Saturday, September 14, 2013

Baird's on the Beach

(Editors Note: This posting is about 1 week late. I was going to post it last week, but just couldn't hit the 'publish' button until tonight.)

Baird's Sandpiper on Pelee's East Beach
This past Saturday morning (Sept 7th), my son and I went to Pelee to see if we could find any interesting birds or butterflies.  We parked in the VC parking lot and soon found a worn Tawny Emporer fly by and perch on a nearby shrub. Later, while walking through Sparrow Field, we noted few butterflies other than Cabbage Whites! It would have been nice to see a Grey Hairstreak or Cloudless Sulphur, but no such luck. Going out towards the east beach from Sparrow Field, a large group of gulls were seen, along with a distant shorebird.  Long story short, a nice Baird's Sandpiper (see bottom right of photo below) was there. Just as I was noticing the first shorebird through my binoculars, I noticed it was joined by a small flock of 7 Sanderlings... Then quickly flushed by my 4-year old son!

Marbled Godwit at Harrow
An Ontbird posting on Saturday night revealed that a Marbled Godwit was at Harrow SL. Sadly, most Essex County Lagoons are locked up like Alcatraz. Unlike Blenheim, Port Stanley*, Ridgetown*, Tilbury, which allow birdwatchers to view migrant shorebirds (and sometimes are progressive enough to offer viewing platforms*), to my knowledge, Essex lagoons are locked to the public. Its ironic that Essex does this, but then tries to sell itself as a "Birding and Nature" tourism destination.

First of Year Checkered Skipper
As I was putting some books into the trunk of my car this week, I noticed a small blueish-brown butterfly alight onto a white clover plant adjacent to my car. A closer inspection turned out to be a first-of-year Checkered Skipper! I followed it for a minute and noted that it soon flew into a 'whirl-about' with another Checkered Skipper. There must be 6 or more butterflies at this one parking lot alone (alongside a clover filled courtyard).  I assumed these were recently arrived migrants but Alan Wormington informed me that they are resident in Essex County, and west Windsor has lots of ideal habitat: disturbed, industrial areas with potential for its larval foodplant: Mallow. A cool thing about this butterfly is that it is very common in the Southeastern US but drops off (non-resident) north of the 40th parallel [more on common checkered skippers].
Common Checked Skipper - First of Year - Found alongside a parking lot near ambassador bridge in West Windsor

North American Range for Common Checkered Skipper

I have some cool Holiday Beach hawk-watching photos to share. Stay tuned!

Good Birding (and Butterfly Watching),

Update*** --> Could this Tawny Emperor be a record breaking late record??
Photographed Sept 7th near the PPNP VC parking lot.

Tardy Tawny? Lepidopteric Laggard?

Green Frog - Along marsh boardwalk


  1. Good posting about Babes...I mean Baird's on the Beach! Must be the same one from the previous days.
    I have yet to see a Marbled this year.

  2. Ok, time to drive Dwayne crazy:

    1-that would be an all-time record-late date for Tawny Emperor at Point Pelee, by 2 days. But I would need to see a photo as proof.

    2-that is not East Beach. East Beach is at the end of Shuster Trail. The beach at Sparrow Field is east side of Tip.

    3-that is not the complete range of Checkered Skipper, since they occur in the southern Prairie Provinces. That "Butterflies of North America" web site sucks, since they don't seem to be able to plot Canadian sightings.

    Now you know!


  3. Blake, too funny! Thanks for the comment. Alan, I've sent you my photo and updated this posting with the Tawny Emperor ...Proving its Lepidoteric Lateness! The other two comments are noted!

  4. Just a followup - Alan informed me that my observation of the Tawny Emporer above is indeed a late record! Thanks Alan!



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