Monday, 7 November 2011

Beautiful weather, but no birds

The past few weeks have been absolutely gorgeous out, but as is typical, nice sunny weather with light winds don't bring in the mega-vagrants we birders hope for. I've been trying to get out as often as possible in between midterms, papers, classes, and group meetings. Yesterday was the Hamilton Fall Bird Count in its 38ish year. Brandon suckered me into doing his route, so I rounded up a gang of good Guelph birders (Dave, Mark, Reuven, and Matt) and we raged across the area, not letting a single species escape the views of our binoculars.

Despite our enthusiasm and effort, we couldn't turn up much. Starting bright and early in LaSalle marina, we picked up most of the regular waterfowl species and a few odds and ends like Red-necked Grebe, Hermit Thrush, and Snow Bunting. A quick stop in Burlington (just out of our area) produced the annual Brant feeding on the lawn.

We kept birding around the north and east part of the bay, picking up Pine Siskin and great looks at the Peregrine Falcons at the lift bridge. We finished up near Windermere Basin where we ran into a nice little flock of sparrows (including Swamp, Junco, White-crowned, and American Tree) and a few remaining waterfowl species. That afternoon we left our area since we had fully covered it and tried a few spots along the lakeshore. The end of Gray's Road was excellent with rafts of ducks extending way out into the bay. All three scoters were seen, including quite a few male Black Scoters - more than I had ever seen in Ontario before, I'm sure! Many Red-throated Loons were around as well. A typical owl spot revealed a roosting Saw-whet Owl, who watched us warily as we photographed it through out scopes. At one point it regurgitated a pellet which was cool to see.

At this point we had a few hours left of sunlight and debating driving to Niagara to chase the Franklin's Gull - I still haven't seen one anywhere. We decided we were all lazy, and drove home instead! But first, a detour at Mountsberg yielded some Greater Yellowlegs and our 22nd and 23rd duck species for the day - A. Wigeon and Wood Duck. Add to that 2 swan species, 2 loons, 2 geese, and 3 grebes - we had a pretty good day for water birds! The only regular duck we missed (and its not even that regular in November) is Blue-winged Teal. We had around 75 species for the day - not bad for November.

As I have mentioned before, I am taking an interest into birding my "local patch" of Guelph a bit more recently - its a lot cheaper on gas than my local patch of Point Pelee! Despite not known for great birding, I've picked up a number of new county birds lately. One surprise was an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull which spent part of a morning flying around my subdivision with the regular gulls, even landing on my driveway at one point. I didn't even have to leave my room!
I've also checked out some lakes in the southern part of the county (Neibaur's Marsh, Puslinch, Mountsberg, the quarries west of HWY 6, etc) and have seen a lot of waterfowl. Yesterday, Mike Cadman reported a Harlequin Duck at one of the quarries, but I couldn't find it there today. Lots of Bufflehead and Hooded Mergansers though, which I always enjoy seeing.

That's all for now! I am really busy with school this week, but I am planning on heading out to Kingston this weekend to visit my brother and sister who are both in school out there. Maybe on the way I'll stop at some of the typical lakeshore spots. A Pacific Loon or Harlequin Duck would be nice, somewhere! I was really hoping the Razorbill would hold in Ottawa, as it is "on the way", kind of, to Kingston. Oh well...hopefully another one shows up in my lifetime....


  1. Lol yeah, Ottawa is on the way! :p

    Are you in Guelph next year as well? I'm going to be in Waterloo for a year which also isn't known for great birding perhaps we could team up on the fringes of our counties!

  2. Alvan,
    No idea what I will be doing next year! I am in my final year of undergrad, and I am debating the idea of doing an Ontario big year next year. But I'm sure I'll definitely spend quite some time in Wellington and Waterloo counties, since that's where most of my friends and family are. I am always game for teaming up!

  3. Oh nice! That's exciting (BY)! I'd be game for helping out with that if it's ever needed!
    And very excited to keep up to date with it :)

  4. Nice shots as usual. I enjoy the narrative as well.
    I have only ever seen two owls in the wild. One I'm sure was an owl by how it flew as I drove during dusk, and another also driving (early into work) sitting atop a road sign, its ear tufts giving it away. What would you describe as a "typical owl spot"?