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Point Pelee migration area must remain safe for birds  

Credit:  By Elizabeth Le Geyt, The Ottawa Citizen, www.ottawacitizen.com 19 September 2010 ~~

The proposal to build a wind farm at Pigeon Bay in Lake Erie off Point Pelee National Park fills me, as a birder, with considerable alarm.

And I feel certain my concern for birds killed by wind turbines will be shared by my readers, many of whom have happy memories of watching the migration of birds across Lake Erie, making landfall, tired and hungry, on the point at the park.

The proposal raises obvious questions that must be resolved before any responsible government would approve such a plan. And local birders need to be vigilant to ensure that the province acts responsibly. Point Pelee should be protected completely and permanently, as an ecologically sensitive area and especially for the hordes of migrants that wing great distances to find refuge there.

Now, to the birds. The whooping crane migration of the 13 young birds of 2010 from Wisconsin is due to begin on Oct. 5, weather permitting. Meanwhile the eight oldest ones flew with the ultralight to join the five younger ones. They are now together in a big pen, separated by a fence, to get acquainted and squabble over territorial rights in safety. They have time to socialize and to get to know each other to form a group to fly together to the wintering grounds in Florida. Hopefully, the weather will be more helpful than in previous years.

Here in Ottawa, the warbler pass-through reached its peak on Sept. 12. Bruce Di Labio found 19 species that day, most of them along the ridge at Mud Lake in Britannia. There were more than 35 black-throated green warblers, more than 100 yellow-rumped, 12 northern parula, and more than 40 blackpolls among them.

The next day, Di Labio saw indigo buntings at his feeder in Carp. On Sept. 14 in Presqu’ile Provincial Park, he spotted three whimbrels and several plovers on Gull Island as well as horned larks and American pipits feeding along the shore.

Raptors were also plentiful, including a juvenile bald eagle, four young peregrines, a merlin, three kestrels, 20 juvenile sharp-shinned, two young Cooper’s hawks, three northern harriers and three ospreys. And red-necked grebes and three black-crowned night herons were on the move.

Don Wigle also observed many warblers Sept. 14, including black-throated green and a Nashville, as well as a solitary vireo, song and white-throated sparrows and a loon, losing its breeding plumage and getting its brown winter feathers.

Pierre Landry watched a mature bald eagle circling over Orléans, the white head and tail standing out against the dark brown of the body. Bill McMullen saw another eagle flying over Highway 174 between Orléans and Cumberland. It came so close to his car that he was able to see details on the head, the massive bill, even the eye.

Wilson Hum found five Bonaparte gulls in non-breeding plumage on the Ottawa River east of Andrew Haydon Park. He watched eight sanderlings in the same place. They run up and down the beach following the receding wave, returning just ahead the next wave, probing for food as they go.

André Burnage, in Glen Cairn, had several goldfinches at his feeder. He noted the males were losing their bright yellow summer plumage and beginning to look like their females for the winter.

Jennifer Raiche, visiting Bezanson in Alberta, was surprised to see a rose-breasted grosbeak so far west. She saw a gray jay in northern B.C.

Inger Weiburst saw four large, black birds beside Highway 2 in Quebec. As the heads were grey she thought they were juvenile turkey vultures. The red heads develop later. Vernon Mullen observed an adult and a juvenile vulture from a 22nd floor room in Ottawa.

Tony Beck now has 83 birds on his “Balcony List,” having added a bald eagle, 10 juvenile sanderlings and three red-necked phalaropes.

Yvette Paskovich saw one of the great egrets that have come to the Ottawa River this year in Andrew Haydon Park. Chantal Bleatan saw a female pileated woodpecker in Winchester, as well as northern flickers. Joe Vanderburg’s yellow-shafted flicker was in search of ants on the ground in Stittsville.

Joe Ilkiw watched a great blue heron catch one of the goldfish in his pond. He had also seen it catch a frog.

Darcy Grant, visiting Blue Sea Lake, 100 kilometres northeast of Ottawa, was surprised to find a pair of double-crested cormorants. These birds are well-established in fresh-water habitats, including Ottawa, where they are now nesting.

A special thank-you note for Jeanette Jobson, who very kindly left me a beautiful carved bird here at Orchard View.

Send birding reports and specify location to 613-821-9880 or e-mail elegeyt@rogers.com. The Wild Bird Care Centre for orphaned and injured birds is at 613-828-2849.

Source:  By Elizabeth Le Geyt, The Ottawa Citizen, www.ottawacitizen.com 19 September 2010

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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