Thursday, January 3, 2013

Birding in the The New Year

The year 2012 is now history.  It was a great year for a birdwatcher in Ontario!  I had one of my best years.

Christmas Bird Counts (CBC's) are now in the bag.  They turned out fairly well this season with some interesting days.  The St. Clair NWA CBC had quite an impressive result on New Year's day.  I got the impression the day before that it would be good, as I looked around.  My flock of 21 Snow Geese the previous day were a no-show.  In fact, none of that species was found!
difficult to see!

That count relies heavily on waterfowl and the 22 species found was very impressive.  Blue-winged Teal was included!  Lots of Tundra Swan (which seem to be the norm anymore) too.

A total of 26 Bald Eagles were found throughout the circle, so the ones from the previous day had moved around.  I counted 27 at Lighthouse Cove, but I also saw a couple up at Mitchell's Bay.  As I mentioned before, 29 were seen the previous week, certainly a high for the area.  Long Point has had higher counts, so not a provincial high in southwestern Ontario.

With all the snow recently, birds have become more concentrated.  Before the snow, birds seemed scarce! The roadside scrapes are attracting lots of birds and notably longspurs and Savannah Sparrows.  The St. Clair count had 20 in total, smashing the old high of 4.  I do not recall hearing of so many Savannah Sparrows this time of year, as there have been several reports.  Some are even coming to feeders, such as the one at Donald Pye's near Wardsville (!).

An adult Lapland Longspur

The Lighthouse Cove area is a great area for birding at all times of the year.  It is under-birded, even though many spots are so inaccesible.  This time of year is great for gulls and waterfowl as long as there is open water at the mouth of the Thames.  It was absolutely incredible over New Year's, and that is where many of the birds on the St. Clair CBC list were obtained.  Sixteen Glaucous Gulls were tallied.  I had about ten the previous day, but I did not look at all spots.  The hybrid I reported on was found again, and some other type of hybrid was left up to speculation.

American Crows were high in number (126,000), not surprisingly.  In recent weeks it was evident that a lot were around.

The next month or so will be interesting on the St. Clair River.  Ducks will be building up as they usually do, and it is prime time to observe them.  A fair number of gulls are around this year, so I guess we can remain optimistic a Ross's or Ivory Gull will show (!).
In the next week, I will do the annual waterfowl survey.  I have been doing it for quite a while although I took a break from it last year (not much around anyway!).

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