Ross's Geese at Townsend sewage lagoons

Sun Apr 13 10:50:33 EDT 2003

Good morning birders.

 Yesterday Sat. April, 12, 2003 Stan Bajurny and I did one of our days that
almost totally whacks me out. I left Richmond Hill at midnight Friday and
did not get off the bus up here until 1 am this morning thus a late sighting
report. I didn't have much fire left to sit down and start this report, but
most likely the birds will be back there this evening.

 We did our usual Long Point circuit ending up at the Townsend sewage
lagoons about an hour before dusk and the Canada Geese had already started
to arrive for the night (see my March 30, 2003 report also for another great
avian show). There were no Swans or white Geese in the lagoons when we
arrived but this soon changed as we watched 1 White and 2 Blue phase Snow
Geese arrived followed a few minutes later by another White phase Snow and
another Blue phase Snow arriving. Canada's were at this time arriving in
flocks from 5 to 50 birds at a time from the west and southwest. The best
was about to come as I scoped a tight little flock of 12 Snow Geese (10
White and 2 Blue phase birds) surrounded by hundreds of Canada's and as I
watched and counted the Snows Stan called out 2 small white birds above and
behind the Snows that turned out to be Ross's Geese, 2, I haven't seen 2 at
a time for many years but that was just part of the Ross's Goose story as at
our feet were a pair of wings and some feathers of another adult Ross's
Goose that had been killed by some predator within a day or so and possibly
that morning (Stan collected the wings for study).

 The Goose air show and sounds (you have to be there for the sounds and
sights as it is very hard to convey the spectacle) continued and now
hundreds of ducks started to arrive above and around the geese to set down
on the lagoons and just before dark another sound slowly built as hundreds
of Tundra Swans started to arrive from the west, what a show and I am glad
that after all the years that I can still get excited with this part of
birding despite the smells of the location.

 We stayed until dark and birds were still arriving but when we left we had
17 Snow, 2 Ross's (plus 1 Ross's parts), and about 5000 Canada Geese on the
water along with about 600 Tundra Swans and probably about 700 ducks of 12
species among them and still coming. The sounds of the birds is a great part
of the experience and I am glad I was there again.

 I say again that the best time there is before dusk as the geese, etc. by
and large do not spend the day at the lagoons and leave them at and just
after dawn. Dress warm as it is an unusual evening that the wind is not
blowing and you are completely without shelter there. Also take note that
some local Canada Geese have nests on the dykes so be careful. One of the
things the local Geese do if disturbed is to leave the nest giving out with
alarm calls that can put the whole array of waterfowl to flight. A scope is
recommended as a too close approach will also put them up and you do not
need to be on top of them to enjoy them.

 All in all another good day of birding with 86 species, 29 of these being
waterfowl (without L. Ontario) and 9 Sparrow species.

Norm Murr
Richmond Hill, ON


On the way down to Long Point on Hwy 6 you will pass through Hagersville and
drive towards Jarvis. Just as you approach the town you will see a sign
indicating "TOWNSEND" at Nanticoke Creek Parkway #69. Turn right here and
drive to the intersection with the stop signs, turn left on Keith Richardson
Parkway and drive past some park ponds on your right. Drive ahead until you
see a small children's shelter with an air conditioner on it's side
(really). Turn right here on County Rd 14. This is just before you reach the
abandoned railway line (tracks removed) and it is on your right. Turn right
here and drive a few hundred yards and you will see a gate and sign
indicating that this is a waste treatment area.. Park well to the side of
the road or across the road and do not block the gate. If the gate is open
(they are on some weekends) then do not park directly across from the gate
as the larger "Honey Trucks" need the area to swing into and out of the
entrance road.

These lagoons are only accessible on the weekend.


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