Sunday 1 January 2017

Smith's and Sandhills: New Year's Birding

I wanted to start 2017 off with a bang, so I decided to skip the Nature London hike and try for the recently re-found Smith's Longspur down in Norfolk county. Smith's Longspur is a species that regularly breeds in northern Ontario (Hudson Bay), but is rarely found on migration in the province. Here is the range map:

Red Dot is the Bird's Location

As you can see, this bird is a big deal! It was the first record in Ontario for December, and I'm guessing the story's the same for January. We had no trouble finding the spot as many other birders were already at the side of the road. It took a few minutes to find the bird, but it soon showed itself and took a bath in the creek.

She was hard to keep track of due to her excellent camouflage, and her small size meant most of my photos turned out blurry as auto focus seemed to like the grass more than the rarity.

After 20 or 25 minutes we lost the bird in a clump of grass.

There were plenty of Sandhill Cranes, totaling about 495 individuals. At one point they all flushed, and the sound of their calls were deafening. Quite an amazing sight.

They also flew over in smaller groups as well.

We went to the Old Cut station next to see what it was about. Plenty of action at the feeder.

We noticed some Sandhill action out along Lakeshore Road. There were tons of cranes coming and going.

I estimated about 420 in the field.

I saw a few new year birds on the way home, the best being a Sharp-shinned Hawk. It was a great way to start off the New Year. 2017 here I come!


Here's a Snowy Owl from yesterday :)

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