Sunday 10 March 2013

Pelee for 3 days

Later today I will be leaving for Ontario's banana belt, with a plan to spend most of my time in the Point Pelee area. After a bit of a slow start to spring, at least compared to the last couple of years, finally we are getting some warmer temperatures and south winds. The snow is slowly melting, and there is open water to the south of where I am living in Cambridge.

While rarities are super rare in early March, some species do show up this time of year. Townsend's Solitaires and Varied Thrushes have a history of being found in March in Ontario. Ontario's first ever Furriginous Hawk was found on March 17, 1990. Gulls such as California and Mew (3 records each) are a possibility. Common Eider has 5 March records. Tufted Duck, Mountain Bluebird, Western Grebe, Common Teal, Green-tailed Towhee, Gray-crowned Rosy Finch, and Black Vulture all have multiple March records for Ontario.

Rare geese also have a tendency to be found in March. Apparently the large flock of Greater White-fronted Geese is still being seen at Hillman Marsh so hopefully I can add that one to my Point Pelee list. I have actually never seen more than 1 at a given time in Ontario.

Greater White-fronted Goose (November 29, 2012; Waterloo, Ontario)

Snow and Ross's Geese also are fairly regular this time of year. Pelee had some a few weeks ago, and the flock totaling around 10 Ross's Geese may still be in the Rondeau area.

Early spring means lots of ducks and so I expect to have hundreds or even thousands of Redhead, scaup, American Wigeons, Black Ducks, Mallards, Northern Pintail, and other species to sort through. It won/t be long until the first spring Blue-winged Teal shows up, and I am hoping to cross paths with one! Eurasian Wigeon is always a possibility this time of year. That would be another new Pelee bird if I can find one.

Check out this checklist from NW Kentucky (only 1000 km southwest of Pelee). Migrant shorebirds!!! It will still be some time before we start to see Least Sandpipers, yellowlegs, and Pectoral Sandpipers in Ontario, though.

Blackbirds will be around, Killdeer should be littering the fields, and Song Sparrows will have arrived. Common birds they are, but definitely a welcome change of scenery after the long, cold winter! Tree Swallows hit Lake Erie yesterday, so some of these should be around as well!

Often, white-winged gulls migrating back north are seen on Lake Erie this time of year. I still need Iceland Gull for my Point Pelee list, so maybe that nemesis will finally fall this week. Speaking of potential new Pelee birds, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Northern Shrike, Bohemian Waxwing, and California Gull fall in that category.

We are forecasted to have a good amount of rain tomorrow, but there should still be tons of migrants around. I'll try to update my blog in the evenings. If you do not hear from me, it is likely because I have not seen anything interesting. I will probably stay in the Pelee area until Tuesday evening.


Blake A. Mann said...

There were a total of 16 Ross's Geese last Sunday near Shrewsbury. I did not find any today!
Lots of birds came in today with the warm south wind....must be something of interest around.
I remember the report of that Ferruginous Hawk--went to Pelee that day and heard about it, but did not see by the time we got out there! I have in my notes it was the 18th March though. Everything was early that year (Tree Swallows the day before).

Alan Wormington said...

The Ferruginous Hawk was seen on March 17 (1990), but word did not get out until the following morning. This was back in the dark ages when there was no internet or cell phones! We all went looking for it on March 18, but no luck. There will be one at Point Pelee in May one of these years -- maybe this year!