Monday, 11 April 2016

A Day at Long Point, ON

10 April 2016

     John Lichty and I spent the day at Long Point and the surrounding area to see what was happening in terms of spring migration, given the very unseasonably cold weather we have been having. It was about -6° when we set out and it struggled to make it above the freezing mark at any point during the day.

     In many places a thin covering of ice still lay upon the water.
     The birding, however, was not bad, despite the fact that many predictable migrants have not yet arrived. A good warm front over the next few days should bring in many species that are waiting for favourable winds to move in from farther south. 
     The highlight of the day was a drake Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope at Lee Brown waterfowl area. It never came especially close but I was able to get a picture of the bird hanging out with its North American cousins.

     A Canada Goose Branta canadensis can be seen in the centre of the picture and a Killdeer Charadrius vociferus off to the right.
     There was a decent variety of waterfowl, although not huge numbers of any species. 

Greater Scaup Aytha marila

Redhead Aytha americana

Lesser Scaup Aytha affinis

     Looking out over the marsh, Mute Swans Cygnus olor may be seen out on the bay.

     And numerous Gadwall Anas strepera could be found too.

     This Canada Goose was already sitting on eggs and seemed to be warning off any other goose that happened to swim by.

     Searching through the woodlot at Old Cut turned up numerous species although none of the early wood warblers one might have expected at this date. Someone told us they had heard a Pine Warbler Setophaga pinus but we didn't have even that precursor of things to come. There were no thrushes, no Eastern Phoebes Sayornis phoebe, but Northern Flickers Colaptes aura and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers Sphyrapicus varius, the two migrant woodpecker, were both there in good numbers. I had expected Brown Creeper Certhia americana but not a one was seen.
     This Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus was a delight, however.

     Despite the cold, Tree Swallows Tachycineta bicolor have returned in throngs and they appeared to be busy carrying on the business of courtship and nest site selection. Given the fact that their preferred food of aerial insects was totally absent, and they would have to make do with berries, I thought mating activity would have been delayed, but it seemed not to be the case.

     Resident Northern Cardinals Cardinalis cardinalis were ubiquitous, with ardent, hormonally charged males singing from every suitable vantage.

     American Robins Turdus migratorius are everywhere one looks and judging from their sleek, chubby appearance they seem to have no trouble finding ample food. In addition to earthworms and other invertebrates, there is an ample berry crop for them to gorge on.

     The Long Point Bird Observatory enables many young biology students to get their first (and perhaps only) experience at banding birds, and I am always pleased to see these bright and enthusiastic youngsters eagerly perfecting their skills and expanding their knowledge.
     Many readers of my blog probably also consult the fine blog of UK birder and bird bander Phil Slade, Another Bird Blog ( Phil interned at Long Point many years ago, and has fond memories of his time there I know. It's hard to imagine him as a mere stripling, impressionable and excited by the experience of handling new and different species. I had thought his period at the Old Cut Banding Station would have been memorialized with a plaque, or some other suitable grand and ostentatious object of recognition. Alas no such thing could be found!
     You will have to soldier on in obscurity, Phil!


  1. At last, here in Finland will begin migrating birds fly around. Great pictures. Greetings.

  2. Thank you David for showing us some delightful birds,your Easter Towhee is a stunner and Cardinal,lets hope you some fine Weather soon,fingers crossed.

  3. Hello David,
    A wonderful place of nature. Great pictures with wonderful birds.
    That Red Northern Cardinal is amazing.

    Greetings, Marco

  4. Me ha gustado mucho el Pipilo erythrophthalmus, no lo conocía, un ave preciosa. Precioso reportaje David, un fuerte abrazo desde España.

  5. Looks like it was worth braving the cold!

  6. Hi David, you certainly are hardy people, I don't think we have got down to minus 6 this year! Cardinal is such a striking bird, lets hope you get the better weather soon and your migratory birds start arriving. Regards John

  7. Wow I don't think I could have survived in those temperatures but I love the photos. The cardinals are very pretty and I love the Eastern Towhee. Looks like a great day out despite the cold. Diane

  8. I do read Phil's blog and that was interesting reading the connection! You are both such consummate birding professionals and so willing to share your knowledge.(and so kind not to laugh at amateur s). It is an honor
    to know both of you. I love all your pretty birds and knowing about the students coming up in their bird knowledge. The towhee made me smile .. The western variety (that we see in Oregon) is the same, always scratching around in a pile of dead leaves...a good picture, with his head up for a change!

  9. Bonjour cher ami,

    Quel régal ! Mon ami Léo le toucan ne dirait pas le contraire !...

    Vos photos sont magnifiques et quel bonheur que d'admirer tous ces oiseaux. Cela doit être grisant que de pouvoir les surprendre comme vous avez fait malgré les températures très fraîches !
    Un spectacle fascinant et extraordinaire.
    Merci pour ce délicieux partage.

    Gros bisous ♡

    Ps : En ce moment, je ne suis pas toujours très présente sur les blogs... Pardon !

  10. Weird to see hirundines in such frigid temperatures................

  11. Hello David and thank you for the link to my blog. As to "Obscuriy", I prefer to think of it as keeping a low profile. When I visited LP in 1989 and then in 1990 I think I was more than a Stripling - perhaps even with the beginning of Middle Aged Spread but at 170lbs I do remember hiking back to Old Cut from an outstation and collapsing in a heap. By the way, is John McCracken still at LP?

    Clearly you need to revisit at a busier time and join in the banding, preferably when the nets are full of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Grackles and Cardinals.

    1. For some reason, Phil, I thought you were there earlier than that - the late sixties, early seventies perhaps.

    2. As an unaccompanied child? I think not.

  12. My word, those are pretty severe temperatures for mid-April, David. I hope that May temperatures are less stringent - if you get my drift!!

    A delightful account of your day, and some super images - my appetite is well and truly whetted!

    Best wishes to you both - - - Richard

    1. This is really unusual for April, Richard. The normal daytime high should be around 11 degrees. It is supposed to start warming up by the end of the week.

  13. Very tough to spot waterfowl with such temperature. There was little coverage or were you hiding in an observation hut? Still, you've spotted a good number of birds, David. Nice pictures. Gr Jan W

  14. Hi David.

    It is beautiful there.
    Many beautiful birds and ducks here.
    Beautiful pictures.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  15. The Towhee looks almost out of place in that harsh environment...

  16. Some lovely photo's you've shared here, thank you.
    There are so many lovely folk in blogging land, and I'm not a birder as such, but I so enjoy looking and learning as I visit.

    I do like the colourings on the 'Eastern Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus' you photographed.

    Enjoy your day

    All the best Jan

  17. Dearest David,
    Despite the cold, you sure did manage to snap some very worthwhile pictures of different species. One wonders indeed how they still manage to gather their daily meals!
    Also incredible is how those geese manage to build their elevated nests, using natural materials from the surrounding area. Artistic one has to admit.
    And all of us can retreat to the comfort of a heated home with warm running water and plenty of food available... Doesn't that make nature even more admirable?!
    Sending you hugs from a rainy and cool Georgia.

  18. Oh, aren't they wonderful, thanks David.

  19. It really does look cold from that opening image, and -6 does sound cold, but you did manage some lovely images.

  20. Great photos about beautiful birds :).

  21. Hello David, some great birds you managed to see. I understand it is still that cold. I do feel sorry for the Tree Swallow not being able to find insects.
    Here Spring is in full swing and tempratures are rising.
    I also want to thank you on your comments on my late blog. I Always appreciate it very much.

  22. Beautiful birds, your photos are wonderful.

  23. Hello David,
    Beautiful series of photographs of the different birds.
    I love them all captured perfectly, my compliments.
    Best regards, Irma

  24. It's always nice when you can attend the spring migration. You see a lot of beautiful birds and you also learn from :-) The little birds have put great on the photo. I enjoyed it and thanks you for taking me along on this day :-)