Saturday, October 6, 2012

Autumn geese and some other miscellany

In late September and early October high-flying southbound V's of Canada Geese can be seen and heard on most days. Anyone who takes a little extra time to scrutinize a superficially familiar gaggle of grazing Canada Geese has a good chance of being rewarded with something less usual.

It all got rolling on September 10th with the report by Jennifer Chikoski and Jeff Robinson of a Greater White-fronted Goose at Lake Tamblyn, in Thunder Bay.

Lake Tamblyn. Sept. 10, 2012. Photo by Jeff Robinson.
Closer to my home, a Snow Goose stopped over briefly at the mouth of the Pic River (a premier spot for viewing waterbirds in the Marathon area).
Pic River. Sept 25, 2012.
Greg Stroud turned up a Ross's Goose on the lawn near the George O'Neil School in Nipigon.
Ross's Goose at Nipigon. Sept 28, 2012. Photo courtesy of Greg Stroud.
Cackling Geese have been especially common this fall.
Cacklers in Marathon. Oct 5, 2012
High up on my wish list is Brant - I've yet to see one in NW Ontario and it's considered accidental in the T-Bay District. A pair was found on the Pic River in October 2008.
Brant, CACG and CANGs at the Pic River. Oct 7, 2008.  Martha Allen.

One more goose note. Exactly two years ago a cooperative Canada Goose allowed me to approach closely enough to read the number on its leg band. I soon learned that the bird had been banded as a flightless gosling that summer near Winisk, on the Hudson Bay coast.

Two days ago another lone, banded Canada Goose obligingly pirouetted at ten metres distance, revealing the nine digit band sequence. This individual was banded as a flightless gosling in Pennsylvania in the summer of 2011 so it was almost certainly a southbound molt migrant whose only interest in Canada was to gorge on the lush grasses and sedges of the Hudson Bay lowlands while undergoing its summer molt.

A few other nice birds - both casual visitors to the District - have shown up recently. An Upland Sandpiper stopped over on the grassy embankment beside the mill treatment pond below Hawks Ridge in Marathon on Sept. 15-16. On September 30, while en route to a wild dove chase (oy...) near Rossport, I was delayed by a few minutes when a Yellow-billed Cuckoo swooped low in front of my car and perched beside the road in a colourful aspen. Sweet!
Yellow-billed Cuckoo near Rossport. Sept 30, 2012.

The gull watching is getting interesting. In the Soo, the persistent Kirk Zufelt turned up two(!!!) Mew Gulls on consecutive days (Sept 27-28). Check out Kirk's great photos and account of the Mew Gull Miracle.

Yesterday, I checked out our local gull assemblage and turned up four species - no rarities but a good tally for here.
Thayer's Gull in Marathon. Oct. 5, 2012.
A pair of Bonies in Marathon. Oct. 5, 2012.

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