Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ottawa NWR Shorebirds - 08 Sep 2012

I toured the mudflats at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge this morning as part of the Toledo Naturalists' Association annual tour.  Sherrie Duris and John Szantos led the group of ~12 of us through the refuge with the hopes of some good shorebirding opportunities.  Despite overnite rains and high winds this morning, the outing did not disappoint! I even got to bird with Tom Pavlik!

Highlights of the morning included: 6 Long-billed Dowitchers, 3 - 6 Baird's Sandpipers, 1 Buff-breasted Sandpiper, 1 Marbled Godwit, 6 Black-bellied Plovers, Pectoral Sandpiper, Killdeer, Semipalmated Plover, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers.

With news of a Magnificent Frigatebird somewhere over Long Point, ON, and reports of Long-tailed and Pomarine Jaegers near Cleveland, OH we kept our eyes peeled over the waters of Lake Erie.  We would only see small flocks of Bonaparte's Gulls and Forster's Terns.  Several Bald Eagles were nice consolations.

We drove over to Turtle Creek, where we'd hope to pick up Red-necked Phalarope, but only found a single Pectoral Sandpiper and flocks of Semipalmated Sandpipers.  I had the opportunity to digiscope some Trumpeter Swans that were now illuminated by late-morning sun.

It was an opportunity to photograph these magnificent birds from short range (~100') for comparison with overwintering Tundra Swans that will soon be arriving in the area.  Note how the black bill forms a sharp 'V' at the base of the forehead on the Trumpeter Swan.  On a Tundra Swan the bill forms more of a 'U' across the forehead.  But be careful, as a slight turn of the Trumpeter's head can give the impression of a Tundra Swan!

A pair of Bald Eagles soaring overhead ended our morning.  Thank you, John and Sherrie for the invite! And good seeing you, Tom!

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