Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 11, 2012 Shorebird watching along the Ottawa River

The weather conditions have been excellent for the past 2 days for grounding, temporarily bringing down shorebirds to the extensive mudflats for resting or feeding. With the intermittent light rain, fog, and general low clouds there was a nice fallout of shorebirds yesterday, August 10th at Constance Bay.  The highlight was 4 Whimbrels which flew in and landed for a brief time before continuing down river. Ben and I first heard one bird calling and within a minute Ben had picked the small flock out as they made their way to the shoreline. After about 20 minutes of resting they were off again. It was interesting to see that the Whimbrels landed with other shorebirds and gulls that were resting/feeding along the shoreline. Definitely, birds attract birds! We counted a total of 11 species of shorebirds: 15 adult Black-bellied Plover (some still in full breeding plumage), 40+ adult  Semipalmated Plover, 1 Killdeer, 25 adult Greater Yellowlegs, 6 adult Lesser Yellowlegs, 4 adult Sanderling, 75+ (mainly juvenile) Semipalmated Sandpiper, 250+ Least Sandpiper (mainly juvenile), 1 adult White-rumped Sandpiper, and 12 adult Pectoral Sandpiper.
We also checked Shirley's Bay and Andrew Haydon Park and observed a small number of shorebirds, mainly Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, 2 adult Black-bellied Plover, both Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs (both adult and juvenile), Semipalmated Plover and 1 adult Caspian Tern. At Deschenes Rapids there was a nice concentration of water birds including 16 adult Caspian Tern, 44 Common Tern, 4 adult Bonaparte's Gull, 3 adult Sanderling and 2 adult Great Black-backed Gull. The Great Egret colony on Conroy Island was doing well with a total of 16 birds including 3 nests with 3-4 young that are almost fledged. We also had another possible nest but couldn't be sure due to the vegetation. There was also a juvenile Peregrine Falcon hunting below the rapids. With overcast conditions lots of swallows and swifts were feeding low over the water. We counted 350+ Barn, 250+ Tree, 100+ Bank, 15 Cliff, 2 Northern Rough-winged, and a few Purple Martins. At least 30+ Chimney Swifts were sighted.  
Today, August 11th, I did a quick check and found most of the shorebirds had move on but 3 juvenile Red-necked Phalarope were feeding along the shoreline at the end of Whistler Road along with 1 Baird's Sandpiper. There are a number of access lanes along Bayview Drive between #704 and #872  that give you a good view of the mudflats. The water level along the Ottawa River has gone up recently due the the rain.

Juvenile Semipalamated Sandpiper

Juvenile Least Sandpiper (front) with adult moulting Semipalmated Sandpiper (back).

Juvenile Red-necked Phalarope.

The flock of three juvs. feeds on acquatic insects in the shallow water.

Juvenile Least Sandpiper.

A Eastern Kingbird joins in the feeding frenize on the mudflats.

Whimbrels are very strong flyers and rarely land in eastern Ontario during migration unless serve weather conditions bring them down.

The four Whimbrel rest breifly before heading down river.

An adult Semipalmated Sandpiper feeds along the mudflat.

The Semipalmated Plover is a regular fall migrant throughout eastern Ontario. Look for them along the shorelines/mudflats and at sewage lagoons.

No comments: