A Lanark Big Year – Sept 15th – Summer
This is my first report since early July! Summer is a very slow time of year for birding, the forests are mostly quiet and the migration is over. On top of that I took a contract job in Mississauga in mid-July so I am only birding in the county on weekends.
For the months of July and August I saw one new species, a juvenile Goshawk just south of Blakeney. I was treated to seeing it fly, observing it for 5 minutes in a tree as well as listening to its call, which is repetitive and helps distinguish it from other accipters. The same day I saw two Sandhill Cranes gliding in unison over the fields west of Mountain View Road. Despite the lack of new species I had some very enjoyable days around the county. July turned up Bald Eagles being harassed by Ring-billed Gulls at Christie Lake and Yellow-throated Vireo calling on Anglican Church Road. I must be close to 10 of these Vireos I have heard or seen this year making me realize they are more common here than I ever expected.
My buddy Paul joined me for a canoe trip from Perth to the Beveridge Locks in the hopes of seeing a Sora Rail or Black-crowned Nightheron. No luck with either but we saw lots of Moorhens, American Bittern and Black Terns.
Canoe-birding the Tay (photo Paul Roy)
In August I started visiting the Almonte Lagoons every Saturday hoping to catch early shorebird migrants. Early in the month there was one Trumpeter Swan as well as Yellowlegs and Solitary Sandpipers. The lagoons are an excellent place to visit throughout the year with a well maintained path through the woods to a viewing stand. The woods are good for warblers and vireos both in spring and fall. The last time there a small warbler fallout was in progress after the rain with dozens of Yellow-rumps and a few Cape Mays bouncing around the trees. The real attraction is the lagoon itself. The water levels have taken a long time to lower enough to create good habitat for shorebirds. In the last two weeks I have seen dozens of Blue-winged Teal, Wood Duck, Mallard and a couple of Black Ducks. As well the shorebirds are starting to arrive with one Whimbrel spotted which I missed by half a day. Small groups of Short-billed Dowitchers, White-rumped, Pectoral and Semipalmated Sandpipers have arrived. The lagoons also turned up my first American Pipit of the year. I usually go to Algonquin to see flocks of Pipits so this was a first in the county for me.
As well I am constantly learning about more than just birds. A beautiful Polyphemus Moth turned up at the front door. It is named after the Cyclops Polyphemus, a one eyed monster that Homer encountered during his odyssey. They do not eat as adults, living only a week or two to mate, literally starving to death in the process. As well Ken help me identify the 12 Spotted Skimmer!
Polyphemus moth (photo Susan Wilkes)
12 Spotted Skimmer (photo Susan Wilkes)
So where do I stand at this point towards my goal of 200. I am at 189 which means it is still possible to get there but I will need some owls, more shorebirds and winter finches.
Cheers from the guy with the crazy idea till next report.