Monday 11 November 2013

Netitishi day 6

Introductory Post
Day 1 and 2 - October 24 and 25, 2013
Day 3 and 4 - October 26 and 27, 2013
Day 5 - October 28, 2013
Day 6 - October 29, 2013
Day 7 - October 30, 2013
Day 8 - October 31, 2013
Day 9 - November 1, 2013
Day 10 and 11 - November 2 and 3, 2013

October 29, 2013
Weather: between -12 and -5, mostly clear with some overcast periods, winds variable NW to S 10-20 km/h.
44 species
Ebird checklist:

Despite cold condiions and winds that didn't really do much, we ended up having a pretty good day at Netitishi and ended up with one of the highest single day totals EVER for Netitishi point in late October - 44 species! :)

The day began with very cold temperatures. When I awoke to temperatures hovering below -12 degrees I immediately regretted my decision to not stoke my wood stove during the middle of the night. I think I got dressed in record time that morning.

We sat out at the coast and fortunately (from a temperature regulation standpoint) the wind was quite minimal, but unfortunately (from a seeing birds standpoint) the wind was quite minimal. Eventually as we sat there, wondering where the birds were, I heard an odd but familiar sound - Snow Geese! We looked up just in time to see a large flock (about 59 birds) heading due east over us. This was our second sighting of this species for the trip.

Snow Geese - Netitishi Point

Another Thayer's Gull made an appearance - this one flying close enough to shore to warrant some heavily
cropped photos. We saw a total of 4 Thayer's Gull during the trip - a juv/1st winter, a 2nd winter, a 3rd winter, and an adult.

Thayer's Gull - Netitishi Point

Throughout the trip only two species of raptors made regular appearances. The first was a juvenile Northern Goshawk which appeared to have claimed Netitishi Point as it's territory. It was seen usually once a day - either blasting through the spruce trees at approximately a million miles an hour, or terrorizing the Snow Buntings in the grasses between the spruces and the mudflats (also at a million miles an hour). The other regular species was Northern Harrier which was also seen daily (or nearly so). I would imagine that harriers cover a large territory, as we would often go several days between seeing what I presumed to be the same individuals.

Northern Harrier - Netitishi Point

Spruce Grouses were regular inhabitants of the woods around the cabins. On this particular day at least three were seen. I took the time to photograph one of the tasty looking chickens.

Spruce Grouse - Netitishi Point

As is often the case at Netitishi, some of the biggest highlights were the shorebirds! Today, Hudsonian Godwits stole the show. Nine birds flew by throughout the day, always in groups of ones and twos. That is one species that I never tire of seeing! Unfortunately none of them had white underwings...Some of these birds were possibly repeats but most were flying west to east (the usual direction of migrating birds at Netitishi). These sightings really were bizarre. Alan and Doug McRae did not have any HUGOs during their six week 1981 Netithishi trip after October 24, and I don't think any were seen on the 1996 autumn trip. None were seen in 2010, 2011, or 2012 - the only other late October through November trips to Netitishi. So WHY did we see so many HUGOs??? Who knows. But we weren't complaining.

Two Least Sandpipers were an interesting sight. They came in really close, flying east to west, and actually joined up with a swirling flock of Snow Buntings for a few seconds before turning around and flying back east. Our final interesting shorebird highlights were two Lesser Yellowlegs (Alan only) and three juvenile American Golden-plovers, both species that should be long gone in Ontario by this point. Though the same can be said for Least Sandpipers, Hudsonian Godwits, Semipalmated Sandpipers, and Sanderlings - all regular-ish species on this trip.

Also, here is a photo of the World's Smallest Spruce Tree. I did not notice it at the time but apparently some currency was in the photo.

world's smallest tree

That's it for day 6 - stay tuned for days 7 through 11! Our rarest bird of the trip is still ahead...

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