Friday, November 27, 2009

Detroit to Niagara

This morning, along with seven other birders, we set off from Farmington Hills to drive to Niagara and bird along the way on Karl Overman's and Alan Wormington's annual gull trip to Niagara Falls, Ontario. This year there were reports of good birds to stop and see along the way - a Black-tailed Gull in Port Stanley and a Brant in Port Burwell just a little further east along the road.

Unfortunately, there was no Black-tailed Gull to be found by us, or many other birders out looking for it this afternoon. Incredibly it would have been a life bird for everyone present. Although it could easily have been amongst this large group of gulls feeding in the rough water just beyond the breakwall. But, it would have been difficult to find flying along the gray, rough water and at quite a distance. We did find three adult Little Gulls but these were quite easy to see with their dark underwings flashing against the gray surf.

From here it was on to Port Burwell to try for the Brant which had been hanging around for about a week. We saw the juvenile Brant feeding along the grass, all by itself, and it allowed really close photos. I had not seen a Brant in years, so I was very happy to see this bird.

The bird appears goose-size large in this photo, but it was actually quite a lot smaller.

Exercising its wing

Although the Black-tailed Gull was first found at Port Burwell, it was not here for us. There was a smattering of Ring-billed and Herring gulls on the beach, but mostly the only other bird lining the shore were Canada Geese.

From Port Burwell we made our way up the Lake Erie coast stopping at two or three more little ports towns - Port Rowan when the sun came out and Port Dover are two names I recall.

You won't see any ducks in the photo above of Port Rowan, but the water held Wigeon, Gadwall, Redheads and others by the, depending on species, hundreds (Wigeon) and thousands (Redhead).

Continuing on to Niagara we drove through rural farm fields nearly the whole way. The Sandhill Cranes above were part of a group of ten. Here these two are looking back in a twin pose. Later on we came across a group of approximately 50 and shortly thereafter another group of about 200. All were very near a large marsh that runs along Lake Erie.

We arrived in Niagara around 7:00 pm and set off for dinner at the Flying Saucer, a great little diner on Lundy Street, to end a great day.

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