Friday, 20 January 2017

Long Point, ON

19 January 2017

     Earlier in the week Miriam and I had decided that we would spend the day at Long Point in Norfolk County, ON and invited our good friend Judy Wyatt to come along with us.
     The day was overcast and dull, the air impregnated with moisture as we set off, but Judy checked the weather forecast on her Smartphone and assured us that we would start to see some sun by ten o'clock. All we can say is, it's a good thing Judy was a doctor before retiring and not a meteorologist! Wherever the sun shone that day it was not on us!
     The weather did not prevent us, however, from enjoying a fine range of birds, to say nothing of each other's companionship.
     Just before coming into Port Rowan we saw our first Sandhill Cranes Grus canadensis, off in the mist, feeding in groups in a farmer's field, with others flying in to join them, bugling as they circled overhead, a sound that betokens the wilderness more than almost any other for me. It is spine tingling in its evocativeness.

     Upon arrival in Port Rowan we went down to the harbour to check what might be there.

     Lake Erie is renowned for its catch of Yellow Perch Perca flavescens and these are some of the businesses that are involved with this industry seen from the back and front .

     We were delighted to see a large flock of Tundra Swans Cygnus columbianus feeding in the patches of open water between the ice. It is unusual to see this species here in mid-winter and one can only assume that the unseasonably mild temperatures have induced them to delay their departure farther south.

     On the way along the causeway, with Lake Erie on one side of us and extensive marshes on the other, we spotted this juvenile Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus feeding on a fish on the ice. Whether it had caught the fish or was scavenging we were unable to determine.

     It certainly is encouraging to note that Bald Eagles have recovered from the very low population levels experienced during the era of organochlorine pesticide abuse and that they are no longer victims of senseless human persecution. It is always exciting to see a Bald Eagle, but no longer unusual.
     The Old Cut woodlot is adjacent to the bird banding station operated by the Long Point Bird Observatory during migration, and it is incredible at times the diversity that one can find in this small area.

     The lichens on some of the trees were a sight to behold.

     We meandered through the woodlot, not finding a great deal, and returned to the banding station where well-stocked bird feeders were a magnet for numerous species.
     Judy and Miriam were dressed to cope with the cool, damp weather. The air temperature was 1°, so not especially cold, but the dampness in the air imparted a real chill.

     Several different species presented themselves at the feeders, but not all were ready to pose for a portrait. This White-throated Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis would dart out from cover for the briefest of moments to snag a morsel and quickly retreat back.

     There were lots of Northern Cardinals Cardinalis cardinalis, many of them banded, and they were not hard to capture in all their splendour.


     A few House Finches Haemorhous mexicanus joined the feeding party and this male was especially handsome.

     The star of the show for us was a Tufted Titmouse Baelophus bicolor, relatively unusual here, that zoomed on and off the feeder, for just a second or two and was difficult to photograph, but Miriam persevered and finally got a couple of acceptable images. She spent so long in a fixed position that she went back to the car for a few minutes to warm up.

     Three species of woodpecker presented themselves, with this Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus winning the beauty pageant.

     The biggest surprise in terms of woodpeckers was a species we did not even see. We noted a distinctly different cadence in the drumming we were hearing and Judy immediately called it a sapsucker. Upon listening to a recording on her Smartphone we all three concurred that was exactly what we had heard. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius is very unusual in the winter. 
     When we left Old Cut we headed out to Lakeshore Road where we were treated to an astounding number of Sandhill Cranes. They seemed to be in every field of corn stubble, with some birds close by and large concentrations off in the distance. We were all thrilled with this close encounter with the aristocracy of the avian world. They looked so splendid and regal, creatures from a higher plane.

     I am always dismayed by the amount of roadkill I see, not so much in the winter, but in spring and fall especially. This Virginia Opossum Didelphis virginia met its fate this way.

     We decided to try our luck at Turkey Point before finally heading for home, but we found nothing there except for a large flock of Canada Geese Branta canadensis.
     A great outing together had come to an end; we'll have to be sure to do it again.


  1. Hello. Stunning photographs. The actual assemblage. Greetings.

  2. Your outing looks very successful David. Great shots by both Miriam and you. I was surprised by the lack of snow on the ground. When we get home and share our photos, you will see the similarity of your photos of the Sandhill Cranes and ours. The biggest difference being a little more sunshine in ours :)

  3. Eagles and Cranes! Just like Hokkaido..........

  4. Yuk, the last photo.
    What pretty birds - always birds have lovely colours.

    1. My photographs turn out quite well when the critter doesn't move!

  5. It looks and sounds like a good winter outing.

  6. HI Both, another successful outing and some wonderful birds, the Sandhill Cranes are really something, super images Miriam. All the best, Regards John

  7. Sometimes a trip out just has to be done, David, even if the weather doesn't look promising but, in these circumstances in particular, it usally helps to be in good company, as you clearly were! Even in the dreariest of weather there are often surprises to be enjoyed. Had such a day on Thursday.

  8. Beautiful outdoors shots here, as always. I adore the cardinal, they're such gorgeous birds. Lovely post! - Tasha

  9. Cute little birds and handsome big ones.
    "Air impregnated with moisture" sounds lovely, but the weather does look a little bit grey. The photos, however, are great as always.
    Happy birding!

  10. Good company, beautiful birds and lots of them -- sounds like a perfect day to me (well, except for the cold -- weather-wimp that I am). It IS wonderful that the Eagle has recovered and it sure looks like the Sandhills are doing well too -- I saw a FB page with "herds" of them like you saw elsewhere in Florida. Good news.

    I need to get some of those smart-phone birding apps.

  11. Hi David,
    I'm jealous of the beautiful cranes that shows here. Beautiful and majestic birds are. The birds and especially the kardianlen and woodpecker are fantasist itself. You also saw a lot of swans. In the Netherlands are also many swans and geese. Pity the roadkill thus came to an end :-(

    Greetings, Helma

  12. Lovely smiles from Judy and Miriam ...

    What a wonderful collection of photographs you've included in this post David, although I agree it is a shame abut the road kill.

    Thanks as always for sharing your adventures and outings

    All the best Jan