Yesterday morning, while walking the West Beach footpath with Alan, I decided that I was going to see the remaining three species I needed to reach 300 for the year. The previous day I had added Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler and Willow Flycatcher for 297, and since the morning was very slow at Pelee what better way to spend the day than drive for most of the day to try for Yellow Rails?
You see for the past couple of days, one or two Yellow Rails had been making their presence known at the Carden Alvar, a location that typically attracts this species for a short window each May. I had never seen this code-3 species in Ontario. I had expected to get them either in Rainy River or James Bay later in the summer, but if the conditions at these locations were too dry then the rails may be next to impossible to find. Additionally, I still needed to make it up north for Piping Plovers so I figured I could combine these two species (as well as a brief search for a code-2 Hudsonian Godwit) in one day.
Barb Charlton decided to come along for the ride, so I picked her up in near Hamilton around noon and we made our way to Toronto. It wasn't long before we found the small pond that the godwit frequented, and even before we got out of the car, there it was!
(Photos to be added here)
Godwits are one of my favorite types of birds so it was fantastic viewing the rare-in-spring Hudsonian Godwit from a short distance away. It flew around several times and I managed to catch a decent in-flight photo.
A nice surprise near the edge of the pond was a White-rumped Sandpiper mixing with the Dunlin, Least Sandpipers, and Semi Plovers. This was the last remaining code-1 species I had to see for the year, and was #299! I was pretty excited as we drove up to see the guaranteed Piping Plovers around Wasaga.
An hour or so later we arrived at Wasaga. The late afternoon conditions were perfect, calm and warm, with a light breeze coming in off the lake. We walked up to where the plovers hang out and there it was, a female Piping Plover on her nest. #300!
(Photos to be added here)
After a bit of celebrating we walked down to the water to see if some of the other birds were around. I spotted another mated pair down near the water and watched them forage for a while, even scaring off a Semipalmated Plover at one point. They walked right past me and I grabbed some photos.
From here we drove up to Carden, arriving just around 7 o'clock. We got out of our car just as Hugh Currie and Gerry Shemilt arrived. Not 30 seconds later I briefly heard the ticking of a Yellow Rail! We all waited for it to call again, and finally after another 15 minutes it ticked for a while, fairly close to the road. Wow, what a great day! I managed to pick up 4 year birds, including all three targets. I was pretty stoked to hit 300 by May 18, surpassing my earlier goal of 300 by the end of May. Who knows, maybe 310 is possible before the end of the month?
****I was having some computer problems....long story short, the old computer is toast so I had to go get a new one today (thanks Mom and Dad!). Hopefully I can get all the files off the old one, since I hadn't backed up anything since the end of April. So I won't be able to post any photos from May until probably June sometime.****