Sunday, 17 November 2013

Pelee rarities day 3 and a dead gull...

This morning, Jeremy and I headed down to the tip nearly first thing in the morning, though Blake Mann and a few others had us beat...luckily we hadn't missed any Pacific Loons at this point, unlike yesterday! Before reaching the point, Jeremy and I stopped after noticing an Eastern Screech-owl peeking out of a hole in a tree near the Sparrow Field.

Fewer birds were flying by, though the winds continued strong out of the SSW. After a while of scanning through dwindling numbers of Common Loons, Red-breasted Merganers, all 3 scoters, and Horned Grebes filtering down the east side of the tip, Blake happened to notice a jaeger powering down the west side!

We all jumped up and got on the bird as it flew straight towards the point. I was really hoping for a Pomarine Jaeger, however the slender build and rufous tones on the bird made it clear that it was a Parasitic! Still, this was a good find since jaegers can be pretty scarce at Pelee. Despite a birder or rarely, several birders at the tip most days throughout the fall, only a handful are seen each season. This was my third Point Pelee Parasitic Jaeger after singles on September 24, 2010 and August 10, 2013. I didn't try for photos though Jeremy Bensette managed a few decent ones.

About an hour later, I was sitting on a strategically placed bench when Kory Renaud casually asked me if I wanted a new Pelee bird. He told me to look at the tip, and sure enough a Purple Sandpiper had landed there! Spot on!

I successfully managed to flush all the gulls off of the tip while the sandpiper stayed put, allowing me to take some half decent photos of the purp-etrator!

This was my second new Pelee bird for the weekend after the Bohemian Waxwing yesterday. I am slowly creeping up to #300...

A few Sharp-shinned and Cooper's Hawks were repeatedly flying out to the tip before looping back around.

This bat was tucked away in a corner at the washroom by the tram stop. I think it is an Eastern Pipistrelle based on its tiny size, reddish forelimbs, black wing linings, and golden brown fir.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful sightings wise. A group of us checked DeLaurier for the Bohemian Waxwing, and only one or two people had brief glimpses at it, leaving many of us disappointed. There were thousands of Cedar Waxwings around and this bird could very well stay for a few more days or longer!

I later checked the south end of Hillman Marsh with Jeremy Bensette, turning up a Greater Yellowlegs and 10 Pectoral Sandpipers. About two dozen Dunlins were still hanging on - good numbers for the date!
The north end of Hillman Marsh as well as Wheatley harbour were both busts, so I continued on my way home.

Driving on Highway #3 along the lakeshore, I turned down the road leading to Erie Beach, hoping to see an interesting feeder bird or maybe something in a field. Cattle Egret perhaps?

That was not to be, but as I was driving along I glimpsed a dead gull on the road. As I flew past it, I was shocked to see it had a darker mantle! I had thoughts of Franklin's Gulls in my head when  turned the car around. What was the bird? You guessed it...

Gulls were feeding in an adjacent field and washing off in the lake, thus constantly flying across the road. It wasn't a very busy stretch, but this very unlucky Franklin's Gull made a slight miscalculation - its last.

I emailed a photo to several local birders. Funny enough, Steve Charbonneau (a resident of Erie Beach) mentioned finding a first cycle Franklin's Gull at the nearby Blenheim lagoons earlier in the day. He had passed by the spot (where I later found the dead gull) several times through the course of the day and did not see it. It was still warm when I happened across it an hour before dusk.

Not the way I prefer seeing Franklin's Gulls, but it is safely stored in my freezer and will be transported to the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto when I get a chance. Hopefully my (non-birder) roommates don't open the suspicious plastic bag with my name on it in the freezer...

McGeachy's Pond near Erieau held hundreds of geese. I was surprised to see a group of 5 Snow Geese, but as I was pulling up they took off, with the Canada Geese staying on the pond.


  1. Last time I walked out onto the tip and flushed the gulls a bunch of birders yelled at me...

  2. That owl somehow looks familiar (!).
    That Franklin's Gull find is weird!

    1. Absolutely, certainly not what I was expecting!!