Winter birding in Southern Ontario

   I haven't posted in over a month, so I'll give a quick summary of my recent birding.

   I was in Paris Ontario for a few weeks in Dec/Jan, which gave me an exciting opportunity to do some more "southern" Ontario birding.. There is a nice abandoned golf course in Paris which was very productive bird-wise that I visited almost every day. The course backs onto the Grand River and is surrounded by small clusters of trees and shrubs. 
 This winter has been fairly mild without a lot of snow, so some birds that would have normally moved south are still around. A few of the decent finds over the time that I spent at the golf course there were American Wigeon, Glaucous Gull, Rusty Blackbird, Chipping Sparrow, Swamp Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Orange-crowned Warbler & Tufted Titmouse.

- Rusty Blackbird

 - Glaucous Gull

 Here are a few photos of some fairly common birds that I took at the golf course.

- Brown Creeper

- Golden-crowned Kinglet 

One thing that surprised me was the number of Common Ravens I was seeing along the Grand River. I noted 4-7 on my daily walks. Ravens are near the southern limit of their range here, but in recent decades they have been slowly expanding south.

- Common Raven

- Common Raven

 On one mild sunny morning, I ventured into Huron county and birded Hullett Marsh for the day with one of my friends. I was rewarded with these cooperative Bohemian Waxwings & a Northern Shrike.

- Bohemian Waxwings

- Bohemian Waxwings

- Bohemian Waxwings

  There were 2 Slaty-backed Gulls at the Brantford dump for several weeks in mid December that were being seen every few days. Slaty-backed Gulls are pretty rare in Ontario, with only 19 all time records. They breed on the north-east coast of Asia and are regular visitors to Alaska. These gulls wander greatly in North America and have records all over the continent.  I tried for the slaty-backs 4 times but missed them every time... I did see thousands of Herring Gulls and a few each of the following;   Great Black-backed, Iceland, Glaucous and Ring-billed gulls...
- massive flock of gulls circling over the dump

- Great Black-backed Gull

  Shortly after I returned to the Bruce, I had an interesting mammal sighting in my yard. I was looking out my window when I spotted this Short-tailed Weasel running across my yard! For over an hour it hunted for mice in a pile of logs, providing me with amazing views of this rarely seen (at least for me) weasel.
- Short-tailed Weasel

- Short-tailed Weasel with Deer Mouse

  As I'm writing this, it's -20°C, snowing and windy outside, so it's not an ideal day for birding😂. A Northern Shrike is chasing chickadees around my yard, but besides that it's pretty quiet.
 Hopefully I can track down some winter finches and Golden Eagles this week, as there are some in the area.

Even though winter is cold and sometimes unpleasant, there are still lots of birds around to see😁

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