The winds were out of the southwest and picked up as the morning wore on. The forecast was for continued south winds for the full weekend, and the temperature was supposed to increase to a balmy 14 degrees. I was definitely hoping that a few good birds would be around.
|View from the tip|
There were a decent number of birds moving throughout the morning. Thousands of Red-breasted Mergansers, a bunch of White-winged Scoters and scaup, and dozens of Horned Grebes and Common Loons. At one point we saw a Red-throated Loon flying by near a Common Loon - a nice comparison of the two species.
In the late morning we had our best birds of the day in a pair of Eared Grebes. The first was flying with 3 Horned Grebes, heading east down the point. The Eared had a clearly smaller and duskier head, lacking the obvious white cheek patch of a Horned. It was also a little bit smaller and darker on the back.Eventually the four birds disappeared to the south.
Fifteen minutes later, Alan spotted an interesting grebe resting in the water by the tip. It too was an Eared Grebe! I walked out with my camera and managed a few distant shots.
I later noticed a different gull sitting on the tip. It had a darker mantle, but everything about it pointed towards a hybrid Herring x Great Black-backed Gull. Later on I saw a juvenile Lesser Black-backed with Kory Renaud.
Passerines were scarce today but I did scare up a few interesting things. Fox sparrows were the most frequently encountered sparrow in the park, and DeLaurier held a flock of at least 55 bluebirds. I was sorting through a flock of 25 (including the bird below) when 30 more flew overhead calling.
A surprise was a late Orange-crowned Warbler in the southeastern corner of sparrow field. It was all by itself, gleaning insects from some of the low plants and shrubs.
I later checked a few spots outside the park including Towle Harbour, Sturgeon Creek, the onion fields, and the south end of Hillman Marsh. Check out this thing...
There were 10 of them along with a few fat chickens in someone's yard...
I later checked Hillman before sunset and was surprised to find a diverse group of shorebirds at the north end of the marsh. Included with the Killdeers and Dunlins were two Pectoral Sandpipers and a juvenile Baird's Sandpiper! These were the latest migrants I had seen for either species in Ontario.
At dusk I met up with Jeremy Bensette and we went to a spot that hosts Long-eared Owls every winter. We waited until it was dark, but eventually several owls flew out of the cedars. We even recorded one barking a few times! Another one flew overhead carrying a mouse. It was a pretty cool way to end the day.