Our morning started at Petrie Island, with a calm breeze, blue skies, and soothing sunshine. 

by Nina Stavlund and Tony Beck

On 4 October, 34 excited birders met at Petrie Island where we started our “Wild Goose Chase” with the OFNC.

After Petrie Island and a quick comfort stop at Tim Hortons, we went to the Navan area to see Sandhill Cranes among the waterfowl. Venturing out to the Casselman area, we spotted several hawks, harriers, and a few American Pipits and Horned Larks.

Finally arriving at the Lafleche landfill site, we were greeted with approximately 15,000 Snow Geese resting in the sod field. A huge flock of about 5000 geese joined the resting flock. It was an impressive sight with plenty of “oohing and aahing.”

A flock of Canada Geese flew overhead where we were able to pick out a short necked and smaller Cackling Goose. A few Lesser Black-backed Gulls were spotted in addition to all the snow geese. Approximately 2-3% of the Snow Geese were blue morphs.

The cloud cover increased making the temperature a little cooler. We then headed for another pit stop and a hot chocolate. Almost noon, some of our group decided to return home for lunch. The remaining keen birders decided to follow a tip from Alex Stone. Just north of Saint Isidore, in a flooded farm field, we were rewarded with a Purple Sandpiper among a few hundred Dunlin.

Purple Sandpiper (centre back). Click image for a larger view. © Michael Swinton

Nearby, we had stellar views of Lesser Black-backed Gulls, one Iceland Gull, an adult Peregrine Falcon and a light morph Rough-legged Hawk.

At 2:30 pm, we ended the outing at the Giroux Ponds where the remaining hard-core birders watched a light morph Rough-legged Hawk hovering for prey. We also had the pleasure of seeing many Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, and the smallest duck in Canada – Bufflehead.

It was a glorious day with a total of 40 species of birds. The highlights were Lesser Black-backed Gull, Purple Sandpiper (see photo above), Sandhill Crane and Cackling Goose. These were lifers for many in the group.

And birders viewing the Purple Sandpiper. Cell phone image by Nina Stavlund.