Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sarnia/St. Clair River Tour

Sarnia was on the docket today.  My normal route is to go along the St. Clair River to Sarnia, then check places inland.  However, today I decided to fool the birds and head up Kimball Road and start at Perch Creek.
At Perch Creek Habitat, there was not much around not surprisingly, but an elusive Northern Saw-whet Owl is wintering there.  It took some effort to find where it was hiding, but I did see it.

Next stop was Canatara Beach.  Yesterday a female type King Eider was found at the mouth of Lake Huron as seen from Lighthouse Park in Michigan. Unfortunately, our lakewatch parking lot is off limits due to some kind of construction.  The closest I could get was from the west end of Canatara Park where the beach extends to the entrance to the yacht club.  It was brutal there with the strong and very cold NE wind, so it was tough.
There were lots of ducks riding the current, but most were Long-tailed (once again this winter there is a large number of Long-tailed around!).  After some effort I managed to pick out the large duck. A number of birders saw it from the Michigan side as well.  Also present was at least one White-winged Scoter and some other species.  Apparently a Surf Scoter was around too, but I must have missed that one.

Sarnia Harbour and north slip area had lots of waterfowl, but nothing spectacular.  Some geese were around including 3 Cackling, but as I watched, most of the geese took flight to parts unknown.
Needless to say, very few gulls are around this winter.  One has to wonder where they are!

Sleepy (red)heads

There was too much ice to south of Stag Island, so little was there to look at.  However, lots of open water off Courtright has attracted the bulk of the ducks in the river.  There were too spread out and most were towards the US side today for a good look.  Lots of goldeneye, and likely our rare visitor was out there.  By the way it appears to be a hybrid even though it superficially looks more like a Barrow's. Initially nobody got a close look at it, and in fact most people only saw it from great distances so that did not help.

young male Common Goldeneye

The ice continues to come down from upriver and pile up.  The water level has risen substantially as you can see by this photo at Cathcart Park.  The ice has jammed enough to cause a backup in water flow.

Ring-necked Ducks are always nice to see

More ducks at Stoke's Point (note the ice piled up!)

After checking the river, I went inland for a walk at Moore WMA.  By this time a rare weekend event occurred when the skies cleared and sun came out.  It was nice walking through the woods in the valley.

A flock of birds came through consisting of several Black-capped Chickadees and Tufted Titmice.

Titmouse rooting around

I saw five species of woodpeckers including two Norther Flickers (normal there) and a rarity in the form of a Pileated Woodpecker. Unfortunately the Pileated clung to the backside of the tree in front of me!

Northern Flicker

A Song Sparrow came to the river for a drink. Usually one winters at the river crossing every year!

Enough already!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Rondeau to Skunk's

I started at Rondeau Park this morning and met up with Steve and Jim at the north end of the campground.  Turned out to be a fairly productive day despite the usual weekend weather.  There was a good-sized mixed flock of birds at the very north end of the park.  Included were at least 3 Ruby-crowned Kinglets, lots of Golden-crowned, chickadees, nuthatches, etc.  White-breasted Nuthatches are in plentiful supply this winter all over.  Some new birds for the year were obtained today during my travels.

I guess the warblers are dead!  None have been seen for some time and the last Orange-crowned was January 5, do believe.

Birds were along Lakeshore Road in various spots.  Included was a singing Red-winged Blackbird atop a tree.  Too much in the way to get a photo of quality though.

At the visitor centre, feeders were busy.  A few Pine Siskins are around.

One White-throated Sparrow was weakly singing, but remained unseen!
The male Eastern Towhee was present, but was hiding back in.

Lots of birds were along roadsides today, including some good-sized flocks of American Tree Sparrows.

After Rondeau, I worked my way towards Skunk's Misery.  I was interested in seeing a Golden Eagle, and managed one on Centreville Road.  However, the combination of distance and crappy weather did not provide a photo op.

At this same location, a Great Blue Heron got up out of a small creek.  They too are pretty scarce this winter.

Other birds of note included an Eastern Meadowlark up along the Middlesex/Lambton border near Bentpath. It flew across the road in front of me and went down in a field.

stream in Skunk's

Farther up Watterworth, a nice dark morph Rough-legged Hawk was perched atop a hydro pole.

There was freezing drizzle (what else is new on a Saturday?) on the way home so roads were slick.  I drove by the Rutherford pasture and noted an Eastern Meadowlark there as well. At least 3 are wintering at that location.

Feeders were busy today for a change so I watched them for a while the rest of the afternoon.