Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Dickcissel Flu

This morning I skipped out of work to look for birds.  The main event was a tour of the Sarnia solar site that was led by Larry Cornelis.  Larry was hired to do bird surveys on the solar farm and Enbridge has generously allowed birding tours the last couple of years.  Twenty-eight local naturalists joined in.

I started out early and stopped at Stewart Wetland west of Wallaceburg.  Shorebird habitat is excellent right now and fall migrants should be showing up soon (oh no!).  The last couple of days have revealed quite a few Killdeer, as well as a couple of Semipalmated Plovers and a Semipalmated Sandpiper which I think are just lingering spring migrants.

Also, there have been an exceptional number of Great Egrets lately.  Today there were eight, but I have had up to 11 some mornings.

One of these days, I hope there is a Snowy Egret or something rarer.

I zig-zagged towards Sarnia and checked on some Dickcissel sites.  The old Sombra dump had one singing male, while a few were on Stanley Line west of Kimball Road (Avonry).
Along Telfer Road, I found a male singing roadside.

At the solar farm, we found lots of grassland birds in the natural areas among 1.6 million solar panels. (yes that number is right!).
Early on we saw a Yellow-billed Cuckoo which Larry said was new for his list.
We eventually found a Grasshopper Sparrow, one of several during the morning.

At one area, we found two Clay-colored Sparrows singing in appropriate habitat.  They have nested here the last few years, which is a novelty in these parts.

We moved to the east side and found up to 4 Clay-colored Sparrows.

We also found several Grasshopper Sparrows which showed nicely.  Some were carrying food, which is an indication of young nearby.

We checked along the fence beside the old Blackwell Landfill, but did not get any Dickcissels this year.  Some were found here earlier in the week, so perhaps they were farther in today.

A quick check at Reid CA on the way to work did not reveal any hairstreaks.  I think they are a bit late this year.  However, Bob and Karen Yukich from Toronto were looking when I arrived.  Oddly, this is the third year in a row I met Bob and Karen there.  The timing seems uncanny!

A decent day.... better than working!

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