Sunday, October 23, 2016

The road to Zion (October 22nd)

Don't worry, I'm not trying to get all religious on you...but with the perfect set-up for Saturday, my Dad and I motored down to just east of Wheatley for a hawk-watch at the end of Zion Road.

This isn't technically the wind map for Saturday, but it's pretty close (Sunday night - 11 EST).
For those who don't know, this little spot, at the end of Zion Road, likely like every other dead-end road that hits Lake Erie should be an excellent spot to do diurnal watches.

We did our hawkwatch from the end of Zion Road where it bends 90 degrees to the west
The wind set-up was so good, that driving down we passed through lake-effect rain(!) from London to the West Lorne onroute along the 401. I was getting abit worried that the rain would 'block' the hawk movement, but these worries were shortly lived.

Getting down to the Wheatley area, we checked the canary pond, north of Comber, where we saw a few shorebirds and some early-ish Tundra Swans (

After the Canary ponds, we went to Hillman, where we saw 5 Long-billed Dowitchers among a few other things (

After this, we headed over to the end of Zion to start our hawkwatch, only to find the one and only Brandon Holden - quite the pleasant surprise, if I might say so. Apparently great minds think alike. By this time it was about 10am and birds were really moving. Being right by the lake we were getting not only good numbers and great looks with the strong NW winds of hawks/vultures, including a juv. Broad-winged Hawk, but there also a decent number of waterbirds moving, with Common Loons being quite common as well as appearances of 2 Surf Scoters and 3 Long-tailed Ducks, both species that are fairly good in this part of the province.

Around noon, we were noticing that the hawk-flight was moving inland, so we moved up to Hwy. 3 and weren't disappointed. Our highlights for the day came in a short, rapid-fire over 20 minutes, starting at 14:20, when a juv. dark morph Swainson's Hawk flew by, quite close!!! I must say, I was definitely not expecting a SWHA, which was likely why I confused it for a weird male intermediate RLHA at first.

A few minutes late a nice light morph Rough-legged Hawk flew over, following the same flight line as the SWHA. If things weren't good enough, Brandon picked out a rufous/dark morph adult Red-tailed Hawk at 14:38! Talk about a day! We didn't stay much longer, as my Dad had some prior commitments, but all in all, a nice day with good company.

Our eBird checklist for your viewing pleasure: