Monday, December 7, 2015

Lakefield Sewage Lagoons, early October

Another catch-up post today from early-October.  Our Ornithology class went out to the Lakefield Sewage Lagoons for a morning to see what was out and about in the ponds.  When people first heard that we were going to a Sewage Lagoon, the look on so many faces was "Ewwww we're going where?!" mixed with a "wait, what?" and a dash of "why would we go to a sewage plant!?".   Little do many people know that sewage plants are often local gems for birders and havens for many species of birds.  Many birds that frequent this particular sewage lagoon include ducks, shorebirds, swallows, turkey, etc.

On this particular day, there were quite a few birds around!  We started off by noticing all the ducks in the first cell.  Amongst all of the Lesser Scaup, there was a single Common Goldeneye.  I wish there was a Greater Scaup also in the pond, as it's SO difficult to tell the two apart (even I IDed it incorrectly at first and needed a second opinion).  In the second cell we saw more scaup, four Wood Ducks (a favourite of most people), and some mallards.

As we walked around cell two, we saw Red-winged Blackbirds, Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Blue Jays, and then my group came upon the second group of students and TA (Scott) who were all rather excited about a bird.  A Shorebird!

We all hurried over to where it was alone and eating inverts within the mud.  All of us stood around with out ID books out.  For me, shorebirds have been fairly difficult to master, and one in non-breeding plumage? *cue laughter* Even harder.

Our first guess was a Dunlin, which quickly got booted out and moved into a Western Sandpiper.  It seemed like it could be possible, but more so impossible.  We waited a little longer and watched it walk around to get a look at it in all sorts of positions.  

It did a little hop away from us and we suddenly got a quick flash of it's rump.  White. Thank goodness for this great clue!  We were able to walk away, fairly certain that it was a White-rumped Sandpiper, which is still fairly rare for this area.   Once we got back to school, we did double check with our Professor, Erica Nol (the shorebird guru), who also agreed!

It was a pretty exciting bird for all of the students to see, and a lifer for many of them!  We then walked back to the bus and on the way noticed what people thought was a Flicker or something up in a tree.  Strangely enough, it was a lone, Eastern Meadowlark!  Not something that we expected to see at this time of year.  I didn't get to take a photo of it, but it was another lifer for many of our students!

So much more to catch up on still, but hope everyone is happy naturing!