Sunday, 27 March 2016

Mitchell Migrants

A stop at the Mitchell Sewage Lagoons (West Perth Wetlands) was the plan this evening.  There have been some interesting eBird lists coming out of the area and my nephew and I were interested to see what we could find. 

Approaching the first cell directly next to the parking lot, we picked out several northern shovelers and a few killdeer. 
A few canada geese and mallards were mingling with them

Song sparrows have become much more numerous lately and I spotted many in the grass around the water.  I didn't notice the buds coming out until after putting the photo on the computer.

The cells further on held numerous diving ducks including bufflehead, ring-necked ducks and lesser scaup.
Robins were quite common and among them I found this partially leucistic bird.  I have never seen one before, but from what I have heard, it is apparently not all that unusual in robins.

It was surprising to see a pair of shorebirds swoop over the water, calling the distinctive notes of a yellowlegs.  According to eBird, they are not to be expected quite yet.  I tried to determine if they were greater or lesser, but they did not land and continued on their way leaving me without a photo or a positive identification.

Further on, I caught a flash of blue and instantly thought of tree swallow.  I saw a few in Long Point last week, but none yet in Perth county.  It landed and I could see it was not a swallow, but in fact an eastern bluebird.  First of the year for me.

This time of year, a place like the West Perth wetlands is always changing as birds come and go.  I hope to get back again sometime soon.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Return to Long Point

I spent the day down in Norfolk county along with members of the Stratford Field Naturalists.  The original goal of the trip was to welcome returning tundra swans and other spring migrants.  However the way the weather has been this year, tundra swans were virtually absent from the landscape down there and my only sighting of them was a flock of five partway through the afternoon.  Regardless, it was still a great day and great to see the other bird life actively out and about.

Red-winged blackbirds were plentiful as always.
 Song sparrows appeared to be out in full force.  Most of them were hesitant to come out into the open, but I did get one shot.
I see house finches quite often around home, but I could hardly pass up the opportunity to spend some time observing this one.

Canada geese were beginning to act territorial, chasing each other around the water.

 Although there seemed to be less ducks around than earlier in the week, there was still plenty of variety.  Most of them were far out, but we managed a few views of large clusters of birds.

Plenty of ruddy ducks out and about on the water.  Ruddys are late to change to breeding plumage, the males above are just starting to show their distinctive reddish brown colour.

A red headed woodpecker would have been nice, but this was as close as I got to that today.

Back at home, I added a couple new species to my farm list when six lesser scaup and a few northern shovelers showed  up on the pond.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Spring Migrants

The last while has been a storm of bird activity. Here in Perth county, tundra swans have been passing through in masses.  I was told about a flock not far from home, numbering at least a couple hundred birds.
The odd pintail was mixed in.

Some different ducks are starting to show up on the Avon river, mixed in with the usual geese, mallards and black ducks.  This american wigeon was quite cooperative to photograph.
As well as this unusual female mallard.

I wasn't intending to be in Long Point until this weekend when I go with a group from Stratford, however I ended up that way yesterday for the afternoon and had some nice sightings.
Warm welcome from the the sandhill cranes

A juvenile bald eagle was perched along the lake at the Bird Studies Canada property.

As well as a wide assortment of ducks.  Distant rafts of canvasback and redhead were barely visible while several other species were less shy and came within better viewing distance.
Scaup of the lesser variety
Bufflehead and Ring-necks

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Out and About Around Home

It certainly feels like spring is here in southern Ontario.  What snow we had nearly disappeared today as the temperatures climbed into double digits.  I had some free time this afternoon and it was great weather for being outside so I decided to take a walk around home.

My first big sighting was a flock of seven tundra swans that passed overhead, my first for the year.

The marshes and ponds around the farm were alive with the song of newly arrived red-winged blackbirds.  I tried for a long time to snap a photo in mid display, but it seemed each time I would line up the camera on a bird, it wouldn't do anything while the ones around continued to display.

I finally got one to somewhat co operate.  Light was fading so it could be brighter, but they should give me plenty more opportunities this year to photograph them.

Canada geese are staking out territory on and nearby the still iced over ponds. 

A flock would also pass over the odd time.

I'm planning to head down to Long Point with the Stratford Field Naturalists in a couple weeks.  Hoping to see more tundra swans and whatever other migrants this warm weather might bring.