I finally got to see the Gyrfalcon, which has been present along the Brickyard Line area south of Forest, in north central Lambton County. Marie and I had tried for it about 10 days ago, but it had only been seen briefly at about the first hour of that day. Even though a dozen or more birders were scouring the area for several hours over the course of that day, it was not reported again.
In viewing the reports over the last few days indicating the bird was still in the area, I decided to try again today, March 18. If I saw it, that would be great, but I have seen three others in Ontario over the years. I even had one already for my Lambton County list, having seen one at the south end of Walpole Island while doing a waterfowl survey in January of 1992. (Sidenote: biologically speaking, Walpole Island is much more closely related to Chatham-Kent, but politics being what they are, technically speaking Walpole is in Lambton, so I have to abide by that for listing purposes.) But that was almost 25 years ago, so I figured it was time to see another one.
As I got to the area where it was most frequently reported, I didn't see anyone else looking. After a few minutes, three ladies from London came by with Gyr on their minds. They hadn't found it yet either. We headed in opposite directions, on the lookout for it.
A short distance down the road I checked out a farm yard with a lot of spruce trees. A fairly detailed scan did not produce the bird in question, so I moved on. Same thing for another farm yard with even more spruce trees. But as I got to the long laneway, I decided to check from a different angle, and almost immediately I spied the bird. It was on the sheltered, southern side of the spruce grove, as the winds were brisk out of the northwest. But it had its back to me, so the frontal views were not to be had. However the look through the binoculars was convincing, and out came the camera. The images below were taken with the equivalent of a 22X lens, and heavily cropped on the computer. With the bird in the shade, and it being so heavily cropped, it isn't as crisp and clear as I was hoping for but I was pleased to be able to see this magnificent and rare arctic visitor nonetheless. On a couple of occasions, it turned its head enough to see the thin moustache.
After getting a few pics, I went back searching for the others, and showed them the bird. In spite of the brisk, cold wind, it was well worth standing around admiring this Gyrfalcon!