Friday, November 13, 2015

Franklin's Gull Invasion and Cave Swallows

Today, Friday the 13th was a hectic day.  I felt a bird flu coming on as I went to work this morning. Well, I never got there till later since I had to turn around and get a tire repaired!
Not surprisingly, I got word of Franklin's Gulls at Erieau early in the day, and by noon I had a full blown case of bird flu.
I arrived at Erieau around 1:30 to find masses of Bonaparte's Gulls.  I looked all around Erieau but it was almost pure bonies, and no Franklin's.  Of course, one would more likely see a number of Franklin's in a field on a day like this, but there was hope.

Steve Charbonneau had some Franklin's Gulls near McGeachy Pond on his way to Erieau to meet me.  I went over there, but they were gone!  The gulls were constantly moving around though, and the numbers fluctuated.

I had met Brian Morin at Erieau when I arrived and he mentioned a Black-legged Kittiwake that he had seen earlier as well.

The government dock area seemed to be the best spot to view the birds.  We stood there for some time behind Barney's Boats shivering in the strong, cold wind.  Garry Sadler was with us as well.

An adult Little Gull was constantly seen in the mass, but only one that I could see.

Bonie Bonanza

We decided to move to the north side of the dock area where it was more sheltered.  I certainly had Cave Swallow on my mind, and just after our arrival there, I turned around to look up and....swallow! Of course it was a Cave Swallow and a second one joined it.  They circled over the channel a bit, but kept heading east over Rondeau Park.  Just too far to get photos, but I tried anyway.

swallow specks!
I looked at my past notes and it has been five years since I have seen a Cave Swallow!
Erieau was the first place I ever saw Cave Swallows, and the most reliable place. One time there were around 35 there.  Nice to get that on the list for a change.

It was after 4 p.m. and Steve and I decided to try the field along the dike road.  Sure enough quite a few gulls were in a field being ploughed.

Franklin's Gulls were spotted right away, but it was difficult to get an accurate count.  Steve scoped at least 32, but we assumed a few more were there as they moved about, and some headed out to the lake.  Too far away for any respectable photo.

Several Franklin's in this photo

Franklin's Gull at Erieau (courtesy Garry T. Sadler)
Brian Morin was there a bit earlier and counted 35, which is certainly a record high for the Rondeau birding area!

These very strong west winds often push Franklin's Gulls farther east than their normal course.  I remember a similar case many years ago.
The previous high I had was 22 at Pelee once a few years ago, so today's number beat that!

Tomorrow looks like a good day, and we will be out and about!

Dusk over McGeachy Pond


  1. I'm glad your bird flu didn't hold you back too much today. And BTW...does your boss read your posts?

    1. No, but he knows I am highly susceptible to bird flu!

  2. I sort of remember bird flu. Retirement is a great cure for it!

    1. Indeed....I haven't had any bird flu for almost 4 years!