Thursday, 12 December 2013

Not a bad couple of days!


Tuesday 3rd December - Friday 6th December 2013
So Tuesday morning started out with a quick trip out to Cataraqui Bay to see what was about - maybe an interesting gull (Glaucous had been reported the day before) or the dark phase Snow Goose I'd found the day before. No such luck, so I trundled down the road to the Invista Plant and came up with pretty much the same result until I bumped into local birder Bruce Ripley. Bruce is going all out as a 'Winter Lister' this year (within the Kingston region) and certainly came up trumps with an extremely late Baltimore Oriole, that I caught up with a few minutes later. Leaving the site, I met another birder, Paul Mackenzie, who was also able to add the bird to his winter list. Little did we know what would transpire later in the day.
Lesser Snow Goose (dark phase juvenile) - Lake Ontario Park, Kingston, ON
At almost 2:30 in the afternoon, I was called by Janis Grant, former President of Kingston Field Naturalists informing me of an unusual bird in the bay fronting her garden. She suspected a Dovekie (Little Auk) so I immediately found my coat, bins and scope and was out of the door driving the full half kilometre (haha!) to her house. Knowing any Alcid would be a goodie, I was shown what I immediately recognised to be a Thick-billed Murre (or in the European world a Brünnich's Guillemot). As one viewer of my uploaded pictures and news later commented, 'Holy Crap!' - my sentiments exactly. This was the big one, a MEGA, right here in Kingston. With just two previous Ontario records since the 1950's, this was going to be big. These are the two shots I posted that day.
Thick-billed Murre - Kingston, ON


Thick-billed Murre - Kingston, ON
I immediately starting calling local birders and first on the scene was Paul Mackenzie, my mentor and fellow birder over the last year. However, by the time Paul showed up (it only took him 10 minutes or so) the bird was already swimming east along the lake front. With local birders beginning to show, I decided it was best to get home and put the news out through ONTBIRDS. Paul stayed with it until dark and later let birders know where to begin their morning search. Well, the bird stayed for the next day but then disappeared overnight on the 4th. A few undoubtedly well-intentioned locals mistook a Common Loon for the Murre on the 5th causing some birders to waste hours travelling to (or in some cases back to) Kingston but the bird was gone.
Common Loon - Kingston, ON
Here are a couple more shots of the murre taken on the 4th. One of these shows how close it was to the observers!
Thick-billed Murre - Kingston, ON

Thick-billed Murre - Kingston, ON

Can you see the Thick-billed Murre? Kingston, ON
On Thursday 5th and Friday 6th, I was down in the Niagara region and unfortunately had zero success looking for Red Phalarope, Lark Sparrow and Purple Sandpiper on both days. By Friday lunch time, I was beginning to think that I was going home with an empty bag. However, I had a couple more birds lined up so I tried for the Black-legged Kittiwake seen just below the Falls and Bingo! There it was, performing well and allowing for some half-decent photos.
Black-legged Kittiwake (juv) - Niagara Falls, ON

Black-legged Kittiwake (juv) - Niagara Falls, ON
Coming back through the Grimsby/Hamiliton area, a stop at Fifty Point Conservation Area for a reported Common Eider also proved successful with the female bird showing very well close to shore. Didn't do quite so well with these pictures as the light was starting to go but good enough I reckon. A failed search just up the road for King Eider meant that the day was over and the hoped-for finalé, a staked-out Eared Grebe (Black-necked Grebe) would have to wait for another visit.
Common Eider (female) - Fifty Point CA, Grimsby, ON


Common Eider (female) - Fifty Point CA, Grimsby, ON
All-in-all, not a bad couple of days!
'Till next time,
Mark.

1 comment:

  1. Not a bad couple days indeed! Congrats on all the good birds!

    ReplyDelete