Phalaropes and Redpolls



        On November 5th, I went on the Owen Sound Field Naturalists annual 'Around The Bay' hike lead by Fred Jazvac. Although we didn't see many of our main target birds (diving ducks), it was a great day of birding. We had pretty good looks at some Long-tailed Ducks and Common Goldeneyes. 
-Long-tailed Duck

   One of the big highlights of the day was a flock of 48 Greater White-fronted Geese at Hibou Conservation area by Owen Sound. These geese have showed up at this spot for 5 years in a row, in a flock ranging in size fom 40-80 individuals.
- Greater White-fronted Geese

- Greater White-fronted Geese

   The bird of the day was without a doubt, a Red Phalarope that myself and Alfred Raab found. While everyone else from the group was eating lunch, Alfred and I decided to check a large group of gulls and geese. These birds were along the shoreline behind the park we were eating at. As we were scanning the gulls, a small whitish bird floating around in a boatlaunch caught my eye.... I got my binoculars on it and found myself looking at a Red Phalarope! This bird was very cooperative, swimming right along the shoreline and giving everyone in the group excellent views. Ironically, I saw my first Red Phalarope on this same outing last year!😂

- Red Phalarope

- Red Phalarope
- Red Phalarope

   As I said in my last post, this is a great season for seeing northern finches in southern Ontario. On my recent hikes around a wetland in my neighbourhood, I have found 2 pretty good birds. One of these birds was a lifer for me, a Hoary Redpoll😁. This small finch was mixed in with a large flock of Common Redpolls and stood out because it was bright white in comparsion to the commons. Hoary Redpolls are fairly rare and can be quite complicated to identify.
- Hoary Redpoll

- Hoary Redpoll

   The other exciting find was a flock of 14 Pine Grosbeaks including 2 males that gave me awesome views👌. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me for that, but hopefully I will get another chance to photograph these magnificent finches this year.


   From phalaropes to redpolls, there is always something to see in the world of birding.
Keep your bins handy, as you never know what might be around the next bend😉




Fall birding on the Bruce




        There has been a lot of activity along the shorelines of the Bruce Peninsula recently, with scoters, goldeneyes and Long-tailed Ducks starting to return from their breeding grounds in the north. Most of these birds head on to southen Ontario, but a few will remain here until the winter freeze up. 

- White-winged Scoters


   In years when the water is high on Lake Huron the Bruce isn't great for shorebirds, as most of the habitat these birds require (mudflats and exposed beaches) is covered in water that is too deep for them to forage in. However, some shorebirds like these Dunlin still find a little shallow area to land. This cooperative Dunlin at Oliphant in early October didn't mind me photographing it at all and walked within feet of me😁.
- Dunlin
- Dunlin

Large flocks of migrating sparrows are passing through in mass, with White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos being the most abundant.
- White-crowned Sparrow


- Dark-eyed Junco



    One sparrow that is passing through southern Ontario currently, but often goes undetected is the Lincoln's Sparrow. Lincoln's can look like a Song Sparrow if you don't look at them closely, but they are slightly smaller with fine streaking on a buffy breast.
- Lincoln's Sparrow


    I have been noticing a lot of finches around my neighbourhood the last few days. Around a hundred Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches, 200 Common Redpolls, as well as two nice surprises that were both Bruce lifers... 2 Evening Grosbeaks landed at my feeder for a few minutes on Monday, then yesterday and today I have had a flock of around 8 White-winged Crossbills flying over my yard. Unfortunately I couldn't get a great picture of the grosbeaks because they were pretty skittish, but I should have more chances this fall/winter.
- Evening Grosbeaks

    Also of note on peninsula finch front was a Pine Grosbeak, seen by Michael Butler in Cabot Head.  
   This winter is starting to look like it's going to be a excellent one for finches in Bruce county, (and Southern Ontario in general) as predicted by Ron Pittaway's Winter Finch Forecast last month. 


It is a good time of year for migrating falcons. There have been a lot of American Kestrals and Merlins flying south over my yard in the last few weeks and a smaller number of Peregrine Falcons.
- Merlin


- Peregrine Falcon



 Most warblers have departed south now, with only Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned and Palm warblers still holding out. Most chickadee flocks have a few kinglets taging along, both the golden-crowned and ruby-crowned variety.
- Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Every season is exciting in the world of birding, with constant migration and that slim but always present chance of finding a rarity. 




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