Friday, August 3, 2012

July 31-August 1, 2012 More Churchill Birding.

On July 31st we spent most of our time birding around the townsite and along Goose Creek/Hydro Road and one trip east along Launch Road to Bird Cove. Agian, lots of activity in most ponds with many family group of American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, and Greater Scaup.
We finally observed our first family of Pacific Loons with 2 young  and counted a total of 22 adults in small flocks flying along the coast and inland. A few individuals were carrying food. While driving along Launch road, Ben spotted an American bittern in flight. At Bird Cove we observed a flock of adult Hudsonian Godwits resting along the coastline and one of the birds was banded. It had a white flag with black letters, AK on its left leg. Likely a locally banded individual from field studies at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre. There were also a couple of breeding plumage Black-bellied Plover and 1 American Golden-Plover. Along Goose Creek/Hydro Road there was a nice concentration of 46 juvenile Short-billed Dowitcher feeding, and a  almost fledged amily of Lesser Yellowlegs. In the willows at the Pumphouse we observed a number of birds feeding along the shoreline including 12 Northern Waterthrush, 7 Yellow Warbler, 1 Orange-crowned Warbler, 2 Lincoln's Sparrow, 10 White-crowned Sparrow, 2 Fox Sparrow, 6 Rusty Blackbird and 7 Savannah Sparrow. They all appeared to be feeding on insects low over the water and on the vegatation.
The next day we headed to the Twin Lakes area where the old burn site is located. Back in mid June is was very quiet with few birds so I was surprised at the activity which included a family of northern Flicker, 60+ American Robin, and a Hairy Woodpecker which is very rare in the region. My first visit to the burn site was back in June 1999, 2 years after the blaze. The variety of birdlife after the fire was amazing and included breeding Black-backed Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Northern Shrike, Hermit Thrush and Brown Creeper. Nowadays most of the large trees trees have been cut down for fire woods and most of the remaining trees are to small for nesting cavities. Along Twin Lakes road we observed Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee, 3 Rough-legged Hawk, and 150+ Rusty Blackbirds. On our return to Churchill we saw our first downy young Long-tailed Ducks along Launch Road. At the Granary Ponds there was an immpressive 156 juvenile Stilt Sandpiper, 1 Sora and lots of smaller numbers of juvenile Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, and Lesser Yellowlegs. Off the gravel point at the Grain Elevator we observed an adult Common Tern resting with Arctic Terns, another rare visitor to the region.

A family of American Wigeon.

Our first flying  juvenile Arctic Tern. 

A juvenile Bonaparte's Gull resting along the Churchill River.

A family of Green-winged Teal at the Granary Ponds.

A group of juvenile Least Sandpiper resting.

The juvenile Red-necked Phalaropes will be on their way south soon.

An adult American Tree sparrow searching for food.

Caught in a storm in 1961 the ship "Ithica" sits rusting along the shore of Bird Cove in Hudson Bay.

A distant view of the Grain Elevator and Churchill.

A family of Northern Shoveler along Goose Creek Road.

This Northern Waterthrush was actively catching insects along the shoreline of the Churchill River.

A family of Lesser Scaup was a surprise along Hydro Road.

A male Pine Grosbeak feeding in a spruce tree.

An adult and young Gray Jay responded to my squeaking.

This male House Sparrow visits our feeding area in the parking lot of the hotel. It took three days before the local birds found the feeder. We now have had 4 species, mainly House Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Common Redpoll and American Tree Sparrow.

A Yellow Warbler bathing along the shoreline of the Churchill River.

Rusty Blackbirds appear to be doing well in the Churchill region. We have had counts of over 100+ birds on 2 days so far.

The summer months are the time to see Belugas at Churchill.

An adult and young Beluga swimming off Cape Merry.

One of a number of juvenile European Starlings we observed in the Churchill area.

An adult and juvenile White-crowned Sparrow.

The Hudsonian Godwit is a regular breeder in the Churchill area.

A flock of Hudsonian Godwit feeding at Bird Cove which included a banded individual. The colour band was AK.

These adult Greater Yellowlegs were resting at the Granary Ponds. Note the wing moult on the right hand bird in flight.

A juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs takes one of it's first flights.

A family of Northern Pintail make their way to deeper water.
A juvenile Stilt Sandpiper.

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