Monday 5 November 2012

Netitishi Day 3 (day of the gannet)

Days 1 and 2 - October 21 - 22, 2012
Day 3 - October 23, 2012
Days 4 and 5 - October 24 - 25, 2012
Days 6 and 7 - October 26 - 27, 2012
Days 8 and 9 - October 28 - 29, 2012
Days 10 and 11 - October 30 - 31, 2012
Day 12 - November 1, 2012

October 23, 2012
Weather: between 4 and 7 Celcius, overcast with some light rain and occasional sun, winds NE 15-20 km/h switching NW 5-10 km/h.
41 species

Today was the day of the gannet. While the temperature was typical for the trip, 4 or 5 degrees, the sun actually came out for most of the day. High tide was mid morning and we were fairly successful getting a Red-necked Grebe (very rare for southern James Bay) and Alan saw a Horned Grebe (also very rare). We heard the Three-toed Woodpecker again and I was extremely surprised when I heard a small gull calling. Hoping it was something rarer, I was a little disappointed when I got on the bird and could see it was an adult Bonaparte's. This was record late for southern James Bay so it almost seemed that Ross's or even kittiwake would be more likely!

Greater Yellinglegs keeping an eye out for raptors

At noon the birding was really slowing down so I walked out on the flats (it was getting closer to low tide). Because of the sun, several Ringed Seals were lounging on the rocks. They were still quite a ways from shore so these photos are heavily cropped.

Ringed Seal

Ringed Seal

Brant were flying all day in small groups and so it was nice to get some photos on this sunny day. This would be pretty much the last time we saw sun all trip!


That afternoon, we were sitting in the shelter scanning over the bay. There was a northeast wind, though it was pretty calm. However the birds were flying. Around 3:50 PM, I was scanning to the right when a huge white bird on the horizon caught my attention. Even at the distance, the solid black wingtips were evident. For the first split second, I quickly went through the possibilities in my head. What was it, a pelican? Snow Goose? Perhaps a Great Black-backed Gull? However it was flying up and down over the waves, almost shearwater like, and it was increasingly obvious that it was a gannet! I got Alan on the bird and we watched it lazily continue to the east for a few minutes. This was a bird I had not even considered we would get on the trip since there is only 1 record for northern Ontario, and gannets had an extremely poor breeding season. Almost every Ontario gannet record is of a young bird.

However, adult gannets have been dispersing widely this season so this record wasn't totally unprecedented. As well, the previous Ontario record was also at Netitishi Point in late October. Strangely, it was a similar day: Low tide, very calm, and sunny.

The gannet was year bird #338, and it officially tied the record. The trip was definitely a complete success at that point!

the sea-watching shelter (built by Brandon in 2010)

1 comment:

sissypants said...

Hey Josh, you should put these photos in your eBird checklist.