One of Canada's Premier Birding and Nature Festivals

Archive for May 2020

Spring has Arrived….Maybe!!

leave a comment »

As I sit and start this edition of the blog, I am watching as snowflakes whiz by the window driven by a stiff, cold, northwesterly wind. It’s hard to believe its May as we see some snow caught in the grass and the birds fluffed out and looking quite cold in the yard. I guess each year can hold its surprises, but this kind of a surprise isn’t pleasant for our migrating birds.

Although several of our expected migrants haven’t showed up in this area yet many are indeed here and are working their way north to their breeding grounds. Since we have no festival to gather bird sightings from this year, we’ll rely on eBird to let us know what has been happening in Bruce and Grey counties so far. There actually have been several interesting birds seen so far with more to come in the days ahead as May hopefully starts to warm up a bit. A Neotropic Cormorant was seen earlier in the month as it was winging its way north with its larger Double-crested cousins. Flying with the larger birds gave a great comparison to be able to see the smaller size and longer tail of the Neotropic bird. A few Northern Mockingbirds have already been seen in various locations from Kincardine all the way to Tobermory and it appears that this species is more common in this northern area at least this year. Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, American and Least bitterns have already been seen. Some of the warblers have shown up as Yellow-rumped in relatively large numbers have been migrating through trying to find a few bugs that are hiding in the cold trees. Palm, Pine, Magnolia, Northern Parula, Orange-crowned, Nashville, Black-throated Green and Black-throated Blue warblers have also been seen but there are still many other species yet to brave the cold weather and start to work their way north.

A Cinnamon Teal made a brief appearance at the Kincardine Lagoons to the thrill of a few birders that managed to see it. Many of the northern ducks have reduced in numbers here as they head to Canadas north to breed but many Bufflehead are still with us, possibly due to the cold weather we’ve been having in April and now May. Both Red-necked and Horned Grebes have been passing through dressed in their breeding colours and Common Loons by the dozens have been seen out on the lake as they work their way north. Two days ago I counted 58 visible as they foraged in the lake as they moved north.

Shorebirds are also heading north, and several species have been seen in the area at some of the few spots for them to be able to forage. With the high lake level much of the coastal habitat has changed and is more flooded. Due to the lower level of rainfall there aren’t as many ponds with suitable habitat either but still Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Solitary, Spotted, and Pectoral Sandpipers have been seen as well as one White-Rumped. Two sightings of Long-billed Dowitchers and many sightings of Wilsons Snipe round out some of the shorebirds seen recently here so far. In the spring many of these birds don’t stop as they are in a hurry to get the best breeding grounds and start their families in the north. The fall migration will probably lead to more sightings as the birds are not in as much of a hurry at that time of year.

This time of year you just never know what might show up at your feeder, especially with the cold weather and the lack of natural food for the birds. A Lark Sparrow was seen at a feeder for a few days and a Harris Sparrow was also seen several times through the spring at another feeder.

I took a short break of a few days before continuing this blog and suddenly everything has changed. Warm weather hit with a vengeance and the warblers flew into the area in large numbers. About the same time the Huron Fringe Birding Festival would have started there have been more than 20 species of warblers seen in the area and thrushes have been migrating through in numbers. Swainson’s and Grey-cheeked were moving through and Veerys and Wood Thrushes moved in. Catbirds, Brown Thrashers, and several species of flycatchers are now common sights and sounds throughout the area. It’s amazing how quickly bird activity can change when warm weather brings out the bugs and birds busily feed in the trees as they move along.

Now as June is getting closer the migrating warbler numbers have decreased in the south of Bruce County and numbers have risen towards the more northerly sections of the county. Tree leaves have suddenly blossomed out and its getting much more difficult to have unobstructed views of the birds in trees as they sing on their territory or rush around carrying nesting material to their hidden nesting sites. This time of year the excitement and camaraderie of the festival is sorely missed as we travelled from area to area seeing what birds would show up to see and to pose for a few photos. Now the travelling is more limited and much more backyard birding is being done to comply with provincial guidelines here in Ontario. The birds have none of these limitations and are busily going about their normal spring activities as we try to enjoy them as much as possible.

Enjoy the birds and natural world as much as you can and hopefully things will return slowly to a more normal world in time for a much more normal Huron Fringe Birding Festival in 2021. Hope to see you all out again then to share some of your stories and sightings from 2020.

Written by huronfringefest

May 29, 2020 at 10:36 am

Posted in BIRDING