Instead of totally ending up melting ourselves (like the Wicked Witch in "The Wizard of Oz") in the predicted humidex temps in the mid-thirties (whassup with that, it's still MAY, for cryin' out loud, am soooo not ready for this yet!!), John and I made the wise decision to stay closer to the lake, so we headed off for Presqu'ile Provincial Park, an hour's drive away from home:
Our target bird was the Piping Plover, which had been reported there earlier this week, but we didn't know whether the Shorebird Gods would be smiling down on us or not... I confess to still being less-than-comfortable with shorebirds, but am eager to learn how to better identify them and will take them over GULLS any day, so off we went along the Owen Point Trail to check out the beaches:
Here's John-on-a-Mission here along the beach, he hadn't started to melt in the heat quite yet:
Unfortunately in the end, we dipped on the Piping Plover(s), but saw a Black-bellied Plover, Kildeer, both Semipalmated and Least Sandpipers, both Caspian and Common Terns, Semipalmated Plovers (another Lifer for me this week!) and Dunlin, here's a less-than-stellar shot of both those latter species together. With shorebirds, it's more of a challenge to get close to them, especially when the beaches are closed off during breeding season:
Dunlin are also known as "Red-backed Sandpipers", and we had a few dozen flying in and around the shorelines in their usual spectacular form:
My first significant encounter with these medium-sized shorebirds was last November at Boundary Bay, Delta, B.C., where I came across a few- THOUSAND, that is!!
I totally fell in love with them back then, mesmerized by their amazing synchronized flight patterns where they're like a massive swarm of bees all flying in the same direction and then they would quickly change direction en masse and their colour would go from light to dark as they made their turns in unison. It was truly a magical day for me, I easily spent an hour at Boundary Bay just watching them with my mouth hanging open in awe...I know, I'm such a nerd..
Anyway, back to Ontario reality now: we also had several Short-billed Dowitchers, my second Lifer for the day:
Here's a view of Owen Point, this was as far as we could get on the beach:
As John continues his other quest to convert me over to the Dark Side by learning about Butterflies, I am including a pic of a Red Admiral to humour him (even had to ask him what it was). But hey, it is rather pretty, n'est-ce pas??
We continued along the inner trail to see what we could find in the way of passerines and were not disappointed, I had my best views ever of Great-crested Flycatchers, which until now had been perched way up on the tops of trees, but this time I was able to see just how attractive they are:
The contrast between the lemon yellow belly and reddish tail was beautiful, I've never been able to see this before:
Here he's doing some sort of Avian Yoga move:
This Swainson's Thrush played coy with us for a while:
Other birds included Baltimore Orioles, Downy Woodpecker, Warbling Vireo, Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrows, and Cedar Waxwings, high up in the treetops:
But for sure the BOTD (and Lifer) for me was this Blackpoll Warbler that John first heard and eventually tracked down in a cedar. When I first became interested in birding, I still recall hearing about their amazing long-distance migration, as they winter in South America, just think about THAT! Unfortunately this was the best shot I could manage, his head is tucked down as he preens himself:
From Presqu'ile we stopped in at Brighton for lunch to celebrate our finds- naaah, who am I kidding, we were starving and yearned for food and central air-conditioning! Then we continued on to the Brighton Constructed Wetlands:
We were greeted by an Osprey on the nest, as well as several skittish Common Moorhens:
A few families of Mute Swans (one with an all-white cygnet) added an "awwwwww" factor for Juanita, much to John's chagrin:
Sora and Virginia Rails constantly mocked us, taunted us, teased us, as we made our way around the perimeter of the wetlands, unable to ever get a visual on them, and by now it was far too hot and humid for us to continue playing their game. We succumbed to Mother Nature's heat-wave and headed back to the comfort of the car's A/C and returned home for the day.
My species count for the day came in at 43, and for the week I've added five Lifers, thanks to John once again: