Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Mopping up the rarities

On Jeremy's second and final day to bird this part of Ontario, we decided to hit areas further east to see if we could turn up the lingering rarities for him. Being from Essex County, he has never done any birding any further then about Rondeau so most "northern" species would be lifers for him.

We started out in Kendal where the Townsend's Solitaire has been regular since it was found by Richard Pope, Margaret Bain, and Paul Riss on January 9th. It didn't take long before this western beauty showed itself way off the road in some juniper bushes beside a house. It never did venture any closer, forcing us to be satisfied with less than stellar views. At least we got the bird!

It was nice to finally meet Rohan VanTwest here, a local Guelph birder that until now I had never crossed paths with. Jeremy and I spent an hour walking the road with Chris Law, hoping to turn up some interesting birds. While the Pine Grosbeaks eluded us, we did catch site of a Pileated Woodpecker and later a flock of Evening Grosbeaks, both lifers for Jeremy.

Evening Grosbeak - Kendal, Durham Region

We made a brief stop or two (including seeing some Trumpeter Swans - lifer #4 of the day for Jeremy) before ending up at Frenchman's Bay in Pickering. Here, several thousand geese were present and we were hoping to see the continuing Snow Geese or Greater White-fronted Goose.

We ended up locating a nice Cackling Goose walking on the ice with some Canadas, and finally I spotted a blue-morph Snow Goose. There was an interesting goose walking behind it, which at the time I thought might have been the Greater White-fronted since it had been reported always being within 10 feet of the blue-morph adult Snow Goose. But it was following the Snow Goose around, and after a bit of research, it appears that this was a young blue-morph Snow Goose (my first). Maybe there actually is a Greater White-fronted Goose around too? Who knows. The two Snow Geese were really distant so here is the best that I could do.

Snow Geese - Frenchman's Bay, Pickering

The swans all flushed at one point, so I used the excellent light to my advantage and took my first good quality Mute Swan pics. Yeah I know, this species is loathed by most birders, but still I was happy to finally have something usable with this species.

Mute Swan - Frenchman's Bay, Pickering

Mute Swan - Frenchman's Bay, Pickering

While we were here a beautiful Snowy Owl made a pass overhead, eventually settling in a tree at the south end of the harbour (much to the delight of the numerous photographers here to see the owl). An American Crow took exception to the owl's presence, but after a few minutes of hounding the owl, the crow gave up and flew away.

Snowy Owl harassed by American Crow - Pickering

Here is a random obscure road sign. I guess all of the normal names were taken.

Our last stop of the day was Ellis Road in Cambridge, home of Wellington County's second ever Harris's Sparrow. When we arrived several birders were a few doors down, looking intently into a Spruce Tree. There it was, tucked up inside of the tree! Lifer #5 for Jeremy.

Harris's Sparrow - east of Cambridge

And #6 was a bonus species that we weren't expecting. We could hear the trills of Bohemian Waxwings nearby and sure enough, they settled in the tree above our head - 15 of them, to be exact. It was certainly the best look I have had at this species.

Bohemian Waxwings - east Cambridge

It was a very successful two days. Jeremy was able to add 10 birds to his life list, we had a nice find in a California Gull, and we picked up most of the rarities we tried for. I will probably take it easy for the next few weeks, though a Tufted Duck is in Buffalo and probably forays to the Ontario side of the Niagara River. It would be a new Ontario bird for me, so stay tuned...

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