Great Egret

Great Egret

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Raptors, shorebirds and butterflies

Over the last couple of days I have spent time at Erieau and the Blenheim Sewage Lagoons. I've continued to hope that a good gull or two, or a jaeger might show up at Erieau.

It hasn't happened so far.

But yesterday when I was scanning the several thousand gulls resting on the western tip of the Rondeau peninsula or on the adjacent Lake Erie, something put the gulls up in a frenzy. I searched the air hoping for that jaeger, but no, it was a raptor. A Peregrine Falcon in fact. It never came all that close to me, so even with the equivalent of 22X lens and heavy cropping, this is the best I could get. It was my first Peregrine of the year.
 And this next one shows a head-on view. Note the distinctive wing profile.

Minutes later I saw another raptor, but this fish-eating species did not stir up the gulls like the Peregrine did. I guess the gulls can tell the difference fairly readily.

The black-and-white raptor against a white sky made getting the photo a little challenging.

The Blenheim Sewage Lagoons are conveniently located on my most direct route between home and Erieau, so a stop there happens pretty regularly. Especially since Steve C had been there earlier and seen 5 Long-billed Dowitchers. When I got there on Saturday afternoon, there was one still hanging around.

There were also a couple of White-rumped Sandpipers. This one doesn't show the white rump, obviously, but it was in flight a couple of times and the white rump really stood out.

I noted a fair number of sparrows, and with hopes of discovering a Nelson's Sparrow, a rarity to be sure, but which has recently been recorded farther east and north in the last few days, I looked at a lot of the sparrows I could get the binos on.

All I saw were about 15 Savannah Sparrows and a couple of Song Sparrows.
Savannah Sparrow

I got my first of the fall season Rusty Blackbird....4 of them were in a group in the shrubby willows along one of the ponds.
Rusty Blackbird

Today I went to the Blenheim lagoons for a different target species. What does the bird in this next photo remind you of?

If you said 'phalarope', good answer. And in this case it was one of the two Red-necked Phalaropes that showed up earlier today. At first they were always on the far side of the pond, but persistence paid off and eventually they decided that I and the 3 other folks nearby were not a threat so they came reasonably close.

With the still relatively warm weather, butterflies are making the best of it. I noted about 10 species in the last couple of visits, including the following:
One of at least 5 Common Buckeye

One of 6 Common Checkered-Skippers

Fiery Skipper
One of the local groundhogs was out keeping an eye on things as well.

So no jaegers or rare gulls....maybe on the next time out!

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