I left yesterday morning for the Pelee area, on the start of my week or so long trip throughout southern Ontario. I had a number of target species in mind - Swainson's Hawk, Ruff, Kelp Gull, White-faced Ibis - but little did I know that I would add a new year bird on the first day which wasn't one of the above!
I checked a number of places throughout the day, including Tilbury lagoons, Wheatley harbour, Hillman Marsh, the Onion Fields, and Hillman Marsh again. I had dinner at the Red Bus with Alan, then decided to check out the Couture Dyke for shorebirds. This is quickly becoming a favorite location of mine. It is rarely checked by birders but there is a ton of accessible marsh habitat - a good location for a rare heron to show up!
This year with the low water levels there had been some exposed mud that was being utilized by shorebirds on my last visit. I arrived at the location just around sunset, and to my surprise an American Avocet was present! In the fading light I wasn't able to do much with photography since I was limited to my phone and my scope.
I already had American Avocet on my year list from earlier in the spring when 5 were present at Hillman for a few days. But still, a great bird!
Not 5 minutes after posting the Avocet to the listserv, I was stunned to have an ADULT Yellow-crowned Night-heron fly past! It circled around once, eventually landing in some cattails to the north. It was really cool to hear its unique call compared to the several Black-crowned Night-herons in the area. This bird, a code-4, was one that I thought I would miss for the year since out of Ontario's 42 accepted records, only 2 have occured in September or later.
I heard the night-heron call again later on in the evening, but at that point it was too dark that I couldn't pick it out in flight.
With that, I had finished my first full day of my southwestern Ontario road-trip. I would say it was a success :)
Better photos of the avocet coming up (it was around today as well).