Sunday 8 September 2019

Hamilton Lakewatch

Today I decided to shake it up a bit, and head out to Van Wagner's Beach in Hamilton for a lakewatch. The winds were looking good, coming from the east, and with the hurricane that just passed through, I was hoping for maybe some sort of vagrant. While that did happen, it was still a productive day.

I got to the beach shortly after 10:30, and for the first two or so hours, it was completely dead. Things started getting interesting when a Sabine's Gull was picked out of a group of Common Terns. Sabine's are expected migrants at this time of year, however, they are quite uncommon, and are quite exciting whenever they are seen!

This poor Ring-billed Gull had a really messed up wing. It was somehow able to fly though!

After the initial excitement, things quieted down again for a bit. Then I spotted a jaeger straight out, which proved to be none other than a juvenile Pomarine Jaeger! This individual put on quite the show for much of the afternoon, as it chased around gulls hoping to steal its next meal.

Soon, another couple Sabine's Gulls made a pass with a group of Bonaparte's Gulls. And not too long after that, a group of twelve Sabine's Gulls was spotted! Things were shaping up to be a good day for Sabine's! A couple more jaegers were flying around, and as I was tracking one of them with my scope, I happened to pan right onto another group of 14 Sabine's Gulls! Much to our delight, the two groups of gulls merged, for a big flock of 26 Sabine's! There was even an adult bird, which is a very uncommon sight on the Great Lakes.

The winds were shifting to be even more favourable, and with them came more jaegers, including at least four Parasitic Jaegers.

Later in the day, a lone Sabine's Gull came in close for good views, and a group of four flew right over us observers! In that group of four was another adult. I didn't think to get photos until they were more distant, but others got great shots of them right overhead. In total, I saw 34 Sabine's Gulls today!

Adult Sabine's Gull in top right

After six hours, I decided to call it quits, as things were slowing down. After I left, the group had two more Parasitic Jaegers and another group of 14 Sabine's Gulls.

I made a couple quick stops into Windermere Basin and the Tollgate Ponds. I miss seeing shorebirds, so those were my main focus. I saw Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, American Golden-Plover, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Sanderling, Spotted Sandpiper, and Red-necked Phalarope.

It was quite an enjoyable day!

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