[Ontbirds] Pomarine Jaeger, White-winged Crossbills and large waterfowl movements off Thickson's Woods in Whitby

Glenn Coady glenn_coady at hotmail.com
Thu Nov 10 16:35:48 EST 2011

Ontbirds subscribers,

This morning there was a fairly large movement of waterfowl past Thickson's Woods - about 7200 Red-breasted Mergansers, 1400 Greater Scaup, 3300 Long-tailed Ducks and small numbers of Redheads were all seen moving west to east. At times, flocks of about 500 mergansers were feeding in the bay to the east of Thickson's Point and attracting much activity from gulls. By noon, I had counted 146 Common Loons and 11 Red-throated Loons passing by my house (most moving to the east as well, though some stopping to feed in the bay) as well as 68 White-winged Scoters. I also saw my first Iceland Gull of the season.

About 1:15 a pair of birds was seen moving in the opposite direction (east to west) after coming around the point off to the east (just west of Stevenson Road). One of these two birds was clearly harassing the other, but when they were well off to the east, both appeared only as dark silhouettes. As these birds passed in front of my house and into better light, it became clear that this was a female Northern Harrier being pursued and harassed by a juvenile intermediate morph Pomarine Jaeger. The jaeger was an all-over dull brown with a slightly warmer brown head that looked stout and puffy. It had a heavy bill and was quite pot-bellied, with barred undertail coverts, mottled wing linings and a pale flash at the bases of the primaries and primary coverts. It lacked any of the more cinnamon tones of a Parasitic Jaeger. The jaeger continued to pursue an aerial dogfight with the harrier until they passed Thickson Point to the west, making me wonder if both might be seen at the Cranberry Marsh hawk watch.

Just before 2:00 p.m, I noticed a flock of 7 White-winged Crossbills feeding in the large spruce to the west of my house. This is the second day in a row that I have noticed White-winged Crossbills around my house. They are clearly on the move right now.

On the down side, I also noticed the gulls feeding on what appeared to be duck carcasses floating in the water in seven different spots. Long-tailed Duck carcasses, likely botulism victims, have been washing up onto the shore along Crystal Beach Boulevard for the past week.  

Glenn Coady

To reach the lake off Thickson's Woods, take Hwy 401 to exit 412 and turn south on Thickson Rd. S. following it to the cul-de-sac for the Waterfront Trail just before the lake. Park here and walk further south on Thickson Rd. S. right to the private road (Crystal Beach Boulevard) that runs east from here parallel to the lakeshore. There are a couple of benches on the bluff above the lake in front of the seventh house along this road. These provide a very nice view of the lake.    


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