Sunday, 16 September 2012

Pelee to Port Stanley

Some updates of what I've been up to the last couple of days...

Yesterday morning the conditions looked great for a huge hawk flight so I went over to Seacliff (in Leamington) to do some hawkwatching. Sharp-shinned Hawks and Kestrels whizzed by throughout the morning hours, and by 9:30 the Broad-winged Hawks started flying. Alan Wormington arrived and we spent a while waiting for the huge flight to materialize. Unfortunately, it never happened!The cold front that had recently passed through had a really wide path and it was moving pretty slow - maybe it caused a lot of the raptors to still be at sites farther north and east. We had about 1000 Broad-winged Hawks and about 8 other species of raptors, though nothing too interesting. Other interesting sightings included an Eastern Meadowlark (early migrant), a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, and a colony of Dainty Sulfurs.

I spent the rest of the day checking out the national park to see what the north winds had pushed down the peninsula. It was a nice change seeing numbers of warblers and so I spent some time getting photos of a few species I hadn't yet this year (Bay-breasted and Blackpoll warblers). I now have 273 species photographed in Ontario this year (hoping for 300!). I checked the bridge at Hillman as well as Wheatley harbour, but of course the Kelp Gull was nowhere to be seen. I still wouldn't be surprised if it shows up again somewhere on western Lake Erie!

That night I headed up to Chatham to meet up with some friends, Chris Law and Pauline Catling, and hit up the bar scene in downtown Chatham (It's not much of a "scene"). This morning we awoke earlier than I would have liked and traveled down to Rondeau to hike around. A beautiful day, and a nice variety of warblers and other songbirds. Nothing too noteworthy though.

After a much needed afternoon nap, I was feeling more awake and so I birded the Rondeau area before working my way down the lake towards Port Stanley. The Blenheim lagoons had only two individual shorebirds including a nice Red-necked Phalarope. Other birds caught my attention - namely a white blob on the pond with Canada Geese. It turned out to be an adult Snow Goose! I think this is my earliest autumn record of Snow Goose in southern Ontario, and it certainly is the first time I have seen one at these lagoons. While I was checking out the goose, a strange grebe floated by behind it. Red-necked Grebe! Not a species I ever expected to see at the lagoons, and a pretty rare bird for Chatham-Kent county.

Eventually I made my way over to do a quick check of the Ridgetown lagoons. The little cell in the middle was half drained, so the quick five minute stop turned into an hour as I studied the shorebirds. The highlight for me was a juvenile Red Knot! It was my first one for Chatham-Kent - a species I rarely see in southern Ontario. Not to be overlooked was a sharp looking juvenile American Golden-plover and a busy Red-necked Phalarope, spinning around. 11 species were present in total.

I didn't see anything else noteworthy and I am now in a St Thomas Tim Horton's, making use of their free wifi. Tomorrow is going to be a day touring Elgin County, including the Port Stanley lagoons and harbour, the Aylmer lagoons, Port Burwell, and anything else that looks interesting! Tomorrow night I will be near Long Point as I continue to work my way east. It's been a pretty good road trip so far - an American Avocet, a Yellow-crowned Night-heron, 22 shorebird species including Red Knot, Connecticut Warbler, lots of rare butterflies, an early Snow Goose, and a local rarity in Red-necked Grebe. What will tomorrow bring?

Photos will be added to this post when I get to editing them.

7 comments:

  1. I saw a Red-necked Grebe at Blenheim once many years ago--not one you usually expect there!
    Snow Goose fairly early. I half expected to see one up on the Bruce, but did not. Tons of Canada Geese all over--flock after flock....

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  2. Josh if you are crazy enough to come back on Wednesday, looks like another classic set-up for a mega-flight of raptors --- this time for real.

    Tuesday is rainy with a north wind, then by Wednesday morning clear with very cool temps and a moderate NW wind --- classic !!!!

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    1. Now for Wednesday morning they are calling for west and then southwest winds. Big hawk flight might be delayed again! Will have to hit the Tip instead.

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    2. I'm not driving back to Pelee for a bit!

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  3. What kelp gull? I didn't know you had it pinned down!!

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    1. Still looking -- part of my daily routine now!

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