Tuesday, 22 May 2012

OK, Wheatley harbour isn't all bad...

I've never seen anything good at Wheatley harbour. Ever. OK, I did see the Neotropic Cormorant there, but that was in nearby Muddy Creek. A whole host of rarities have shown up at the harbour over the years, but despite checking it probably 100 times or more in the last 4 years I have never seen anything even remotely uncommon there!

Yesterday, while checking out the harbour, I was surprised to see a bunch of the gulls get up and chase something. It turned out to be a Whimbrel! This was a yearbird (#304) and a fun one to get. I was glad to get one now, since they can be a pain in the ass to find in the autumn, and if I didn't get one in the south I would have to go waste a day going to Toronto to get them on the lakewatch. It was kind of interesting to see all the gulls chase the Whimbrel away, almost as if they thought it was a jaeger or something.

Whimbrel - Wheatley harbour

Today, Ross Wood had a few hours after work and so we met up to do some birding. After a thorough scan at Hillman Marsh, we decided to quick check Wheatley again. We were surprised to see a large shorebird chilling on the beach, and it turned out to be a Willet! This is a rare spring bird in Ontario, with several seen each year but usually from late April to mid May.

Willet - Wheatley harbour

This one was quite tame and I sat on the beach while it walked around near me. Every 30 seconds or so it would yell at me.

Willet - Wheatley harbour

There was an interesting assemblage of shorebirds on the beach, containing one individual of 6 species: Willet, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Killdeer, and Spotted Sandpiper. A flock of 9 Ruddy Turnstones rested on the rock island.

Willet - Wheatley harbour

So there you go. Not super rare species, but 2 that are very nice to get! I'll probably go another 100 or so visits to Wheatley before I see anything interesting again.

I've had a good run of birding the last two days at Pelee. While there aren't a ton of birds around, there are some quality ones. I've found Prothonotary (a new male at the north end of Woodland), Connecticut x 2, Yellow-throated Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, etc. I also added Acadian Flycatcher - a year bird. That brings the old year list up to 305.

This is my last night in "civilazation" (the motel that Ken got for me) before I become a nomad living out of my car again. Best of all, Ken left behind some beers and a giant hunk of summer sausage! Highlight of the day!


  1. Hey Josh, who is the head eBird Regional Jackoff
    for the Carden Alvar? I would like to talk to


  2. Fred, I'm curious what the issue is? I don't know who the regional editor is for Kawartha Lakes. Not all of Ontario's counties have a regional editor, and for those I believe Mike Burrell reviews the records.

    Looking at the filters, the only two species one your checklist that prompted the filters were Northern Mockingbird and Grasshopper Sparrow. Obviously the mockingbird prompted the filter because it is a rare bird up there. Regarding Grasshopper Sparrow, keep in mind that the filter is most likely set for the entire county of Kawartha Lakes, not just the Carden Alvar. In most of the county 3 Grasshopper Sparrows would be a significantly rare sighting, even though they are common on the alvar. It is the view of ebird that stricter filters are much better than looser filters, since it makes it easier for regional editors to detect bogus records that people submit. The regional reviewer, when seeing your checklist, would notice that you made it from Carden Plains and automatically validate the record since Grasshopper Sparrows are common there.