On Saturday, March 12, fourteen intrepid birders travelled to the Long Point area to see the return of the Tundra Swans on their annual migration route north to their arctic coastline breeding grounds. An Ontbirds posting earlier in the week reported ten thousand of them in fields and/or flying overhead, and if you have never seen this before, it truly is breath-taking! Despite the occasional snowflake and some drizzle that began as we wrapped up our day together, it was an excellent outing, and kudos to John for leading the group, as well as moving up the date by a week to ensure excellent numbers of Swans.
That being said, I'm ashamed to admit that I was unsuccessful in any decent Tundra Swan photos due to dreary conditions, so will fill this gap by sharing some photos from last year's trip:
Certainly Horned Larks abounded along the sides of the road, as well as in the fields:
They blend in so well that the only effective way to spot them is if they move, or if you're able to hear their tinkly song! The male has what appears to be tiny "horns" on his head, hence the name:
One of our early stops in the trip was at Lee Brown, an artificial pond that yielded some good species for the day, even though the pond itself was still frozen over, but some standing water around it included Mallards, American Black Duck, Northern Pintails and Shovelers, Canvasbacks, Redheads, and American Wigeons across the road.
The familiar rattle and gurgling of Sandhill Cranes tortured us as we looked for them in vain, but their calls were unmistakable:
Eventually we located the Sandhill Cranes way off in the distance in a field, but suddenly one flew quite low overhead, giving us the best view for the day:
After stopping for lunch at a local restaurant, we continued along the back roads for more birds, here we are scanning the fields for rarities:
For some of the us, first views for the year included American Robins, Kildeer, Red-winged Blackbirds by the hundreds, Common Grackles, Wild Turkeys, and House Finches. The occupants of our vehicle saw an Eastern Bluebird on the way home too. Raptors seen collectively by the group were Red-tailed Hawks, especially along the highways, as well as American Kestrel, Northern Harrier, and a Merlin.
The species total for the day came in at around thirty-four, as not all of us saw everything, but this number is close enough.
And speaking of numbers, here are eleven of the fourteen of us. Skip skipped out (just couldn't resist) on us with Pat and Marilynn before I got my act together for the group photo, so sorry about that, Skip! You must have known that we'd dip on that Greater White-fronted Goose ;-).