Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 13 November 2015

Friday the 13th....was a good day!

It sure has been windy again.....this time it is due to the gales of November!

Late yesterday there was a Sabine's Gull at Erieau and over night, I got word of a Franklin's Gull that had been seen there as well. Knowing that today was supposed to be very windy still, or even more so, with periodic rain, it seemed to make sense to check out this lakeside harbour area. So morning plans were made and I arrived at Erieau just before 8 a.m. The marine forecast was for westerly winds at about 40 knots (72km/hr) and it certainly felt that way. Combined with temperatures at about 7C and falling gradually as the day wore on, it was cold! I hadn't been this bundled up since last winter!

There were a few spots slightly sheltered, so we took advantage of them. Steve and Jim had already been there for awhile, and had seen possibly as many as 5 Franklin's Gulls. There was one resting on the water at the end of the dock to greet me right away, although true to form, the masses of Bonies it was hanging out with decided to get up and swirl about, so I didn't get its photo. We remained in the area for the better part of an hour, and were entertained by this constant upheaval of Bonies, before they returned to the water, sometimes flying within a metre or so of us.
 I really enjoy watching the acrobatic flight and antics of Bonaparte's Gulls.
An adult Little Gull was noted low over the water a few times, bouncing along in the wind. It was hard to keep it in focus, partly because the wind was blowing my telephoto lens, and also because numerous Bonies kept interfering with the auto-focus. The dark underwing and almost totally light gray upper wing of this adult made it relatively easy to pick out amongst all the Bonies.

The gulls seemed to be heading towards the recreational marina slip, so it was time to check that area out. Almost immediately one of the group noticed that there was a Franklin's Gull sitting on the water, but before one could get the camera on it, it decided to fly.
We watched and watched, but did not see it return. A bit later I got word that as many as 5 Franklin's Gulls had been seen in a field a short distance west of McGeachy Pond, so off I headed. As I approached in the car, I could see some birds, including some smallish gulls, already leaving. I scanned the remainder of the several dozen mixed group of gulls, and counted not 5 but 11! This would be a new high count of this species for the Rondeau checklist. (Update: my high of 11 was short-lived. As the day wore on, more and more Franklin's Gulls arrived, and the highest count was late in the day totalling 35 birds!) Some were flying low, some were resting on the recently worked up ground. Out came the telephoto lens, and on a couple of occasions I managed to get two birds in the same frame. This first photo shows two, a sub-adult in the foreground and an out-of-focus bird behind and a bit to the right just to the right of my name.
 An adult Franklin's Gull, one of several noted.
After a few minutes some moved to the far end of the field almost a kilometre away, while others headed out to the lake, so I returned to Erieau. The main pier was my first stop, since I hadn't spent much time there yet, and in looking at it earlier but from a distance, there seemed to be a good number of Bonies in that area.

I almost immediately noted an adult, non-breeding, Lesser Black-backed Gull. It was resting on the water at first, but moved up to the pier on the far side of the channel. But a large wave that went over the pier caused all the gulls to vacate for a few moments before most returned.

At about this time, thousands of Bonaparte's Gulls began swirling madly, and heading for the open water of the lake. It didn't take long to spot the reason: a Peregrine Falcon had decided to play with them, but they would have none of it. This next image shows a small portion of the 3000 or more Bonies that were there, and after the Peregrine stirred them up, most decided to remain out on the lake for awhile. They gradually came back to more sheltered waters where, presumably, the abundance of minnows for food was greater.

 I checked the recreational marina slip from time to time, and on one occasion, noted an adult Little Gull. This image shows the almost entirely pale gray upper wing. It was likely the same bird as we saw before. I was a little surprised that there was only the one LIGU today, as normally up to half a dozen might be expected under these conditions and at this time of year. Maybe tomorrow??

As they flew up and down the harbour and marina, they seemed oblivious to the frequent rain, wet snow and sometimes the fine sleet particles that roared through. This image shows the mix of rain and wet snow.

The weather may settle down a bit over the next couple of days, but who knows what these wild winds from the west have blown in.


  1. A good day indeed (but not for my tire)!
    I did pass you on Erieau Road knowing you had your fill of Franklin's Gulls!

    1. Guess I haven't got used to your silver gray car....your former red one was much easier to spot!

      I wouldn't mind enjoying a few more FRGU, and maybe from a bit closer than today. But if it was substituted with a Black-headed Gull or a Black-legged Kittiwake (or a Ross's Gull....ok maybe I'm dreaming too much now) I wouldn't mind.

    2. Ross's Gull was on my mind today, not to mention kittiwake.

  2. I think Ancient Murrelet would be more likely!