Saturday, November 18, 2017

Pelee Pacific

A strong SW wind developed overnight which encouraged me to go to Point Pelee for a Tip Watch.
I was the first to arrive at the Tip just after 7 a.m.



Just as I finished setting up my scope, a tardy Black-bellied Plover briefly set down the sand at the Tip.  It only stayed a few seconds, then took flight.
Jeremy Hatt and Steve Pike joined me soon after my arrival.
It was generally slow, typical of lake watches this fall, with few gulls.  However, it was evident that loons, grebes and ducks were on the move.



Many Common Loons were seen flying south, and several Red-throated joined them.  I saw at least 13 Red-throated but probably missed many.  It seems to be a good year for Red-throated Loon sightings in these parts!
Horned Grebes were plentiful as well.  I saw at least 50, but no doubt many were missed.

At one point I spotted a swimming loon which seemed different.  I looked at it for some time before alerting the others because it looked suspiciously like a Pacific.  The more we looked at it, the more we were convinced it was an adult in non-breeding plumage.  It looked identical to what you see in the Sibley Guide.
It was a bit too distant to attempt a photo under gloomy skies.
I was elated since was a new Pelee bird for me!  I had missed them in the past by one day many times.  Of all the Tip Watches over the years, Pacific Loon finally showed up for me.

A while later, Josh Vandermeulen and Todd Hagedorn joined us for some comradarey at the Tip.  Mike Nelson came a bit later.



Several species of ducks went by as well as several thousand Red-breasted Mergansers.  These mergansers can be in big numbers this time of year. I recall one watch many years ago where we had about 54,000 pass by the Tip! (Alan was keeping track as usual).

mergs

more mergs


Still no Purple Sandpiper for the year.  In the past we have had them on several occasions here.

Gulls were rather few and far between.



Soon, things started getting slow and the rain was threatening, so we headed up to Sparrow Field.  A good raft of scoters (all three species) has been opposite the field for over a week.
Passerines were virtually absent today, but the typical weekend weather did not help.

Surf Scoters


Before leaving, I checked out Shuster Trail and De Laurier Trail before leaving in the pouring rain.

Sunday looks like a good day to head north!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Frolicks at Rondeau

Today looked like a nice weather day.  Couple that with the fact I needed an extra off, and the fact the weekend weather was coming, I went down to Rondeau today.  The forecast for Saturday looked typical for a weekend, so there was no way I was playing that game again!

I started at dog beach with a lakewatch along with Steve Charbonneau.  There was virtually no wind, so the lake was rather calm.  However, viewing conditions were superb and there were lots of ducks and loons moving.
Not long after our arrival, a large white bird came in off the lake, which turned out to be the season's first Snowy Owl!  I attempted a record photo.



Looks like the Snowy Owls are finally appearing, as two were at Erieau today as well.

At least 40 Common Loons were seen during our watch, along with at least 8 Red-throated Loons.  In the past, we always thought Red-throated Loons were very rare at Rondeau, but then we never did lakewatches like we do now.

A good number of ducks were moving, including a few thousand Red-breasted Mergansers.

Some migrant passerines came in off the lake which are always neat to watch.  Once they hit land, they dive into the shrubbery!

We soon moved on to south point trail where the sun eventually came out.  Best bird was perhaps the Orange-crowned Warbler.




Lots of Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches were flying today, but no sign of any redpolls yet.

Fox Sparrows certainly have moved in, as I counted around 30 today.  We even had one White-crowned Sparrow, a species that has been rather scarce this fall.
Some Red-breasted Nuthatches were around today.



After Steve moved on up to Townsend's Warbler headquarters, I checked out the campground and the north end of Harrison Trail.
A number of Fox Sparrows were in the campground as a well as a Yellow-rumped Warbler or two (we had two on SPT).
A couple dozen Cedar Waxwings were working the Red Cedars in the grounds.  One can always hope for a Bohemian.



I also walked to the pony barn area where I had a good look at a Pileated Woodpecker.  These impressive creatures become elusive in the winter months (especially on CBC's!).

Along the beach at the north end of the park, I found 8 Sanderlings, the only shorebird type of the day.

A few Sanderlings


Lots of geese were along the shoreline, including two Snows and the continuing Ross's Goose.

Two Snow Geese

Ross's Goose in the distance


On the way out, I checked the Townsend's Warbler area where a number of birders were looking.  Most had seen it, but it was very flighty today and difficult to get good looks.

Also on the agenda today, was to check McGeachy Pond.  Upon arrival, two Snowy Owls were visible in the field across the road.



There was not much along the dike, but a Gray Catbird was in the tangles, barely visible.  Perhaps it will stay into winter, as one usually does there.

Yes, it is a catbird


I also got a couple of glimpses of a Yellow Warbler.  There was one there a few days ago spotted by Jim Burk, who seems adept at finding warblers!

I soon headed back north, but after getting a bite to eat in Chatham, I veered over to Mitchell's Bay.  There was not much along the south shore trail, but lots of Canada Geese were around.
I did not see any Snowy Owls on the way, but there are likely some now.

The rain comes in tonight, signalling the start of yet another weekend!