[Ontbirds]Shorebirds at Holland Landing Sewage Lagoons
jeaniron at sympatico.ca
Thu Jul 20 17:15:59 EDT 2006
I birded the lagoons for 1.5 hours this morning before noon. I had many of
the species reported yesterday by Dave Wornington with a few changes in
numbers. These lagoons remind me of the Port Perry "Nonquon" Sewage Lagoons
in their former glory days before they were "improved" for waste water
treatment. It's just a matter of time until the Holland Landing Lagoons
produce rare shorebirds given the excellent habitat there now. In fact this
is the best time to look for mega rarities from the Old World such as adult
Little Stint and adult Spotted Redshank and other adult shorebirds which
are still mostly in alternate (breeding) plumage now.
Today's birds at Holland Landing Sewage Lagoons included:
Short-billed Dowitcher: One adult. Dave reported a "brightly plumaged"
individual yesterday. Today it was still there I presume. It's a good
example of the 'hendersoni' subspecies in alternate plumage which breeds
west of Hudson Bay to northeastern British Columbia. It is by far the
commoner of the two subspecies (griseus and hendersoni) in southern
Ontario, particularly for southbound migrants. The two subspecies are best
illustrated in the 3rd and 4th editions of the National Geographic Field
Guide. These editions of the NGG also best show the differences between
Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers. Adult Long-billed are very rare
here in late July and August into September). First juvenile Short-billed
expected during first week of August. First juvenile Long-billed expected
about mid-September, but I saw one the last day of August years ago.
81 Least Sandpipers: These included two fresh juveniles which were my first
of the year. The percentage of juveniles will increase daily. The reddish
juveniles contrast well among the worn darker adults.
Semipalmated Sandpiper: Only one! Adult numbers seem very low so far this
year. First juveniles expected about 1 August or a little earlier.
19 Lesser Yellowlegs: all adults in worn alternate plumage showing early
stages of prebasic body molt with contrasting new grey basic (winter)
feathers scattered above. Expect to see "brand new" spangled juveniles any
day now. They stick out among the worn and patchy adults.
10 Solitary Sandpipers: All adults in worn alternate plumage with most the
white feather tips worn off. First juveniles expected in a week to 10 days.
These juveniles with numerous buffy-white spots above will contrast with
the worn adults, which have lost much of their pale spotting above.
Spotted Sandpiper: Many adults (spotted) and juveniles (no spots). Adults
do not molt until they reach the wintering grounds so adults and juveniles
are easily told apart all summer into early fall. We normally do not see
adults here in winter plumage - the unspotted ones are juveniles not winter
Killdeer: Many full grown juveniles still with attached downy tail
streamers. Juveniles are also much greyer above whereas adults are a worn
Bonaparte's Gulls: About a dozen birds including one with almost a full
hood. They all were year-old nonbreeding birds molting to basic (winter)
plumage. These year-old birds begin and complete their molting before the
breeding adults and juveniles. Gaps in their flight feathers indicated that
they were in wing molt. The first adults from the boreal nesting grounds
should arrive soon followed shortly by the first juveniles. These adults
and juveniles will molt mainly during August into September. Watch the
stages of the molt.
Small flock of about 20 mixed Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal in basic
(eclipse/winter) plumage. Numbers of mid-summer Blue-winged Teal are way
down from 25 years ago. Why?
Osprey: While there an adult Osprey flew in from the north and dived down
out of my sight into a lagoon and came up with a bunch of weeds hanging
from its feet (no fish in ponds). It quickly flew off trailing the
vegetation and presumed prey which I couldn't see. I figure it caught a
Green Frog because they were calling loudly from that lagoon. A week ago I
saw an Osprey do exactly the same thing there.
Before you go shorebirding you might want to buy the newest shorebird book
titled "The Shorebird Guide" by Michael O'Brien, Richard Grossely and Kevin
Karlson, published in 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Great photos of
juveniles and adults, molting birds, etc. Excellent text. It's only $33.95
at Open Air Books in Toronto. I'll be reviewing it fully in the August
issue of Ontario Birds.
I recommend a tour of the Holland Landing Sewage Lagoons. Directions from
Toronto: Go north on DVP - 404 to end at Green Lane. Turn left going
several km to Yonge Street. Turn right on Yonge and go about 2 km and exit
right to Holland Landing (well signed). You'll be on Old Yonge Street so
keep going north several km through town. You will go by a curve in the
road where there are pine stands on both sides, then you will pass Doane
Rd. on the right. About another km you will see two white wagon wheels and
a Max 60 sign at Cedar St. Turn right (east) and follow it 1 km to a dead
end. The lagoons are straight ahead.
Get out and look at shorebirds - they're fascinating.
Minden and Toronto
jeaniron at sympatico.ca
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