Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 29 April 2016

Checking out eastern Lake St. Clair areas

There are lots of good birding areas in the Lake St. Clair area. So a couple of days ago Fred Johnson, a fellow MNR retiree, and I spent a few hours checking some of them out.

Angler Line was our first destination, hoping for the Yellow-headed Blackbirds to put in an appearance. A bonus would be an American White Pelican, which had been reported a few days earlier as well.

The wetland along Angler Line looked as appealing as ever, so we watched and waited. A couple of other fellows had been there earlier with the same ideas in mind.

Pied-billed Grebes were making themselves heard loud and clear.

Several Great Egrets passed by.
But no Yellow-headed Blackbirds showed while we were there, not even in the nearby fields as far as we could tell.
Yellow-headed Blackbird from a previous year
Checking out the lake from the very end of Angler Line didn't result in any thing else of note....there was no evidence of a pelican, but I am sure it was out there is a decently big lake!

We went to the Mitchell's Bay North Shore Nature Trail next. There was a smattering of ducks out on the lake, including several hundred Ruddy Ducks, a few Gadwall and lots of scaup. An Osprey flew through, hovering and hunting for a fish.
Caspian and Forster's Terns were busily foraging or resting.
Caspian Terns (l) and Forster's Terns (r) share a log
 There was the usual gathering of Mute Swans, with upwards of 80 or more scattered around. One would have thought that they would have been paired up with the female on the nest and the male close by keeping guard. Are these late nesters? Failed nesters (unfortunately, not likely)?

No pelican was seen from this vantage point, either.

Since we were relatively close by, we swung around by the Bear Creek Unit of St. Clair NWA. Surprisingly, there wasn't a lot of bird life there; the brisk NE winds were keeping the smaller birds under cover. But we did see several families of recently hatched goslings. Most appeared to be less than a week old. I'm sure with the density of them in some of these marshes, some will end up as food for a Snapping Turtle, which in recent years has been declared a Species At Risk ranked as Special Concern due to their decline.
We also checked out St. Clair NWA, and walked the entire cross dike and back. Waterfowl was scattered and mostly a fair distance away. The recent clearing of the Phragmites along the trail has been a boon for the quality of the wetland, but it leaves hikers quite exposed, and the waterfowl adjust their proximity to the trail accordingly. There were Blue-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead and of course the usual Mallards and Canada Geese.

A Northern Harrier flew by.

A few Midland Painted Turtles were out basking in the bright sun.
We also saw a young Northern Water Snake, but it was quite active and did not stick around for a photo op.

In the mpales and willows, the latter of which were just beginning to flower, there were insects that attracted a few warblers. We saw several Yellow-rumped Warblers
as well as a few Palm Warblers.

White-throated Sparrows have recently arrived in southern Ontario in good numbers.....
...and half a dozen Cedar Waxwings were flitting about at the trail entrance.
All in all a decent day and great weather to be out in.

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