Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Welcomed Tick

July 10

Only one eastern swallow species was left for this year's provincial list so with the VCR taping the last hour of the Tour's Stage 7, Jean and I headed to Fort Erie to tick Purple Martin.

There was no shortage of Purple Martins (#164). Males and females were busy feeding their young in the martin houses along the shores of Lake Erie.

The mate of this female only returned once while we monitored the martin house.

With Jean at the scope and camera readied, I watched the skies to let her know when a male was approaching. Well, males arrived at other nesting holes, 3-4 times, but the male we were waiting for never did feed his young again while we were there. Not sure where he had gone to obtain his kids' next meal. The female martin made up for his absence. He had best bring flowers as well when he returns.

After ticking Purple Martin, we checked the shoreline for shorebirds. Along with Spotted Sandpiper and Killdeer, we found 5 Least Sandpipers (#165) foraging in the algae and mud. I don't think we'll ever top the Curlew Sandpiper we observed in 2008 but this spot is worthy of repeat visits during shorebird migration.

On to a few more spots along the shoreline. At a public park, we took a lunch break at a table overlooking the beach. On the small section of sandy shoreline we found a Great Egret and 3 Spotted Sandpipers.

Unbeknownst to us, we were sitting under the nesting hole of the best bird of the day.

The plan was to walk eastward along the shoreline after our lunch but a bird spotted by Jean while I was elsewhere had us staying in the park. It was a bird we needed for the year list and it only took a few minutes for it to return and a few more for us to discover that we had come across not just one but a pair of Red-headed Woodpeckers (#166). No more searching through all the trees along 12 Mile Creek for this species of woodpecker. This was a much easier tick. The pair returned to these small trees repeatedly while we stood nearby.

They even stayed still long enough for Jean to capture a few photos.

I followed one of the Red-headed Woodpeckers as it flew to some larger trees. The bird revealed its nesting hole. Right above the table where we had our picnic lunch!

Unfortunately, the camera chose to focus on the leaves of another tree rather than the woodpecker outside of the nesting hole when I captured this image. Jean did a much better job with the images of the woodpeckers.

We checked a few more public accesses along the the lake and found that the Spotted Sandpiper was the shorebird of the day. With the exception of Least Sandpiper, it's still a little early for migrating shorebirds.

Heading home and listening to my World Cup fix (Uruguay versus Germany) on CBC radio, a third Red-Headed Woodpecker flew across the road in front of our car. That settles it! When looking for this species of woodpecker next year, I'm heading for Fort Erie.

Getting closer to 200. Though it's possible, ticking 34 species between now and the end of the year will not be easy. Last year we ticked 39 species from late July to the end of December but we have seen nearly half of these species already. Still need Ruddy Duck, Orchard Oriole and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. Future OFO trips should help but it's still going to take some effort. Missing that Boreal Chickadee in Algonquin is going to haunt me. I just know it!


  1. great pix as usual,when is your next OFO trip. I`m pulling for you two to hit 200.

  2. Thanks Anne. We're hoping we can attend the Rock Point trip. That's always a good one.