Saturday, 11 April 2015

Birding at Long Point, Bird Studies Canada Property

With business up in the Long Point area today, I decided it would be a good time to hit a birding location that I had been hoping to return to for quite a while, the Long Point Bird Studies Canada Headquarters Property.  I was here once earlier in the spring, but it was a time with lots of snow and few birds.  I was hopeful to get a good list today.
Looking back on the the buildings from the trail.

The property is not as well known as the park itself, but according to eBird, many species are reported here.  It has a great mix of habitats from grassland, to waterfront, to forest.  It allows for a good chance at a wide variety of birds.

We arrived not long after 11:00 and got right to it.  There was plenty of activity around the purple martin and eastern bluebird boxes, but it wasn't martins or bluebirds that I saw.  Many tree swallows were swooping around and appeared to be checking out the nest boxes.  A couple house sparrows were investigating them as well.  House sparrows and starlings can be a serious problem to our native nest box birds.  Careful box management can help keep things under control.
House sparrow on bluebird/tree swallow box.

House sparrow on purple martin house.

Tree swallow checking out a nest box.

In the nearby marsh, several species of waterfowl were visible.  I saw ring-necked duck, hooded merganser and redhead at the first pond and added bufflehead and shoveler to that list on the way back.

Ring-necked ducks and redhead.
Distant ducks.

We followed the trail which eventually came out overlooking the lake.  This was one of those 'kid in a candy store' moments for me.  One of my favorite parts to birding is being able to pick through large flocks of birds that are not moving around much and are relatively close.  Ducks thickly peppered the water and I got into a comfortable position, preparing to pick through the birds.  I immediatly noticed several familiar species, gadwall, scaup and ruddy duck were some of the most common.  I could not identify the scaup as greater or lesser.  To my knowledge they are practically identical at a distance.  Then I saw the canvasbacks.  This was the first time that I had a decent glimpse of cans and here were about 75 spread out in front of me.  I added canvasbacks to my life list and had a great time watching them coming in, swimming around and diving.
Ducks on the lake-as close as I could get with the camera.

Red-winged blackbird.

Two bald eagles caught me by surprise as they flew off to the side.  I have seen bald eagles in the USA and in Alberta, but this was my first for Ontario.

We continued on through a forested section of trail.  Song sparrows were both heard and seen.  I caught a quick glimpse of a thrush (hermit possibly).
We returned to the car over an hour later.  It was a great morning at a great location.  The Long Point Area offers a fantastic display of birds and I definitely hope to be back.  

My eBird list for the morning can be seen here.


  1. Nice list and nice lifer -- Canvasbacks are such beautiful ducks. Most of the species you've listed have yet to show up in the area, but they should be getting here soon.

    1. Thanks for commenting Charlotte. It was definitely great seeing the canvasbacks. The arrival of ducks is another part of spring that I really look forward to.

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