Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Friday, 18 March 2016

Gyrfalcon success

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!

12 comments:

  1. Allen, thanks so much for finding and pointing out the gyrfalcon. It was a first for me and since this was my second try, I am delighted. Susan

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  2. Hi Susan....you are quite welcome. I was pleased to be able to share the sighting of this impressive raptor.

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  3. Congratulations Allen! I happened to be in the London area on Wednesday so I looked for the gyrfalcon for quite sometime but wasn't as lucky as you.

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    1. Thanks, Arni....it can be surprisingly elusive. I have heard of some folks not catching up to it until their fifth try! Maybe as it returns to its arctic haunts, it will swing by your place :-).

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  4. I will put out a welcome mat for it :) By the way, we are planning for Rondeau again. I will send you info by email.

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    1. Here's hoping you are ready with your camera equipment when it comes through your area :-). I look forward to hearing when you will be visiting Rondeau in a few weeks.

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  5. Thanks so much for sharing your amazing find of the Gyrfalcon with us. I'm not sure how you were able to spot this bird. I love the first picture.

    Cheers,
    Gail McNeil

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  6. Great sighting! And thanks for the detailed comment on my waterfall photography post. Still having fun with that.

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    1. Thank-you Stew....and I really enjoyed your waterfall shots, among others.

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  7. This bird certainly has attracted much attention!
    I cannot help but wonder if there is something wrong with this bird being the same location for so long. It did not look too good in the photos I saw last weekend.

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    1. Yes there have been countless dozens make the trip, with some being more successful than others in their quest. I wondered about the health of the bird, since it has been in the area for so long and there isn't a ton of food for it like there would be near a landfill. Some images I've seen posted on various sites show the bird to have out-of-place feathers for some reason. But then some images I saw taken today suggested the bird was quite healthy looking, just going by the general appearance and feather condition. Maybe it is just confused about where home is and what it is doing so far away from its arctic habitat?

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