Tuesday, January 1, 2013

St. Clair CBC: Sparrows, Spurs, and Sandhills UPDATE

I started off the new year by taking in the St. Clair NWA CBC.  Although I did not do it the past couple of years, I decided to give it a go this time around.  I started doing this one back in 1990 and most times it was on the first of January.  Hence, one gets a good start to the year's list!
The first time I did this count was with Steve Charbonneau, and today we partnered again.  I recall back then we saw a Yellow-headed Blackbird and Tufted Titmouse, new for the count at the time.  We always did inside Bradley, but that is a thing of the past.  That used to be a good area open for birders back in the 1950's through the 70's.  Many good records were made there.

Today started out a little rough with a strong NW wind and cloudy.  However, the wind soon died and the sun eventually came out.  We started in St. Luke's.  I was first familiar with this place back in the mid 1990's when I did the Marsh Monitoring.
Ren Cen from St. Luke's

We did not see much in St. Luke's marsh as it was bleak and frozen.  I used to do this area a few year's ago and my best bird was a Sora!  Today, our best bird there was a Belted Kingfisher, wandering aimlessly looking for open water.
After the 2+ hour walk, we drove around searching especially for Savannah Sparrows.  Yesterday quite a few were making use of roadside scrapes.  We managed to find four in three different spots.
 Savannahs in the Snow

One spot just outside Bradley had a Savannah, four Lapland Longspurs, a Song Sparrow and a couple of Tree Sparrows.

Another 'Spur

Just as we were heading out, Pete Read came by and notified us about six Sandhill Cranes along Pain Court Line.  It was a common road between our assigned areas, so we headed there.  But on the way we spotted a Northern Shrike atop a tree.

The Sandhills were happily standing in the field as we arrived.  A couple hours later, they were gone as we drove by the spot.
Sandhills in the Snow

South of Prairie Siding, we stopped by a cattle farm that was infested with European Starlings, not to mention House Sparrows and Rock Pigeons.  Probably 4000 starlings, and not a single other black bird with them!  The stench of the place was overwhelming and all the buildings covered with s**t.  Not sure how the residents could stand it!

Geese and swans were on the fly today so we checked them carefully, but nothing else with them.  No sign of the Snow Geese, but I did not stay all day.
In fact, geese and swans were on the move up Wallaceburg way as well today.

A Snowy Owl was nearby, as posted by Paul Pratt on Ontbirds this afternoon, so at least one of those is around.

"Whada you lookin' at?"

Just in....total species count 91.  This count relies heavily on waterfowl and today was no exception.  A Blue-winged Teal was found in the mix.  A couple of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Merlin, Peregrine Falcon, Thayer's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull (3), Glaucous Gull (16) and the hybrid I had yesterday plus another hybrid (not sure lineage!).

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great start to the new year! It's neat to see the cranes in the snow, cool shots.