Wednesday 28 April 2021

It is Slowly Starting...

The last few days have seen us starting to get some of our most anticipated spring migrants in Southern Ontario. I have gotten out as often as I can, and as the weather allows.

Up until yesterday, first of year (FOY) birds were becoming hard to come by. One bird I finally was able to cross paths with was a Rusty Blackbird in my neighbourhood. They definitely seem to be much more uncommon in the spring as opposed to the fall, but I had half expected to come across several by that point! 

Stakes were looking high going into yesterday (Tuesday). A good south wind with very limited to no precipitation overnight—it was shaping up to be a good looking day!

My game plan for the morning was to walk around Fanshawe CA, which is what I did for five hours. Ultimately, it seemed that all the birds that showed up on the radar were White-throated Sparrows, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers! I only managed to see two FOYs: Purple Finch (my first since November) and a Chimney Swift. I managed to rack up 69 species at Fanshawe—I just couldn't find a 70th! Find the morning's eBird checklist here.

Broad-winged Hawk

Today, my original plan was to go to the Strathroy Sewage Lagoons first thing in the morning, as I had hoped the forecasted thunderstorms would push down some good shorebirds. When I woke up, however, I found that there was no rain in the immediate forecast! Since I had limited time, I just opted to go birding in the neighbourhood.

It was fairly slow, but I can't complain too much considering it is April 28th! By any means, it seemed clear that today had more potential than the day prior! My first stop was Northbrook Park.

I flushed a Wilson's Snipe in the wetland, a first for this location. I was unable to turn up any rails. Virginia Rails had been present here for over a month last spring, but the habitat had been changed dramatically since last year due to phragmites management. 

I made my way through the ravine, and came across a few warblers, most notably my first Black-and-white Warbler and Black-throated Green Warbler of the year.

Black-throated Green Warbler

Long-spurred Violet (Viola rostrata) is starting to flower.

Next up I went up to the Uplands North Wetland, always a good stop. My most notable bird was a Baltimore Oriole, which was of course a first for this year. There were also a couple Green Herons flying around, and some Common Loons and Double-crested Cormorants were migrating overhead.

As I was leaving the wetland and walking back home, I saw that I had a text from Reuven Martin. He had found an Eastern Whip-poor-will (a would be county bird for me) in Kilally Meadows ESA. It was 8:30. I had class at 9:00. 

I weighed my options, and decided that it would have to wait, so I told Reuven I would pop out after class. He told me that it was being mobbed by robins, and might not stick around. I reconsidered my choices. I had to go. So at 8:35, I was pulling out of my driveway.

I arrived at Kilally at 8:42, and found that I had gone to the wrong access point, which added another half kilometer of unnecessary running. By the time I had found the right spot and met up with Reuven it was 8:45. 

Reuven took me to the spot and pointed it out. Good thing he did, I probably would have had one heck of a time trying to find it otherwise! I snapped a few photos.

It was now 8:50. 

I pulled back into my driveway at 8:59, and managed to sprint up stairs in time to log into class at 9am. Not a minute to spare. 

It is a good thing I took the chance, because it seemingly disappeared later that morning! 

After class, there was rain in the forecast, so I opted to go to the Strathroy lagoons. Unfortunately, the rain was short lived, and it cleared up pretty fast :(  No rare shorebirds today.

I still had an okay shorebird count, with around 25 Pectorals, both yellowlegs, Solitary Sandpipers, Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, and a slightly early Least Sandpiper (although not too unexpected). 

Pectoral Sandpipers

There were several warblers along the edges of the cells as well, the best being a Northern Parula. The first time I have seen this species in April.

I also found my first Rose-breasted Grosbeak of the year.

I had a pretty good species count at the lagoons, which included several species of ducks, a Caspian Tern, and both the rails: Virginia Rails and Sora. 

It was a splendid day of late April birding, and I ended up with 80 species, not too shabby since I wasn't trying for a high species count. Looking forward to the days ahead (although I don't think we'll see a ton of movement until next week)! 

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