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July 24 2022, Kerncliff Park, report

The Pipits: July 24 2022, Kerncliff Park, report 25 Jul 2022 12:28 PM Colleen Reilly (Administrator) Well Pipits, yesterday was predicted to be a stormy morning with a good amount of rainfall.

The initial group had 14 registered, but only 7 of us ended up coming out.

We met at Kerncliff Park at 8am, anticipating at least a walk to the boardwalk, but not much more unless the conditions cleared up. I was hesitant to head into the forest with thunderstorm cells moving in.

Now the week before our walk had a juvenile Little Blue Heron hanging around Valens Conservation Area, and a pond on private property… somewhat viewable from Foreman Road. A few of us had been out in the days preceding the outing, to less than satisfying views of this unusual bird.

Shortly before the outing, Rowan Keunen… posted to Discord that he was able to host folks interested in getting closer views of the bird! His property borders on the pond the bird has been inhabiting.

The Pipit members present agreed that we would have a quick walk to look for Virginia Rails at the Kerncliff boardwalk, and then head off to Cambridge area (about a half hour drive) to hopefully see the Little Blue Heron. It would be a lifer for several members!

Although we struck out on seeing or hearing Virginia Rails during our walk, we did enjoy the lovely habitat of the Kerncliff wetland, and saw a number of birds. And then off we went to Rowan’s farm! Although we drove through some significant rain on route, the weather proved to be no issue, and the sun even came out for us while at the Foreman Road pond!

While the highlight of the visit was the juvenile Little Blue Heron, there was also the opportunity to see Green Herons, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers in non-breeding plumage, Lesser Yellowlegs, a Northern Waterthrush, among other birds. It was a truly lovely location, many thanks to Rowan and his family for welcoming guests to their home.

Thanks to everyone who came out, it was a magical morning! As always!

The eBird Trip Report is here:

A few notes on the birds we saw…

Sandpipers in non-breeding plumage can be tricky! Note that the Solitary has speckling on the wings and bold white spectacles, while the Spotted has an eye line with no speckling on the wings as well as a white comma on its shoulder.

We saw a pair of Lesser Yellowlegs. Jeff Skevington (current OFO president), who was also present yesterday at the Foreman Road pond, pointed out that this was a male and female, with the female being the larger of the two. This size difference is seen in a variety of bird species.

And last but not least, we saw the juvenile Little Blue Heron. It’s white with a tiny bit of darker colouring on the outer wingtips!! Note that it has greenish yellow legs, and a bi-coloured bill. This bird can be distinguished from Snowy Egrets by the leg colour (Snowy have black legs with yellow feet), and the lore colour which is dull greenish in our bird, and yellow or red in the Snowy Egret.

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