Friday, March 15, 2013

Essex and Chatham-Kent

This is a rushed post.....

I was working in Essex county today, doing some waterfowl surveys. The day turned out pretty nice, despite the cool temperatures.

Didn't have much 'on-site', however I was able to stop in at the Onion Fields shortly, and picked up the drake Eurasian Wigeon (reported on ebird) sleeping in the fields directly NE of the main Point Pelee park gate. See below for a shit-tacular photo!

You see it??? What! You don't? Ya, its a pretty shitty shot
 From the Pelee area, we made our way back to Waterloo, stopping at the Ridgetown Sewage Lagoons. This place has been a pretty happenin' place the last few months; getting numerous Greater White-fronted Geese, Ross's Geese, wintering Wood Ducks AND a Blue-winged Teal.

Anyways getting to the lagoons, I saw a few birds, including 3 Tundra Swan's in the north cell. I decided to get the scope out, and quickly noticed one of the 3 swans was quite weird......

Seeing how much yellow was on the bill made me instantly think Whooper Swan, but after getting a pic of it and looking at Sibley, I had my serious thoughts on Bewick's.

Anyways, long story short, I sent my pics to Mike, who also thought it looked good for Bewick's. He sent it to Ken Abraham (OMNR waterfowl expert) and he also thought Bewick's. I've got a few comments back from others, who all think Bewick's. What do you think?

I did read one paper very quickly regarding the identification of Whistling and Bewick's Tundra Swans ("A comparative analysis of the bill markings of Whistling and Bewick's Swans and out-of-range occurrences of the two taxa"; Evans and Sladen, 1980 in the Auk). To summarize their findings, they found the maximum amount of yellow marking on the entire bill of a Whistling Swan was 15% vs. the range of 22-42% of the bill on Bewick's (average = 31.5%). Looking really quickly at this bird, I'd say it has ~30% yellow on the bill. You can't see it in the pic, but the 'bridge' of the bill was also yellow. 

I've never seen a Bewick's Swan before so I would really enjoy any comments you may have. Even negative :)


  1. Extent of yellow appears to be between 25 - 30%, so agree with Bewick's. Bill appears long. Whooper's have longer bills that Whistling; I don't know if Bewick's have longer bills then Whistling swans though ...

    1. Ya, Whooper's (from what I've read) have longer bills. This birds bill didn't appear to different (structurally) from adjacent Whistlings.

  2. Have you ever stopped by The Big O Conservation area in Comber? Just gathering info for myself.

    1. Anonymous: nope, while I've been birding (since 1999/2000) this place has sorta fallen off the map, though there were some rare birds found there in the past. Hope this helps.

    2. Thanks Ken, that does help. Lived here in Comber for 8 years and enjoy my backyard birds. Believe it or not I read somewhere that the Big O Is a "Hot Spot" for birders. I went to go for a walk through and there is really no enterance. It was just announced that Lakeshore plans on building a nice entrance and parking lot. It seems ashame all the birders that drive right through here every spring on their way to point pelee and drive right past it.

  3. Here's the link to the paper Ken mentioned:

    I found it on SORA:

  4. Bewick's Swan still present in North Pond,
    at 3 pm, Saturday, March 16.
    All other Swans had left the ponds.
    Eventually it climbed up on the berm.
    Very hard to spot in the snow, but directly
    across the pond from the trail to the North pond.