Sunday, 25 March 2012

March Jaeger?!

Today, Reuven and I headed to Toronto in chase of a reported Eared Grebe. We arrived at the east bay of Colonel Sam Smith Park to several birders looking at the bird, however the lighting was bad and the bird was distant so it was hard to see well. We moved farther west and had much better views of it in better light and it became apparent that the bird was in fact a Horned Grebe in heavy molt with an interestingly placed tuft on its head. Oh well, that's how it goes sometimes!

the culprit - Toronto, ON

While we were here we enjoyed the sights and sounds of hundreds of Red-necked Grebes calling back and forth. This is a major staging ground for them and there are presumably several thousand between Toronto and Oakville on the lakefront. There has got to be a Western Grebe mixed in somewhere!

Red-necked Grebes - Toronto, ON

Garth Riley had found a Pomarine Jaeger earlier in the day way out over the lake, a crazy March record for Ontario. Most likely this was a bird that wintered on the Great Lakes. Several Pomarine and Parasitic Jaegers continued to be seen at Niagara-on-the-Lake until mid December, at least.

Reuven and I set up our scopes with Garth, as well as Andrew Keaveney and Sarah Jane Stranger-Guy who had arrived. After about 20 minutes of scanning I picked up a darkish jaeger barreling in. We all got on it but it was very distant. Several times it harassed some gulls, and it even flew out over land at Humber Bay to the west!

Pomarine Jaeger - Toronto, ON

We squabbled a bit over the ID but the bird appears to be an intermediate morph immature Pomarine Jaeger. This is a code-3 bird for me, and quite an unexpected one! This may save me from a few trips down to Van Wagner's beach in the fall, though I'll probably still go since jaegering can be a lot of fun (with rarity potential).

Pomarine Jaeger - Toronto, ON

Reuven and I slowly started to make our way back to Guelph, stopping at a few lakefront parks without seeing much. A few cormies were here and there.

Double-crested Cormorant - Port Credit, ON

 We stopped at Mountsberg once we got off the highway to check out the situation. No shorebirds yet, but there were a few ducks including a pair of Blue-winged Teal. Since I'm trying to photograph as many species as I can this year, I grabbed some crappy digi-scoped shots (species #105 photographed this year). What better way to finish off a blog entry than with a blurry, cropped photo?

Blue-winged Teal - Mountsberg reservoir

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