This past weekend saw the Niagara River busy with birders. Many Ontario birders went to see what was around. It was also the weekend of the annual OFO Gull Watch led by Jean Iron and Ron Tozer.
Weather was pretty good overall but it was quite cold on Saturday. I headed to the river early Saturday morning, arriving at Adam Beck overlook just before 09:00. Many familiar faces were already there. Some were watching for an apparent first cycle Glaucous-winged Gull that was spotted on Friday. It was a no-show on the weekend though.
Nine species of gulls were seen at the overlook. A Little Gull was seen downriver and a Black-legged Kittiwake in the gorge below the falls. I would have liked to try for the kittiwake, but I did not want to brave the icy mist! Everything was draped in ice from that mist yesterday.
After looking at more birds at the control gates, I went back down to Adam Beck and spent the rest of the day there. Several Iceland Gulls were around and kept us on the alert for that "certain" bird. Earlier in the day I had a large Iceland Gull (if that is what it was) that had me puzzled. It was the same size as a Herring Gull, so I guess Iceland Gulls can be that big!?!
The evening was rather fun. Jean Iron hosted a little get-together in the hotel room. Several people joined in for some discussion on the day's events and recent topics. Afterwards we went to Red Lobster for a hearty meal. And, their drinks are always good!
This morning I went birding early and started at Adam Beck overlook. I managed to see eight species of gulls before anyone else arrived. I also had some sort of hybrid--darker-mantled bird no bigger than a Herring Gull and with pinkish legs.
Afterwards, I headed back to south of the falls and got stellar looks at the Red Phalarope. (by the way, it was a weekend off for the camera--it felt good not lugging it around!). The Purple Sandpiper was again seen--a life bird for some today. Often this is the spot one goes to see the species. Hard to believe I saw one up close well over two months ago!
Birds along the shoreline as I headed to the control gates included Belted Kingfisher, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Brown Creeper, Song Sparrow, etc., (also Tufted Titmouse in the Dufferin Islands Park parking lot) and lots of American Robins. In fact, robins (and a few waxwings) were found anywhere you went! By the way, a Pied-billed Grebe was in the calm pool.
More gulls seemed to be at the control gate area today including several Lesser Black-backed. While there Glenda Slessor and Bob Curry stopped by. Bob was looking for Southern Hairstreaks, but I told him it was the wrong time of year. (this was all in good humour of course!).
Interestingly, I did see a moth this morning (one of those light brown jobs we often see in cold weather).
I decided not to chase after the Fort Erie stuff, or go to the mouth of the river this trip. My last stop was the lookout above Queenston in hopes of seeing a Black Vulture or two. Upon arrival, I picked out two right away roosting on a chimney! My friends Paul Carter and Larry Cornelis were there, so they got a look as well.
Headed home a bit early, but it was a fun weekend seeing lots of people I know.
A Red Phalarope, but not THE Red Phalarope