Moderate northeast winds were in the forecast so I woke up early and drove down to Van Wagner's Beach located in Hamilton. As you can see by the following image, Van Wagner's beach is situated in such an ideal position as it is at the western terminus of Lake Ontario. On days with north, east, or northeast winds, whatever birds that are caught up on the lake have a decent chance of being blown over to the west end of the lake and viewable from several places, including the very popular Van Wagner's Beach.
Only a couple of birders were there when I arrived, but by 11:00 AM a good contingent were scanning the lake including most of the regulars. The morning had been OK at this point. We had seen several jaegers, including four that came close enough to identify - an adult dark-morph Parasitic, a juvenile Parasitic, and two subadult Pomarine Jaegers including one that gave us extended views sitting on the water and flying around, harassing Ring-billed and Herring Gulls.
At 11:19 Jean Iron got on an interesting bird to the east and a few seconds later proclaimed that it was an adult Northern Gannet! We all got on the bird rather quickly and watched it come in from the east, about 20 feet off of the water. The massive black and white bird lazily flapped on by, passing behind the wave tower. The bird was too distant for photography but the looks were incredible in the scope. What a bird! Twice we saw it plunge dive. For some of the observation it sheared up and down, following a similar flight path as jaegers often do.
15 minutes later the bird was still in view, this time following the Lake Ontario shoreline near Burlington and Bronte.
Undoubtedly this is the same gannet that has been making the rounds on Lake Ontario. Looking at the Genesee Birds listserv from western New York, the gannet was seen twice yesterday, heading west along the shoreline and last seen flying into Ontario.
Here are all of the sightings of this bird that I am aware of since its arrival. I stole this off my Mike Burrell's excellent blog.
-September 1 at Hamlin Beach State Park, Monroe County, NY by Dave Tetlow
-October 13 at Gravelly Bay, Jefferson County, NY by Antony Shrimpton
-October 21 at Derby Hill, Oswego County, NY by Bill Purcell and Ken Burdick
-May 1 at Prequ'ile Provincial Park, Northumberland County, ON by Fred Helleiner
-May 7 and 18 at Hamlin Beach State Park, Monroe County, NY by Andrew Guthrie
-July 25 at Presqu'ile Provincial Park, Northumberland County, ON by Steve Oswald
-September 1 at Brandon's Condo, Hamilton, ON by Brandon Holden
-September 10 at Colonel Sam Smith Park by Garth Riley and Dave Pryor
-September 14 at Charwell Point, Prince Edward County by Mike Burrell
Ontario has about 45 accepted records of Northern Gannet over the years, all but 3 involving birds in juvenal plumage. This was my second gannet for the province, with the first surprisingly being an adult as well! That was on October 23, 2012 at Netitishi Point with Alan Wormington.
What a great bird!