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by Martin Selzer and Bert Filemyr (leaders)
NIAGARA FALLS FIELD TRIP REPORT
December 5-8, 2003
Weather - Partly cloudy to sunny, 24-32 degrees F.
Species - 75 (11 gull species)
Miles driven from on trip (from Philadelphia) - 1238
Leaving Philadelphia, as a major snow storm was developing, we traveled north and enjoyed dry, seasonable weather. Arriving at the American Falls on Friday afternoon we scanned the area below the falls and then traveled to Niagara-on-the-Lake for the evening flyby of Bonaparte's Gulls. The hoped for Black-headed and Little Gulls evaded our careful scan.
On Saturday we stopped by the Sir Adam Beck Overlook and quickly found the expected California Gull. Leaving the Niagara River we birded the lake Ontario shoreline and the Hamilton harbor. The masses of waterfowl on the lake are always a treat to see. Trumpeter Swans from a reintroduction program were a pleasant surprise. Heading inland we gave the elusive Gray Partridge a shot at the Brantford Airport and various agricultural fields south of Brantford. The lack of snow in the area hampered our search and this species is always very difficult to locate. Inspite of our best efforts we did not find the partridges.
Sunday was our day to bird the Niagara River from Fort Erie to Niagara-on-the-Lake. We started by seeking an adult Mew Gull and a juvenile Gannett that were found late Saturday afternoon. The gull was probably still in the area but we, and many other birders, were unable to pick it out of the thousand of roosting and flying gulls above the falls. The gannet was obvious and we enjoyed this very rare interior record. After this search it was a full day of gull watching on the river. Our only stop away from the river was a set of local feeders that produced a Tufted Titmouse. This species, common in the Philadelphia area in the winter, was a significant record for the Niagara area. The day went quickly and by 4:30 pm we were back at Niagara-on-the-Lake for the flyby. The conditions were perfect and all of us saw a Little Gull in the mass of Bonaparte's Gulls. A few participants also picked out a Black-headed Gull.
Monday was a short day of birding before we started home. Great views of a Rough-legged Hawk on a local golf course was a singular highlight. Our stop at the Queenstown boat ramp allowed some participants to get on a distant Black-headed Gull. Our last birding stop of the trip was a quick look for a reported Townsend's Solitaire on Grand Island.
It was a wonderful trip with a wonderful group of birders. It was a pleasure to introduce people to the gull spectacle, the waterfowl masses, and meals at Tim Horton's.
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