Saturday, 1 September 2012


It was a hot day with a strong west wind, not ideal for most types of birding. There weren't any year-birds to chase, looking for migrant Passerines is useless in strong winds, and the winds were the wrong direction to head down to Van Wagner's Beach to look for jaegers. Instead I decided that I would try my luck shorebirding in some of the counties west of me.

The Milverton lagoons in northern Perth County were my first stop. The front pond was full of water but the middle pond had lowered levels, revealing extensive mudflats. Obtaining shelter from the pumphouse, I spent quite some time studying the mix of shorebirds carefully. Out of the ~170 shorebirds the highlight was a group of 4 Baird's Sandpipers. The back lagoon also was just starting to show some mudflats and some shorebirds were back there, though nothing unusual. This site should certainly be checked more often as I think it is a great spot for a Ruff to show up! Lots of Pectoral Sandpipers and Yellowlegs present.

Next up were the Mitchell lagoons (aka West Perth Wetlands). The back pond that is gated still had extensive mudflats and a great variety of shorebirds. There were about 30 American Golden-Plovers, a single Black-bellied Plover, a juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher, 11 juvenile Stilt Sandpipers, and the highlight - 2 Hudsonian Godwits. Again there were great numbers of all the common shorebirds and I left Mitchell with 15 species for the afternoon.

I crossed the county line into Oxford and immediately went to the east end of Wildwood Lake, a location I had never been before. While scanning from the road, the juvenile Marbled Godwit which had been reported was present but I was also surprised to see a Buff-breasted Sandpiper! I think it is a pretty good Oxford bird (couldn't find any records on Ebird). I could see many more shorebirds in the distance so I walked around the edge of the mudflats to check it out.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Wildwood Lake

Needless to say this was some of the best shorebirding I had done in southern Ontario since the spring. Birds were everywhere! In this photo is a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper (left), juvenile Buff-breasted Sandpiper (centre) and adult Killdeer (right).

shorebirds - Wildwood Lake

There were several raptors in the area that would occasionally put up all the shorebirds, including a Cooper's Hawk and a Peregrine Falcon. Eventually they all would land again and continue feeding frantically.

A distant photo of the Marbled Godwit...

Marbled Godwit and Ring-billed Gull - Wildwood Lake

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Wildwood Lake

The Buff-breasted Sandpiper seemed quite unconcerned with my presence and ended up walking up to me as it fed, letting me get some close shots in the nice evening light.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper - Wildwood Lake

Other shorebirds present here included 1 White-rumped Sandpiper (ad), 6 Stilt Sandpipers (juv), and 1 Black-bellied Plover (ad) amongst more common species. I finished the day with 18 species of shorebirds. If I had started earlier in the day and gone to Lake Erie I probably could have added Red Knot, Sanderling, Ruddy Turnstone, Western Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, and Wilson's Phalarope.


  1. Nice post, Josh! May I ask...where exactly near Lake Erie would you have gone to find the Red Knot? I would love to find one.

    1. There was a Red Knot reported on Ebird from Rondeau Bay a couple of days ago. They are a tough one to get - the only one I've ever seen on Lake Erie in the autumn was one at Port Stanley harbour.