April Migration on the Bruce

Spring has really arrived since my last post, with many new migrants arriving every day. Here are some of my highlights from the last week.

  I decided to go birding around the Kincardine area last weekend and it paid off, as I saw numerous new birds for the year. First I visited the Kincardine Lagoons, where the highlights were Common Loon, Ruddy Duck, Bonaparte's Gull, Hermit Thrush, Barn Swallow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Field Sparrow. 
- Common Loon

- Ruddy Ducks
- Bonaparte's Gulls

- Yellow-rumped Warbler

- Yellow-rumped Warbler

- Field Sparrow

- Ruby-crowned Kinglet

- Ruby-crowned Kinglet

 After that I went to the Inverlyn Ponds, where I saw 4 goose species (Canada, Snow, Ross's and Greater White-fronted).    
- Snow Goose with Canada Geese

- Ross's Goose (front bird) and Snow Goose (back bird)

- Snow Geese (large guys) and Ross's Goose (little guy)

 On the way home I stopped at the flooded fields by Tara, there I spotted Greater Yellowlegs and Rusty Blackbirds.

- Greater Yellowlegs

 The last few days have been good for migration, very strong south winds, warm (16°C - 20°C) and rain. This weather system brought many migrants into my neighbourhood this past week, including Osprey, Great Egret, Blue-winged Teal, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Chipping Sparrows, Swamp Sparrows, Eastern Pheobes, Purple Finches and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
There are also some winter birds still hanging around, like American Tree Sparrow and Common Redpoll. One day I had 2 Hoary Redpolls fly in with the commons, which is always a nice treat.

- Great Egret

- Osprey 

- Blue-winged Teal (back 3) and Green-winged Teal (front bird)
- Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

- Eastern pheobe
- Purple 

- Common Redpoll

- Hoary Redpoll

- American Tree Sparrow

 Every evening I have large flocks of blackbirds and ducks fly over my yard, they pass over right as the sun is going down... just to make it hard for me to ID them. Most of the ducks are Mallards, but I get a few Wood Ducks, Northern Pintails, Northern Shovelers, Green-winged Teal and Hooded Mergansers.
- Mallards
- Northern Pintail (one with the long tail) and Mallards 

- Wood Ducks

- American Black Ducks 

- Common Grackles

- Red-winged Blackbirds

 A Lark Sparrow was reported at a feeder in Tobermory yesterday, which is quite a good bird for the Bruce. I got a ride up to see it today with Jarmo Jalava (thanks Jarmo) and soon after we got there it popped up to the feeder, giving us great views. Lark Sparrows are pretty rare in Ontario, with only 1-3 are seen in the province each year. 
- Lark Sparrow 

- Lark sparrow

- Lark Sparrow 

  This is the 2nd time I've chased a bird in Tobermory with Jarmo in the past 2 weeks, on April 11th we went up for a Yellow-headed Blackbird (we got it😎). Unfortunately the blackbird flew before I could get a photo, so just use your imagination for that one. Interestingly enough, all but two records of Yellow-headed Blackbird are from April 10-24.

 Some neat wildlife I've seen recently that isn't avian (yes, I sometimes look at things other then birds) include Eastern Comma, Red Admiral, Eastern chipmunk and Northern Watersnake.
- Red Admiral

- Northern Watersnake 

- Eastern Chipmonk

Things are on the move, at this time of year you never know what the next bird will be!

Early Spring On the Bruce

 Since my last post spring migration has progressed noticeably in Bruce County, with many species Heading North.

 On March 24th I had a productive trip in South Bruce, seeing many new migrants. The best stop by far was the Kincardine Sewage Lagoons, where highlights were Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon and 5 species of geese (Ross's, Snow, Canada, Cackling and Greater White-fronted). Ross's Geese are pretty uncommon in Bruce county (and all of Southern Ontario), with only 5 records on eBird. I took a digiscoped photo of the Snow and Ross's Geese, unfortunately they were distant and the picture didn't turn out very good. 

- American Wigeon and Nortern Shovelers

- Green-winged Teal

- Ross's Goose (right) and Snow Goose (left)

While at the Kincardine lagoons I also saw Eastern Meadowlarks, Turkey Vultures and a Red-shouldered Hawk.  
- Red-shouldered Hawk

   Some other recent Migrants in my area include Sandhill Cranes, Killdeer, Double-crested Cormorant, American Woodcock, Belted Kingfisher, Brown-headed Cowbird and Fox Sparrow.     
- (left to right) Common Grackle, Brown-headed Cowbird, Red-winged Blackbird

- Fox Sparrow

- Sandhill Cranes

- Sandhill Cranes

- Double-crested Cormorant

   Large groups of Ring-necked Ducks, scaup, Mallards, Green-winged Teal and Tundra Swans are currently passing over my area as waterfowl migration nears it's peak.

 - Ring-necked Ducks (left) Hooded Mergansers (right)

- Ring-necked Ducks

- Tundra Swans

  Some winter birds are still in the area, including Snow Buntings, Common Redpolls and Bohemian Waxwings. I have had a flock of 30 Common Redpolls in my yard for the last week, giving me some chances to photograph them.
- Common Redpoll

- Common Redpoll

- Common redpoll

- Bohemian Waxwings

  I have done a few hawkwatches in my yard over the last 2 weeks and have had a number of pretty exciting observations. 
I've combined my raptor observations from the last 2 weeks below.

 - 36 Turkey Vultures

 - 46 Bald Eagles 

 - 1 Golden Eagle

 - 3 Rough-legged Hawks 

 - 16 Red-tailed Hawks

 - 2 Red-shouldered Hawks 

 - 3 Northern Harriers 

 - 1 Northern Goshawk (not in my yard, but on my road)

 - 3 American Kestrals

 - 1 Merlin

 - 1 *Gyrfalcon* 

 The Gyrfalcon was the highlight raptor, it is a very rare for the area and was completley unexpected. It had been raining for most of the day on April 2nd and the only bird that I noticed fly over was a Turkey Vulture, so I was surprised when I saw a large falcon above my house. I was standing on my porch and as soon as I saw the bird fly over I ran inside to get my camera, but was in such a hurry on the way out that I didn't put my boots on. This resulted in me almost faceplanting in mud, then having to stand in a snowbank in my socks to get a photo of the falcon😅. My pictures are overexposed because I didn't have time to change my settings, but I am just happy that I got photos. 
- Gyrfalcon

- Gyrfalcon
- Gyrfalcon

  Photos of some of the other raptors.... 
- Bald Eagles

- Bald Eagles

- Bald eagles

- Red-tailed Hawk

- Merlin

   The weather forecast looks promising for the next week, with tempatures over 10°C. Some migrants I'm expecting back this week are Tree Swallow, Yellow-rumped Warbler and Eastern Pheobe. Exciting time of year for sure!

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