Monday, 1 June 2015

White-faced Ibises at Long Point - May 15, 2015

I endured a normal-length work week during mid-May, always a difficult thing to do during the peak of spring migration. But by Friday afternoon I was on my way back south, ready to enjoy a long weekend at Point Pelee and the surrounding area

On the way down I made a few stops, including one along the Lakeshore Road fields near Long Point. On May 14, Ted and Paula Gent discovered a pair of White-faced Ibises in a small wetland close to Lakeshore Road. Ron Ridout posted the observation to Ontbirds, and many birders came down to view the birds on May 14 as well as the next morning.

It had been a few years since my last sighting of White-faced Ibis in Ontario, so I was eager to hopefully observe these birds at a relatively close range. I drove down from Aurora, stopping briefly in Cambridge to pick up my car (it had been in the shop all week) and to catch up with my dad. I continued to the Long Point area and by 5:30 had arrived at the location. I initially drove right past the spot, as the birds were not visible in the wetland (and I wasn't exactly sure which puddle these birds were supposed to be in). But on my second pass I caught a glimpse of a dark shape huddled against the back side of a berm, revealing itself to be an ibis. I ended up watching the ibises for quite a while in my scope - as satisfying a look as any! They were just a little too far for decent results with my 300 mm lens, but with some cropping they certainly are good enough for identification purposes.

White-faced Ibises - Port Royal, Ontario (May 15, 2015)

White-faced Ibises closely resemble their more widely distributed counterpart, the Glossy Ibis. While White-faced Ibises are found throughout western North America and southern South America, Glossy Ibises can be found throughout much of the tropics and subtropics throughout the world. Both are rare in Ontario however, with Glossy Ibises originating from the southeast, and White-faced from the southwest. Identifying individuals of these species can be tricky, but luckily adults in breeding plumage are pretty straightforward, as long as you can have a good look at the face. White-faced Ibises have bold white feathering surrounding the red facial skin, while adult Glossy Ibises show a blue face with pale borders, and lack the bold white feathering around the face. The brighter red legs shown in adult White-faced Ibises is another good ID feature.

White-faced Ibises - Port Royal, Ontario (May 15, 2015)

The White-faced Ibises were a great way to kick off what would prove to be an awesome weekend of birding in southwestern Ontario. More to come...

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