Monday, September 24, 2018

September Sightings

We've had a warm August and beginning of September but the normal fall weather is now upon us, with nights of -2°C and lots of windy days this week. Here are a few sightings from the last month.

Timmins/South Porcupine is not a great location for large flocks of migrating shorebirds, but if we go out often enough, we might see one or two good shorebirds during spring or fall.  It was the case on August 30th when we arrived at the lake and found one lone Baird's Sandpiper. It was the first Baird's reported for Porcupine Lake.
Baird's Sandpiper / Bécasseau de Baird
Porcupine Lake (30 August 2018)

Baird's Sandpiper / Bécasseau de Baird
Porcupine Lake (30 August 2018)
Another lone shorebird landed at the lake on World's Shorebird Day, on September 6th; a Stilt Sandpiper (Found by Melanie P.)  The only other Stilt Sandpiper I had seen at the lake was on World Shorebird Day 2014. Same day, same beach, 4 years apart.

Stilt Sandpiper / Bécasseau à échasse
Porcupine Lake (6 September 2018)
Moonbeam Sewage Lagoon is a great spot for migrating shorebirds, especially when one of the ponds get emptied. This fall, with the low water level in the north pond, many species of shorebirds stopped there (Least, Semipalmated, Pectoral, Stilt Sandpipers, Short-billed Dowitchers as well as lots of Yellowlegs and Semipalmated Plovers) I just wish I could go more often (it's 2 hours away from South Porcupine)

On September 15, I found my first Red-necked Phalarope at the Moonbeam Sewage Lagoons.  It was raining and very far away so the photo is not great.
Red-necked Phalarope / Phalarope à bec étroit
Moonbeam Sewage Lagoons (15 September 2018)
September is a great month to see Palm Warblers, Rusty Blackbirds and American Pipits and this year is no exception.

Palm Warbler / Paruline à couronne rousse
Porcupine Lake (6 September 2018)

Rusty Blackbird / Quiscale rouilleux
Porcupine Lake (23 September 2018)

American Pipit / Pipit d'Amérique
Porcupine Lake (22 September 2018)

On September 11, a friend of mine invited me to go birding in Cochrane with a group of birders from Southern Ontario.  A few of them found a Le Conte's Sparrow and we were able to relocate it.

Le Conte's Sparrow / Bruant de Le Conte
Cochrane (11 September 2018)

Le Conte's Sparrow / Bruant de Le Conte
Cochrane (11 September 2018)
Another highlight of this birding day was a group of Sharp-tailed Grouse.  They are not common in the Timmins area but if you go around Cochrane, you might be lucky a see a few, even though Cochrane is only 1 hour north of here.  It was difficult to get a photo as they were hiding in thick brush.
Well camouflaged Sharp Tail Grouse / Tétras à queue fine
Cochrane (11 September 2018)

On September 1st,  I found a group of River Otters having a feast of crayfish at Porcupine Lake.  It was nice to see them in a feeding frenzy and I managed a few shots. Our native crayfish are not usually that big so I'm suspecting that it might be an invasive species of crayfish.

River Otter eating crayfish
Porcupine Lake (September 2018) 

On the morning of September 22, a friend found a Cackling Goose at Porcupine Lake and we were able to relocate it in the afternoon.  None had ever been reported at the lake, so it became Porcupine Lake's species #179.  I can't wait to see which bird will be #180!

Cackling Goose (L) with Canada Goose
Bernach de Hutchins
Porcupine Lake (22 September 2018)

Cackling Goose between 2 Canada Goose
Bernache de Hutchins (milieu)
Porcupine Lake (22 September 2018)
On the same day, we came across a group of migrating Eastern Bluebirds... and a Red Fox.

Eastern Bluebirds / Merlebleu de l'Est
Timmins (22 September 2018)

Eastern Bluebird / Merlebleu de l'Est
Timmins (22 September 2018)

Red Fox / Renard roux
Timmins (22 September 2018)

Red Fox / Renard roux
Timmins (22 September 2018)

Carolina Wren update: The Carolina Wren is still here (since August 27). It lost it's tail last week, but it looks like it's already in the process of regrowing.
Continuing Caroline Wren
South Porcupine (21 September 2018)

We still have a full month of fall migration before the ice sets in so I can't wait to see what the next few weeks will bring.

In other news, we exchanged our old truck for a smaller vehicle with better gas mileage and on Sunday, this American Pipit approved of our choice by landing on it.

American Pipit approving our new vehicle
Porcupine Lake (23 September 2018)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Carolina Wren in South Porcupine

On the morning of August 27, I heard the loud, distinctive Carolina Wren song a few times from my kitchen window.  Having heard this species on our 2 trips to Point Pelee this spring and summer, I knew it sounded like a Carolina Wren. I eventually located the bird in my backyard, hiding in the vine-covered hedge and singing a variety of songs and making loud rattle calls.  I managed to get good views and a photo when it perched briefly on a pole.

Carolina Wren / Troglodyte de Caroline
South Porcupine (27 August 2018)

Carolina Wrens are rare in Cochrane District and in Northern Ontario in general.  The only other documented sighting of Carolina Wren in our district was even more surprising, as it was found in Moosonee on September 30, 2012 by Josh Vandermeulen, Alan Wormington and Mark Jennings.   I believe the 2012 Moosonee Carolina Wren was the first OBRC record for Cochrane District and the 6th for the Northern Ontario region.  It was also the most northerly record for Ontario.

As for non-documented sightings, I'm sure there are more, since not many people report their sightings in our vast region. I received a message about a Carolina Wren that apparently overwintered once in Timmins many years ago but after reading 36 full OBRC annual reports, I couldn't find any documentation about this event.  I don't doubt that it occurred; I wish we had dates and more details. Documentation and OBRC reports are important.

Here are the OBRC records I could find for Carolina Wrens in Northern Ontario. It's interesting to note that all of them occur in fall (except 1 in winter) and some attempts are made at overwintering.  

Cochrane District Records:

South Porcupine (Cochrane District) 27 August 2018 - Continuing
Moosonee (Cochrane District) 30 Sept 2012

Timiskaming District Records:

Englehart (Timiskaming District) 13 Oct 2017
New Liskeard (Timiskaming District) 8 October to 8 December 2016
New Liskeard (Timiskaming District) 15 December 1988 to  15 February 1989

Northwestern Ontario Records:

Marathon (Thunder Bay District) 14 & 20 August 2012

Atikokan (Rainy River District) 15 November to 23 December 1990

Algoma Records:
Michipicoten River (Algoma) 10 November 2012 to 6 January 2013

The Carolina Wren visiting our neighbourhood is still here today.  It sings on and off every day from sunrise to sunset, and it visits the bird bath occasionally.  Our backyard seems to be a suitable habitat for it; it is surrounded by a big tangled mess of overgrown hedge (Cedar and Siberian pea-shrub) that are covered in vines. It's quiet and there are lots of hiding spots. 
Carolina Wren / Troglodyte de Caroline
South Porcupine (10 September 2018)

I'm really enjoying the wren's various songs (it's actually singing as I am writing this!) I am curious to see if it will attempt to overwinter here.  Our winters are harsh, cold and long; it's not uncommon to have extended periods below -40°C.  I have purchased many bags of mealworms in case it decides to stay.  And as soon as the black bears go into hibernation, I will be able to put out seeds and suet.