Sunday, 17 February 2013

Gulling it up in Niagara

Jeremy Bensette from Leamington drove up today so we could do some gulling in the Niagara area. Despite frigid temperatures and a brisk wind we were able to stir up some interesting birds.

At Port Weller, the main target (the adult male King Eider) was easy to locate in the Welland Canal. This is almost certainly the same bird that spent part of last winter in the exact same location. We also found a Red-shouldered Hawk here, in addition to a pretty good count of 73 Double-crested Cormorants along the edge of the canal. There were probably many more along the rest of the canal but we weren't feeling too keen on exploring further due to the wind!

The Niagara River was actually pretty devoid of gulls (until Queenston). Undoubtedly the highlight for us came when we were scanning above the falls. I got on an interesting gull that was loafing with the Herring and Ring-billed Gulls - an adult California Gull! We had distant but decent looks at it as it walked around, flew about, but mostly just slept. It also was fairly advanced into its alternate plumage, much like the bird I saw on the river last February. Pretty cool! This bird was most likely a spring migrant.

The Queenston docks was another highlight as several thousand large gulls were present. Quite a few white-winged gulls were seen - I think we estimated 30 Kumlien's Gulls and 10-15 Glaucous Gulls, of all ages. Unfortunately we couldn't pick out anything else interesting with the lot! Lots of Bonaparte's Gulls hanging on still, but no Little Gulls.

We finished the day by checking out the long-staying Snowy Owl in Vineland. The usual paparazzi were there photographing it. It was a lifer for Jeremy!

pristine habitat

Last time I was there, some of the photographers were baiting the owl right next to the road. This time, some of them were trespassing onto the farmer's field to get closer to the owl. A look at the perpetrators...

Up to no good

Tomorrow, we are probably going to blitz some areas farther east. Hopefully we can nab the long-staying Townsend's Solitaire!

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