Thursday, December 29, 2016

Sparrow Surprise and Gulls Galore

For a change in scenery, I headed out to St. Clair NWA this morning.  The CBC in the area is this coming Sunday and I just wanted to see what might be around. I had thoughts of finding a Marsh Wren or Common Yellowthroat, but I found something better.
Upon arrival I noticed lots of waterfowl in the air and could hear ducks in the distance.  Not long into my walk along the trail, some sort of sparrow darted across in front of me.  I could see where it landed so I trained my binoculars onto it.  It was bright orange!  I knew right away what it was--a Nelson's Sparrow!

I obtained a better look at it, but that was it.  I could not find it again and I thought it would never be seen again.
Although lots of those pass through, mainly in October, they remain unseen due to their skulky habits.  It is a highly sought after bird since it is often so elusive.

I sent a text to Steve Charbonneau and moved on to the tower.  Lots of waterfowl was in the distance in the only open spot.  Mainly Mallards were present, but lots of Black Ducks and Canada Geese as well.  I did pick out one Northern Pintail and one Northern Shoveler.

Hundreds of ducks and geese were in the air as well.

I could see that Steve was arriving, so I headed back to the sparrow spot.  Allen Woodliffe also came along and we soon found the bird.  It would make brief appearances in the open spots, but quickly moved around.  It was almost like a mouse at times.  I managed to get a partial photo, and thought maybe that was it.

However, it did come out in the open for very brief periods, but by the time one got the camera focused, it moved on.  Most of my photos were blurry, but at least I got good looks through bins.  It is the best look at one I ever had. In the past, they were fleeting glimpses!

We chased it around for some time before heading out.
This is certainly one of the latest ones in the province and probably the latest for Chatham-Kent.  Steve had one at Erieau on December 13.  Back in December 1973, Alan Wormington saw one on the Blenheim/Rondeau CBC in Shrewsbury.

Chilled to the bone, I headed down to Lighthouse Cove at the mouth of the Thames.  That was my goal today just got delayed.
Thousands of gulls were on the ice and out on the lake. 95 % Herring.

I really have no idea how many were visible, but certainly over 3000.  There were lots even beyond scope range out on the lake.

Besides the usual gulls, I did pick out an Iceland and a Glaucous.

There were no ducks except for a few Mallards in the river.
It is certainly worth checking in the next few days.



  1. A very exciting find - congratulations, Blake!

    1. Thanks Josh. Certainly a more co-operative sparrow than previous ones I have seen. Hope it stays for Sunday!