LWI was fortunate enough to have been invited to the Sarnia Solar Farm for a winter bird count! Expertly led by Larry Cornelis, the day was a great success. A total of 22 species were sighted over a four hour period with spectacular views of short-eared owls. At one point eight short-eared owls flew up and were flying over our heads … it was an unbelievable sight to witness a murder of about 40 crows mob the owls as they dipped and dived around one another. At one point a red-tailed hawk joined in the flock but didn’t seem to be taking sides!
Here is the full report from Larry Cornelis:
Winter Bird Survey, January 2, 2017
- Sunny, light breeze, 0c to +4c
- 9:00 am to 1:15 pm
- Walked 6 km, drove 16 km (total party mileage)
- 20 participants, organized by Larry Cornelis RTL
This is the 3rd winter bird survey at Sarnia Solar conducted by RTL staff and the second survey that local birders/members of Lambton Wildlife were invited to participate in. Twenty participants were lead by Larry Cornelis. The weather was excellent and a very thorough survey was conducted.
The tall grass prairie sites and abandoned fields at Sarnia Solar provide excellent habitat for grassland bird species and raptors. This was reflected in the number of raptors observed on this survey. Of note were the 12 shot-eared owls. Short-eared owls are in decline and are classed as a ‘species at risk’ ranked ‘special concern’. The grassland-like habitats provide the highest ecological values for the 1100 acre site. All wildlife species that inhabit grasslands are in decline with many classed as species at risk.
Other highlights were the 30 robins, 1 bald eagle,1 great blue heron and 1 northern flicker. This was an increase of 5 species over last winters survey. Other observations included 1 jack rabbit, 2 white-tailed deer and numerous meadow voles.
Larry Cornelis RTL
Canada Goose 21 Great Blue Heron 1
Short-eared Owl 12 American Kestrel 1
Red-tailed Hawk 10 Rough-legged Hawk 3
Northern Harrier 4 Bald Eagle 1
Pigeon 75 Downy Woodpecker 4
Northern Flicker 1 Blue Jay 1
Horned Lark 3 American Crow 80
Black-capped Chickadee 8 White Breasted Nuthatch 3
American Robin 30 European Starling 250
Snow Bunting 3 American Tree Sparrow 50
Dark-eyed Junco 1 American Goldfinch 9
22 species 571 individuals