Wednesday 6 November 2013

Netitishi days 3 and 4

Introductory Post
Day 1 and 2 - October 24 and 25, 2013
Day 3 and 4 - October 26 and 27, 2013
Day 5 - October 28, 2013
Day 6 - October 29, 2013
Day 7 - October 30, 2013
Day 8 - October 31, 2013
Day 9 - November 1, 2013
Day 10 and 11 - November 2 and 3, 2013

October 26, 2013
Weather: between -4 and 1, sun and clouds + scattered snow squalls, winds ESE to NE 10-20 km/h
43 species
Ebird checklist:

Our third day on the coast started cold and sunny, but as the day wore on the temperatures increased and the wind shifted to the northeast, promoting a big Rough-legged Hawk flight. They began by mid-morning flying way out over the bay, but by noon the hawks were streaming overhead, including several kettles of birds numbering up to 15.

Rough-legged Hawks - Netitishi Point

We ended up with 83 for the day, a really high count, especially when you consider that no other species of migrating raptors were seen that day!

Rough-legged Hawk - Netitishi Point

Some of the specialty northern birds that people often visit Algonquin to see were the most common species around the cabins. These included Gray Jays, Boreal Chickadees, White-winged Crossbills, and Spruce Grouse. We ended up seeing Spruce Grouse almost daily, including this male that was sitting in a spruce tree near the wind shelter.

Spruce Grouse - Netitishi Point

It was a warm afternoon so I walked in the woods near the cabins, looking for songbirds. Throughout the walk I saw several species that may have been "reverse migrants" from the southwest winds we had experienced over the previous few days, including a group of Dark-eyed Juncos, a White-throated Sparrow, and some American Robins. A Brown Creeper exploring some of the largest spruces may be a bird that overwinters at Netitishi, since they have been seen regularly here late into the autumn.

Shorebirds included 16 Pectoral Sandpipers and a Semipalmated Sandpiper with a bad leg - record late for southern James Bay. Normally this species is mostly gone from even southern Ontario by early October. A group of 4 Black-bellied Plovers were also on the flats.

Black-bellied Plover - Netitishi Point

Seawatching was mostly a bust again, despite the winds shifting to the northeast for the afternoon. Our only Surf Scoter of the trip flew by, but even Brant and Long-tailed Duck were in reduced numbers. Some gulls lingered on the mudflats but few were flying by, with highlights being our only Iceland Gull of the trip and a juvenile Glaucous. We added 11 new birds to the trip list, bringing it up to 60.

October 27, 2013
Weather: between 0 and -5, mostly overcast with scattered snow squalls and heavy snow at dusk, winds SW 5-10 km/h 
35 species
Ebird checklist: 

By this point of the trip I was beginning to be really frustrated in the weather. The winds continued to lack a northerly component and we had a fourth day in a row with rather unexciting waterbird highlights. However, we did have a flock of 11 very vocal Snow Geese flying overhead first thing in the morning, a species that is never really common this time of year at Netitishi.

Alan looking (unsuccessfully) for waterbirds

One of the most interesting birds of the day was an adult American Golden-plover in alternate plumage in the grassy meadows east of the point. This is another species that should be gone by now, especially an adult bird as juveniles are the age class to migrate last in the autumn. If you click on the photos to see them full size you may see why this bird is hanging on this late into October...

American Golden-Plover - Netitishi Point

American Golden-Plover - Netitishi Point

One of the highlights for me was finding a Golden Eagle traveling slowly eastward over the tide line in the afternoon. It was a juvenile bird and the first one that I had ever seen in northern Ontario.

Later in the afternoon, as Alan and I cut through the ridge of spruces on the way back from the meadow, we stumbled upon a group of Boreal Chickadees. This species is often considered quite secretive, but I think that is more due to their nature of clinging to the depths of the spruce bogs. When you are in the realm of the Boreal Chickaee, they can actually be quite inquisitive at times, such as these birds which came as close as a few meters from us!

Boreal Chickadee - Netitishi Point

Boreal Chickadee - Netitishi Point

We also discovered an interesting peep that was with the group of Dunlin on the mudflats. It appeared to be a Semipalmated Sandpiper, albeit one with a very small, thin bill. Unfortunately though everything else about this bird makes it appear to be a fairly typical juvenile/1st winter Semipalmated Sandpiper, unlike the hoped for Little Stint! This bird smashed the record late date for this species by one day, previously set on October 26, 2013.

Semipalmated Sandpiper - Netitishi Point

Semipalmated Sandpiper - Netitishi Point

That evening the snow began and by dusk several inches were covering the ground. Just a typical mid October snowstorm...

cabins at Netitishi Point

Each day of the trip had continued to be interesting with several highlights along the way, and there was still a full week left to find some really rare birds!

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