Saturday, 22 October 2011

October 22 - Port Stanley and area

Today, a large group of us from the University of Guelph wildlife club headed down to Port Stanley to spend a day at the hawkwatch.

As soon as we arrived it was obvious that there were large numbers of passerines. Among the highlights were 5 species of woodpeckers (including Pileated), Blue-headed Vireo, Fox Sparrows, and 5 species of warblers including 5 Orange-crowned and 1 Tennessee.

Orange-crowned Warbler - Hawk Cliff

After about an hour, the raptors really started moving and it was obvious that there would be a huge Turkey Vulture migration. Here is one fine individual:

Turkey Vulture - Hawk Cliff

Here is a huge TV next to a tiny Sharp-shinned Hawk (or a "shin" as the grizzled veteran hawkwatchers call them)

Turkey Vulture and Sharp-shinned Hawk - Hawk Cliff

I was happy to spot a two Common Loons circling high overhead. Not a species that I was expecting to see!

Common Loon - Hawk Cliff

Eventually, an eagle passed over, way overhead. Based on its proportions and its underwing pattern, we determined it was a Golden. The only one we saw today, though the official counters tallied several more throughout the day.

Golden Eagle - Hawk Cliff

Here is a normal Baldy for comparison. The head of Bald Eagles sticks out much farther than for Golden Eagles, especially when they are in a "tuck" such as the above Golden Eagle.

Bald Eagle - Hawk Cliff

There were quite a few Accipiters, flying over high and low. Among the many Sharpies, we picked out a few Cooper's Hawks.

Cooper`s Hawk - Hawk Cliff

The third species of Accipiter (Northern Goshawk) finally made an appearance in the mid afternoon. It was a juvenile bird and, despite the (lack of) quality photo, it passed over quite close and I had fantastic views in the scope. This was only the second Goshawk I have seen this year.

Northern Goshawk - Hawk Cliff

Turkey Vultures kept streaming over all day, and by the time we left the official counters had counted over 8,000 of them, smashing the all time high for one day! This is just an example of what the skies were filled with all day. If you squint, you can see hundreds of TVs.

Turkey Vultures - Hawk Cliff

After leaving the hawkwatch (Turkey Vultures were still streaming overhead), we headed down to the town of Port Stanley to check a few spots. I was hoping that after the strong west winds over the weekend, followed by the strong east winds on Wednesday, that something decent would be at the harbour. As I was scanning the east pier, I noticed a phalarope swimming close to the pier. After getting Andy's scope (mine did not have a zoom lens), we were able to determine it was a Red Phalarope. The bird was in basic plumage and had an unstreaked, grey back, relatively thick bill, and completely white underwing. I was pretty stoked as this was my first one that I have seen in Ontario. Here is the best photo I got (as you can see, all the photos in this post are Nat. Geo quality).

Red Phalarope - Port Stanley harbour

We quickly checked out the lagoons (scoring about 6 species of ducks, some Bonaparte's Gulls, a Horned Grebe, and about 8 Greater Yellowlegs), then headed on home. Not a bad day!!!


  1. Josh, great mix of birds today! Congrats in particular on the Northern Goshawk, Golden Eagle and the Phalarope. I'm tempted to chase the Phalarope in Blenhiem tomorrow.

  2. Still a huge flight of TV's today. Hundreds over Blenheim this afternoon.