Autumn shorebird summary

Now that the first frosts are with us it seems that the shorebirds are just about done for the autumn at St-Lazare sand pits. Below is a summary of the season’s passage. Exceptional were the high numbers of Black-bellied Plovers, five Hudsonian Godwits and five Long-billed Dowitchers.

 Black-bellied Plover – The first was seen on 20-September, numbers then increased and late afternoon saw the spare sand bars covered in birds. My best count was 144 on 24-October.

American Golden-Plover – around from 03-October with up to 15 on some days. In relatively nearby fields there was a flock of at least 70 in newly ploughed fields. The last birds were present 18-October.

Semipalmated Plover – Been scarce this year with three on 1-September, two of which remained until the next day and one on 6-October and that was it!

Killdeer – The traditional autumn build up saw a peak count of 75 in Mid September.

Spotted Sandpiper – although four pairs bred or at least tried to, they moved out fairly quickly. The last one of the autumn was seen on 21-September..

Solitary Sandpiper – Up to three were around late August but none since.

Greater Yellowlegs – The numbers fluctuated as birds moved through with never more than 10 on site on any one day, the last record, (of five birds) was from 17-October.

Lesser Yellowlegs – The numbers peaked at 45, the last was on 12-October.

Hudsonian Godwit  – A great year for this species with several sites in Quebec hosting birds. The first arrived on 3-October and stayed a four of days. Next came three birds together seen on the evening of 12-October, finally a new bird arrived 13-October and stayed until the next day.

Semipalmated Sandpiper – Not very common this autumn peaking at around 15 individuals.

Least Sandpiper – Birds were present daily throughout the main autumn passage period.

White-rumped Sandpiper – The peak count was seven birds.

Baird’s Sandpiper – Three different birds passed through but none stayed for more than a day.

Pectoral Sandpiper – Perhaps up to 20 birds were seen throughout the autumn with the highest day count being nine.

Dunlin – The first birds appeared 30-September and then increased to 26 by mid October.

Stilt Sandpiper – At least one individual was present from late September into early October.

Short-billed Dowitcher – One was present 23 to 27-September.

Long-billed Dowitcher – An unprecedented five individuals were seen including three together on several dates. The first was seen on 30-September, the last on 28-October.

Wilson’s Snipe – Scarce this autumn with just three birds around in late September.

On 26-October I went out to Hungry Bay, the western entrance to Beauharnois Canal. No wind to speak of meant it was easy to scan the area, my totals for an hours watching were: Red-necked Grebe 11, Horned Grebe 3, White-winged Scoter 11 and Common Loon 10. There were still a couple of Myrtle Warblers around too.

This past week has seen the water dominated by Canada Geese but the Redhead continued to show and three new Ruddy Ducks appeared today making eight for the autumn so far. Common Mergansers are now being seen daily while one day had three male Hooded Mergansers to compliment the female/immature which has been around for a while. Northern Pintails have only numbered two which is poor while the lone Common Goldeneye lingers

The colder weather has also started to inspire visible movement through the pits with Rusty Blackbirds seen daily in small flocks, Dark-eyed Juncos are also zipping about and a Northern Gray Shrike is in residence ready for the anticipated redpoll feast.

The forecast for the week to come is for much of the same type of weather so fingers crossed for more passage. It can’t be too long before the Blue Jays start up and this year I will probably have time to enjoy it. Sorry that there have been no photos for a while, must try harder.

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