Saturday, October 8, 2011

Hudsonian Godwits and American Golden Plovers in Comber

Yesterday, a report from ontbirds mentioned Godwits and American golden Plovers in a field in Comber, which is just south of Stoney Point or Pointe-aux-Roches if you prefer the french name. I did street level mapping of the described area, and even the google street level view of this road shows a huge flooded field with shorebirds on the perimeter! The surface area  of this shallow-water-covered field must be over 1km square if not more. Note that in the photo above, there is a small tomaoto field in the forground and a giant area of flooded field behind it. (Side note: Why hasn't ERCA flooded the shorebird cell at Hillman?)

Hudsonian Godwit blends in with the grass in the bottom left quadrant of this image
My first approach to bird this area was walk directly into the farmers' field and scan the edge of the water for any shorebirds with long, upward curved bills. What I found was a mono-culture of 400+ American Golden Plovers with a few Black bellied Plovers mixed in. Killdeer and a few SP Plovers were around in lesser numbers. Singles of Yellowlegs and other seasonal shorebirds were seen in the tomato fields along Comber Line Rd.
It was cool to see the birds take off when a raptor approached the group. It was pointed out to me that Black Bellied Plovers have Black "armpits" and American Golden Plovers just have a uniform light grey under-wing and armpit.

When a Peregrine Falcon would occasionally stir up the group, four birds stood out from the others. They were bigger and stood out quite obviously from the American Golden Plover 'swarms'. In fact my first look at the Godwits were in flight as shown in the photo below. I only saw four Hudsonian Godwits both in flight and when feeding in the flooded tomato fields.

I visited this site from 8-9:30 this morning and again from 2-3 this afternoon with a family Colasanti's visit in between. I thank the many kind scope-bearing birders for pointing out the resting and feeding Godwits that I would have missed without their kind info-sharing. Of the 8 people I met, 3 were readers of Nerdy for Birdy!!!  Very cool!

I'll cut this short here,  but basically, adding two more lifers today was very cool and exciting. I can't believe this amazing mudflat is so close to home and I didn't know about it until yesterday. It's closer to Windsor than Tilbury, and seemingly better than Tilbury SL. Thank you Ellen Smout for posting these excellent birds & shorebird habitat to Ontbirds. I only wish I knew of this earlier!

Good birding,

Lifer Summary:
American Golden Plover #284
Hudsonian Godwit #285

Bonus Quiz Question!!!
Quiz Question: Dowitchers at the top of this photo. Long billed or Short?


  1. Wow Dwayne, nice stuff and congrats on the lifers. Makes me wish I was still living in Windsor so I could check this place out regularly.

    The dowitchers appear to be Long-billed, though the photos aren't the greatest. It would be very noteworthy to have a Short-billed around in October.

  2. Dwayne,
    I stopped briefly today. Incredible sight to see so many shorebirds. Almost worth going back later tomorrow for a longer look. I met Ellen Smout on Saturday at Pelee and she recommended going later afternoon.

  3. Great shots Dwayne, really enjoyed reading your blog too. It is a great site. A couple came along on their bikes when Martin and I were standing there and it turns out that the guy works at the gate at PPNP and lives just down the road! Perhaps he will keep us posted too. Certainly a wonderful place.

  4. Thanks for the comments guys! What a great weekend for birding :^)

  5. Hi Dwayne,
    Nice to meet you out by the fields in Comber. Glad you enjoyed the Big Year - we both quite liked the movie. Thanks again for your blog and pics - very useful for us as new birders!
    See you out birding!
    Sarah and Kory (Kingsville)

  6. Sarah & Kory, thanks for commenting. Now I have a name to a face. Considering I've seen you three times in the last month, I'm sure we'll run into each other birding. Feel free to contact me if you come to Windsor. There are some cool birds at Ojibway that are less common at Point Pelee (Tufted Titmouse and some woodpeckers). -DM



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