Sunday 4 October 2020

Recent Odds and Ends

School has kept me pretty busy over the last few weeks, but I have still managed to get out here and there. 

Last weekend, a Long-billed Dowitcher showed up just south of the city. I hadn't bothered to get the one that showed up last year, so I went. I got brief looks, but it was a new one for me in Middlesex nonetheless. I also saw Amethyst Aster (S.× amethystinum), my first time seeing it. It is a hybrid between White Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides) and New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae).

Amethyst Aster (Symphyotrichum × amethystinum

A few days ago I went to Kilally Meadows in the north part of London. I was mostly looking at plants, but I did flush a Black-billed Cuckoo at one point. I think this is the latest I have ever seen one.
Black-billed Cuckoo

Here are a couple of the plants I saw.

Silky Wild Rye (Elymus villosus)

River Wild Rye (Elymus riparius)

Arrow-leaved Aster (Symphyotrichum urophyllum)

Smooth Blue Aster (Symphyotrichum laeve)

New England Aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

American Hog-peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata)

Canada Clearweed (Pilea pumila)

Fast forward to yesterday, I visited one of the most productive places in my neighbourhood for birds. I spend a good two and a half hours there, as there were plenty of birds to sort through. I had several first of season birds including Winter Wren (neighbourhood year bird #150), American Pipit (neighbourhood year bird #151), Blue-headed Vireo, and White-crowned Sparrow. eBird list.

Dotted Knotweed (Persicaria punctata)
American Kestrel

Today, Reuven Martin had some great luck (he has been on fire this fall around here), and found a Nelson's Sparrow and a couple of Hudsonian Godwits in Komoka Provincial Park. I called up Bill Lindley to let him know, and shortly thereafter the two of us were on route. Both of us had had Hudwit on the brain for the last few days, and I always have thoughts of Nelson's Sparrow at this time of year, so we were keen to see these birds!

The godwits had just been a fly by for Reuven, but we checked some nearby ponds to no avail. We arrived in the rain at Komoka, and soon began our search. We were joined by others soon as well in the form of Gord Payne, Pete Read, Mike Cowlard, and Nancy Douglas. We scoured the area, but came up empty, flushing a Sora and a couple snipe in the process. We also had a Long-billed Dowitcher, always a great record for the county. The others left, leaving Bill, Gord, and myself. Bill and I were going to start walking the perimeter of the pond when Gord called us back, saying he had seen a bird skulking around the edge of the water. Soon, the Nelson's Sparrow popped up for some brief looks! It was a new Middlesex bird for all three of us.

Nelson's Sparrow (Longridge Point, August 2018)

Afterwards, Bill and I went to the Strathroy Sewage Lagoons. No godwits there either, but we did have another Long-billed Dowitcher and some Stilt Sandpipers. 

This evening before it got dark I went to check the local wetland. Nothing unusual, but I did score two more neighbourhood year birds, Northern Pintail and American Black Duck. 

It is one of my most favourite times of year! Looking forward to see what else will pop up.

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