Friday, November 2, 2012

Catching up with a nemesis - and one last present from Sandy

Yesterday I headed to Niagara-on-the-Lake with Brett and Barb to set up shop as the winds looked decent to push something our way. We had some good birds, with Kittiwakes, Brants and my personal highlight - 3 Purple Sandpipers!!!! Anyone who's gone birding with me in November/December will have heard how many times I've looked for these things with no luck. The only one I'd ever seen was at point-blank range in 2004 at Whitefish Point. On Tuesday, we had 2 go by at Van Wagner's, but I got about a millisecond view before they ducked behind a wave and I couldn't pick them up again. So, I was quite happy to have picked these 3 out myself! Not exactly the point-blank views and photographs I was hoping for but at least I've now seen them in Canada! 5 in a week definitely makes up for none in 8 years. The big story yesterday however was that we were at the wrong end of the Niagara River and missed a ROSS'S GULL!!! AHHHHH....oh well, win some lose some - hopefully there will be a chaseable one sometime soon, this is the second one I've missed in Niagara...

Today the three of us joined the Burrells, Brandon Holden and Ross Wood out in Port Weller where the single highlight of a fairly slow morning was an ARCTIC TERN that I picked up wayyyy out in the lake. As it got closer it became apparent that it was different from the Forster's it was hanging out with, and we had decent (but distant) views of the field marks to ID it - shallow, pumping flight, white secondaries, long tail, small/slender build, etc. After about a minute it turned around and headed back east, not to be seen again. Later on we had 2 or maybe 3 Common Terns, making for a very rare 3-tern day in November! The only other things of interest were a Red-throated Loon flyby and a Field Sparrow in with a flock of American Tree Sparrows.

Arctic Tern was a long-awaited lifer for me, and my 300th bird for Ontario this year!!!!!!!! To put this in perspective a bit, I saw my 300th bird for Ontario (all-time) on October 8, 2011 - just over a year ago!

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