Saturday, September 4, 2021

Fushimi Lake Provincial Park - Little Gull and more...

We spent a wonderful week in Fushimi Lake Provincial Park in August. After a busy spring and summer, we really needed this relaxing week of camping filled with sunshine, fishing, swimming, chatting by the campfire, and of course, a bit of birding. It was so wonderful to finally spend quality time with my parents, who I had barely seen in the last 2 years. We all love fishing and birding and that's why this park is perfect for us. 

Gary and my parents are fishing while I scan for gulls and terns
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (August 2021)

Gary fixing his line while my mom drives the boat. 
Fushimi Lake (August 2021)

On Thursday, as we were exploring some fishing spots, my parents agreed to drive the boat eastward to explore a few little rocky islands I remembered from the previous summer so that we could enjoy watching the Common Terns and Bonaparte's Gulls for a bit and look for shorebirds. 

In the boat, watching my favourite 
little rock formation for gulls, terns and shorebirds.
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (August 2021)

Even if Common Terns and Bonaparte's Gulls are somewhat common in our area, they are in specific habitats and there aren't many easily accessible spots where we can just sit and watch them in action and I was so excited for the opportunity (Note that Remi Lake in Moonbeam is another excellent lake to watch these 2 species!).  

Bonaparte's Gull 
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (August 2021)

On our way there, we stopped at a larger rocky island formation where there were many Herring Gulls, including 2 recently fledged young that I was surprised to see (probably a second clutch due to the late date). 

A larger rock formation where Herring Gulls like to hang out
There were 2 recently fledged young Herring Gulls, including  
the one you see swimming in the background : )
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (August 2021) 

The manner in which the different species of gulls share small rocky islands spread out on a northern lake just fascinates me and I could spend weeks just admiring that. At Fushimi Lake, there are some rock formations where about a dozen or so Herring Gulls hang out, and further east on the lake, the smaller gulls hang out on a smaller rock formation. And of course, once in a while, a Common Tern will fly to the Herring Gull spot only to dive and harass a Herring Gull in a series of dramatic dives before flying back to their own spot on the lake. And, like that wasn't fascinating enough to watch; on the flattest rocks, between the cracks and dips and gulls and terns, you can often spot shorebirds. In other words, it's a little piece of paradise!

Common Terns are gorgeous and fascinating
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (August 2021)

When we first arrived at the rock where the small gulls and terns gather, I immediately saw a bird that I knew was different. When my mom stopped the motor and I put my binoculars on it, the beauty and contrast of the plumage blew me away. 

Bonaparte's Gull (Left) with 3 Common
surrounding a rare Little Gull (2nd bird from the right).
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (19 August 2021)

The Little Gull was still there the next day, on 20 August 2021. 

Little Gull - Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (20 August 2021)

Common Tern and Little Gull watching a Least Sandpiper
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (20 August 2021)

Semipalmated Sandpiper and Little Gull
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (20 August 2021)

Little Gull in flight near the boat
August 2021

Just 2 buddies discussing stuff
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (20 August 2021)
Photo © Gary Dowe

On August 21, we weren't able to go on the water due to a very strong WSW wind with gusts reaching 57 km/h (blowing lawn chairs and large white caps...) from morning to sundown. 

On the 22, we went to check around all the little rocks and didn't see the Little Gull. However, the wind had brought these Baird's Sandpipers who were feeding, resting and grooming on the rocks where the Little Gull had been; fall migration is always full of surprises.

Baird's Sandpipers - Fushimi Lake Provincial Park
22 August 2021

On the 23, we got treated to 6 American White Pelicans who stopped by the lake. Local campers say they occasionally see American White Pelicans stop by Fushimi Lake during migration (especially in the last few years) but the birds never stay long.  It's interesting to note that Hearst is only 200 km east of Longlac/Geraldton where pelicans are now more regularly observed, often for relatively long periods during the summer (possible breeders?). 

American White Pelicans 
Fushimi Lake (23 August 2021)

There were a few isolated groups of warblers feeding together daily, but they were few and far between that week. In August, locating a flock is fantastic since you get to see many different species feeding together. Magnolia Warblers were abundant this year and we even saw one who was still feeding a very young recently fledged young! This year, one of the best spot for morning songbirds was the first 500 meters of the Fire Tower Trail. 
Magnolia Warbler 
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (22 August 2021)

Philadelphia Vireo in the Fire Trail
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (22 August 2021) 

Canada Warbler on the very first morning when the
air was hazy from all the forest fires west of us.  
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (18 August 2021)

Bay-breasted Warbler on our campsite
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park (August 2021)

Ultronia Underwing (Catocala ultronia)
On our campsite - Fushimi Lake (Aug 2021)

Ultronia Underwing (Catocala ultronia)
On our campsite - Fushimi Lake (Aug 2021)

It was nice to see a few White-winged Crossbills during the week (1 to 3 daily) The numbers had dipped in northeastern Ontario in the last year due to a natural cycle of low cone crops. 

Bad photo from the boat of a White-winged Crossbill
Near Lilypad Bay, Fushimi Lake Provincial Park
August 2021

Beautiful Fushimi Lake
Would be a great park to do some atlassing during the next summers!
August 2021

My mom and I scanning the lake one last time
until we return next year.
Fushimi Lake Provincial Park

Keep an eye open in the next 2 months - many interesting migrants will fly by you, wherever you are in Ontario!

Happy fall birding!