Monday, June 3, 2019

Spring Birds in the South Porcupine Area

Spring finally arrived but it's been a cold end of May. We haven't put away our long thermal underwear, down jackets and winter hats yet, but it doesn't mean we haven't been out birding! During the last 2 weeks of May, temperatures have been going as low as 0°C for many nights and we've had many days between 6°C and 11°C with the exceptions of only a few warm days and very little south winds (only an average of 1 day of south wind per week in April and May). 

Sora / Marouette de Caroline
Gillies Lake - Timmins (31 May 2019)
If you want to know what dates each of our migrating birds arrived, visit the Spring Arrival Dates page on this blog. I have been recording the spring arrival dates and notable sightings for the past 3 years.

As you can see in this next photo, we still had ice on the lakes in mid May when the Least Sandpipers arrived.  Shorebirds were not very numerous this spring but we did get Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, Semipalmated Plovers and Dunlins stop by Porcupine Lake.

Least Sandpiper / Bécasseau minuscule
Porcupine Lake (13 May 2019)

When the ice started to melt, we started seeing the regular Porcupine Lake waterfowl including Lesser Scaups, a few Greater Scaups, Ring-necked Ducks, Common Goldeneyes, Buffleheads, Common and Hooded Mergansers, a few Redheads and of course, Northern Shovelers.

Northern Shoveler - Canard souchet
Porcupine Lake (13 May 2019)

We did have an unusual visitor in the waterfowl family this year; a Common Goldeneye X Hooded Merganser hybrid found by Pierre Noel on 15 May 2019 at Porcupine Lake.  It's been hanging out alone a lot, mostly hiding in the reeds.  Only once in a while he'll go out in the open and try to mix with goldeneyes, giving us a narrow window of opportunities for photos.

Common Goldeneye X Hooded Merganser
Porcupine Lake (30 May 2019)
It was my first time observing a COGO X HOME hybrid.  I noticed that it had a bit of light brown colouring inside his crest that was not visible when the crest was up, but it was visible when the wind was at his back:

COGO X HOME back of head in the wind
Porcupine Lake (30 May 2019)
We were fortunate to see 2 Surf Scoters stop by Porcupine Lake this past weekend. Not something we see often here.

One of 2 Surf Scoters (Macreuse à front blanc)
Porcupine Lake (1 June 2019)
Most warblers arrived over a week later than usual with the exceptions of a few that were on time.  We saw the big bulk of them during the last week of May which was not ideal for warbler watching because most of the leaves had already started to come out. Here are a few of my favourite ones from this spring:

Black-thoated Green Warbler / Paruline à gorge noire
Porcupine Lake (29 May 2019)

Blackburnian Warbler / Paruline à gorge orangée
Porcupine Lake (27 May 2019)

Cape May Warbler / Paruline tigrée
Porcupine Lake (30 May 2019)
One of the last warblers to arrive were the Blackpoll Warblers and the Canada Warblers.   

Blackpoll Warbler / Paruline rayée
Porcupine Lake (1 June 2019)

Canada Warbler / Paruline du Canada
Porcupine (1 June 2019)
Even though Gray Catbirds are not common in our area, they are observed occasionally. One has now been observed at Porcupine Lake for the 5th year in a row.  I photographed this one Saturday morning not far from the Dead Man Point trail. It was able to imitate a perfect Sora!

Gray Catbird / Moqueur chat
Porcupine Lake (1 June 2019)
Scarlet Tanger is another uncommon but occasional bird and we were lucky to see this male one evening at Porcupine Lake. It was first found by Andrew Warren and refound by my husband's sharp eyes (I first walked beside it without seeing it!) It was high up in a poplar but we were able to photograph it as the sun was going down.

Scarlet Tanager / Piranga écarlate
Porcupine Lake (30 May 2019)

On the same evening, we saw this male Rose-breasted Grosbeak feeding at Porcupine Lake.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak / Cardinal à poitrine rose
Porcupine Lake (30 May 2019)
We have been seeing more Bobolinks than usual this spring.  I observed some at Porcupine Lake (1), Hollinger Tailings Pond (2), Gillies Lake (3) and a flock of 13 on a rural road in Timmins.  We are a bit more north than their regular range according to the guides but we usually see a few every spring.  I have seen one or two each spring before, but never 19.

Bobolink (male) / Goglu des prés (male)
Timmins (31 May 2019)

Bobolink (female) / Goglu des prés (femelle)
Timmins (31 May 2019)

This weekend the Olive-sided Flycatchers arrived and we were happy to see 2 yesterday: one at Porcupine Lake and the following one near Timmins.

Olive-sided Flycatcher / Moucherolle à côtés olive
Timmins (2 June 2019)
Spring goes by way too fast! But since migration was late, we will probably still have birds passing through for another week at least. 

Hope you all had a good spring!