Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Labour Day Weekend Birding

Somehow, I think of Labour Day weekend as the southbound migratory equivalent of May 15 in the Spring. This past weekend, I was able to get out to Point Pelee with Jeremy Bensette to follow up on some cool birds that had been reported on E-bird. One highlight was seeing a bunch of American Golden Plovers near the intersection of Hwy 3 and Talbot Trail. Later, the onion fields were quiet for Jeremy and I, but we did spot two Merlins in a dog fight near Rd E and Rd 19.

We checked out NW Beach of Pelee next. JB found the cutest little baby turtle. It was so small, the shell was about the size of a nickel or quarter. The images below have a dime next to the turtle to provide some scale for size perspective. If you look closely, you can see the turtle has a sharp stone-line object on its nose. I think this is its "egg-tooth" which is an adaptation that allows the turtle to cut through its shell upon hatching!

Painted Turtle with its Egg Tooth intact
Hackberry Emporer - Ventral Perspective --- Landed on my car's dashboard as I drove through the NW Beach parking lot with my window open! Note the Ontario Parks passes on my dashboard. At $17.00/day ... I can't bring myself to throw them out!

Kory Renaud had found a female Prothonotary Warbler at Blue Heron so Jeremy and I went to join him in re-finding it. Josh and Blake met up soon after for some great birding and was topped up by a nice bbq lunch provided by Kory. Blake noticed the prothonotary as we were finishing up our lunch!  Some warblers I saw at Blue Heron include: Blackburnian, Black and white, yellow rumped, Cape May, Tenessee, Bay breasted / Blackpoll Warbler, Chestnut sided (juvenile), Prothonotary, , American Redstart, Magnolia Warbler,  Warbling and Red-eyed Vireo, Osprey (overhead), Trails Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Eastern Phoebe, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some.
Its strange... I see Cape May easily in the fall, but so rare in May!?!?.

Tonight, after work I kayaked the pelee marsh. It was much more quiet than just a week or two ago. No black terns today. Two Sandhill Cranes, 3 SBD's, 1 White-rumped, 6 Juv Semipalmated Plovers, a pectoral limping around with a damaged leg..... see my ebird report for today... No mega rarities, but watching this group of 10 or so warblers shorebirds from 5 feet away in a kayak was incredible (will post video soon..Phone is dead).

Jeremy texted me as I left the park that he had a Red-necked Phalarope and a Baird's sandpiper at a little stormwater pond near Hwy 3 & Talbot Trail. I had assumed this pond was not productive as it seems very deep, but it seems there were some decent shorebirds tonight!

The Baird's was poorly photographed by myself but Jeremy has great photos (I will try to get his and post them here). It has long primaries extending past its tail, a scalloped appearance in the back of the bird along with white-outlined feathers on its lower scapulars are distinctive. It had a long, straight black bill, black legs, buff-brown colour impression. It even has a white patch of feathers in front of its eyes, which is a subtle feature of juvenile Baird's Sandpipers. Nice find JB!!!

Good birding,

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