Wilson’s and Piping Plovers + Bronte Marina

Friday, May 29, 2015

Three species of plovers (Wilson’s, Snowy and Piping) were observed on Hanlan’s Beach, Toronto Islands on Wednesday.  The Snowy did not linger.  Due to work commitments I could not head over until Friday morning. Anticipating I would have company, I was pleased to spot three birders, two adults and a teenager, sporting binoculars and cameras waiting for the ferry.  I recognized the teenage birder from Tommy Thompson Park.  He introduced himself to the other two and I did likewise.  Once on the beach the Wilson’s Plover was the first to be observed.

Wilson's Plover

Wilson’s Plover

Wilson's Plover resting

Wilson’s Plover resting

Wilson's Plover with eyes closed

Wilson’s Plover with eyes closed

We found the Piping Plovers but because I had to head back to work I took two record shots.  It was anticipated that a portion of the beach would be cordoned off later in the day in a bid to offer some protection to the Piping Plovers as it appeared they intended to nest on the sand.

On my way back to the ferry docks I encountered this Brown Thrasher.

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

Day 1 conversation:

One of the birders I spoke with was David Beadle, author of the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America.  He will be leading the July 22, 2015 moth night walk at High Park.  Please see the Toronto Entomologists’ Association website for further information.   I am definitely going to join one of the walks. Note, the insect photography session on July 19th and the Butterfly Farm walk in Millgrove (near Burlington) to be held on July 25th.

As we discussed these rarities, I learned the Wilson’s was a first record for Toronto.  David also informed us of that the largest, unmatched, single-day rarity twitch occurred in England.  A Golden-Winged Warbler attracted 5,000 birders on the first day.  Click here for a photograph of the crowd.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

I was on the first ferry over to Hanlan’s Island on Saturday morning as were about 19 other birders.  The Wilson’s Plover was nowhere to be found.

Signs and some fencing had been erected the previous day.

Piping Plover closed area sign

Piping Plover closed area sign

Protective signs

Protective signs

We were asked to walk along the water’s edge.  That didn’t stop these two from breaching protocol.

Sigh!

Sigh!

Not to worry.  They were spoken to.  Carrying on, the Piping Plovers offered fantastic views.

Piping Plover walking about

Piping Plover walking about

Piping Plover on beach

Piping Plover on beach

The third Piping Plover

The third Piping Plover

Two Piping Plovers

Two Piping Plovers

This may be the nest

This may be the nest

Gorgeous Piping Plover

Gorgeous Piping Plover

I did a bit of birding afterwards, spotting the following.

Eastern Wood Peewee

Eastern Wood Peewee

Barn Swallows

Barn Swallows

Killdeer on log

Killdeer on log

Male Baltimore Oriole

Male Baltimore Oriole

Male Baltimore Oriole

Male Baltimore Oriole

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

Day 2 conversation:

You will notice at least one of the plovers is banded.  Two birders, familiar with the banding programme, reported that the birds were the offspring of similarly protected plovers that nest on Wasaga Beach.  Click here for more details –   Once observers identify the nest site, a top open structure is erected over the nest to afford additional protection from predators.  Presently, the plovers on the beach face predation from mammals and birds.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Never one to be deterred by rain I took a jaunt to Bronte Marina this morning.  We soooooooooo need the rain.  Water levels are low everywhere.  The nesting Red-necked Grebes were my target species.  They did not disappoint.

Red-necked Grebe with five visible eggs

Red-necked Grebe with five visible eggs

Red-necked Grebe with nest-building material

Red-necked Grebe with nest-building material

Red-necked Grebe delivering nesting material

Red-necked Grebe delivering nesting material

One of the great gifts of birding on rainy days is that there is usually no one about.  Today was no exception.

Caspian and Common Terns, Ring-billed Gulls and Cormorants were actively diving for fish.  The terns were often too close for me to photograph.  I did manage to get a few shots of a Common Tern.

Common Tern

Common Tern

And lastly, I don’t know how she does it but this Mallard has my admiration.

Female Mallard with brood

Female Mallard with brood

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