Monday 3 May 2021

An Accidental Big Day

I did not set out to do a big day today, but it sort of turned into one.

I had a few hours before I had class today, so I decided to head out and bird the Kilally Meadows ESA. Figured I'd shake it up! This park is situated along the Thames River, and as such is a corridor for migrating birds. 

I got there shortly before 6:00, and was immediately greeted by the songs of Yellow Warblers, of which there would be dozens, and my first Ovenbird of the year. As I continued on my walk, I got the feeling it would be quieter than I had expected it to be. I walked for quite awhile, and the only other warblers I managed to pick up were Common Yellowthroat and a Black-throated Green. Finally, my first Great Crested Flycatcher of the year started calling, which at least spiced it up a bit.

On my way back from the furthest reaches of the park, I came across my first Chestnut-sided Warbler of the year. Perhaps a tad earlier than when I normally see them, but certainly not unexpected. Was nice to see! Not too long after, I added a couple more FOYs in the form of an Indigo Bunting and Lincoln's Sparrow. 

Lincoln's Sparrow

At one point I came across a group of finches feeding, represented by four species: Purple Finch, House Finch, goldfinch, and siskin. Nice to see the Purple Finches coming back—will the Evening Grosbeaks be next??

Purple Finch

I walked around a bit more (it had started to rain by this point as well), but the only other year bird I could find was an American Redstart. I finished my outing with 62 species, not too bad! To see the eBird checklist, click here

After class, I was debating on what to do. I thought about going to the Strathroy Sewage Lagoons, but decided against it. That is, until I saw a report of a Common Gallinule. This is a decent bird for Middlesex, and I had only ever seen one previously. That changed my mind! Soon I was on route.

I arrived at the lagoons a short while later, and then began the task of finding the bird. A couple American Coots were posing nicely.

I was beginning to become discouraged, but then it occurred to me that I had been looking in the wrong area! Once I went to where I thought the right area would be, the gallinule made an appearance.

A gorgeous bird. 

With my target acquired, I decided to walk around the lagoons. What followed next was a fun couple of hours! I nailed several species of shorebirds, including Wilson's Snipe, Solitary Sandpipers, both yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers, and Least Sandpipers. There were a few ducks around as well. Plenty of Soras (I counted eight) and a Virginia Rail rounded out the rallids. Along the backside of the cells, the forest was hopping with migrants, especially Yellow-rumped and Yellow Warblers. As I picked through them, I found a Black-and-white Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Common Yellowthroats, Palm Warblers, a Chestnut-sided Warbler, and my FOY Blackburnian Warbler. There was also a Wood Thrush singing, another FOY. 

I tallied 65 species at the lagoons, quite a nice total! Click here to see the eBird checklist.

On my way home, I decided to take a detour to Komoka Provincial Park. There were a few birds around, including Eastern Meadowlark, Eastern Bluebird, and Brown Thrasher, all of which I hadn't seen yet that day. There was also a Grasshopper Sparrow, my main target, singing back in its usual spot.

The biggest highlight though was spotting my first ever Eastern Milksnake! 

And just to throw a bit of botany in here...

Leafcup (Polymnia canadensis)

After I got home and entered my eBird checklists for the day, I was shocked to see that my day list stood at 97 species! This surpassed my previous best for Middlesex County of 94, which I did last year on the eBird Global Big Day (which is coming up this Saturday by the way). Since I was so close to 100, after supper I decided to go out in the pouring rain and try to hit triple digits.

I first went and scoped Fanshawe Lake. Here I only was able to add Common Merganser, but I wasn't really expecting much else.

I then went up to Thorndale in hopes of getting Pine Warbler, but they remained silent. I did however hear a singing Golden-crowned Kinglet. The habitat isn't too bad here, so I will keep an eye on it for the atlas. 

I went and checked some gravel pits, but found them pretty much devoid of birds. As I was driving back, I spied number 100: a Bald Eagle sitting in a dead tree! 

I decided to try for one more bird, so I went and scoped out an Osprey nest. There was one sitting there! 

All in all, a great day. I definitely did not wake up today and expect to see over 100 species. Gotta love spring birding!  


  1. Well now I know where you were today. 😊 congratulations on your big day

  2. Wow, sounds like so much fun! Thanks for sharing :)