Bigby – Bigger & Better – Pelicans!

12 04 2011

A. White Pelican - Luke Tiller

The last couple of day have been pretty incredible, so it’s very hard to know where to start first with the blog posts! I guess I’ll space them out a bit, otherwise I’ll be spending the next 5 hours writing blog posts and I still have taxes to go stick in the post. After an incredible day was winding down at the hawkwatch, which included almost 9,000 raptors, I was lucky enough to spot a pair of American White Pelicans cruising over Braddock Bay towards the West Spit area. Amusingly Josh Lawrey (who was helping out today) has an amusing story about White Pelicans at Braddock Bay, so when I called them out he initially thought I was trying to wind him up!

Sure enough though the pelicans were real though and not part of a rather corny old joke. After a while drifting about the bay area they eventually were followed as far as the eye could see and seemed to disappear over towards Salmon Creek on Manitou Rd, where they were eventually relocated loafing around in the shallow water there by some of the local birding community. This gave a good number of people the chance to drop in to see these birds, and also gave me the opportunity to drive home after work and walk the mile and a half to add these to my Bigby list just before sunset. This has to be the best sighting so far on the Bigby year so far – easily eclipsing the Barrow’s and the Snowy Owl (you can see the full list on the Bigby page).

As spring begins to break here at Braddock, I have managed to pick up a few migrant birds each morning and today I finally broke through the hundred barrier. The Bigby birding gods must have been with me this morning though as I broke through 100 birds in some style. Perhaps it was birding karma for popping out early to check and see if the pelicans had over-nighted at Salmon Creek (they had) in order to get a message on Genesee Birds to let people know they were still out there. As I pulled back into the drive this morning after checking the pelicans, I heard the distinctive grunt of Sandhill Cranes and low and behold there were two of them drifting over my head and out towards the lake – a great Bigby score!

I popped in and posted that the pelicans were hanging in at the creek and made myself the cuppa that I never quite managed the morning before, more on that story later, before popping out on the deck to drink it. The decision to go en plein air for the tea was an inspired one. As I stepped outside the racket that the blackbirds and starlings usually make cranked up about 100 decibels, and to my surprise a beautiful, crisply marked juvie Northern Goshawk muscled his way in and perched at the top of the tree right outside my house – simply incredible! A half hour into my morning and I had already spotted 2 pelicans, 2 cranes and a Northern Goshawk, that just gives you some idea of how good the birding at Braddock Bay can be!

I wasn’t finished with the excitement for the day, and still have to jot down some thoughts on yesterdays incredible hawkwatch, but for now those experiences can wait – time for another cuppa and to pop out and see what else I can find for my Bigby list!