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.


  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....

  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 !!!!

    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.

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

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

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