Sunday, January 20, 2019

River Rambles and Weekend Woes

Although the appearance of winter (finally) was somewhat welcome, the timing was off.  Hopefully we are not starting this nonsense again when the weather goes for a crap each weekend!
Anticipating the approach of a 'typical' weekend, I headed upriver late Friday afternoon as far a Corunna before it got too dark.
Canada Geese were the popular bird this day, as hundreds were all along the river.  I stopped by Cath's Cart park where there were too many to sort through. I did pick out some small ones on the distant grass, but when they got up to fly, their higher-toned honks were obvious.  There were at least three Cackling Geese flying away.
Lots of ducks were in the area as well.




On the way to Corunna, I slid over to Greenway Line where I came across a Northern Shrike.  Just a few minutes earlier, I said to myself that it might be a good time for a shrike!  Sure enough....



Off Guthrie Park, there was enough light to see the wintering wigeon.



Saturday morning, before too much snow came down, I headed to Sarnia.  There was not a much to see as on the previous day.  Little was at the Sombra dock and certainly nothing new.





I did see some Tundra Swans at Cathcart Park which I had missed the previous evening, but I could not pick out any small geese in the poor light.  They were there somewhere.....


Cans

Not much was off Guthrie Park on Saturday.



I spent quite a bit of time at Sarnia Bay, where there was a variety of ducks and hundreds of gulls.




At least four Glaucous Gulls represented the white-winged variety, and there were lots of Great Black-backed.
At one point, I picked out two adult "Great Lakes" Gulls--hybrid of Herring and Great Black-backed.  Too distant and poor visibility prevented any photo attempt.


Note, duck on right is a hybrid



Many geese were at the entrance to the government dock area, but I could not find anything different.  The wintering Common Loon was taking a nap well offshore.



The north slip was mostly frozen, but some gulls were present.  Perhaps I missed a Horned Grebe which was seen there today!

On the way home, I took back roads as all the snow was making things dicey.  There were lots of Horned Larks, Snow Buntings, etc., and at one point I came across a nice flock of Lapland Longspurs.  It was a pure flock of at least 30.





Today, travels were limited with the howling wind and bitter cold.  Roads were dicey with the blowing snow, so my activities were curtailed.  No doubt it will be nice when Monday dawns.

I had been wanting to check the mouth of the Thames River for some time, but things have completely frozen up now.  At the Jeannette's Creek boat launch, one could see a thick mass of waterfowl downriver. 



It was too distant to get much detail, but most were Mallards.  I did pick out four Double-crested Cormorants which had been wintering in the area.  Perhaps the Great Blue Herons had the common sense to leave, as I did not see any!


One has to wonder what all was in that mass.

A crazy number of Bald Eagles have been in the area this winter--I could see fifteen from this vantage point.

I wonder what that Common Merganser was thinking?



In the afternoon I watched the yard feeders, but nothing new showed up.  Feeders have been virtually dead so far this winter.  I am going to have lots of seed left at the end of the season I think!
I had three Red-breasted Nuthatches at one point earlier in the winter, but only saw one today.  It was looking a little worse for the wear.




Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Weekend Birding January 12-13

This past Saturday I decided to head up Sarnia way.  There was not much around to see (as it has been lately).  However, now that it is colder and snow on the way, birds will be concentrated to a greater extent.  This coming weekend should prove more interesting with more gulls (for example) moving in.

I started at Perch Creek Habitat.  I saw the resident Northern Saw-whet Owl before it was very light (the usual weekend overcast skies did not help!).  A photo from the past will have to suffice.



For whatever reason, this place has at least one (sometimes two) of these cute little owls each winter.

I briefly stopped by Wawanosh Wetlands, but nothing stood out.  This spot was an old quarry at one time, and a good birding location I used frequently in my early years of birdwatching. It was excellent for shorebirds in the late 1980's and early 1990's, but things have changed considerably since then.
This area was once called Lake Wawanosh according to an old Lambton County map I came across recently.



This map was in a book published in 1967 about Lambton County.  It was quite interesting as it covered the history of all the towns and villages (then known as P. O.'s in the 1800's).  Some are non-existent now!


I stopped by the lakewatch spot at the mouth of Lake Huron.  There were hundreds of ducks (mostly Redhead) in the distance.  Nothing of note was seen.

I checked Sarnia harbour and Sarnia Bay.  A number of ducks and gulls were to be seen.  The wintering Common Loon was just inside the north slip.



At it was mid-morning, not many gulls were in the Bay.  Several Ring-billed Gulls were waiting for handouts from the locals.



The local Mallards and American Black Ducks were hanging around, but this year we have no male Wood Duck to brighten up the place! Lots of other ducks were around as well.



With the cold weather in recent days, more gulls have moved in , so I will have to try and get up there this coming weekend.

Moving down river, I stopped by Guthrie Park at Corunna.  I spotted a male American Wigeon near the mouth of Talfourd Creek.



There was once a village here named Froomefield (mispelled on the map).  It was founded in 1834 by Froome and Field Talfourd.  A church, and grist mill were along the creek, and a large dock for ships on the river.



The area off Guthrie Park is one of the better spots for seeing ducks and gulls in the winter, but it is much better when we have a real winter with ice!



Off Mooretown, I found a pair of ducks.  The male was a Mallard X American Black Duck, so common anymore it seems.




A few ducks were off Courtright.
Courtright used to have a railroad coming from the east and the origins of the village are a result of plans in 1869 to have a railroad from St. Thomas to this location.  The Canada Southern Railroad built tracks to this location (and eventually a spur up to Petrolia) with intentions of having rail ferries crossing to Michigan.  The rail ferries never materialized, but passenger and freight service was carried on from 1872 until about 1960.

I moved inland at Courtright, but did not find much.  The woods are very quiet this winter!

On Sunday, I went down to Rondeau Park. It was a very nice day weatherwise, but a brisk east wind made me decide to walk out marsh trail.  It was a nice change of scenery, as I had not been out there for a long time.  There was actually a good number of birds!

White-throated Sparrows were plentiful.



Highlight well-past the old marsh tower, was a male Eastern Towhee.  It hid well in the shrubbery and I could never get a photo.

I spent some time in the campground later, but nothing new revealed itself.  A number of birders were present this day.  Weekdays are always better for birds.....apparently.




What birds we have been seeing, are the ones that are here for the duration!

Have a ball the rest of the week!