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Birds of a Feather in My Annual Rite of Spring

April 27th, 2018 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, will you indulge me as I visualize my annual Pickering shoreline tour?

It pains me to concede that we are approaching the end of April and my spring birdwatching has not gotten out of the starting gate for various reasons beyond my control. Photos posted on Facebook, of migrants passing through the area, has been like salt in the wound.

Come hell or high water, I will set out this weekend for my first full day in the field. The itinerary for the day is etched in my brain. (All photos courtesy of Google Images.)

Bird - Golden-crowned Kinglet

I will breathe a deep sigh of contentment as I step out of my car in the parking lot of Petticoat Creek Conservation Area. The high-pitched see-see-see chatter of hyperactive Golden-Crowned Kinglets and springs-here! mating call of Black-capped Chickadees will greet me.

I will head straight for the valley and veer left onto the half-hidden trail that shadows the creek. It is a sure bet that industrious Brown Creepers will be spiraling up tree trunks. Odds are good that the wheezy, bubbly call of a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher will add itself to the mix.

Bird - Red-bellied Woodpecker

If luck prevails, the churr churr churr of a Red-Bellied Woodpecker will catch my ear and I will locate this handsome species in the trees on the ridge. Fighting through the brambles to reach the return trail may just pay off with a glimpse at a Rufous-sided Towhee in the brush.

Back on the road I will follow the shoreline and make a stop of Frenchman’s Bay. A scan of the bay should turn up a raft of or two of ducks including Buffleheads, Ring-necked Ducks and a few Scaup – a sneak preview of the bevy of waterfowl awaiting me later in the day..

Next stop is Hydro Park – not always a hotspot but still a stop I would not miss. The nasal ank-ank-ank of a White-breasted Nuthatch will greet me in the small woodlot. Perhaps the first Yellow-rumped Warbler of my spring will turn up there. I might even luck into a late Tundra Swan hanging out in the marsh.

Bird - Wood Ducks

Duffin’s Creek is next on the itinerary. I will head straight for them back pond where a cornucopia of waterfowl awaits: Mallards, Buffleheads, Ring-necks, Mergansers (all three), Northern Shovelors, Gadwalls, a Wigeon or two –dare I hope for a Eurasian?, Pie-billed Grebes and even gaudily clad Wood Ducks tucked in by the ban..

Before I move on, I will take the trail through the overgrown field and no doubt turn up a tail-wagging Hermit Thrush. Perhaps the musical trill of an early Pine Warbler will drift done from high overhead.

Last stop for the day is a right turn down Halls Road to the look-up points on Cranberry Marsh. It never fails to fatten up my waterfowl day list with Blue-winged Teals, Trumpeter Swans, Great Blue Herons, head-bobbing Coots and, if my run of luck holds, a few Ruddy Ducks.

I have done this excursion countless times but never tire of it. It starts the timer on the influx of migrants that will surge through in waves in the glorious month of May. Birds of a feather takes on new meaning when I indulge myself in this annual rite of spring that feeds my soul after riding out an especially long and stubborn winter.

~  Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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2 responses so far ↓

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  • 2 Michael Dyet May 27, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    Thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated.