Tuesday, October 16, 2007

OFO Convention - 25th Anniversary

Well, the OFO weekend is over, I'm back in Toronto, and I'm reflecting on how great the weekend really was. I think Marianne summed up the weekend exceedingly well when she said, "Good food, good friends, and good birds." Really, what more could you ask for?

And good birds there were. On Saturday morning, I joined Marianne's group. Marianne was the assigned leader for the hotspots within the Pelee birding circle, but outside of the park boundaries. This included places like Hillman Marsh, Wheatley Harbour, the Onion Fields, and Pelee Days Inn. We ended up only checking out the North Dyke past Concession E and the mudflats behind Pelee Days Inn (a highlight of the weekend) but this was O.K. because we got some great species in that time. Surf Scoter, Purple Finch, Eastern Bluebird, Long-billed Dowitcher, White-rumped Sandpiper, Peregrine Falcon, Virginia Rail, and Orange-crowned Warbler were among the highlights. Other interesting sightings include large numbers of migrating Double-crested Cormorants, a huge number of Swamp Sparrows along the reeds at the north end of Point Pelee, huge numbers of Turkey Vultures, 3 Bald Eagles, Stilt Sandpiper, a late Barn Swallow and Eastern Wood-Pewee, and a number of others (check out my weekend list below).

This is just a quick update for the weekend and I'll post more soon (including details of how I became a makeshift leader after being volunteered to do so completely unexpectedly!). I also plan to make a post on my number 1 bird of the weekend, Northern Wheatear. What an experience.

Here's my overall list for the weekend (not including other birders' sightings from Saturday and Sunday...those will probably be tallied and sent out soon):

Pied-billed Grebe (1 bird at the end of Concession E at the north end of Point Pelee marsh)
Double-crested Cormorants (huge numbers flying over Pelee marsh and elsewhere)
Great Blue Heron (a fair number at Pelee Days Inn and Hillman)
Great Egret (about a dozen birds at Hillman Marsh)
Canada Goose (a fair number of migrating birds, especially in the Onion Fields where hunters have placed decoys)
Wood Duck (1 heard on Concession E)
Green-winged Teal (a group of birds behind Pelee Days Inn)
Surf Scoter (a group of 3 birds flying east over the Onion Fields)
- note: my list is very low on waterfowl mostly because we were never at the lake, therefore, I missed out on either Scaup species, Mergansers, Scoters, etc.
Turkey Vulture (huge movement of migrants; I counted 60 birds within a few minutes flying past the Roma Club parking lot where the convention was held. Later at home, I counted 280 birds fly over my backyard in a span of about 15 minutes)
Bald Eagle (a total of 3 birds for the weekend)
Northern Harrier
Sharp-shinned Hawk (a few birds migrating)
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel (only a single bird within the Pelee Circle, but a few birds on the hydro poles north of Leamington)
Peregrine Falcon (a single bird in the Onion Fields that may have been responsible for the lack of shorebirds in the vicinity)
Virginia Rail (a single bird at the north end of Pelee Marsh. Out of our group of 7, I think 4 people ended up seeing the bird. I had a decently long glance at it before trying to point out where I had seen it)
American Coot (I only saw one bird, but there may have been more behind Pelee Days Inn)
Semipalmated Plover (1 behind Pelee Days Inn)
Greater Yellowlegs (a good number of birds at Hillman Marsh; at least 20+)
Lesser Yellowlegs (fewer present than Greater in all areas)
Semipalmated Sandpiper (at least one behind Pelee Days Inn)
Least Sandpiper (unknown number behind Pelee Days Inn)
White-rumped Sandpiper (1 behind Pelee Days Inn)
Dunlin (the most abundant shorebird behind Pelee Days Inn)
Stilt Sandpiper (at least 1 bird present behind Pelee Days Inn)
Long-billed Dowitcher (unknown number behind Pelee Days Inn)
Bonaparte's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Red-bellied Woodpecker (1 heard at the end of Concession E)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (probably 2 separate birds at the Onion Fields)
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee (I actually heard this late migrant at the location of the Northern Wheatear in Shrewsbury near Rondeau Provincial Park)
Eastern Phoebe (at least 2 birds over the weekend)
Horned Lark (many in the Onion Fields)
Tree Swallow (large numbers in the Onion Fields. Interestingly enough, we initially mistook them for shorebirds because of their similar flight patterns and the birds were landing on the soil. However, closer inspection revealed a flock of swallows)
Barn Swallow (1 bird on Concession E)
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee (a few birds calling at Concession D)
Brown Creeper (1 bird at the east end of Concession E)
Winter Wren (1 bird at Concession D)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (a few birds)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (quite a few birds)
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Northern Wheater (a lifer and by far the highlight of the weekend. I'm dedicating a full post to this species soon)
American Pipit (a few flyovers)
European Starling (enormous numbers in the fields north of the park. In one field, half of the soil was blackened by the flock and it was amazing to see the entire group of birds take flight)
Orange-crowned Warbler (4 birds in total)
Black-throated Blue Warbler (1 female)
Yellow-rumped Warbler (the most abundant warbler)
Palm Warbler (at least 3 birds)
Common Yellowthroat (a couple birds along Concession E)
Chipping Sparrow
Field Sparrow (1 at north dyke)
Fox Sparrow (1 bird at Concession D)
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow (huge numbers of birds along Concession E; I wish I could have got a count)
White-throated Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco (a few birds)
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Purple Finch (at least 3 birds at Concession D)
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

Rough total for the weekend (I call it rough because I'm trying to remember everything from Saturday and it's already Tuesday): 71
More to come.

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