Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Delivers

As every Ontario birder already knows, yesterday the winds and other weather elements associated with the "Frankenstorm" resulted in some very interesting bird sightings. Along the shores of Lake Ontario from Oshawa west to Hamilton and south to the Niagara Region seemed to be the "vagrant zone". I was able to spend part of the day at Van Wagner's Beach in Hamilton where the big highlight for me was a Leach's Storm-Petrel.

Leach's Storm-Petrel

In addition, there were jaegers and Black-legged Kittiwakes galore, as well as seemingly disoriented flocks of Brant. Some observers in the same area as me were fortunate enough to spot a second species of Storm-Petrel (Wilson's) but I was more than satisfied by my apportionment of birds. Elsewhere along the lakeshore a Razorbill was seen as well as several Red Phalaropes. The storm track of Sandy combined with the weather system from the north was the admixture for some exciting birding!

I suppose the potential was there for even more seabirds to be carried into our region; Black-capped Petrels and Sooty Terms could have been anticipated. However, there could be more to the story and by the end of the week perhaps there will be additional sightings of unusual birds displaced by Sandy.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Fun

Thanksgiving is a time for family. Hannah & I spent the first half of the weekend in Kingston (actually just north of Kingston on Sydenham Lake in the Township of South Frontenac). The weather was forecasted to be cold and overcast but it turned out to be beautiful fall weather, particularly in the mornings. Our birding was limited to the 2 km private laneway leading to the cottage where we were staying, but that proved to be ample territory.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
"Western" Palm Warbler

A cold front passed through on Friday night which was a likely factor behind the large number of migrants we saw on Saturday morning. We saw mostly Yellow-rumped Warblers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets and White-throated Sparrows, but there were a few surprises such as a late Northern Parula and a Philadelphia Vireo (which I thought I had missed for the year).

Philadelphia Vireo

I saw my first Dark-eyed Junco of the fall; an indication of the changing seasons. Also in the area were several Eastern Towhees and Purple Finches, both of which I presume to be resident family groups that had not yet departed.

Coprinus comatus

As well as birds, there were some interesting fall mushrooms including Giant Puffball and Shaggy Mane. Another highlight was an encounter with a juvenile porcupine that I caught on video.

Finally, on our way out of town we saw a large congregation of Wild Turkeys in a farm field, which seemed like risky behaviour on their part.