Monday, December 17, 2018

Blenheim CBC -- Dec. 17

We are now in the midst of the Christmas Bird Count season.  This year I decided to switch the count that I do on the Sunday, dropping Cambridge, moving in favour of the more exotic Blenheim CBC, which covers all of Rondeau Provincial Park.   I was lucky in getting a great area, with Mark Jennings retiring his area, I was tasked with covering the Shrewsbury/Erieau/McGeachy Pond area.

Looking ahead to Sunday late last week, the weather was still in flux, however, things turned out amazing, with strong NE winds occurring Saturday (theoretically pushing waterbirds closer to shore), before becoming calm and warm (8 degrees), and even lots of sunshine on Sunday!

Dark and early on Sunday, Rob ''the real deal'' Palin and I met along the 401 in Kitchener, before making our way to the Erieau pier for sunrise.  We decided to do a lakewatch, taking advantage of the day's previous weather and the fact that waterbirds "move" during the first hour or two.  Turned out to be a good call, with both loons (1 Common, 2 Red-throated), 6 Horned Grebe's, 7 Long-tailed Ducks, and all 3 scoters making appearances, making it seem more like Lake Ontario than Erie.

After an hour and a half we moved west to McGeachy Pond, where walked the dyke and back. Things were slightly quiet, but we had excellent quality, with our highlights being: 1 Marsh Wren, 3(!) Common Yellowthroats, 2 Hermit Thrushes, a flyover Common Redpoll, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and absolutely best of all, a Northern Waterthrush! The N. Waterthrush is almost certainly the same bird that had been seen off/on throughout late October and November, and most recently on December 5th. We had the bird at the extreme west end, deep in the scrub.

Phone shot of the Common Yellowthroat at McGeachy Pond.
From McGeachy we went across the road and walked the rail trail down and back. Another Ruby-crowned Kinglet, some Carolina's and a single Winter Wren, as well as the resident pair of Great Horned Owls made appearances.

From here we drove around to Shrewsbury, scoring some Snowy Owls along the way, before walking portions of the townsite.  In town we had another Ruby-crowned Kinglet and best of all a Red-shouldered Hawk that we watched catch a snake!  Shrewsbury seems pretty neat, with lots of interesting areas to check; I'll definitely want to revise my strategy for next year birding here on count day.

By this time it was 2pm; we decided to head back to Erieau to check the townsite proper for landbirds and to properly scan the bay, with the lighting proving excellent. In town we scored some random landbirds, incluing a pair of Yellow-rumped Warblers, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and a Field Sparrow. Scanning the bay was productive too, with distant views of several new ducks for the day (Redhead, A. Wigeon, etc.).

By this time, daylight was fast closing (~4pm), we decided to drive all the roads in our area. We found another Snowy Owl by McGeachy Pond, and our 2nd American Kestrel of the day.

We ended up finishing with 70 species; my personal high on a CBC -- the total species count ended up being 114 species! A great day!


  1. Great to see you (and "the real deal" Palin) on this count! Hope to see you next year!

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