Friday, October 31, 2008

Weird weather

Ok, so we went from snow and -4ºC on Tuesday and sun and 18ºC today. Amazing how fast the weather can change...isn't looking good for migration on the weekend though.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Yep, we had the first snowfall of the season today - only about a cm or two, nothing that stayed. WPBO had a Cattle Egret the other day - they seem to only have the real rarities on the days that I would be going, but decided not to... Nothing else of note - had a flock of goldfinches at the feeders but no siskins or redpolls with them yet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I went out east of town for a few hours today, had to pick up some lamb out in Iron Bridge so went to all the usual spots along the way. Echo Bay had 209 Tundra Swans, along with goldeneye, black duck, mallard, bufflehead, etc. On Calabogie Rd. I counted 116 Tundra Swans, and along the road had a flock of pipits and longspurs with some larks. Pumpkin Point itself had 183 more Swans, along with more goldeneye, bufflehead, scaup, a very late Lesser Yellowlegs and a flock of around 30 Bonaparte's Gulls which flew before I could get a good look but didn't appear to have anything else with them. Bruce Mines lagoons were loaded with Bufflehead, also had some gadwall, a female pintail and only a single Wood Duck.

Tundra Swans at Pumpkin Point
Canada Goose - 200+
Tundra Swan - 508
Wood Duck - 1
Gadwall - 12
American Black Duck - 20+
Mallard - 200+
Northern Pintail - 1
Ring-necked Duck - 5+
Greater Scaup - 30+
Lesser Scaup - 30+
Bufflehead - 120+
Common Goldeneye - 40+
Hooded Merganser - 2
Common Merganser - 10+
Red-breasted Merganser - 10+
Wild Turkey - 23
Common Loon - 1
Bald Eagle - 2
Red-tailed Hawk - 2
Rough-legged Hawk - 5 (2 dark morph)
Lesser Yellowlegs - 1
Bonaparte's Gull - 30+
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker - 1
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Horned Lark - 10+
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 2
American Robin
European Starling
American Pipit - 150+
American Tree Sparrow - 50+
White-crowned Sparrow - 10+
Lapland Longspur - 10+
Red-winged Blackbird - 10+
Common Grackle - 30+
Brown-headed Cowbird - 1
Pine Siskin - 20+
American Goldfinch - 10+
Number of Species: 46

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fun at the Dump

Why would I go to a dump if not to drop off garbage? To look at the gulls, of course! John, Kirk and I headed up to the Sault landfill today, after a quick stop at Kirk's place where we found 2 Fox Sparrows. The dump turned out to be a good idea - we had a second-year Thayer's on the roof of the entrance building! By the end of the morning we'd racked up this list:

Thayers - 6 (1 adult, 2 second-year, 3 first-year)
Iceland (Kumlien's) - 1 (first-year)
Glaucous - 1 (adult)
Great Black-backed - 1 (first-year)
Ring-billed - 100+
Herring - 1000+

The adult Thayer's and adult Glaucous are super-early birds, the former doesn't usually show up till mid-December and the latter in mid-November. GBB is fairly rare around here, as are Thayer's - Iceland (Kumlien's) is usually the most common northern gull.

Great Black-backed Gull 1st-year
Adult Thayer's Gull - note the white underwing
Three different 1st-year Thayer's Gulls
Adult Glaucous Gull
Weird "Pink-billed" Gull (herring)

WPBO - Oct. 18

John and I headed over to the Point yesterday on a whim, and despite the late start we didn't miss much of anything at the point. John brought some millet, as they didn't have any all season, and we put about half a bag of it out. Less than 5 minutes later we got a call on the radio - Dickcissel at the feeder! We ran back and got looks at it. So, that brought in a rarity (second latest date for them) - imagine what they would have had earlier if they'd had seed out... Only my second-ever Dickcissel at the point - the other was an adult male that I found back in Sept. 1999. The other oddity of the day was a juvie Bonaparte's Gull that came by the shack, then circled back and landed not 10 feet from us when Tim threw some chips out! Never before have I seen a Bonie that close.
Imm. male Dickcissel
juv. Bonaparte's Gull

WPBO Thanksgiving

On Canadian Thanksgiving day, my dad and I headed over to WPBO to see what was around. Not a whole lot as it turned out, but we did see my first Long-tailed Ducks for SSM this year, along with decent numbers of the regular waterfowl. Not many passerines around, and no owls unfortunately.

Robertson Cliffs

I went up to Robertson Cliffs on Oct. 12 with the family to try for a sunset shot with the fall colours. Of course, the sun didn't cooperate and it got cloudy as soon as we headed up there, but I got some decent fall shots anyway. As you can see if you've never been there, it's a long way down (around 600 feet according to Google Earth). For birds, had a late Black-billed Cuckoo as the only one of interest - also some Kinglets, Juncos, etc.

Entrance Road
Walking up
First lookout
Walking a little further
Second lookout

Sunday, October 5, 2008

More signs of winter...

I went out east of town for a couple hours today, looking for geese. Didn't have much luck with the geese, (only found a couple Cacklers with the Canadas) but I did find a few season firsts - Rough-legged Hawk, Bufflehead, and Tundra Swan. 244 Tundras to be exact! Pipits were wandering in largeish flocks, along with some Horned Larks and a few Lapland Longspurs. Crows were also flocking, with some flocks of 300+ birds! Good numbers of ducks around despite hunters' efforts to shoot them all, although most of them are pretty far out or in sheltered areas. I also found a fairly late Black-billed Cuckoo, still hanging around Pumpkin Point where it has been since the spring.

A few fall pics from my yard this afternoon:

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Up North

Went up north of town today to check out some waterfowl spots. No luck with rare waterbirds, way too many fishing boats patrolling the bays. I did have an early Iceland (Kumlien's) Gull at Harmony Bay though, #223 for the SSM year. Some pipits and larks were the only other entertainment. Also had Pied-billed Grebe, Ring-necked Duck, Wood Duck, and Great Blue Heron along the Goulais River on the way back. White-crowned and White-throated Sparrows are pretty much at their peak right now, still no Harris's Sparrows around though which is odd. On the weather, it's been getting pretty cold here, with daily highs barely reaching 10ºC (50ºF), and dropping below 0 (32F) at night. They've already had snow up in Chapleau...can't be too far in the future for us :(.
Kumlien's Gull at Harmony

Fall Colours at Havilland

Horned Lark at WPBO Sept. 21