Monday, January 07, 2013
Jan. 5/6 - Pelee and Surrounding Area Owling
Whenever you decide to sleep in instead of going to the Tip, you always risk missing a rarity. Well, that's exactly what happened last week when an Eared Grebe and a Black-legged Kittiwake were seen at the southernmost point of mainland Canada on one of my days staying home (I'm also at home this morning so let's see what happens down there.....). Fortunately, I got to the Tip on both Saturday and Sunday morning and although I didn't get anything really rare, I wasn't disappointed.
On the 5th, I met Kory and Sarah Renaud and stood in the cold until my toes had had enough. There have been a number of interesting gulls at the Tip lately w/ hybrids, rarities, and winter visitors settling on the peninsula. Waterfowl are also present in huge numbers. On the morning of the 5th, we looked northeast and saw a swarm of ducks fly up from the water. It looked like a cloud of distant midges there were so many! We estimated 50,000 ducks in the group (likely a mix of mergansers, scaups, and scoters).
When I first arrived by myself at the Tip my heart started racing when a shorebird flew from the east beach. I thought, 'What a great way to start my 2013 year list for Essex County! Purple Sandpiper! Ya!' Unfortunately, it turned out to be a Killdeer, which is still a nice bird for this time of year, but I was hopeful for a species that I might miss out on during the rest of the year. Later in the morning, a juvenile Great Blue Heron flew out onto the Tip and rested there briefly before taking flight southwest. Each morning, there are a couple or few American Pipits feeding w/ European Starlings on the beach as well as an assortment of sparrows (Savannah Sparrows on Dec. 31, 2012, Song Sparrow Jan. 5). Later in the morning I saw my first Yellow-rumped Warblers for the year.
After the Tip, we headed to the Onion Fields to try for Snowy Owl and Long-eared Owl. Kory knew of a good spot for Long-eareds that I hadn't been checking and it did not disappoint. I ended up seeing 2 of them in flight and one perched. Great looks.
Jan. 6, Marianne and I started our day out at the Tip as well. See her blog post for the morning here: http://peleechickadee.blogspot.ca/2013/01/mystery-gull-time.html
Similar morning to the day before but a juvenile Glaucous Gull right on the beach in front of us was one of the highlights (I love this gull species). I also spotted a mystery gull, which I first tried to ID as a GBBG x HERG but something didn't feel right. The bird was HUGE and didn't seem as dark-mantled as the other hybrids of this type we've had at the Tip recently (although I'm sure there's much variation in these hybrids). It was essentially equal in size to the surrounding Great Black-backed Gulls and the Glaucous Gull. That got us wondering if it could be a GBBG x GLGU hybrid. I'll pose the same question as Marianne on here blog. Anyone have any ideas?!
Here are a couple of my own iScoped photos (quality is not great...my scope has fogged in the inside....EEEEEAAAGHHHHH!!! @#$*!!) but it at least gives an idea of the size/shape/mantle colour.
W/ Glaucous Gull (bottom right):
This afternoon I'm going to try for Short-eared Owl again south of Essex and see if I can find a Northern Shrike out there as well. Yesterday afternoon, I found a Red-headed Woodpecker, which I was quite pleased w/ (have never had one in the winter). It was a transition bird from juvenile to adult plumage. Kory came to see it as well and we ended up hearing a second bird in the same woodlot.