Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Spring in South Porcupine and Moonbeam

May is the greatest time to observe birds in Northern Ontario.  The weather has been ok so far.  Most of the time, it's been nice for birding but we have had some days with freezing temperature and snow (it wouldn't be Northern Ontario if we didn't go from 25˚C to -4˚C in 24 hours at least a few times!) I have been travelling to Moonbeam a lot this May.  Here are a few of my favorite spring sightings from Moonbeam and South Porcupine.

The Moonbeam Sewage Lagoon never disappoints.  I've observed the Eurasian Wigeon there a few times and I saw it again on May 24. The water was very high until the 2nd week of May, but then the south pond was emptied, which attracted many shorebirds. On the 22nd, I saw a flock of 12 Semipalmated Plovers, Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs, 23 Dunlins, 3 Least Sandpipers, and a Wilson's Phalarope.  It was the biggest concentration of shorebirds I ever witnessed at MSL.  
Semipalmated Plover / Pluvier semipalmé
Moonbeam Sewage Lagoons (22 May 2015)
This was my second Wilson's Phalarope sighting; the first sighting was a male and female at exactly the same spot in May 2014.  This time, there was only the female.
Wilson's Phalarope / Phalarope de Wilson
Moonbeam Sewage Lagoons (22 May 2015)
When the pond gets emptied, it leaves the mud exposed.  Lots of shorebirds were feeding that day.
Dunlins and Dowitchers feeding
Moonbeam Sewage Lagoons (22 May 2015)
Short-billed Dowitchers / Bécassins roux
Moonbeam Sewage Lagoons (22 May 2015)
I was pleasantly surprised when a friend of mine told me about a Great Horned Owl nest  in Moonbeam.  He obtained the property owner's permission to bring me to see them.  It was my first Great Horned Owl sighting.  One adult was in the nest with 2 owlets (the other owlet is hiding in this picture)
Great Horned Owl / Grand-duc d'Amérique
Moonbeam (25 May 2015)
I was far when I took the above photo, but even then I felt like I was invading their peaceful life, so I didn't stay long.  That's why I love my Canon Powershot SX60HS; I can take photos of birds without disturbing them too much.  At full zoom, it offers the equivalent of a 1365mm lens (for under 500$!). Of course, it doesn't produce professional, sharp photos, but at least it's efficient, it's cheap, and I can carry this little camera everywhere!  This is the view from where I was standing when I took the Photo.
View of the Great Horned Owl's nest
Porcupine Lake is another spot that never disappoint in May.  I didn't have a chance to spend as much time there as I wanted, but I did get to see my first Horned Grebes on May 10.
Horned Grebes / Grebe esclavon
Porcupine Lake (10 May 2015)
I haven't seen many shorebirds at Porcupine Lake, but it's a really busy place, with lots of dogs off their leash.  But I did see Dunlins and a Least Sandpiper. 

This post is getting too long, so I will end with a gorgeous warbler that we don't really see often enough around here.  I observed it at my in-laws' campsite, which is close to Kettle Lakes Provincial Park.  I first heard its very distinctive song so I looked for it until I found it.  I had seen them before at Ivanhoe Lake Provincial Park near Foleyet; it was a treat to find one near here. 

Black-throated Blue Warbler / Paruline bleue
Near South Porcupine (16 May 2015)

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Eurasian Wigeon in Moonbeam

I have been watching spring arrive in Moonbeam since the 18th of April.  Although birding is not the main reason I've been spending a few weeks here, I have had the chance to go to many of my favorite spots to witness the arrivals of spring birds.  One my favorite spots is the Moonbeam Sewage Lagoons, which never fails to attract colorful spring migrants.  Last year, on May 17 2014, I got to see my first Wilson's Phalarope here.  This year, on the evening of May 2nd, I got to observe my first Eurasian Wigeon.

Eurasian Wigeon / Canard Siffleur
Moonbeam Sewage Lagoons (May 2, 2015)
We went to check the lagoon the next morning at 7am and it was still there.

On May 4th, we went for a tour of the rural roads south of Moonbeam to look for birds.  There are many lakes, fields and ponds along these rural roads where we can see spring migration unfold.  In particular, I love stopping at 2 creeks; one on St-Jean rd. and one on St-Marie rd.  We stopped at the creek on St-Jean Rd first; this gorgeous creek actually surrounds a small horse farm. In spring, the creek becomes very wide and it's a favorite stopover for many waterfowl and shorebirds.  As soon as we arrived, I couldn't believe what I was seeing; the Eurasian Wigeon was there!  

Eurasian Wigeon and Killdeer
Moonbeam - St-Jean Road (May 4, 2015)
It's certainly the same bird I saw at the Moonbeam Sewage Lagoon on the evening of May 2nd and on the morning of May 3rd.  The creek is exactly 5.6 km from the lagoon (a straight 5.6 km as the Wigeon flies!)  Also in the creek near the Eurasian Wigeon were 2 American Wigeons, some Green-winged Teals, Mallards ... and a Killdeer.

We saw the Eurasian Wigeon again at the Moonbeam Sewage Lagoon on the afternoon of May 8.  I'm not sure how long it plans to stay in the area.  I'm leaving Moonbeam today and I won't be back until May 23.  But I might just go for one last stroll at the lagoon before I leave.

Here are some other spring arrivals I observed around the Moonbeam area.

Northern Shoveler / Canard souchet
Moonbeam Sewage Lagoons (May 2015)
Lapland Longspur / Plectrophane lapon
Moonbeam Sewage Lagoons (May 2015)

Spring has been great so far… and the best part is, it's not over!