Brooks Falls

Brooks Falls

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

More Townsend's Warbler plus Ross's Goose

The Townsend's Warbler which was first noticed last Saturday (but quite likely had been around for awhile) continued into Monday. It looked quite content loosely hanging around with a small group of kinglets and chickadees. The crowd of searchers was not as large as on the weekend, but still, at least a dozen folks arrived and successfully saw the bird. Most were retirees, not surprisingly. Getting good photographs, however, was a different story. The bird was active and typically was in the upper half of any tree it was found in, sometimes right at the top. Combined with the bright overcast skies, the light and distance was challenging.

I used the 5D3 with the 1.4X converter on the 500mm lens this time, knowing that under poor light conditions it would perform much better than the crop sensor of the 7D2 which I used for photos taken on Saturday for the previous post. Even at that, I had to use a lot of tweaking of the high resolution RAW images to make the best of them. If I was adept at photoshop, I might have considered replacing the overexposed white sky for a more pleasing sky blue background, but taking the photos as natural as possible has always been my preference.

Up until this day, I had never seen the warbler in any tree but a coniferous one. That wasn't really surprising, since the bird's normal habitat is the coniferous forests of the Rocky Mountains, where it forages and nests in the upper reaches of conifers. So I was a little surprised to see this bird spend a few moments at the very top of this leafless deciduous tree. It certainly gave less obstructive views, but again, the over exposed sky did not help. For camera aficionados, this next photo was intentionally overexposed in the camera by 2 1/3 stops, and then had the contrast, etc adjusted on the computer just to get a bit of detail in the bird. It was a pretty drastic crop as well, going from 5760 pixels on the long side down to 1200 pixels, which resulted in going from a total of 22,118,400 pixels down to 960,000 pixels. That is a 96% crop

One of the other highlights of this rarity arriving here is to re-connect with folks I hadn't seen in years. Some of these included folks from the GTA while another one was a former prof of mine. I took a wildlife biology course from him back in about 1974, and had a few discussions with him at the time about the Rondeau deer herd. I hadn't seen him in more than 40 years, so it was interesting to chat for a bit.

While a few of us were watching and waiting for the Townsend's, we got word that a Ross's Goose was just out in the lake a short distance away. As it turns out, it was actually within the park boundary, associating with several hundred Canada Geese that were resting on the lake in a no hunting area.

When we first saw it, it was clearly a small goose.
Without seeing the head and facial characteristics, it would be difficult to separate this from a Ross's X Snow hybrid, which happens fairly regularly in the wild. After a bit, it did get its head up and looked around briefly.

In the second photo, the rounded head, the straight feather line at the base of the fairly stubby bill,  the lack of the grin patch and the bluish colour at the base of the bill all point towards it being a Ross's Goose, or at least if there are any Snow Goose genes in its make-up they are very minimal.

Ross's Goose has become a bit more regular throughout Ontario over the past couple of decades, and they seem to show up in Chatham-Kent annually now. However I think this is the first time I have seen a Ross's Goose within the park boundary.

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