I have spent quite a bit of time down on the Niagara River lately, ever since the brown booby appeared in Fort Erie a while back, followed by that Elegant Tern more recently. I have the good fortune of having my in-laws living in Stevensville just a few minutes away which makes it easy to dip over to the river to see whats around. Speaking of dipping, I dipped on the Elegant Tern as you will see.
The real fun began last weekend (November 24th) when I went down on Sunday to see what I could find on the river, mainly to find that MEGA-RARITY elegant tern. I started in Fort Erie at Highland Avenue and the Niagara Parkway where it had been previously report on the American side of the Niagara River. However, I was unable to see it after some hard scoping of the far side. So I left and headed a bit further towards Lake Erie to see what my little eyes could see and was rewarded with several horned grebe, common loon and various waterfowl including this nifty red-throated loon.
Not too shabby, I got word from Chris Bell that there was a Franklin's gull a few hundred metres up the river in a flock of several thousand bonaparte's gulls so I headed up there and found a way down the steep embankment to the river where after sifting through many many birds I finally found the Franklin's gull sitting beside several ring-billed gulls. A really nice bird! Unfortunately it was too far for photos so I left and headed back to the elegant tern spot on Highland.
After watching the far side for quite a while I flushed a small bird out of the bushes to my left, right on the shore and was absolutely STUNNED to be looking at a lark sparrow!! A mid-western species that should by all accounts be on its way down south to winter in Texas and Mexico! I quickly whipped out my trusty little camera and fumbled to get a good shot through the bush. I then alerted the birders who were busy scanning the river with a lark sparrow sitting practically at our feet!
He then flew down to the path on the other side of the Niagara parkway next to a footpath where he stayed, pecking seeds and dirt for the next half hour or so until I left.
As I was leaving I spotted a beautiful little gull with its dark underwings as it landed in a crowd of bonapartes gulls and disappeared.
After having an exciting morning I then headed up the Niagara to the falls and eventually Adam Beck where I had immature Iceland and Thayer's Gulls on the roosting rocks. Thanks to Chris Bell who was there before me for pointing them out.
All in all a great day!
I had another great day on the river the following weekend with the Burrells who were leading a gull tour, but that's a story for another day.