Monday 27 May 2013

Day 2 in Rainy River - May 24

This was our second, and last day in the Rainy River area of Ontario. An area where several species of bird regularly breed, but are hard to find anywhere else in the province. Some specialty birds are Western Meadowlark, Marbled Godwit, Le Conte's Sparrow, Brewer's Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and others...

On this day we had several Western Meadowlarks singing on territory throughout the area:

After finding 1 Marbled Godwit the previous day, we were happy to find 6 more the next day.

Sandhill Cranes are relatively common throughout the area:

I was happy to get great looks of several Olive-sided Flycatchers, a species I had only heard before!

White-throated Sparrows were singing from every plot of woods:

In the afternoon on Friday we boated out to Windy Point Island, which is almost 2 km long and ranges between 200 and 10 meters wide. It is mostly a long sandy beach with marshy areas on either side. Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and our target bird, the Piping Plover have been known to breed on the island.

On the island, a small flock of shorebirds included Dunlin and Least Sandpiper:

These are all photos from that same point & shoot I mentioned in previous posts. I'm loving the results!

While I was photographing the Dunlin (above) Ken & Mike found a Piping Plover. Unfortunately, while I was walking over the bird managed to disappear. I was getting worried that I would miss it!

Luckily we re-found it not too far away and I enjoyed great looks at this endangered species:

It did a good job of camouflaging itself in the sand and rocks, can you find it:

On our way out of the Rainy River area we stopped by the sewage lagoons:

This spot, for whatever reason, attracts a lot of Wilson's Phalaropes. Our high count was over 140 birds! The females are more colourful than the males and are also polyandrous (i.e. 1 female may breed with several males), and the males incubate the eggs, meaning that the females begin their southbound migration earlier than the males, because the males must incubate and raise the chicks.

At the Emo sewage lagoons we were surprised to see 3 Soras running around in the open. All 3 let us get relatively close before making a mad dash to hide and then apparently seemed to forget what they were running away from, and continued walking around right out in the open. One bird actually made a short flight away from us, crashed into a bunch of reeds, and fell to the ground! Silly birds!

The highlight of the day was during our drive back into the boreal forest. On the highway near Atikokan we saw a lynx next to a random parking area. We quickly stopped, turned around and saw the cat slowly walk into the woods before we could get a photo. A fox was nearby barking loudly at the lynx. Apparently it had a den nearby and the lynx was not welcome!

Here's the fox half way between its summer and winter coats, with its evil eyes!