[Ontbirds] Little Gull viewing weekend at Oshawa Second Marsh - day 2
glenn_coady at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 26 15:50:11 EDT 2015
Those who came out this morning for the Little Gull viewing weekend's second day were certainly not disappointed. This morning I was joined at dawn by Tyler Hoar (who had just returned from Florida the night before) and Rayfield Pye for what would turn out to be the best day ever for Little Gulls at this site. Between 6:20 and 8:30 a.m. we tallied a very impressive total of 158 Little Gulls (all but one were adults) entering the marsh among a flight of 5783+ Bonaparte's Gulls. The previous record for Little Gulls here had been 122 individuals. This also likely represents the third highest single site count ever for the New World, behind only the 266 seen on 6 November 1988 on the inner bay at Port Rowan by Ron Ridout and Don Sutherland and the 250 seen on 25 November 2002 on the inner bay at Port Rowan by Richard Joos. At times there were as many as 48 Little Gulls simultaneously performing courtship flights high over the west side of the marsh. When we later went down to the lakefront after most of the Bonaparte's Gulls had returned there, we noted a large loafing flock of Bonaparte's Gull that I conservatively estimated to contain more than 10,000 individuals, so this Little Gull count, even though it contains close to 40% of the estimated North American population, is likely a significant underestimate, if anything. These birds quite obviously time their migration to catch the peak hatch of Chironomidae midges off of the lake. Today there were clouds of midges being blown in off the lake everywhere I visited.
The four Cackling Geese were seen well by everyone and the Trumpeter Swan nest found yesterday just northeast of the viewing platform appears to have been predated by raccoons overnight with remnants of 4 egg shells left behind close to the nest. We later found a Wood Duck nest that was also likely predated by raccoons. Other interesting new arrivals were a single American Golden-Plover and a male Common Yellowthroat. There is also a territorial male Swamp Sparrow singing close to the viewing platform which is banded. A walk around Oshawa Second Marsh, McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve and Darlington Provincial Park demonstrated that it was quite a slow day for new passerine arrivals.
On returning home to Thickson's Woods, there was a nice flock of 160 Bonaparte's Gulls along with 7 more Little Gulls to enjoy flying around in front of my house. For those interested, the Eared Grebe was floating right offshore from my house at Thickson's Woods about 100 metres out with a couple of Horned Grebes about 30 minutes ago.
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