Monday, November 24, 2014

This and That

Since last Friday I've birded a few spots locally, as I haven't been able to getaway further afield (I had planned on doing the NE shore of Erie yesterday but that fell through).

On Friday (the 21st), I was 'up country', near Arthur doing some fieldwork. The weather was pretty much, exactly the opposite as today; with heavy snow, and cold temperatures, below -5 C. I even managed to get my work truck stuck (even with 4X4), which isn't something I've done too often (know on wood).

Anyways, after digging myself out, I checked Conestogo Lake. The lake was about half frozen(!); however, all the waterbirds were nicely concentrated. Highlights here were: 7 Red-breasted Mergansers (a good local bird), late-ish Doubled-crested Cormorant, a Common Raven, and a half-startving American Pipit (my latest bird up here).
Below the dam at Conestogo Lake

Yesterday, I managed to check Laurel Creek (it was dead), Puslinch Lake (completely frozen!), and then the quarry pits, just east of Puslinch. Here the water is pretty deep, and there was some ok stuff, considering the location and date. Highlights, included: 2 Mute Swan (not really a highlight, but...), 8 Ring-necked Ducks, 1 Ruddy Duck, and a single Horned Grebe.

Today, I was up near Arthur again. Highlights included 3 Snowy Owls, all within about a mile of each other. One of the birds included a pure white adult bird. Conestogo Lake had also completely opened up, and as a result I count 640 Common Mergansers! Not much else of note.

We'll see what this weather brings! Wonder if anyone was at Fort Erie yest/today/tmr????

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pelee and the Island - Nov. 9-10

Since the island is so awesome, I decided I had to go back for a victory lap. It sure payed off! I was supposed to take the 6pm ferry on the Saturday (Nov. 8th), however, the ferry was cancelled because the lake was too rough for the ferry. Because of this, I had to recalculate, and instead I woke up for 04:30hr on the Sunday and drove straight down to the tip of Point Pelee. This turned out to be a good move, as there ended up being a good movement of birds moving past the tip.

No doubt, for me the highlight was the pre-basic Pacific Loon, spotted by Josh at 09:40. The bird wasn't too far offshore, however, it proved to be pretty difficult to see as it dove almost continuously. Other good birds were 2 separate Eared Grebes, 2 flyover Red-throated Loons, and an odd crow (see the checklist).

Here's the rundown of what we saw at the tip, here:

I ended up taking the 2pm ferry, allowing me, an almost entire day (the Monday) for birding. I didin't have as much luck on the island on the Monday, with the highlights being 4 Tundra Swan's and a 'Western' Palm Warbler feeding in an abandoned lot at the base of Fish Point. Click on the checklist below:

The view south from Fish Point

See you next year!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pelee Island Nov. 1-3

I recently did some decent birding at Pelee Island and the mainland on the November 1-3 weekend.

Lill and I went down to the island, spending 1 full day on the island (Nov. 2), before I had to do some birding work on the 3rd in the Tilbury area. In total we had about 90 species, with the drive down being interesting as there was north winds >50km/hr. Enroute, on the Saturday, I convinced Lill to take a 'break' just east of Wheatley, where I did a 20 minute hawk-watch, the highlights being a flock of 17 Sandhill Crane's flying high up and to the west.

We ended up taking the 6pm ferry and were all set up at the Bird House just before bed time.
Sunset on the Jiimaan
We had the Sunday all set-up for our full day of birding, so I made sure we made the best of it. We started the day at Fish Point, where we walked halfway out the mile long sand spit, and were rewarded with a Purple Sandpiper. It was hanging out with a bunch of Sanderlings right at the very tip.

The view of Fish Point, looking NE, towards South Bay
 After that we drove the island, checking just about any spot that looks like it has potential. The 2 big highlights throughout the rest of the day were Clay-coloured Sparrow, Magnolia Warbler (hanging out at my future cottage lot!) and my island lifer Northern Saw-whet Owl (banded by PIBO later that night). Like always, the island was dead (people-wise), but it was pretty darn relaxing, and really reminded me why its so nice to get to the island.
Northern Saw-whet Owl banded at PIBO
Check out our full eBird checklist here:

On the Monday (the 3rd) we took the 7am ferry, giving me lots of time to do my work. Starting at the Tilbury sewage lagoons I had the long-staying Cattle Egret.

My study site had some other really good birds, especially considering the date, including 2 Golden Eagles, right over me and some late shorebirds (2 American Golden-Plovers, 52 Dunlin, 1 White-rumped Sandpiper, and 5 Pectoral Sandpipers).

All in all a great weekend.