Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bicknell's Thrush at Point Pelee v2

Black Vulture easily seen above Pelee on Saturday. Note the white primaries on the Black Vulture

This weekend, I had planned on going to Carden Alvar for a day of amazing birding. But on Friday night, before I was about to leave, my son looked at me with his big brown eyes and said "Daddy, will you take me to Paint Peldy toomordo (spelling was intential for effect)?"  ... How could I say no?

So Saturday morning, on the way to Pelee, my friend Rick texted me to tell me a Bicknell's Thrush had been found by Alan Wormington near the tip of Pelee.

As the Tram arrived at the visitor center, Todd Pepper pointed out a Black Vulture in a kettle of Turkey Vultures. I believe that was also found earlier by Alan Wormington as well!

Upon arriving at the tip, the bird was found quickly along west beach because Jeremy Hatt and Jeremy Bensette were with the bird.  The photo above represents my best look at the bird, which sat there for about 45 seconds, then it flew away.

Was my May 20th Blog Posting a Premonition?
On May 20th, blog readers may recall I commented on the excellent variety of Thrushes at Point Pelee. I had noted that pretty well 6/7 of the Eastern breeding Thrushes, save for Bicknells was in the park:

"Some nice Thrush species were seen as well. On Saturday, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, Robins, Wood Thrush, Gray cheeked Thrush were all seen. In fact, I think all the Eastern Thrush Species were in the park with the exception of Bicknells! Along the Tilden Woods Footpath, I heard my first singing Wood Thrush for the season."

Jeremy Bensette mentioned to me that this is the first sighting for Point Pelee, bringing the park's total very close to 400 species... So this is a MEGA rarity for both Point Pelee and perhaps Ontario!

Bicknell's Field Study
I did not see this bird long enough, nor am I an experienced enough birder to really confidently give a good study of the field marks that identify this bird. It seems that the closest two species of birds to a Bicknells Thrush would be a Gray cheeked Thrush and perhaps a Hermit Thrush. Both of these birds may have several subspecies that make this identification a very tricky ID.  Even David Sibley states: "Voice (and primarily song) is still the most reliable way to distinguish these species. In areas where they are expected, it may be reasonable to identify small and reddish birds as Bicknell’s Thrush after careful and lengthy study, even without hearing them sing, but I don’t think sight observations or photos alone would ever be acceptable evidence of a bird out of range, for example, in Ohio, or Alaska, or the UK." (Sibley).  But, I think if anyone in the province of Ontario is qualified to ID an eastern thrush - which was well off its migratory route (Bicknell's Thrush breeds in Quebec, NB and the Maritime Provinces), its Alan Wormington. It afforded great looks at close range to its finders, but sadly when I arrived, there were so many people walking around on Saturday morning, it was skulking in the shrubs along with tip's west side path. If anyone wants to comment on the field marks... please feel free to do so!

Also, at one point, Jeremy Hatt, Jeremy Bensette were looking at the bird while I was taking this photo and the bird deficated. Jeremy Hatt joked that if we had a ziplock bag, that the excriment could be sent away, perhaps for DNA analysis! As chance would have it, I had put my son's sunscreen and bug-spray into a spankin new ziplock bag that morning and it was in my backpack holder! I'm not saying to collected the sample but it wasn't me! I will keep you informed on any results that that test may deliver!

Bicknell's Thrush - Diagnostic Photo?

Lots of Cedar Waxwings at Point Pelee on Saturday affording nice views!!!

Good Birding!

Sibley David ,  Bicknell’s Thrush Catharus bicknelli, November 18th, 2010, WEB June 1, 2014,

Life list Summary
346 - Pacific Loon
347- Bicknell's Thrush

PS: If I go to Carden Alvar soon, I could get three potential species bringing me to 350!
Whip-Poor-Will, Sedge Wren and Golden Winged Warbler!

1 comment:

  1. That is a great encounter, Dwayne, and extra nice to have a photo of the bird as well....I bet you are glad you listened to your son!



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