Sunday 31 October 2021

Atlantic Birds in Ontario: October 2021

Not your usual post on natural history or an outing, but rather my attempt at a compilation of the sightings of birds normally found on the Atlantic Coast that found their way into Ontario's waters over the past month. I've gleaned these sightings off eBird and the Ontario Birds Discord, and have very likely missed some.

Over the past few weeks a number of birds that aren't really supposed to be here...are here. While there doesn't seem to be a definite answer as to why they are where they are, some theories have suggested a famine, as well as weather patterns. It is important to note that this "invasion" wasn't really noted until about the 10th of October, with the arrival of Razorbills in Ottawa. It was another couple of weeks before alcids and larger numbers of kittiwakes began to appear on Lake Ontario—although I think it is reasonable to speculate that they were on Lake Ontario that entire time, but perhaps just weren't moving/visible to onshore birders.  

Of interest, a large wreck of alcids in the UK back in September:

In no particular order...

Black-legged Kittiwake

October 5* - one, juvenile (Van Wagner's Beach [VWB], Hamilton)

October 6* - one or two, juvenile(s) (VWB, Hamilton)

October 25 - one, juvenile (VWB, Hamilton)

October 26 - one, juvenile (Point Edward, Lambton); one, second cycle (Lake Opeongo, Algonquin Park, Nipissing)

October 27 - one, juvenile (VWB, Hamilton)

October 28 - nine, juveniles (VWB, Hamilton); one, age unspecified (Point Edward, Lambton); one, juvenile (Bronte Harbour, Halton); one, juvenile (Morpeth, Chatham-Kent)

October 29 - four, juveniles (VWB, Hamilton); two, juveniles (Burlington, Halton)

October 30 - one, juvenile (Burlington, Halton), two, age unspecified (VWB, Hamilton); one, juvenile  (Lake Opeongo, Algonquin Park, Nipissing)

* likely not related to this Atlantic event


*harder to differentiate numbers between locations, so will give high count at county level* 

October 10  - two (Ottawa)

October 11 - at least four (Ottawa)

October 12  - at least 9 (Ottawa)

    Because I was there this day, I will offer some commentary. I believe that there were no less than a dozen Razorbills on the river that day: at least two at Constance Bay first thing in the morning, nine flying past Andrew Haydon Park downriver soon after, and then one off Britannia Pier at mid-day. 

October 13  - one (Ottawa)

October 14  - three (Ottawa); one (Prescott and Russel)

October 15 - October 29 - 2 (Ottawa)

October 29 -  three (Durham), one (Toronto), one (Peel), one (Hamilton)

October 30  - two (Hamilton), two (Durham), two (Niagara)


Alcid sp.

October 29 - two (Frontenac), two (Hamilton), two (Durham), three (Peel)

October 30 - four (Hamilton)

As previously stated, the above numbers for both Razorbill and Alcid sp. are county high counts for each day, because it is hard to judge just how many birds are around because they are moving around constantly. The big take away here is that there are a lot of birds! 

Northern Gannet

October 17 - one, juvenile (Ottawa)

And this doesn't even include the kittiwakes and alcids they're seeing in Michigan, New York, and Quebec! 

Atlantic Puffin in Montreal:

Apparent adult Black-legged Kittiwake in New York (no photos):

Five kittiwakes on October 27 in New York:

Black-legged Kittiwake in Michigan (across from Point Edward):

I'll update the list if I learn of anything I missed from this time period.

Fun stuff. What's next? 

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