Totally captivated in 2007 by the live camera feed of the Hornby Island nesting Bald Eagles in B.C., I was drawn into birding and have never looked back. Thus begins my account of what I'm fortunate enough to discover each day and perhaps capture with my camera.

Unless otherwise stated, all images were taken by and are the property of Janice Melendez

Species Counts:

2014 Final Year List: 255; 2015 Year List a/o June 5, 2015: 235; Life List: 327

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Slippery Slope to Shorebird Hell?

A couple of recent visits to Lake Ontario for shorebirds have been excellent for not only bumping up my Year List tally (bwaaahaaahaaa) but also for some great learnings and sightings, beginning with an American Woodcock. Skip and I observed it on a deserted trail at Owen Point while catching up with the Pickering Naturalists:

I usually only see and hear them at dusk in the spring, peenting away as part of their aerial displays, so this was a great find as they're secretive by nature and extremely well camouflaged. Its upperparts resemble dried leaves, so had it been in the dense woods rather than on this sandy trail, we most certainly would have overlooked it. 

Skip and I watched as it slowly made its way across the trail, doing its hilarious back and forth rocking motion, which gave us time to tweak our camera settings between giggles:

We had great views of its reddish brown underparts, and its large dark eyes are also quite captivating. To date, this is my best and closest view ever of a "timberdoodle":

I saw more Monarch Butterflies that day at Presqu'ile than I had the entire summer:

A record shot of a colourful Ruddy Turnstone that was still in breeding plumage. It lived up to its name, actively foraging along the shore by turning over stones and shells with its bill: 

Semipalmated Sandpipers, as seen below on the left, were numerous, note its straight black bill, black legs and feet. 

On the right is a Least Sandpiper, darker and browner than the Semipalmated, with a slightly decurved bill:  

The Semipalmated Sandpiper lifted off, giving another view of its gray-brown upperparts, when compared to the Least Sandpiper on the right:

More Least Sandpipers enjoyed the muddy bits of land: 

The next evening I did a quick Carden run with Tessa, never having been there before in late-August, and now I know why. Wylie Road looked quite different with higher vegetation that limited bird sightings, and it was very quiet. Eastern Phoebes, Cedar Waxwings, Northern Flickers, American Redstarts, baby Eastern Towhees, and a few Savannah Sparrows were seen, but that was it: 

The sunset back home at the cottage was lovely:

A few days later I did a last minute road trip with Mark for a reported White Ibis in Napanee. Despite Mark and I beating the bushes, we dipped on the target bird:

But we made the best of it as there were new areas to explore, including the Napanee Limestone Plain, an IBA that's similar to Carden. It was here that my first Canadian Olive-sided Flycatcher was seen:

A single Loggerhead Shrike was seen on a pile of logs until it flew up to a wire. Mark realized it was banded but we were too far away to get on the bands before it flew off. Solitary Sandpipers, another Year Bird for me, were seen in a small flooded spot in a field.  

A Common Ringlet feasted on Mark's hand: 

We returned to town for one final search for the White Ibis, to no avail, so continued east and south to the shores of Lake Ontario, stopping off in Gosport where more birds were added to our day list, including a Great Egret, and Caspian Terns:

Our final shorebird stop was at Owen Point Trail at Presqu'ile, where more of the usual suspects were seen in blustery wind conditions, including a Semipalmated Sandpiper:

A (partial) Semipalmated Sandpiper on the left, with Least Sandpipers in the middle and on the right (a challenge to see the leg colour of the bird on the right as they're covered with algae!):

A striking Black-bellied Plover (another Year Bird for me) looked ridiculously tiny next to a Herring Gull:

A Least Sandpiper preened:

A Baird's Sandpiper on the right (thanks for the confirmation, Mark!), and a Least Sandpiper on the left:

And so ended our massive dip  Ibis chase road trip for the day. Many thanks go to Mark for sharing his shorebird expertise with me, maybe, just maybe they're not as hellish as I first thought! 

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