Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Western Kingbird in Hamilton

On September 8th, I spent the afternoon and evening birding around Hamilton with Chris Ho and Mark Dorriesfield. We started by checking a few spots for shorebirds, mostly finding only common species, but also 1 American Golden Plover and a few other birds of note such as 3 Northern Pintail. We then headed to Van Wagner's beach for some lakewatching.

Van Wagner's is situated perfectly at the west end of Lake Ontario such that in east winds birds are blown close to shore. When we arrived we were disappointed to learn that we had just missed a group of four Parasitic and Pomarine Jaegers at point-blank range, but settled in for an afternoon of scanning the horizon. A few distant Sabine's Gulls were great to see and distant jaegers were present from time to time, but the birds never cooperated. Late in the afternoon, the news came in that a Western Kingbird seen two days before had been rediscovered, so we, along with a good portion of the several dozen birders present, drove out of the city to the seemingly unremarkable location where it had been seen.

Although we quickly saw both a Great Crested Flycatcher and this Eastern Kingbird, their western relative was not showing itself.

Finally, after a long wait, Brett Fried spotted the bird flying in, and we were able to enjoy it for quite some time.

Several times the kingbird regurgitated some small objects and then wiped its bill on the branch. It's hard to tell exactly what the objects are, but one of them appears shiny in the video, so perhaps beetle elytra? The Eastern Kingbird was feeding on berries so it may also be some kind of pit.

Remarkably, this is the third time I've seen this rare flycatcher in Ontario this year (I had one at Rondeau and one on Pelee Island in May).

After the kingbird we headed back to the beach and saw a few more distant jaegers as well as thousands of gulls returning to the lake to roost for the night.

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