Sunday, 25 September 2011

Bruce Peninsula - including Lark Sparrow

This past weekend, 30 members of the University of Guelph wildlife club headed up north to the Bruce Peninsula for a weekend of anything and everything wildlife.

The weekend was definitely a success and one of the better club trips I've attended yet! A lot of that had to do with the awesome group of people that went, as well as the almost perfect weather (minus setting up the first night in the rain).

Among others, I was happy to meet Reuven Martin and Mark Dorriesfield - two fellow birders whose names have popped up an awful lot on ebird. They are both attending first year at the university.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the trip was the adult Lark Sparrow that several of us saw. An account of that:

I was walking along the shore when a sparrow-like bird flushed from some grasses and flew about 50 feet to another patch. I managed to get my bins on it but nothing conclusive. I did notice a lot of white in the tail so I figured it was probably a Vesper (there were a few VESPs in the area). Fellow birder Alex Sutton and his girlfriend Koley also got on the bird. I asked Alex what he saw, and he mentioned seeing red in the head. I thought that was kind of strange, and we kept birding, trying to get a better look at this bird. Each time as it flew, it made some "tink" calls, a lot different than the harder, lower call of the Vespers. Eventually Alex flushed the bird over to me and it landed about 25 feet away along the edge of grass. I was surprised to see it was an adult Lark Sparrow! After about 10-15 seconds of observation through my bins it flushed again and continued out of view to the Northwest. Unfortunately my camera still had the 18-55 on it (I was taking some wide-angleish shots earlier) and I didn't get any photos.
We returned to the spot with Mark and Reuven later, but unfortunately had no luck in re-locating it.

Birdwise, the rest of the weekend was a little slow but we made up for that with the snakes. Among the 9 species we saw were several Northern Ribbonsnakes.

Northern Ribbonsnake - Bruce Peninsula

I was happy to come up with a neonate Eastern Massasauga later that afternoon. It was my first one of the year, due to the fact that I was stuck in Windsor all summer, unable to make many trips north.

Eastern Massasauga - Bruce Peninsula

Eastern Massasauga - Bruce Peninsula

Eastern Massasauga - Bruce Peninsula

Here's one of the few bird photos I took, of a juv Semi Plover.

Semipalmated Plover - Bruce Peninsula

This morning we made one last stop to see what we could turn up, as most of the group didn't get to see the Massasauga. No dice, but I found a nice Ringneck Snake and several Red-bellied Snakes. All in all, a fantastic weekend!

Northern Ringneck Snake - Bruce Peninsula

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