Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sarnia Stops

Today I decided to check out some spots in the Sarnia area.  Come winter, I tend to spend some time up that way.
My first stop was Perch Creek Habitat which is a place to get a decent variety of birds in winter.  It has been rather quiet of late, and today was no exception.  The property is adjacent the old Blackwell Landfill, so you can wander that and also take a look at the massive solar farm. It is good for raptors in winter, and today there were several Rough-legged Hawks, a Red-tailed and a couple of Northern Harriers.

harrier


At dusk you are likely to see Short-eared Owls, as they seem to like solar farms!

Early on, as the light was still rather dull (actually dull all day....oops, it IS the weekend), I encountered a Long-eared Owl beside the trail.  I was careful not to flush it. Unable to get good camera settings due to the lack of light.



There were hardly any birds, where in past years it is good for American Robins, Eastern Bluebirds, and some sparrows.

I then moved on to Canatara Park to look at ducks and waterbirds on the lake.  Visibility was not all that great and a cold brisk wind made things difficult.  A decent raft of Redhead (with other ducks mixed in) was off the north end.
This handsome Long-tailed Duck was fairly close.



I did not find the lingering Horned Grebe, reported of late.
Lots of Red-breasted Mergansers are around right now.



I skipped the Point Edward lakewatch spot as I did not see much in that direction from Canatara, then went to the harbour area.  Some Mallards and a couple of lingering Wood Ducks were near the grain elevator. Often there is a Wood Duck here in winter!
I could see a mass of gulls over Sarnia Bay, so I went over the parking lot at the end of London Road.  Unfortunately, most gulls left, but they eventually came back.



There was upwards of 500 Herring, and I picked out a Glaucous and an Iceland among them.



It was bitterly cold there, so I could not stay out long to take a good look.

I then headed downriver and stopped a the south end of the Shell Dock.  There I found a Wood Duck in company with other ducks.




At least 25 Hooded Mergansers were here.  They seem to like the Shell Dock during winter.  You are always guaranteed them at this location.



A mass of gulls was at the mouth of Talfourd Creek, likely feeding on shad. Around 500 Herring were here, but I could not pick out anything else!




There was nothing else of note downriver, so I headed inland along Bickford Line to Moore Wildlife Management Area.  This WMA is a good spot for birds in winter, but the last couple have been terribly quiet for some reason.
I did finally find a group of birds--the usuals.  No Yellow-rumped Warblers though, which usually winter here.

Final stop of the day was at Stewart Wetland.  Unfortunately, it is now frozen over, but the Snye is open.  Here I found the Pied-billed Grebes again.....wait for it......11 of them!  They kept popping up.  There have been a number here all fall, so I think this is mostly a family group that nested nearby.

Christmas Bird Counts start next weekend for most of us, so some good birds will be reported....most likely!


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Some Winter Birding-Rondeau and Ridgetown

This morning I headed down to Rondeau Park to check around.  Nothing new was found, but hopefully some of the birds we saw today will be seen in another week on the Christmas Bird Count.
We did a short lakewatch at dog beach first thing.  It was quite frigid with the brisk wind (it has been very windy all week), but we did see a couple of Red-throated Loons.  It would be nice to get at least one on December 17!

Along south point trail, we found the mixed flock of birds that had both kinglets, chickadees, both nuthatches, among others.  There was not much else, but that is par for this time of year. Next Sunday will be interesting as to what turns up.
Surprises always turn up during CBC's such as the five American Woodcocks I found late in the day at Rondeau last year.  It was a Canadian CBC high!

Later, I checked the campground and saw some of the usual birds.  Only one Yellow-rumped today.  I had hoped the Townsend's Warbler was visiting the campground, but while I was there, it was found in its usual area in Bate's!  Good to know...it just has to stay eight more days.
At the maintenance area, I just got out of the car and found a few birds at the SE corner.  Two Ruby-crowned Kinglets zipped by, and at least three American Robins were in the rose bush.



A Hermit Thrush was there, plus a flicker, and some other birds.  A Yellow-rumped Warbler was near the loop trail.  Some have been around there recently feeding on poison ivy berries.

I decided to walk the campground one more time and found a few Fox Sparrows which I missed previously.  I did find more juncos and American Tree Sparrows.  I am sure there might be a chippie or two, or Field Sparrows nearby.




Opposite the campground entrance, I noticed some gulls sitting on the ice in the Bay.  One stuck out as dark and I suspected Lesser Black-backed.  I walked over with the scope and sure enough it was a Lesser.



Nearby was a Snowy Owl feeding on something, but it too was rather distant.



Today's eBird list:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S40988971

My next stop was Ridgetown Lagoons.  There is still some open water there and lots of ducks and geese and swans were present.
I noticed one swan with extra yellow on the lore area and base of bill.  It made me think of "Bewick's", but perhaps not.  There are different variations on the amount of yellow with each having a name.  The least amount of yellow is referred to a the 'blackneb' which today's bird is close to.





Before getting home, I headed out to the Snye to see what was around.  I was hoping to see Sandhill Cranes, but they seem scarce this year.  I did have 14 along Stewart Line on Thursday.
Three Pied-billed Grebes were swimming on the Snye.  We often get them on the Wallaceburg CBC late in the month.



This Redhead has been hanging around in the canal next to Stewart Wetland.



Tomorrow, I will check some different areas!