Friday, 22 February 2013

Greater White-fronted Geese at Hillman Marsh!

     Today girlfriend Nadia and I took a trip to Hillman Marsh Conservation Area in Leamington, where I have been seeing some interesting geese lately, including Greater White-fronted Geese (normally found in Western Canada, but small groups of usually 1-4 show up in Ontario during winter), Cackling Geese, 1 mostly white Snow Goose, and 2 white Ross's Geese. Today, like usual, Hillman Marsh was once again very generous to our birding appetite. On our last visit here we checked out the Couture Dyke path and found open water, 2 Cackling Geese, and 19 Greater White-fronted Geese, so naturally this was the path we chose today.

     The drive from Windsor hinted at good birding to come today, as we saw 17 Red-tailed Hawks and 2 American Kestrels! We keep a 'high score' of the most hawks we have ever seen between Windsor and Leamington, and this trumped our previous record of 15.

     Just before turning into the parking area for the Couture Dyke, we spotted a rather close Red-tailed Hawk perched in a tree (I never get bored of seeing these beautiful buteos)and an adult Bald Eagle flew pretty low over the road. We walked about a kilometre out on the trail and were in pretty good viewing range of the geese on the open water in the marsh. There were very few geese here, but we spotted about 6 Redhead ducks, a couple Gadwall, a bunch of American Black Ducks, and an American Coot among the Mallards and Canada Geese. Since we walked all that way and could hear thousands of geese in nearby fields, we waited, and sure enough they came. We ended up seeing a total of 27 Greater White-fronted Geese tonight, and possibly more because we could not keep track of who was coming and going.  Above is a particularly sharp photo of the Greater White-fronted Geese that Nadia captured, and below is a short video of them on the frozen marsh:
     We were so caught up in watching the Greater White-fronted Geese that we did not take many photos. Sometimes a camera just cannot capture an experience the way a memory can. We also saw two American Robins and heard a few Red-winged Blackbirds (They are both surprisingly scarce in winter. I have only seen a handful of each since New Year's until the last week or so) on our walk back, and a surprise view of a Long-eared Owl hunting (It flew right in front of us while driving past the marsh!). Here is a photo I captured of a Long-Eared Owl at the same location about a month ago:
Tomorrow morning will be one of Paul Pratt's group birding trips, to Hillman Marsh. That should be exciting, as I have not walked the main path in a while. Maybe we will find some early spring migrants! I hope you enjoyed my thoughts on today's adventure.


  1. Jeremy, congrats on starting a new blog! ...Its about time! :-) -DM

  2. Thanks Dwayne! Now your text messages won't have to be filled with detailed accounts of my birding haha