Late winter birding

I haven't updated my blog for a while, but now that spring is coming and I'll be out birding more I'll try to update every week or two. 

 Here are some of the highlights since my last post.    

 I have seen a few flocks of Bohemian Waxwings in my area this winter, but they have either been flyovers or very distant so this is the best picture I have.     
- Bohemian Waxwings

  In Bruce the best hotspot for waterfowl in the winter is Baie Du Dore, which is located in the southern part of the county on Lake Huron. I have made numerous trips there this year, with some of the highlights being 30 Bald Eagles, Redheads, Long-tailed Ducks, Red-necked Grebes and Great Black-backed Gulls. 
- Bald Eagles
- Red-necked Grebe

- Great Black-backed Gulls 

  There has been an interesting bird hanging around my area in the last few months, a Ring-necked Pheasant. The majority of the pheasants in Ontario have questionable origins as they are often released as a game bird for hunting. I was still happy to get nice views of this pheasant, because regardless of where it came from it's a gorgeous bird.   
- Ring-necked Pheasant

  Last week I led an outing for the Bruce Birding Club around South Bruce, where we visited some of the best hotspots and were rewarded with some great birds. The hike got rather lucky weather wise as forecast called for rain/freezing rain most of the day, but there was only an hour of precipitation in the morning. After meeting in Southampton we drove south visiting Baie Du Dore, Inverhuron Lagoons and the Kincardine Lagoons. It was a damp morning with the temperatures staying around 3°C, but spring was in the air and so were some migrating birds. We encountered some of the first Red-winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles, American Robins, Killdeer and Ring-necked Ducks in Bruce this year.
- Ring-necked Duck

- Killdeer

- American Robins

    When we were finished eating lunch we did what most people love doing after they eat, head to a dump😅! The Armow Dump near Kincardine is probably the best spot for gulls in the county, with flocks up to 5000 being seen. 5 gull species were present when we arrived, including a Lesser Black-backed Gull! (Which is fairly rare in Bruce). We also got excellent looks at a few Glaucous Gulls, which is always a treat. Just when we thought we had maxed out on bird luck a beautiful dark morph Rough-legged Hawk flew by the dump.
- Lesser Black-backed Gull
- Lesser Black-backed Gull

- Glaucous Gull

Rough-legged Hawk

  We started to head back towards Southampton after that, but were soon delayed by a massive flock of Snow Buntings (at least 2000). Atfer looking through them for 15 minutes I picked out a Lapland Longspur, which was a lifer for me😆. Unfortunately it wouldn't sit still, so I wasn't able to get a photo. We ended the hike with a Great-horned Owl sitting on a nest, which was a nice treat. It was too far for my camera, so I digiscoped this through a spotting scope (if you look very close and have a bit of imagination you can see an owl).
- Great Horned Owl 

 The hike participants saw a total of 50 species, not bad for an early March day😀. 

  I recently made a trip down to the Pinery Provincial Park in Lambton county to see what birds were around. As usual there were many Tufted Titmice in the park, so I couldn't resist a few photos. I hardly ever see this bird, as they reach their northern limit around Lambton and rarely venture into Bruce county.  
- Tufted Titmouse

- Tufted Titmouse

 There were also white-breasted and red-breasted nuthatches around posing for me as if they wanted their photo taken. 
- Red-breasted Nuthatch

- White-breasted Nuthatch

 I got my first Eastern Towhee and Merlin of the year while in the park, as well as Common Redpolls and 2 Pied-billed Grebes. In a few weeks the forests of the Pinery will be filled with towhees singing their loud "Drinkk your teaa!!" song.

  I am currently waiting for American Woodcocks to come back to my yard, where they perform ariel display flights every year for a few months in the spring. Woodcocks are early migrants, usually showing up when there is just the smallest patch of ground showing in the forest.

As I'm wrtiting this I'm watching 4 Bald Eagles circling over my yard, which reminds me how close the start of raptor migration is...

Until my next post, Keep calm and bird on...😎

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