Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 30 September 2016

The Quiet Storm

It was exactly a year ago when a storm went through southern Ontario, with sustained high winds from the east. Wave action was impressive, as long as one didn't have to be out on the water! This first image is of the Erieau pier, with some of the waves almost obscuring the lighthouse.
Erieau pier, Oct 2, 2015

Birding was fun and productive for a few days especially between Sept 30 and Oct 2, at least in the sense that some less commonly seen species were around. There were several jaegers and at least a couple of Sabine's Gulls, my first for the Rondeau checklist area.
Sabine's Gull imm
Horned Grebes were abundant. Well over 100 would be seen in short order flying by, and on occasion up to a couple of dozen would be in the comparative shelter of the west side of the pier, close to shore.

A few shorebirds, including this Black-bellied Plover, were on the sheltered beach...... were a couple of White-rumps.

With the current brisk easterly winds these last couple of days and the reports of jaegers and even a shearwater emanating from postings by birders scouring the west end of Lake Ontario, local birders in southern Chatham-Kent were hoping for at least something out of the ordinary again at Erieau.

Certainly the weather conditions gave reason for optimism. Gulls normally well out on the lake were content to spend a lot of time loafing on the beach or passing by a little ways off shore.

Rondeau east beach, Sept 29, 2016
 The waves over the Erieau pier were impressive by normal standards, but not as much as a year ago.
Erieau pier, Sep 30, 2016

Erieau, Sep 30, 2016
And the birds? Well so far in the last couple of days there were no jaegers that I have heard of, let alone any shearwaters.

There have been large numbers of gulls in the Rondeau to Erieau area. Probably well over 6000 Ring-billed far the most numerous species. The other typical species were all present, including several Lesser Black-backed. But no Sabine's, not even a Little Gull. In fact of the smaller, hooded type gull, Bonaparte's was all there was, and even at that there were probably only 5-600, most of which were adults transitioning to their basic/winter finery.

There were sightings of other species, just to keep one interested. Caspian Terns are still around in small numbers.

Common Terns are as well, with several dozen flying by the Erieau lookout this morning, and heading east into the wind. Most were too far out to be photographed.
There were grebes, but only Horned, and no more than 15 or so, all flying east. At least one Surf Scoter was observed well off shore, and a few other ducks including Greater Scaup and mergansers.

So it hasn't been the banner couple of days for early autumn birding that we were hoping for, but that is the fun of it......if it was too predictable, why go out and look? The weekend is here, so maybe with more eyes scanning the water, beaches and wherever, something a little rarer will be found! And maybe that will be the subject of my next post!


  1. It is interesting that no rare gulls have appeared given the number of gulls around. I struck out today as well!

    1. One of these days something will turn up! Maybe the next weather system......