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The Pipits: October 9 2023, Valley Inn and Woodland Cemetery

I wrote an article about our last outing, for the Hamilton Naturalist Club's Wood Duck magazine. Here it is!



Birders know the word “twitch”. It means to feel the need to chase a rare bird that has been reported by other birders. In my experience, it can mean a short, or more typically, a long drive. This might sound absurd, after all, birds do have wings and most can fly. However, birds out of place do seem to stick around where they’ve been discovered, at least for a day or two. Sometimes. If you’re lucky.

A little while ago, my fiance Geordie Ray and I chased or “twitched” after a juvenile Little Blue Heron. We made a last minute decision to drive from Burlington to Collingwood, in the hopes that the recently discovered bird would stay around and be visible when we arrived. We were lucky, and the bird was still there. As we gathered our gear in the parking lot, another birder passed by, and gave us tips on where he had last seen the bird. Great! We found the bird in the same spot he had described, and happily, I got photos I was content with, and we returned to Burlington.

Not two weeks later, another juvenile Little Blue Heron was reported, this time in Dundas!

The day after it was reported, I was taking some members of my Pipits birding group ( on an outing. When we met we discussed the discovery of the Little Blue Heron, and as a group decided to stay where we were for a short time and look around for birds. However, before long, we chose to make a run for the Little Blue Heron. None of the four Pipits had ever seen a Little Blue Heron. TWITCH!

We arrived and parked alongside the Desjardins Canal in Dundas. We were about to go to an area I’d never been before, so I had no way of predicting what we would encounter along the way. It certainly was an adventure! There were logs to climb over, and broad swathes of deep mud to ford. Thankfully, a previous adventurer had put down some branches over the worst stretches of mud to help keep our feet dry-ish. Even so, several people were wearing running shoes and gained wet and muddy feet. There were several times where we had to hold hands and help each other cross. At one point, there was an area where a stream ran underneath the path, eroding the soil to the point that it was not clear if the trail might collapse beneath our feet. Again, a wonderful opportunity to hold hands!

We made it to the end of the trail, and across the water saw a small white heron foraging in the water beneath a Wood Duck nesting structure. Nearby was a Great Egret, as well as a gull, a juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron, and a Great Blue Heron. It was obvious that this was a much smaller bird than the Egret and Herons, in fact it seemed comparable in size to the nearby gull. This was the bird we’d chased! It seemed to forage with an extended neck, bill angled downwards. The bill appeared to be downcurved, and there did not appear to be any yellow in the lores.

Four people had a new lifer! What a twitch! So much fun!

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