Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Bridges of Ottawa County

In Ottawa Co., where State Route 19 crosses the wide Toussaint River (about 2 miles south of Rt 2 and 4 miles north of Oak Harbor), there have been hundreds of Bonaparte's Gulls for the last few days -- almost all adults. On Thursday Nov. 6 they were joined by hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls and a few Herring Gulls, again mostly adults. A fair number of Great Blue Herons are present, and a few lingering Great Egrets. So far I haven't seen anything unusual among this concentration, but it would be worth a check for anyone who's birding in the area. The best place to park is on the north side of the river and west side of Rt 19, where there's a pulloff leading into the Toussaint Wildlife Area. From here you can scope the west side and walk across to scope the east side.

Not far away as the gull flies, Turtle Creek crosses Lemon Road about a mile south of Rt 2 and just north of Duff Washa Road (yeah, that's really the name). Turtle Creek was very low on Thursday Nov. 6, and had extensive exposed mudflats just east of Lemon Road. About 400 Ring-billed Gulls were in the area, but the flats also attracted 41 Killdeer and 17 Pectoral Sandpipers -- a good number of Pecs for so late in the season, considering that they'll mostly go to southern South America for the brief winter and still be back this way by March. The best viewing is from Duff Washa Rd but it's not safe to stop there; best to park up around the corner on Lemon Road and walk back to view the flats.

Anywhere in this general area, keep a keen eye out for Snowy Owls. There have been a couple of reports from just a few miles farther west within the last week. The birds are still on the move and might show up anywhere in open country.

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