Monday, 22 August 2011

More phalarope awesomeness

I decided to once again make the short trek over to Tilbury this afternoon while taking a break from work. Many of the same ducks and herons were still present, including the female Northern Shoveler (she was joined by 5 others on Saturday, but they were now gone), a handful of teal, a couple of Black Ducks, and a dozen Wood Ducks. While scanning the shorebirds, I was happy to see that the young Red-necked Phalarope had returned. It had been absent yesterday, apparently.

This is an awesome little bird and one of my favorite species. The lighting wasn't ideal at this time of day, but even still I slowly crawled down the embankment and grabbed about 100 photos of the little guy. Makes me wish I had an extra 100 or 200 mm on my lens!

juvenile Red-necked Phalarope - Tilbury lagoons

Every so often, the phalarope would spin quickly in a circle, creating a vortex that sucks tiny invertebrates up to the surface, which it promptly plucked off of the water.

juvenile Red-necked Phalarope - Tilbury lagoons

About a dozen total species of shorebirds were present including 4 juvenile Baird's Sandpipers, an adult White-rumped Sandpiper (the first of the fall for me at Tilbury), and 3 adult Long-billed Dowitchers.

adult Long-billed Dowitcher - Tilbury lagoons

While I was watching the shorebirds, I noticed that they all started lifting a wary eye to the sky. I took this as a hint and looked up, but the only raptorish shape I could see was a Chimney Swift way up high. About 10 minutes later the same thing took place.

juvenile Red-necked Phalarope - Tilbury lagoons

This time, though, the culprit was a juvenile Peregrine barelling in. It chased a flock of peeps around for a bit before eventually leaving. At one point the falcon was dangerously close to the phalarope, huddling close to the water! I found it interesting that the dowitchers and Greater Yellowlegs didn't fly when the Peregrine flew in - in fact the dowitchers never stopped feeding the entire time the aerial assault was on.

Peregrine Falcon - Tilbury lagoons

The flocks dissappeared, but over the next 20 minutes slowly started arriving and feeding. Here is a Lesser Yellowlegs trailed by a couple of peeps. I think the front two are Semi-sands and the back one is a Least.

shorebirds - Tilbury lagoons

Also seen was a single American Pipit, my first of the fall and first for Tilbury. I also heard a couple of Bobolinks as they migrated south over the lagoons (also new for my Tilbury list). I think I've seen close to 100 species of birds there over the last year.


  1. I noticed the shorebirds looking up at one point on Sunday. They even took off in a flurry, but came back. I looked around and never saw a raptor of any sort.
    Interesting about the phalarope. It certainly was not there on Sunday. Maybe another bird?
    I'm pretty sure I had a White-rumped Sunday afternoon.

  2. Josh, wow... awesome phtotos! I love Phalaropes as well, because they spin by their very nature. The photo of the Phalarope looking up is particularily awesome! I missed the Phalarope on Sunday but did spot a birder from Wallaceburg!

  3. Blake - could very well be a different bird! The mudflats seem to be losing water fast - hopefully the lagoons remain good for the next month or two.
    Thanks Dwayne. Would be nice to see the other two species of phalaropes show up there, or is that being too greedy?