Some September

I wrote this before we went off for a week but didn’t get chance to post it so…

Even before eBird announced September as their patch watch month, I’d decided that, during the month of movement I was going to concentrate on my patch, St-Lazare sand pits – just to see how well I’d do. In the scheme of things, a score of 100-115 species might have been reasonably expected, in what is the bridge month between summer flying out the door and winter lacing up its boots.

I’ve been fortunate this year in that the pits have provided optimum conditions for shorebirds although some species have been lacking. I’ve not had a dowitcher there this year at all and what Baird’s did show up, left just as quickly. Pectoral Sandpipers have been numerous, with probably 20+ individuals through, some lingering for a few days at a time. Rare shorebirds are what we all look for, and it can just be a case of being stood in the right place at the right time, such was the situation with a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Once again phalaropes spurned the chance of investigating some quality mud, as did the ever elusive Willet, or perhaps I just missed them.

Warblers have been superb, although Canada Warbler didn’t read the script and failed to appear this year. The trails in the soccer pitch woods have really opened up the area, even if I don’t think the people who did the labour had that in mind when they cut them. It seems that one local has decided that the woods are their own, personal horsey playground, they’re not but visitors should be aware.

Hawks only came through in a very brief window and the Broad-winged Hawk flight is best described as modest, in fact Blue Jays completely out did them with over 800 coming through one morning alone. Now is the time of the sparrows and September 29th had Chipping, White-throated, White-crowned, Lincoln’s, Song and Vesper Sparrow. There was almost certainly a few Savannah and Dark-eyed Juncos around too that evaded the bins, we might even be harbouring an as yet unseen Fox Sparrow, it’s that time of year.

Geese poured in and the 1000+ that are roosted obscured other things on the lakes. They moved off fairly early most days and by 9:00 most had gone off to the local fields to be shot at. Other species of wildfowl are also turning up, Hooded Mergansers and Ring-necked Ducks sporadically and the odd Gadwall and Northern Pintail. Hopefully our annual Ruddy Ducks will be along soon and fingers crossed for a site rarity, any scoter but Surf would be excellent.

September ended as a ‘yellow’ month in my Excel spreadsheet, that is a month where I went birding every day, in this case at the pits. My personal pits list for the month is 137,  a site record that included two new site species, Marsh Wren and Olive-sided Flycatcher, both in a year when I was convinced I’d go patch tick-less.

October can be just as interesting as September, with some spectacular visible migration days to come, hopefully including a Golden Eagle. Late shorebirds can include Long-billed Dowitcher and it would be a treat if a stray Purple Sandpiper came long for us to enjoy. It won’t be second consecutive ‘yellow’ pits month for me though, we went to Oregon for a week at the beginning of October.

Here are a few odd shots.

A hybrid Canada x Snow Goose that has been around a while.

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A Cackling Goose with Canada Geese, good to see the size difference.

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An immature Hermit Thrush that came to my playing Bicknell’s calls at the end of September, well, you never know.

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The Ross’s Geese are still present at the pits today, but here they are flying off, no doubt to return unless someone blasts them out of the sky.

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