Great Egret

Great Egret

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Tis the season for raptors and waterfowl

Yesterday the winds were quite brisk from the northwest...perfect for watching migrating raptors somewhere along the north shore of Lake Erie. The mix of sun and clouds would only enhance the viewing opportunity. Some of the best raptor diversity shows up in mid to late October, including Golden Eagles. I spent several hours in the vicinity of the Morpeth Cliffs.

Turkey Vultures were abundant, going by in kettles and streams.
Streaming vultures

The array of wind turbines didn't seem to affect their route as far as I could tell, but I must admit I don't really know what is going on in the mind of a vulture!

There was the typical array of Red-tails, Kestrels and Sharpies (the hawk, not the marker). They were too far away for photos, and several of the buteo type raptors looked like Red-tails, but later I found out that a juvenile Swainson's Hawk was seen east of Wheatley. I wish I had been able to get clearer looks at some of those distant buteos that I chalked up as Red-tails!

I did get some eagles: two Bald and one Golden. They were too far away for photos as well, so I dug into my archives for these.
Bald Eagle
Golden Eagle

The benefit of being along the Morpeth Cliffs is that if the skies do not have anything going on, one can always look out over the lake. There were about 130 Common Loons, 2 Red-throated Loons and lots of waterfowl and gulls. A scope was necessary to see most of them, so again the camera didn't get much of a work-out.

Today I decided to go to a few places along Lake St. Clair. The Mitchell's Bay North Lake Shore Trail always has something of interest with its mix of wetland and prairie.

Great Egrets were still around.

There were lots of sparrows, mostly White-crowned.

A huge flock of mixed blackbirds was in the area. Of note were a few Rusties and a young Yellow-headed. I didn't get any pics of the Yellow-headed.

Along the Mitchell's Bay South Lake Shore Trail were a few of the same things, but also a couple of Eastern Phoebes.

A bit surprising was this fresh looking Common Buckeye.

Not in nearly as good a shape was this Virginia Opossum.
 Possums are well-known for playing dead. This one wasn't just playing.

A stop at St. Clair National Wildlife Area resulted in seeing a ton of waterfowl. If one had the patience, one could probably find more than 20 species of waterfowl there right now. I saw almost 15 in just a few minutes, including one of my favourite ones: Ring-necked Duck. There were at least 40 in one spot that I checked.

Canada Geese were constantly in the air.

I was hoping for some Greater White-fronted Geese, but did not find any on this visit.

Tundra Swans are beginning to arrive. I saw about 160, but in just a few weeks there will be tens of thousands passing through.....a wonderful spectacle unless you live right near by and, according to some folks I know who live right across from the NWA, their constant calls can keep you awake at night!


  1. Sounds like you had a good weekend for birds. Morpeth Cliffs can certainly be a good spot for hawk-watching, and you have the lake beside you as well.
    I must get to the North Shore Trail at the Bay one of these days...if I can find a parking spot!

    1. It was a nice, birdy weekend, wasn't it. And the North Shore Trail is fun to explore, but parking is a challenge. The only place I find worthwhile is right at the NE corner of Winter Line and W. Lewis Road. There is room for one car. Oops now I've told everyone my parking spot, I hope it doesn't get filled up before I get there :-).

  2. Sounds like a great place for hawk-watching, especially if you can see waterfowl at the same time! I did my first hawk-watch yesterday near Ottawa and there wasn't much to look at in between raptors. Love your tundra swans as well, I would love to see that many!

    1. Hi Laura....thanks for checking this out. We do get blessed with huge numbers of Tundra Swans in both the spring and fall, but we don't see the tens of thousands of Snow Geese that are in your part of the province! Each area is special, and fun to travel to if one is so inclined.