Fall viewing of migrant birds

Fall viewing of migrant birds

A great kiskadee that was found at Rondeau Provincial Park attracted hundreds of bird watchers from across Ontario and Michigan. (MICH MacDOUGALL/SPECIAL TO POSTMEDIA) 

The World Outdoors: Great Lakes excellent for fall viewing of migrant birds

Since many southbound migrants follow the shores of Southwestern Ontario’s Great Lakes, lots of birders are flocking to Lake Erie and Lake Huron.

On Lake Erie, the great kiskadee, a kind of flycatcher that was found at Rondeau Provincial Park more than a two weeks ago, surprised many by staying around for more than a week, allowing hundreds of birders to view a remarkable rarity on the park’s Marsh Trail.

This is a species that usually makes its home in Mexico, Central America, or South America. In spite of being lost, it was finding lots of fish, frogs and insects to feed on.

Last weekend, I missed the kiskadee, but I had success with other species and enjoyed trading stories with other birders who, like me, were hopeful of seeing the big flycatcher. Some birders had travelled from east of Toronto and from Michigan.

A kingfisher distracted patient birders by repeatedly diving into Rondeau Bay as Caspian terns and a bald eagle flew overhead. A phoebe flitted by the water and hummingbirds darted around the jewelweed.

At the visitor centre I chatted with naturalists Laura Penner and Caitlin  parks who had been leading a beach clean up and were preparing for the next day’s monarch butterfly migration festival. The butterflies were plentiful. I saw lots of monarchs plus red admiral, Eastern comma and others.

Many migrating raptors in particular will fly southwest along the north shore of Lake Erie from Long Point to Point Pelee and Essex County. This is why Hawk Cliff just east of Port Stanley is well positioned for raptor viewing. Sept. 22 and 23 are the last two days of the Hawk Cliff Weekend events.

This is the peak time for migration of American kestrels, ospreys and peregrine falcons.

The Ontario Field Naturalists led a day of birding along Lake Huron last weekend. Gulls, terns, and occasionally jaegers can be seen over the lake. In the Kettle Point and Port Franks areas this group’s highlights included red-headed woodpecker, tufted titmouse and grey-cheekedthrush. At the Forest lagoons they found red-necked phalarope and a range of sandpipers.

Pinery Provincial Park and the Grand Bend lagoons are other popular destinations by Lake Huron for fall birders.

Many local nature clubs such as Nature London, Stratford Field Naturalists, Woodstock Field Naturalists, Lambton Wildlife and Otter Valley Naturalists plan outings at one or both of the Great Lakes every fall.

Nature notes

  • As well as tracking bird alerts, I like to check the nature blog of birding expert Blake Mann at burgbirder.blogspot.com. He birds every week from Rondeau to the south end of Lake Huron and all points in between. His posts are fresh and interesting.
  • The London Environmental Network with the support of 12 partner organizations will host an event at Museum London from Oct. 18 to 20 that celebrates the Thames River. The River Talks: A Gathering at Deshkan  Ziibi will feature indoor and outdoor events and art that focus on river ecology, culture, conservation and other themes. Search on “Gathering at Deshkan Ziibi” for details and registration information.
  • Norfolk County birder John Everett, a Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation board member, recently underlined for me the important work being done by this Port Rowan-based organization. It’s one of Canada’s 18 biosphere reserves designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Over the past year the the foundation has established the Attawandaron Cycling Route, partnered with Long Point Provincial Park on a turtle nesting initiative, planted trees and supported research, monitoring, education and conservation initiatives. For more information or to become a member, visit longpointbiosphere.com or plan to attend either its annual meeting on Sept. 28 or its sixth annual Research & Conservation Conference on Nov. 9.
  • A useful online quiz that can help with the identification of fall warblers was published this month by Bird Watcher’s Digest. Search on “fall warblers: confusing or not” to test your skills and grow your knowledge.
  • If you want to get lost in an amusing and informative series of birding articles, check out Nicholas Lund’s Birdist’s Rules of Birding published by audubon.org.

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Source: The World Outdoors: Great Lakes excellent for fall viewing of migrant birds | The London Free Press