Great Egret

Great Egret

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Tilbury & Erieau on a very windy day

What a difference a couple of days makes. The gales of November have come early.

I ventured out, noting this Common Green Darner resting on the driveway. It was so cold, clinging on to the concrete that I was able to get right down in its face with the macro lens.

To get a little more natural look, I picked it up and placed it on the sunny, and leeward side of a tree, as below. It was still clinging on the tree a couple of hours later.

Just before I was going to head out, I read about 4 Cattle Egrets at the Tilbury Sewage Lagoon. So I went that way before heading to Erieau. The birds were there, and were reluctant to leave the more sheltered part of the lagoon, and I can't blame them. Lagoons always seem to be out in the open and susceptible to any wind, and today was no exception.

They did move around a bit.

Erieau was next. On the way I noted a dark phase Rough-legged Hawk hovering over the road allowance, but I didn't pull over to attempt a photo.

Lake Erie and Rondeau Bay were quite riled up, not surprisingly, so there was a fair bit of stuff sticking closer to the more sheltered areas. To give an indication how windy it was on the lake, here is a photo of a large lake freighter anchored fairly close to the shore. This one is the Manistee. One hardly ever sees lake freighters at all out in the lake off of Rondeau, let alone this close, but on occasion I have seen them on the east side of the Rondeau peninsula taking shelter from extremely strong west winds. The western basin of the lake, between Pelee Island and the mouth of the Detroit River, gets even rougher, so presumably this freighter decided to take shelter from the very strong north winds here before venturing through the Pelee Passage and up the river. There are several hundred ship wrecks in the vicinity of Pelee Island and the Pelee Passage, although most of them occurred more than a century and a half ago. I wonder if the crew of this freighter had Gordon Lightfoot's haunting Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald playing in the back of their minds?

There were lots of gulls off towards the western tip of Rondeau's south beach. Most were Bonaparte's, with a few Herring and Ring-billed gulls mixed in. I noted an adult Little Gull as well. Can you see it in the next photo?

It is in about the centre, just over the beach and against the sand. It has its wings only showing the gray upper side, so the dark underwing is not visible.

However I moved over to the main marina slip, and noted more adult Little Gulls. I think there were at least three adults in the area. The first image shows the all gray upper wing, with the white trailing edge.

This next image shows one banking giving views to both the upper and lower wings.
 This next image shows an adult Little Gull on the right and it is easy to compare it with an adult Bonaparte Gull on the left.

I caught this one just as it was lifting off of the water, and it appears like it is shy and hiding!

There were other birds in the large slip.

Common Loon

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant lifting off

Horned Grebe
Altogether, there must have been at least 50 Horned Grebes in the vicinity of the Erieau Harbour. But I only saw the one Common Loon.

This group of cormorants were resting on the rocks at the opening to the fishing tug slip.

An unexpected sighting was that of Common Tern. The next two images appear to be different birds. I think there were at least two birds present. It is getting rather late for this species, although I noted that they were reported elsewhere along Lake Erie today. There are other records for the Rondeau checklist area in November, and even one very late bird in December.

I went looking for Snowy Owls while I was in the area, since Blake had seen one a few days ago. I didn't see any, although with the windy conditions, it might have been hunkered down in some protective vegetation. Or it could have been on the south beach of Rondeau, or on a duck blind in the marsh, or some other place. It has clearly come a long way from its normal breeding ground, so it could be anywhere by now.

At the south end of Lagoon Road, I noted a large number of American Coot.
A few of the many American Coot
A conservative estimate of them here, and off of the Shrewsbury area, would easily be 2000+ birds, so they are building up as usual. Probably 100 or more Ruddy Ducks were among the coots at Shrewsbury. Hopefully the coots will be a lot farther south when the icy conditions eventually arrive, but past history indicates quite a few may stick around any little bit of open water in the Erieau area. Some years when this happens, I have even seen them come up to feed at bird feeders at Erieau!

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