Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Home for a rest

Last night I returned home from my roadtrip to the "Banana Belt" of Ontario. Yesterday was spent touring around Elgin County, a favorite county of mine to bird in Ontario. For some reason, I have had a lot of luck in this part of the province! Interesting birds I have seen in this county include Black-tailed Gull, Black-throated Sparrow, Western Kingbird, Brant, Eared Grebe, Golden Eagle, Whimbrel, Red Phalarope, Black-legged Kittiwake, and Western Sandpiper - all in probably less that 14 days of birding in the county. 

Long story short, I didn't see much throughout the whole day, so I called 'er quits and headed home that evening. I had originally planned to spend an additional couple of days birding along the lake to Fort Erie but the prospect of a cool, rainy, windy day on Tuesday did not seem like much fun. Plus I was looking forward to a real bed and some real food! However, I still did add 11 new Elgin County birds, including a Thayer's Gull on the breakwall (seems a tad early for one already). 

Ruby-throated Hummingbird - a new Elgin Co. bird for me

Some stats from the trip:
6: total days
1220: the distance (km) that I drove
158: my species count for the trip (could have seen a bunch more if I was trying for a big list!)
21: species of warblers I saw (including Pine, one I rarely see in the autumn, and Connecticut)
22: species of shorebirds I saw (including American Avocet, Red Knot)
14: number of species I photographed for the first time this year
274: number of species I have now photographed for the year
1: number of code-4 or higher rarities I found (Yellow-crowned Night-heron!!!)
1: number of year birds
0: total number of good meals I had

Here are a few more additional photos that I finally got around to editing from the trip.

This young Bonaparte's Gull I photographed on the first day. I didn't notice it at the time, but looking at the photos you can see that this bird has some "louse spots" below its eye. These "chewing lice", most likely of the genus Saemundssonia, are an ectoparasite which feed on the skin, feathers, or blood of the host, particularly around the face. While these parasites may not necessarily be detrimental to the bird's health, they have been shown to be an indicator of a bird with poor health. This Bonaparte's Gull seemed rather sickly and allowed me to walk right up to it so I wouldn't be surprised if it perished sometime in the next few days. For additional reading on the subject, see http://www.anythinglarus.com/2012/08/lice-spots-sign-of-poor-health.html.

Bonaparte's Gull with louse spots - Point Pelee NP

Bonaparte's Gull with louse spots - Point Pelee NP

While I was birding in the Pelee area I kept my eyes open for unusual butterflies given the incredible year it has been so far. I was rewarded with a Cloudless Sulfur, though none of the hoped for Ocola or Long-tailed Skippers! I took a few photos of some common southern species one afternoon.

Common Buckeye - Point Pelee NP

Common Buckeye - Point Pelee NP

Gray Hairstreak - Point Pelee NP

Wild Indigo Duskywing - Hillman Marsh CA

On my 3rd day, Kory Renaud took me out in his canoe to check out the Pelee marsh for shorebirds. It was a beautiful evening - perfectly calm, around 20 degrees, and sunny. My camera was having problems but I got a few photos I was happy with! It is super easy when the birds will let you float right up to them.

Black-bellied Plover - Point Pelee NP

Pectoral Sandpiper - Point Pelee NP

American Golden-plover - Point Pelee NP

American Golden-plover - Point Pelee NP

Black-bellied Plover - Point Pelee NP

Not a shorebird, but a common species I hardly ever photograph!

Herring Gull - Point Pelee NP

And another non-shorebird, but a secretive species that hardly ever lends itself to good photo opportunities.

Sora - Point Pelee NP

That's all for now - more photos coming up.

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