Saturday, December 14, 2019

Guthrie Gulls to Stewart Sandhills

Earlier this afternoon, I swung by Stewart Line west of Wallaceburg.  Sandhill Cranes are still congregating daily in the corn fields.  I counted 112, which is about the number that has been around for some time.

As I have mentioned before, these come over from Michigan each morning, then return at the end of the day.  Hopefully some stick around for another two weeks!

I drove along the St. Clair River early this morning.  Hardly any ducks to mention.  I spent some time at Guthrie Park, Corunna looking at the gulls.  About the same number (maybe more), but no white-winged gulls today!
I saw three Lesser Black-backed Gulls (adults) right away.  The adult Herring X Great Black-backed was indeed present, but nothing else stood out.

I went into Sarnia, but there was not much to see.  We need cold weather and some ice!

Another stop at Corunna on the way back south did not reveal anything different.  In fact, there were fewer gulls it seemed.  Around 3 p.m. is a good time to check, but I was not staying that long!

A stop at Moore Wildlife Management Area revealed a few birds, including a couple of expected Yellow-rumped Warblers.

It is just too 'quiet' for birds, but looking foreward to the Rondeau CBC tomorrow.....

Friday, December 13, 2019

Going Loony at Rondeau

I went down to Rondeau today to get an idea what is around (or not) for the upcoming Christmas Bird Count on Sunday.  It seemed to be a good day for a lakewatch first thing, so that is where I started.
I joined Steve Charbonneau at dog beach.
There was a good movement of Red-breasted Mergansers (over 6000 total), but soon it was evident that Red-throated Loons were on the loose.
They often came in bunches, and after more than 2.5h of standing in the cold, we counted an astounding 174!  Most were too distant for good photos though.

One wonders how many there really were in the Rondeau circle today.  We only had about three Common Loons today.  A Common may be the difficult one to find on Sunday!

A few years ago were happy to see one or two Red-throated a year.  Mind you, we have been looking more of late.  However, it is obvious that there has been a steady increase in Red-throated Loons the last few years in these parts.

Last year on the CBC, Quinten and I counted 43 Red-throated Loons which of course shattered any previous CBC record by about 41 or 42!  Hopefully there will be lots on this coming Sunday as well!

Steve and I checked various other spots in the park this morning, but of course it was rather quiet.  We knew this was coming.  For whatever reason, there are not many birds around this winter.  The counts will have low numbers.  It almost seems to get worse every year.  In fact, I will not hesitate to admit this is the slowest I have ever seen it.  Feeders hang birdless, swaying in the wind.  I used to put out feeders by mid November, but I only started them a week ago.  There is nothing!

There are lots of factors.  Loss of habitat has reduced bird numbers significantly.  Much has to do with weather right now.  Climate change is a serious issue now and patterns have changed.
Indeed, there are many fewer birds than when I started birding.  Young birders today have no idea what it was like 30+ years ago (all year long).  And before my time, it was different yet again.

Today, we did find a small flock of birds in the campground.  One Yellow-rumped Warbler was included.  I did find a single, lonely, Chipping Sparrow, but it took flight as I snapped the shutter (!).

One Mourning Dove is alone in the campground.

More singletons, included a Turkey Vulture perched on pony barn.

I have been doing the Blenheim/Rondeau CBC for 30 years and it is always fun or interesting.
There are always some surprises on the CBC, so hopefully that will continue.

Saturday looks like more typical weekend weather, so I am going to check out the St. Clair River towards Sarnia.  Normally I would be doing the Kettle Point CBC, but it will be too quiet for my liking.  Last year it was too quiet, and this year will be worse...I think.