Thursday, December 31, 2009

Boxing Day Barnacle

Back to work on Tuesday this week after an enjoyable Christmas break. With only a few days left before the start of the 2010 year list, we managed to get some birding done.

Saint Nick visited our Christmas Eve party before continuing his deliveries around the globe. NORAD had him at the Azores shortly after the surprise visit in St. Catharines.

Returning home after a Christmas breakfast with Jean's brother's family, we searched for the Northern Shrike that was observed during the St. Catharines CBC.

Along the way we spotted 3 Wild Turkeys at a feeder. In all, there were a total of 24 turkeys on the property. Little did they know what was being prepared inside. Tufted Titmouse and Black-capped Chickadee were seen as well.

We found the stand of Hawthorns where the shrike was seen but the bird itself was elsewhere on Christmas Day.

Below the escarpment at Rockway, another flock of Wild Turkeys! More than 100 were tallied during the St. Catharines CBC. It's great to see their numbers back on the rise.

Christmas dinner at my parents' was very fulfilling and provided the energy required to search for the reported Barnacle Goose on Boxing Day.

The Barnacle Goose was first observed with a small flock of Canada Geese on Sunday December 20. I would have to wait until the weekend to attempt ticking the bird (a continuing trend it seems) that may end up being an escapee. Part of the world population of Barnacle Geese breeds in northeastern Greenland with accidentals occurring in the Maritime Provinces. The further away from the Atlantic seaboard, the greater the uncertainty of the goose's origin.

We first checked out the cornfields on top of the Niagara Escarpment (the Barnacle Goose's last reported location). No geese in sight. The other known location was at the mouth of Forty Mile Creek in Grimsby.

Only Ring-billed Gulls, Mallards and a few Canada Geese were found on the creek. Out on Lake Ontario, we spotted a few White-winged Scoter.

With no Barnacle Goose in sight we continued on to our next destination.

We still needed Trumpeter Swan for the year list. A reliable spot for them is La Salle Marina in Burlington.

Reliable indeed! There were over 30 adult and juvenile Trumpter Swans (#197) at the marina on the north shore of Burlington Bay. In the image below you can see the Burlington Skyway in the background. It crosses over the Burlington Ship Canal, another great location for viewing waterfowl. South of the skyway is Van Wagner's Beach where we ticked our lifer Parasitic Jaeger back in October.

While Jean and I observed the Trumpeter Swans, a couple began to throw corn on the ground near the marina's boat ramp. Mallards, geese and swans soon exited the water to feed on the kernels scattered on the concrete.

We walked along the Shoreline Trail adding a few species, including Canvasback, to the winter list. Out in the harbour, hundreds of Lesser Scaup formed large floats.

After spending an hour and a half at the marina, it was time to return home but not before a second attempt at finding the Barnacle Goose.

This time, there were many Canada Geese on Lake Ontario. The geese had come in from the fields for the evening. Jean and I started to scan the flock of 150-200 geese and a domestic goose stood out like a white flag. The Barnacle Goose was not as easy but its smaller size and distinctive field markings allowed us to find it with little trouble.

Here are the original images of the Barnacle Goose Jean captured through the scope.

For now, I will count the Barnacle Goose as lifer #291. If the Ontario Bird Records Committee (OBRC) concludes the bird as an escapee, then I'll remove it from my lists. It is quite an impressive addition to the Ontario list. Another Boxing Day lifer.

**Update** Things may change sooner than you think. I received the weekly Hamilton Naturalists Club Birding Report not too long ago. In the report, it is stated that there is no way of telling the origin of the bird and that a DNA analysis of the feathers would be the only reliable gauge. Looks like I may be removing it from the list.

On Boxing Day in 2007, we ticked a Northern Shrike at Fifty Point Conservation area in Grimsby and a Northern Hawk Owl on the Niagara Escarpment in Stoney Creek. Pretty close to the Grimsby border I might add. Do I see a trend?

The New Year is fast approaching so this will be my last post for 2009. I wish everyone the best for 2010. The Niagara Falls CBC post will appear soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment