Thursday, April 26, 2018

After a pause, migration is on again

It was a very cold and strange start of spring here in the Timmins area. After a few arrivals in the last week of March and the first few days of April, migration came to an almost complete stop during the first 2 weeks of April.  The temperatures remained significantly below average every day until April 21st.  A few days of south wind and warm weather from April 21 to April 26 brought us an important number of new arrivals and a larger number of previously arrived migrants.
Common Grackle during a snow fall
16 April 2018
As of today, our lakes are still 99% ice covered (with a few inches open in some areas near shore).  Thankfully, we have a few rivers that offered a bit of open water to the migrating waterfowl. Here are a few of our arrivals:
First Yellow-rumped Warbler of spring
South Porcupine (23 April 2018)

First Rusty Blackbird of spring
South Porcupine - (26 April 2018)

With a very limited number of open water areas, we get to see a good congregation of waterfowl at Porcupine Lake where the Porcupine River starts (near Bannerman Park).  Yesterday, I saw my first Pied-billed Grebe of spring (as well as our first American Coot) along with many species of ducks.

Pied-billed Grebe / Grebe à bec bigarré
Porcupine Lake @ Porcupine River (25 April 2018)
At the same location, we observed a Trumpeter Swan.  It had been found earlier that day by someone in my neighbourhood and I was glad it was still there at 5pm. They are uncommon in our area so it was a big surprise. It was a new species for Porcupine Lake (species #165) and a new species for me in our district. I had only seen them in Southern Ontario and in BC.
Trumpeter Swan / Cygne trompette
Porcupine Lake (25 April 2018)
Further on the south side of Porcupine Lake, a small open area contained 2 Tundra Swans.
Tundra Swans / Cygne siffleur
Porcupine Lake (25 April 2018)

I will try to continue to update my Spring Arrival Page with every new arrival.

Mink watching us as we were looking at birds
Porcupine Lake (25 April 2018)

Monday, April 2, 2018

End of Winter / Looking Forward to Spring

Quick Winter Summary

Winter 2017-2018:   Our area's winter bird list from December 1st, 2017 to February 28, 2018 was 40 species.  We've had very low numbers of Pine Grosbeaks compared to what we usually see, and the Evening Grosbeaks which were abundant last winter (2016-2017) have been almost completely absent in the area.  Another species that has been almost absent is the White-winged Crossbills. And many regional birders have also pointed out the very low number of Red-breasted Nuthatch sightings this winter.

Pine Grosbeak - 16 February 2018
Bart Thompson Trail - South Porcupine

As for Common Redpolls we have observed small groups, mostly feeding in the forest in December and January, but growing numbers were seen at many feeders in February and March.  On the other hand, Bohemian Waxwings were abundant as the berries were plentiful. 

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We were very lucky to have a few American Three-toed Woodpeckers around the Timmins / South Porcupine area to keep things interesting.
American Three-toed Woodpecker / Pic à dos rayé
South Porcupine (14 January 2018)
One male in particular was seen regularly in the Bart Thompson Trail in South Porcupine from mid January to mid March.  Having reliable sightings of this woodpecker for a full 2 months doesn't happen very often. I was happy to have the opportunity to observe it many times and I am glad that a few people from the southern part of the province got to view this bird as well.
American Three-toed Woodpecker
South Porcupine (10 March 2018)

Looking Forward to Spring: A new page added

I've decided to add a "Spring Arrival Dates" page to this site; it can be accessed from the tabs at the top. On this page, you will find the arrival dates for most of the birds that can be observed in our area. I've published the list of arrival dates for spring 2017 and will do the same for this spring.  

The last week of March is when migrants slowly start to arrive in our area.  During this past Easter weekend (March 30 to April 2) we only had 2 locations where we could see open water.  It's been so cold that those open areas were shrinking today instead of expanding.

Our first waterfowl species to arrive this week were a couple of Common Goldeneyes and this lone Hooded Merganser.

Hooded Merganser / Harle couronné
Frederick House Lake bridge-Connaught (2 April 2018)

I'm really looking forward to the end of the snow and cold so I can get my bicycle out and find some spring birds!