there is such a species.
A Chipmunk enjoyed our company as we tossed him peanut after peanut.
A male Red Winged Blackbird up in the tree, singing a song, waiting for some grub or enjoying the sun. Notice how the trees are still quite open? When it's full of leaves, the birds can hide in there quite well and then you can only hear them.
I am not sure what this flower is called but I saw a large patch of them. I got in close for this shot and didn't even notice the couple insects within until after I loaded the photo to the computer. Looks like 'Skeeters to me!
A bazillion red ants! Where's a Flicker when you need one? I've only seen it once when a Flicker attacks an ant site... quite a sight!
One of the many American Robins running about the grounds.
The Weigela plant as I mentioned... Hummingbird attractor and the Orioles seem to like it too.
Another neat looking flower off the path in the park. Please don't step on them.
The next Blog of mine below is also full of photos from High Park, the day before this one. If you like Northern Cardinals, check it out!