Saturday, 26 May 2012

Curlew success

Well, a Curlew Sandpiper at Hillman Marsh was something that I couldn't resist, despite the fact that I was 3 hours away and I had just driven home from that part of Ontario.

This morning, after getting a call from Bill Lamond and a text from Kory Renaud that the bird was indeed present, Barb Charlton and I raced down to Hillman. It had been found by Dean Ware the evening before. We were on the road by 8:15, and by 10:45 we were looking at the bird! This Asian species wanders to North America every year, and occasionally even into Ontario. Given the global distribution of this species, it is surprising that Ontario has 28 previous records. This will be the third record for the Point Pelee Birding Area.

With the bird's distance and the rain, this was the best photo I could get.

Curlew Sandpiper - Hillman Marsh CA

This was one of my most sought after species in Ontario so I was very happy to see one! It was associating with a flock of Dunlin (out of focus bird in foreground). An adult Curlew Sandpiper in breeding plumage has striking red underparts and head, with gold-speckled feathers on its wings and back. It also has a longer, more de-curved bill compared to a Dunlin, no black belly patch, and it has a white rump, visible in flight. Cool bird!

We stopped by Alan's place for lunch with Bill Lamond, Kevin McLaughlin, and Alan and enjoyed the feast that Bill prepared. From there, Barb and I spent a bit of time checking out the area before heading up to Tilbury and Lighthouse Cove. Tilbury had very little, though Lighthouse Cove had a nice surprise! As we arrived, we could see a large white bird lazily flying over the road just above treetop height. Something about it didn't seem right for it to be a swan, and when we got closer and stopped the car, it was very clear to see that it was an American White Pelican! Cool! It continued flying along the lakeshore until it was out of view. I should mention that Kory Renaud, who was also in the area, independently saw this bird around the same time as us so he deserves credit for the find as well. While this wasn't a year bird, it was a fun find in southern Ontario.

We checked a few more spots en route to home, without anything really noteworthy. It was a great day in the field for sure! The Curlew Sandpiper is a code-4 species and #307 total for the year.


  1. Josh,

    There are now 5 records of Curlew Sandpiper for Point Pelee.

  2. 5 people got the Western Sand last night. Did you get it this morning?

  3. So are you going after the Little Blue Heron(simcoe county) and Black-chinned Hummingbird(grey county) being reported by Bob Bowles on the Simcoe bird board?

  4. Tyler,

    The Little Blue was not seen today and the Hummingbird appears to be a Ruby-throated (though the photos are poor).
    Fred, Got the Western this morning!