Thursday, May 30, 2013

Late May Birding - Whimbrel at Hillman Marsh

The last week or two have been busy with work and life, so its been a while since my last posting. I've enjoyed watching a Robin's Nest outside my front window, and watching humingbirds visit my hummingbird feeder in my back yard. Occasionally while I'm outside, (perhaps BBQ'ing) I am sometimes blasted by the song of a chipping sparrow on my neighbor's roof!

Three new Peregrine Falcons at the bridge...
I've also looked for some local breeders at Ojibway Park but things seem to be a little late this year. I only saw (and heard) my first Indigo Bunting on Wednesday this week. The falcons at the bridge have nested again and have three fledglings. Always neat to stop by and see them. 

I was informed that there was a Black-headed Gull at Wheatley this week, so I tried on Thursday to go find it. I figured if I missed the target bird, I should find something interesting at the Hillman Shorebird Cell.

While driving into Wheatly from the 401, I drove past Two Creeks Conservation Area and noticed a Bluebird Perched on a wire. I'm still amazed by bluebirds. They are rare to me... I might only see them a few times in a year. (Note: I just noticed on the link to Two Creeks Conservation Area... they used one of my warbler photos without asking me! I recognize that Bay-Breasted Warbler!)

At Wheatley Marina, I arrived to find hundreds of gulls and shorebirds on the beach, and just as I was walking around a sand dune to get better looks, a woman with a dog flushed every single gull... I saw many black headed gulls, but did not convincingly see a Black-headed Gull.  I found myself confused looking at the various gulls. I was assuming the Black-headed Gull would be a breeding-plumaged male, with a dark-red bill and a crescent-shaped white eye-ring. No such luck, but I did get breathtaking looks at Ruddy Turnstones and breeding plumaged Semipalmated Sandpipers.

I figured I would try the Hillman Marsh Shorebird Cell to see if anything good was around, and to my amazement, there were 23 Whimbrel! I had just done a very brief count and quickly ontbirded my finding with a conservative count of 15 birds. Jeremy Bensette and Rick had just arrived as I was leaving, and they did a better study than I did. (I only had 20 minutes there). Another cool bird seen was a treetop flycatcher, probably a Willow or Alder Flycatcher. I found myself on that path to the shorebird viewing platform, hearing a raspy flycatcher call, but being unable to find the tree it was perched on. I must have spent a minute trying to find the bird, and just when I found it, I bolted! Alder Flycatcher would still be a lifer for me.
I just can't seem to get a good photo of Whimbrel!


I wanted to go to the Carden Alvar Trip this year, but I screwed up the dates!?!?! Reading the trip report by Jean Iron was painful, as they had three potential lifers (Golden-winged Warbler, Vesper and Grasshopper Sparrows)... but I guess I will try again for next year.  Even Ivana (my wife) felt bad ... She has encouraged me to go to Skunk's Misery OFO Trip this weekend. Perhaps seeing an Acadian Flycatcher will be a consolation. I also wanted to go to the Napanee Trip, but getting there is almost logistically impossible from Windsor if one is unable to take time off work.

Two other trips that I'm thinking about are a Sisters Oregon Woodpecker festival in mid June. This weekend features almost every Western Woodpecker (11 species), including Williamson's Sapsucker and Lewis's and White-headed Woodpeckers. One blogger had 70 species on a scouting tour of the area, 20 of which would be lifers.  ... I think I would die of happiness attending this festival. Another dream trip would be the Gulf-Coast States... Where Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are common summer breeders.

Good birding!
A local radio-tower field often has Bobolinks, Meadowlarks and Savannah Sparrows


  1. Hi Dwayne. Lots of Grasshopper Sparrows up Strathroy way. Used to be no problem around here, but suitable habitat is severely reduced!
    The Skunk's Misery trip is usually good for many things.

  2. Hi Dwayne,
    Would you kindly share with me where I could find the Bobolinks and Meadowlarks? Those would be lifers for me and would make my day. :)



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