A bit of late autumn birding around Toronto

We're spending a few days with Bernie's sister Jo in Toronto to celebrate a special birthday but the opportunity to get a little birding in at a time of year that I've not yet experienced over here was far to tempting. Bernie and I visited High Park on Tuesday where we had a nice flock of Slate-coloured Juncos and a single American Tree Sparrow as well as residents such as Downy Woodpecker and White-breasted Nuthatch.
High park is famous for its "Hawk Hill" raptor watch-point - we were expecting to see people there but no-one was there at first. The wind had shifted westerly which brought we had a few Red-tailed Hawks (along with the residents) and quite a few Turkey Vultures passing (total of 45 in 90 minutes). A couple of Cooper's Hawks showed well and then I picked up a large raptor low over the trees which wasn't a TV - immature Golden Eagle!
A wander back along Grenadier Pond gave us several Wood Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Hooded Mergansers and an interesting exhibition of synchronised feeding by 20+ Shovelers.

Today, I met up with Owen Yates for some birding along the 'coast' east of Toronto. We started at Thickson Woods at dawn where we heard a Great Horned Owl but try as we might, we couldn't find one in the pines. There were plenty of Golden-crowned Kinglets as well as the ubiquitous Black-capped Chickadees on the edges of the woods.
Next was a quick visit to a farm field to twitch a Cattle Egret - we found two! Funny to think that these are still very rare here but increasing, just like at home. The area was full of Greater Canada Goose flocks and a few Cackling Geese were in amongst them.
We visited Cranberry Marsh next, one of my favourite places. Lots of ducks and herons on the water including American Wigeon, Pintail, Green-winged Teal, 12 Great Blue Herons and three Great Egrets. On the lake, a HUGE flock of mergansers were feeding - easily in excess of a thousand birds, mostly Red-breasted but a hundred or so Common (Goosander). There were also Bufflehead, Surf and Black Scoter and Bonaparte's Gulls.
Back on the paths, we got 'attacked' by Chickadees coming for food and some unexpected Red-winged Blackbirds.
Song Sparrow

Red-winged Blackbird

Mourning Dove - one several very approachable birds

Great Egrets
Next was to Whitby Harbour (Great Black-backed Gull) and then finally to Frenchman's Bay, a place I've not visited before. Quickly got a lifer with three White-winged Scoter flying past along with several Buffleheads and Long-tailed Ducks. There were also a few Great Northern Divers (Common Loon) and more mergansers. Not a bad morning's birding considering the rain and drizzle and a good deal of birding chat.

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