Norfolk County Big Day

By: Rowan Keunen ▪ Liam Thorne ▪ Piper Smith ▪ Max Segler

On May 21, the four of us met up at Coppen’s Tract, where we spent a short evening sleeping in our cars at the roadside.

Our alarms were set for 1:50 a.m. so that we could get an early start looking for owls and other nocturnally active birds in the vicinity. After driving around the area for a couple of hours, we were able to pick up a few Barred and Eastern Screech Owls, Eastern Whip-poor-wills, American Woodcocks, as well as multiple unexpected passerine species that happened to be singing. We soon called it quits looking for Great-horned Owl, and then stopped at both Hahn Marsh and Big Creek, where we picked up most of our targeted marsh birds before dawn.

By 6 o’clock, we found ourselves at the Long Point “New” Provincial Park where we hoped to tick off most of the regular spring migrant passerines. Unfortunately, the park turned out to be fairly dead for migrants, and we finished our list around 8:30 am with 70 species.

With this in mind, we decided that we would just have to target as many of the semi-reliable breeders as we could. On our way to Backus Woods, we made a brief stop at Hastings Drive for any gulls and shorebirds that might be present, where we ended up finding a nice White-eyed Vireo. At Backus, we were able to turn up many of the breeders that we had hoped for, such as Hooded and Prothonotary Warblers.

As noon drew near, we decided to stop at some roadside fields to turn up grassland birds that would be more difficult to find in the heat of the afternoon. Along W Quarter Line, we were successfully able to add Grasshopper, Clay-coloured, and Vesper Sparrows to our day list. After this, we drove around to a few more forested locations in the Long Point area, where we were able to pick up Louisiana Waterthrush. At this point we were all feeling pretty tired, but with the help of some food and energy drinks we pushed on to Turkey Point. Here we were unsuccessful with Little Gull, however we did accidentally flush a very random Yellow-billed Cuckoo from the long grass in the beach area!

We spent the remainder of the afternoon around the Birds Canada HQ, the Long Point Causeway, and Hastings Drive, where we added lots of waterfowl and shorebirds to our day list. Among these were both Horned and Red-necked Grebes, decent numbers of Ruddy Duck and Lesser Scaup, and a few shorebirds such as Ruddy Turnstones.

As we were nearing the end of the day, we looked at our trip report and set out to try and fill some easy “gaps.” At sunset we drove to Old Cut and sat in some comfy chairs while we watched our last bird species of the day, a Common Nighthawk, hunting insects over the banding station.

We finished the day with 143 species, not a bad count considering how poor the provincial park had been for new migrant passerines. Overall it was an enjoyable day, and we were very excited to be involved in raising money for the OFO camp of 2023!

eBird Trip Report Link: