Saturday, November 22, 2014

Pipits A-Plenty!

The weather was horrible today, but one must get out.  It was picture-perfect yesterday of course but I did not seen much after getting off work early.

I thought a trip to Point Pelee was in order today.  At least the forecast freezing rain never materialized, but upon my arrival there it started to rain.

Icy Tip Trail


As I drove into the park it was still fairly dark, but birds were getting up off the road as usual.  Some were American Pipits!



The last couple of days, large numbers of American Pipits have been reported especially along Lake Erie.
Today there were simply everywhere.  One could go anywhere and find them as they were in the woods, on trails, roads, beaches, fields, lawns, etc.  Quite a sight to see.

Despite the soggy day, there was a decent SW wind so I stood watch at the Tip.  Three Killdeer were working the beach (and woods!) the whole morning.  I saw up to five plus a dead one.



Not many gulls were moving today, so only the usual four species.  There was a variety of ducks including a couple of Long-tailed.
The large raft of mainly scaup, is still off the east side.
Around two dozen Horned Grebes went by, but only 4 Common Loons.

Lots of Rusty Blackbirds were around today and some were working the beach.




Around mid morning, Kory Renaud and Jeremy Hatt joined me for the watch.  Things got slow after a while so we discarded the scopes in our cars and walked up to Sparrow Field.  It was rather quiet, but lots of pipits were encountered again.

Road Pipit


Shrubs are heavily-laden with ice on the west side making for some interesting scenery.



















De Laurier was very quiet (except for pipits) as we made a short walk.

Out in the 'onion field' area dozens of more pipits were seen.  At one point I came across three Ring-necked Pheasants.  Nice to see as they are not seen too often anymore.



At the same location were at least 6 White-crowned Sparrows.




On the way to Wheatley Harbour, I noticed this lone Double-crested Cormorant on the ice.  (There were more comorants at Wheatley).














In the harbour there were lots of Bonaparte's Gulls.  Right away I picked out an adult Little Gull.  It was not a good day for the camera (or operator), so this photo will have to do.



The grebes have departed, but this young Pied-billed was swimming where the Eared Grebe was last week.

"the alien"


I decided to do a short walk into Wheatley PP in case the Green Heron was still visible.  Everything was frozen as expected, and the heron was not at the location it was last week.

Hundreds of Tundra Swans were noted again in the fields of Dover Township on the way home. Some geese too, but I had no ambition to get the scope out!


gull mania at Wheatley

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Loony Weather

The wind and snow never seemed to let up this afternoon.  The country roads looked like this today:

Whitebread Line


I went into town early today to take care of some things. Just into town, I passed the junction of the Sydenham River (north branch) and Running Creek.  Here the warmer waters of the Chenal Ecarte (via Running Creek) flow into the Sydenham under normal conditions.  However, when the Sydenham is running high, Running Creek will reverse its flow and discharge into the Snye (Chenal Ecarte).

The water often remains open here longer than parts north, thus attracting water birds.  Today I noticed a Common Loon here.  An uncommon sight within town.



There were a number of ducks and gulls as well taking advantage.  The Sydenham north of this point is mostly skimmed with ice now.  Much earlier than normal!

This juncture in the river is where I often take a look.  It is here I found the first American Coot for the Wallaceburg CBC in 1988.  It stayed about a month until the water completely froze.  Another time I found a Bonaparte's Gull here (odd in itself for winter here) on the 'Burg CBC.  It was the only one on the count.  Bonies are rare for the Wallaceburg CBC (end of December) even though we have a good chunk of the St. Clair River.

I drove around a bit late in the day hoping to see something of interest like a Snowy Owl, but it was almost fruitless due to the blizzard-like conditions.

One of many from last year


I hope the recent weather is not a sign of things to come!  It is just plain crazy.  Due to certain circumstances we still have a boat in the water and it is a chore to keep everything from freezing. Thankfully warmer weather is forecast for the weekend (probably short-lived!) or the marina cuts will be freezing over in short order.

Many Horned Larks and other birds were alongside roads and in fields today.



A good number of American Pipits were reported in the Rondeau area today looking for grit and grub.  I suppose some birds have been caught off guard with this unusual weather.  It may be interesting to see what is around this coming weekend.....


Tree Sparrow in a tree
Feeders are busy of course.  Lots of siskins around.