Friday, 7 October 2011

Local rarities

I've managed to get out locally a fair amount in the last little while, and as a result have some birds to show for it.

When birders think of Guelph and Wellington County, there's not much that comes to mind. Guelph isn't a hotspot for raptors, shorebirds, ducks, gulls, warblers, vireos, or really, anything. I guess Snowy Owls do come down into the northern part of the county most winters, which is pretty cool I guess. But that's about it.

However, Wellington county is where I have decided to make my home for 4 years (I am in the final year, now), so you make do with what you are given. I like to think that over the past little while I have seen some decent birds in the county (best was last year's Parasitic Jaeger and Connecticut Warbler, probably).

Anyways, so recently I've gone out and seen some "local" rarities. The first was a juvenile Red-necked Grebe. I first heard about this bird from a posting by Fred Urie on a local birding forum. The bird was hanging out in a smallish pond along Wellington Road 32 and present for a few days . Red-necked Grebes are abundant in Lake Ontario, but not so much inland. I went out on October 4, and there it was, the little stripey-headed bastard in all his glory.

juvenile Red-necked Grebe, Guelph

Earlier in the week I was looking at some google maps and came across the "Hespeler Mill Pond" in north Cambridge, which looked promising. I decided to check it out since it was only a couple minutes from the Red-necked Grebe spot.

Surprisingly it was actually quite productive! A Great Egret, a nice variety of puddle ducks, some kingfishers, Cape May and Bay-breasted Warblers and some random shorebirds. Shorebirds are tough to come by in this part of the world, so to get 10 species in one spot was quite something! The best of the bunch were a pair of Long-billed Dowitchers, closely followed by Black-bellied Plover and Wilson's Snipe. I think there are only a couple of county records for LBDO prior to these ones (This spot was just over the county line, in Waterloo).

juvenile Long-billed Dowitchers feeding

Other than these birds, it has been pretty decent in Orange-crowned Warbler here, a Cackling Goose (or 6) there. And this morning I woke up to the thump of a junco hitting my window. Winter's almost here! By the way, he sat on the ground for about 10 minutes before flying away.

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