Wednesday 13 January 2021

Weekend Birding

 My birding around Middlesex County has continued. This past weekend I put in some more time picking up year birds. First thing on Saturday, I went to the Fanshawe Conservation Area (where else?)

The large number of geese continued, but I could only spot two Cackling Geese. Hopefully more goose species will be found here in the coming weeks. I also spotted one of the Northern Pintails.

As for the passerines, I found my first bluebirds of the year, which was nice. A big surprise was a Chipping Sparrow coming to one of the areas people feed birds. Despite almost daily coverage of this area by birders, new wintering birds continue to be found!

Eastern Bluebird

My aunt and I went down to southwest Middlesex in the afternoon in search of raptors, in particular Golden Eagle and Red-shouldered Hawk. First was Shield Siding Road, where the hawk had been seen a couple weeks prior. No luck here however.

Argyll Drive was also pretty quiet. We spotted a suspicious eagle in the distance, but it disappeared before being identified.

We were driving down Watterworth Road, my tire pressure warning went off. I pulled over to investigate and found exactly what I was hoping it wasn't: my front tire was quickly losing air. I put my finger over the hole to try and save what I could (turned out we didn't have a tire plug kit, so it didn't end up mattering!) Funny enough, as I had my finger on the tire, an immature Golden Eagle flew over! At least we got our target bird!

Thanks to the assistance of a passing motorist, we managed to change the tire, but not without difficulty! The soft shoulder was certainly not kind to us. By any means, the birding was over for the day, and it was time to head back home.

The next day, I went for a long walk.(~11km) along the Thames River, starting at Springbank Park.

I spent nearly an hour sorting through a redpoll flock, but all I could find were Commons and a few tweener polls.

One of my intriguing redpolls. I left it as Hoary/Common. Who knows, they're probably the same species anyways (or at least, Acanthis flammea flammea and Acanthis hornemanni exilipes are). It would probably be easy to dismiss it as a regular old Common, but it stood out to me as a bit different. I'm always looking for those more "cryptic" Hoaries.

There haven't been a ton of ducks along the river this winter. My three year birds from the walk were all ducks, Bufflehead (basically absent from Middlesex this winter so far), Ring-necked Duck (unusual wintering bird), and a surprise Red-breasted Merganser.

On Monday morning, I got a text that a Harlequin Duck had been found on the Thames on the 9th. The finder was concerned for the wellbeing of the bird, so a location was not given. After some detective work, myself and a few other area birders were reasonably confident where the bird was, so on Tuesday morning, I went out to try and find it.

After searching for a couple hours, I finally managed to locate it. 

It eventually got up and went to feed and swim in the rapids.

Great looking bird, my second for Middlesex. The last one was 2016, and the last Harlequin I had seen period back back in 2018 in Hamilton. It was nice to catch up with one again.

That's all for now. Stay safe out there.


  1. It's always an adventure birding with you! 😉 Lots of fun! We had a great afternoon...up until the flat tire. At least we saw a Golden Eagle...and it was flying so close overhead!
    Take care...Good birding!

  2. Nice local birding! I saw the male Harlequin on the Thames back in 2015.