Friday, May 26, 2017

Dickcissel, Brant and more at Porcupine Lake

Migration was still going strong during the third week of May in the Timmins/South Porcupine Area.  We observed a few good birds and added a few more birds to Porcupine Lake's species list.

On Wednesday, May 17, we got a call from a friend (who lives right on Porcupine Lake) about a "different looking bird" at his feeder. He said the bird had a yellow breast and a black triangular patch on the lower neck.  His sense of observation is always great so without hesitation we jumped in the truck and were over there in under 2 minutes.  It turned out to be a Dickcissel.  My first ever Dickcissel sighting (and a first for Porcupine Lake and the Timmins area)
Dickcissel / Dickcissel d'Amérique
Porcupine Lake (17 May 2017)
The Dickcissel was with a group of White-crowned Sparrows at the feeder. It only stayed for 2 days.  The owner of the property generously let me bring other people to his yard to see this bird.  Unfortunately, only 1 other person got to see it; 3 other disappointed birders didn't.  This is what a rare bird stake-out crowd is like in our area: 4 people!  I love it! The Dickcissel is a grassland bird that spends the summer in central United-State. It was a little far from its normal range.
Dickcissel / Dickcissel d'Amérique
Porcupine Lake (19 May 2017)
Two days after adding the Dickcissel to Porcupine Lake's species list, we spotted 2 Bobolinks (a male and a female) near the White Waterfront beach. Bobolink was also a new species for the lake.
Bobolink / Goglu des prés
Porcupine Lake (19 May 2017)
On the next day, we added one more new species for Porcupine Lake: a Black-bellied Plover.  And we observed a Brant.

The Brant was first found by a fellow birder who saw it just before it flew away because of a float plane (planes often land on Porcupine Lake on Saturdays) We re-found it at Bristol bay later on in the afternoon.
Brant / Bernache cravant
Porcupine Lake (20 May 2017)
Brants had been previously reported on Porcupine Lake October 2012 and May 2013 but they weren't reported in the Hotspot eBird list and therefore didn't show on the Porcupine Lake printable checklist (I love that eBird feature)  Now with this sighting, Brants will be included in the checklist when the sighting gets accepted.

The Black-bellied Plover, another addition to the Porcupine Lake list, was first found by my neighbour in the morning and later re-found by a friend in the evening. It was with a group of Dunlins. 
Black-bellied Plover / Pluvier argenté
Porcupine Lake (20 May 2017)

Porcupine Lake is a fairly small lake (10 km circumference) and doesn't have lots of good shorebird habitat and resting spots. There is only 1 small beach and it's always busy with people and dogs.  That's why I was pleasantly surprised this Spring by the number of shorebirds that the lake was attracting.  A group of over 100 Dunlins stayed for at least 1 week. This was the largest group of Dunlins ever seen on the lake since I've been birding it. 

This next Dunlin was part of a group that landed near us as we were patiently watching for the Dickcissel during the only sunny day we had in the last few weeks.
Dunlin / Bécasseau variable
Porcupine Lake (20 May 2017)
It's always nice to see groups of Dunlins stop by.  I especially love to watch them fly in groups. The bad weather probably contributed to their stop in this unlikely spot. The largest group I saw this past week was a flock of 143.
Dunlins resting on dock
Porcupine Lake (22 May 2017)
In addition to the Dunlins, during the last couple of weeks we saw Short-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers. All at Porcupine Lake.
Least Sandpiper / Bécasseau minuscule
Porcupine Lake (20 May 2017)
Semipalmated Plover / Pluvier semipalmé
Porcupine Lake (22 May 2017)
White-winged Scoters also stopped by the lake with a flock of Long-tailed Ducks.
White-winged Scoter / Macreuse brune
Porcupine Lake (21 May 2017)
On May 22, it was nice to see the Eastern Kingbirds had returned to the Lake.
Eastern Kingbird / Tyran tritri
Porcupine Lake (22 May 2017)

These 3 Tundra Swans flew over our neighbourhood on May 22.  
Tundra Swans / Cygnes siffleurs
South Porcupine (22 May 2017)
The 2 last weeks of May is an excellent time to observe warblers in our area; the buds are just coming out and all the warbler species have arrived.  Here is a Canada Warbler that stopped by my yard 2 days ago. The Canada Warbler is one of the last warbler species to arrive in the Timmins area along with the Mourning Warbler.
Canada Warbler in the rain / Paruline du Canada
South Porcupine (23 May 2017)

I hope everyone is having a great Spring so far!

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