Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Prince Edward County - Monday, November 19

I awoke to calm winds and blue skies - perfect birding weather! While weather systems and strong winds can shake things up and bring in rarities, there is something to be said for a nice calm day. The bodies of water are calm (making waterbirding exponentially easier), flyover finches, sparrows, waxwings etc can be heard from a great distance, and it is just plain awesome walking around in beautiful habitat as the sun shines down!

Now that I had my main target species (Pacific Loon) in the bag, I moved on to other target birds which wouldn't be new for my year. Bohemian Waxwing was one such species, a bird that had almost completely eluded me this year. My only sighting so far this year was a flock of 200 birds in Sault Ste. Marie, waaaay back on January 24. Most recent visits by others to Prince Edward seemed to turn up flocks of Bohemian Waxwings so I was hoping for similar luck.

I stopped for many flocks of waxwings, scanning thoroughly for the larger, grayer ones with the rufous under the tail. No suck luck! Several flocks and over a hundred birds later, I had still seen only Cedars.

Cedar Waxwings

Even without my Bohemians, it was still a great day to be out. I checked East Lake in the morning as well, scanning the still-as-glass water for loons, while watching the antics of several adult Little Gulls as they swirled with the Bonaparte's. The Pacific Loon was nowhere to be seen! Perhaps it was up at the east end of the lake, or perhaps it had left altogether. Many Common Loons were around, though less than the previous evening. A nice surprise here was a pair of Hoary Redpolls, a flyover Snow Bunting, and my first Lesser Scaup for Prince Edward County.

West Lake was next, and it was absolutely full of waterfowl! After driving around some roads in the community on the "island", adding Evening Grosbeak to the list, I drove to the far south end of West Lake to scan for ducks.

I parked and enjoyed a few hours of hiking in Sandbanks Provincial Park, periodically stopping to scan the lake. I was adding birds left right and centre which were new for the county for me. A Great Black-backed Gull first. Then a tight group of Common Mergansers. Several White-winged Crossbills and Common Redpolls flew over. A Pileated Woodpeckercalled from the woods. A single Ruddy Duck, hanging out with the mergansers. And a raft of scaup and Redhead, including a Canvasback. Not to be outdone, Little Gulls stole the show with at least 9 seen (probably more).

The afternoon was warm and sunny so I walked around a bit near Point Petre. Here, the avian highlight was a 1st cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull and my first Horned Grebes for the county. But the biggest surprise was finding this Green Frog in a puddle!

Normally that wouldn't be too notable, but the date was November 19. This is the latest Green Frog I have seen in Ontario, with the exception of the occasional individual I have seen swimming slowly under ice in a vernal pond during the middle of the winter.

Green Frog

From here, I drove along Long Point Road to the Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area. A beautiful stretch, and it didn't take me long to find a Northern Shrike and several good waterbirds including a pair of Red-throated Loons and close to 100 Horned Grebes (with a smattering of Red-necked Grebes mixed in). None of the hoped for Clark's Grebes though!!

I finished the day by walking around Prince Edward Point. It was extremely quiet with the bird highlight being a few Ruffed Grouse which I flushed. There were a few Sanderlings still hanging on by the lighthouse, a relatively late date for them I think.

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