Thursday, 19 November 2015

Recent birding updates from southern Ontario

I haven't posted a whole lot lately about the birding I have been doing in southern Ontario, apart from a post about two days in Essex County, visiting Point Pelee and area. The following are some of the sigh

On Sunday, November 8 I birded Point Pelee National Park with Jeremy Bensette for a few hours before beginning the long drive back to NOTL. It was a beautiful calm, sunny day without a cloud in the sky - pretty much on par with how the late autumn has been this year. I'm not complaining!

The temperatures slowly rose throughout the morning, which was enough to instigate a few butterflies to power up in the sun. A Common Painted Lady and this Eastern Comma were seen along the west beach footpath.

Eastern Comma - Point Pelee National Park

A hawk flight was taking place, and among the highlights were 7 Red-shouldered Hawks which were very difficult to pick out at times in the clear blue skies. Jeremy and I were walking south along the west beach footpath when Jeremy spotted a Golden Eagle flying low over us. As we were photographing the bird, I noticed a second one glide low over the trees and fly nearly right over us. The two birds circled together, gaining altitude, and at times were close enough to photograph together in the same frame. This is one of my favorite Ontario raptors, one that is pretty uncommon in the south of the province apart from a few weeks in the autumn (and much less so in the spring). These individuals were our sixth and seventh sightings for the weekend.

Golden Eagle - Point Pelee National Park

Golden Eagles - Point Pelee National Park

I made a few stops on my drive back to NOTL, including at the Ridgetown sewage lagoons where around a thousand Canada Geese and hundreds of ducks were present. Mixed in were at least 13 Cackling Geese and 9 Snow Geese.

Canada and Cackling Geese - Ridgetown lagoons

Snow Geese - Ridgetown lagoons

Last weekend I headed to Toronto to hang out with Dan Riley, and on Saturday we birded from Oshawa westward to Oakville. Our main targets for the day were Cave Swallow and Franklin's Gull, as both species had been reported in southern Ontario and both would be new Ontario birds for Dan.  Unfortunately Franklin's Gulls remained elusive, despite there being a whole whack of this western species found on Lake Erie and points further east (such as 300+ at Cape May, New Jersey). None have been reported on the Ontario side of Lake Ontario yet.

In Oshawa the Glossy Ibis that Tyler Hoar had discovered was still accounted for on the far side of the marsh. Through the scope we were able to determine by the facial pattern that the bird was a Glossy, as opposed to the similar White-faced, but my phone-scoped photos are pretty much useless in that regard!

We were able to catch up with a Cave Swallow, one that Reuven Martin discovered earlier that morning off Lakeside Park in Mississauga. It was a life bird for him - congrats Reuven! We watched the swallow for quite some time hawking insects over the calm water, before it continued on over the pier to the west. Up to four were seen at nearby Arkendo Park in the afternoon.

Reuven also had a discovered a gray-morph Eastern Screech-Owl roosting in a cedar. While Eastern Screech-Owls are certainly common in most woodlands in southern Ontario, it is rare to have such good views of them; at eye-level, no less! We took some photos and then left after a few minutes, so as to not overly stress out the owl.

Eastern Screech-Owl - Lakeside Park, Mississauga

We also checked the scrubby areas around the nearby water treatment plant as it has historically been a good place to look for out-of-season warblers and other songbirds late into the autumn. Reuven had found a few good birds there recently, including a Blue-headed Vireo, Wilson's Warbler - and best of all - a very late Red-eyed Vireo. This has to be one of the latest ever Red-eyed Vireos to be seen in Ontario.

We caught up with both vireos, though only the Blue-headed Vireo was cooperative enough for photos. It had one bad eye; perhaps the reason why it was still in Ontario at this late date.

Blue-headed Vireo - Arkendo Park, Oakville

Blue-headed Vireo - Arkendo Park, Oakville

I'll make a post with some updates from Niagara Region shortly.


Tyler said...

Nice picture of the goldens

Josh Vandermeulen said...

Thanks dude!