Sunday, March 25, 2012

East of Bourget with Jane and Connie's Group

March 21, 2012

The very warm weather caused a very early thaw and the fields near Cobb's Lake Creek were drying out fast.  Today there were Jane, Connie, Nadine, Suzanne, Sami and me.

We went out Russell Road all the way past Bourget to Johnston Road, which was flooded.  We saw that there were a couple of thousand Greater Snow Geese in with the Canadas, but not the tens of thousands that can sometimes be seen.  There were also hundreds of Northern Pintails, a few Mallards and American Wigeons, and two Tundra Swans.

Sami and I walked down the muddy road to try for better photos (not much luck) but we did see a number of Killdeers.  Back at the scopes, we looked at the Wigeons and noticed a few Green-winged Teal in the background.  I also saw a few American Black Ducks.  Others saw a pair of Ring-necked Ducks.

On the other side of Russell Road, there were more Northern Pintails and two Muskrats.

We stopped beyond the bridge to scope Cobb's Lake Creek, and I swear I saw a Northern Shoveller.  But we could not relocate it afterwards - maybe I was dreaming.  Jane definitely saw a Hooded Merganser, which we all got to look at in the scopes.  We saw a couple of raptors - very distant.  One soared with really straight wings like an eagle.

We turned off Russell and ended up on Du Lac.  Here I tried to direct the group back to Russell, but we ended up going down a very soupy thawing road which nearly got us stuck.  Not wanting to retrace that route, we decided to go back to St. Pascal and head west to Sarsfield.  Here the ladies went in to use the washroom, while Sami was amused to see a House Sparrow fighting it's reflection in a car mirror.

Finally, we got to Dunning, and the group decided to go to Giroux ponds to finish their lunch.  On Giroux, we had a Horned Lark fly across in front of the car.  At the ponds, there were several Common Mergansers, mostly male with a few females.

We went down Frank Kenny Road to check out the flooded Bear Brook.  We saw our first two Turkey Vultures of the season.  We could not find the reported (Bob Cermak) Greater White-fronted Geese, but we did see some Wood Ducks, as well as repeats of all the other ducks seen already.  We did spot the Long-billed Dowitcher and two more Tundra Swans!

We went on to Milton Road, stopping a couple of times to look for Sandhill Cranes without success.  After seeing the Common Raven at the silo, we turned down Smith Road.  We did not see any cranes, but stopped anyway and lo and behold, three of them (a family group, no doubt) flew in and landed right opposite us.  We digiscoped them and Suzanne noticed a distant bird on a post in the background.  It was so far that we had trouble to see the detail, but we think it was an Eastern Kingbird.

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