In my last post, I blogged about our awesome trip capturing many memorable images of the majestic moose. Even though capturing images of the moose was the target species of the trip, there were also some feathered diversions, aka birds, of course. As we moved from location to location for moose, we were able to explore Opeongo Lake and enjoy the sights. There was a rocky island in the north part of the lake which had a dozen trees and some ground vegetation. The island was mostly occupied by a Herring Gull and Double-crested Cormorant colony. We made a few circles around the island keeping our distance since the Herring Gulls were being very protective and dive-bombing our boat.
We noticed a smaller gull that was flying in and out of the island which we identified as a Bonaparte’s Gull. We weren’t sure what the Bonaparte’s was doing in this area since the breeding range is farther up north in the boreal forest. The Bonaparte’s Gull is the only gull that regularly nests in trees and feeds mainly on insects during the breeding season. They are very fast and erratic fliers so it was a bit of a challenge to get an image or two.
Another migratory traveler that we saw on the island was the Ruddy Turnstone. I say traveler since the Ruddy Turnstone breeds on rocky arctic coasts and tundra and it is difficult to know for certain if the Turnstones were just stopping by for a rest or if they would being staying on that island. I have seen Ruddy Turnstones before while we were vacationing in Florida but not in their pretty breeding colours.
There was a single Semipalmated Sandpiper on the island too. This small shorebird also breeds in the Arctic and a fun fact is that it winters along the coasts of South America undertaking nonstop transoceanic flights of 3,000 – 4,000 km. The name comes from the webbing between its toes, palmated means webbed.
The most numerous bird on the island was the Herring Gull. There were plenty of chicks on the island at various stages of growth and some actually looked kind of cute. We also observed some violent social interaction between two Herring Gulls but both combatants eventually parted ways.
The Double-crested Cormorants were sitting on their nests and I was able to capture some nice close-ups. Even though it is much-despised, this cormorant has striking features including its orange skin and aquamarine eyes.
For my next post, I will have more bird images from the moose trip including the Common Merganser, Belted Kingfisher and the Black-backed Woodpecker.