Tuesday, 5 November 2013

More Rare Birds Welcome Spring in the Point Pelee Area (as if I haven't seen enough rares lately)

Here is a blog that I wrote in April as a draft and forgot to post it! Hello again blog! Hopefully I find some time to write about some of my recent shenanigans.

This is from late winter:

     Where to begin... I can't believe how well birding is going lately! I already felt rewarded enough with the Eurasian Wigeon in the Onion Fields and Bewick's Swan in Ridgetown, but this week my lucky streak indeed continued!

     I spoiled myself with Eurasian Wigeons over the past week, although I did not manage to get close enough to any for a particularly nice photo :(. Oh well, we can't get everything on the first try or else life would be boring! Back to the wigeon: I saw it Friday night, a few hours after it was first found, and then again on Sunday with my girlfriend Nadia. Male Eurasian Wigeons are characterized by a bright red-coloured head with a creme-coloured stripe down the middle of the forehead (very similar to American Wigeon, which has a light brown and green head with a creme coloured forehead stripe). In a field of corn stubble and 1200 similar ducks, the head is the easiest and probably only way to identify them. The interesting thing about this second visit was that although it was in the exact same field as two nights before, this one looked different. Its head was still bright red, but its forehead stripe was much shorter, and did not extend to the top of its crown like it did previously. I was pretty sure that this could not have been the same bird as I saw before, but had no way of proving it, so I just shrugged it off and headed to Hillman Marsh. I bet that`s not the last we hear of my Eurasian Wigeon adventures!

     This is a photo of an American Wigeon I captured in Kingsville in February (this is the common American version of the Eurasian Wigeon):

     At least a few days per week, I have been visiting the South side of Hillman Marsh to get in some face time with Greater White-fronted and Snow Geese, two pretty rare species for the area, before they migrate North. In fact, here is a photo I captured on March 23 of a number of both species together. Can you tell how many of each are in the photo?

     On March 18, I took a trip to... guess it... my favourite local marsh again, Hillman Marsh! On this day, I was really hoping to see a Sandhill Crane, or maybe a first-of-the-year migrant gull or shorebird, and I was far from disappointed. Upon arriving, I noticed a tiny gull with a black head standing fairly close to where I was. My first thought was "Yeah! This must be a Bonaparte's or Little Gull!" (I know, newbie move, they're not really similar to each other, and neither have a dark mantle, dark legs, or a white eye ring like the bird I saw) Good thing I took a few quick photos, because within minutes all the gulls took off when a Bald Eagle flew over. I managed to watch this small hooded gull fly for a bit and saw that it had uniform dark gray on its upper wings with a white trailing edge and black tips. "Dark wings? Yay, this must be my first Little Gull of the year and second ever!" I was WAY OFF! This was a Franklin's Gull, a pretty rare bird for the area and a new species for my life list! My friend Alan told me that my sighting broke the 'early record' for this species in the Pelee area by 10 days (previous early record set on March 28, 1987). Here is a photo of it among Ring-billed and Herring Gulls before taking off:
     And just for fun, here is a photo of a bird I saw a few days later. For a second, before I used my binoculars, I thought it was my Franklin's Gull. I'm sure you'll see why I thought so:

     I think this is long enough for this blog! Enjoy!

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