Thursday, November 15, 2012

Drive to Pelee - Nov 10th

On the 10th, I had to head into the office in the morning, but around mid-day I was able to leave and head for Pelee !!! With a big warm front in the works, I wanted to see what kind of goodies were around...  The stops:

Blenheim SL - LOTS of ducks, of many species, nothing of note though!

Erieau - typical scattering of gulls and cormorants, but again - nothing of note... Rondeau back was PACKED with ducks, but the light wasn't good, so I just avoided them... Turns out there are a few Eurasian Wigeon out there!

Wheatley Harbour - about 75 Killdeer in a nearby field, I was surprised to see a huge feeding frenzy of Ring-billed Gulls in the harbour - but not surprisingly - not a single gull of note...

It looked like Sandy had caused a ruckus, as the beach was much smaller and crews were working to dig out the mouth of the channel... 

No rares...

Hillman Marsh  - lots of mud, which is normal for this time of year when they lower the Great Lakes to "winter levels" - ALWAYS after the shorebirds are essentially gone... Thanks "water people" ... 

I after checking multiple vantage points, I fianlly scored into a flock of Dunlin and Killdeeer that were hosting 2 White-runmped Sandpipers... 

There was another huge mass of gulls, with lesser numbers of fowl - but no rares again! The best bird here was an American Bittern that I flushed from a nearby ditch ! 

Last stop before dark was behind the Day's Inn.. Managed about 80 Hooded Mergs at the Marina part... Then at the lookout deck I spotted 2 Cackling Geese (that Kevin McLaughlin had told me about earlier).. Not a bad bird... Also scored 3 Greater and 2 Lesser Yellowlegs, 2 Sandhill Cranes and a Wilson's Snipe before I lost all light... 

After that I raided the local Value Village (got some sweet pants), the LCBO and watched UFC fights till I passed out!  

Day 2 tomorrow......


As far as recent news goes, I noticed (on Nov 13th) that the James Bay coast had a substantial ice build up along the coast already this year!

Pretty early... Usually this is a good (great) time to check your favourite Purple Sandpiper spot (mine is Fifty Point) to find some exhausted PUSA hanging out! 


  1. Lower the Great Lakes to winter levels... you know of a dam on the Niagara River that I don't? Sorry, but that'd be Ma' Nature doing that, take your issues up with her.

  2. Nope, but you're certainly not the first to think that either. The Control Works in the Niagara River have no effect on the total flow of the Niagara River or on Lake Erie water levels. The purpose of the structure is to allow the power companies to divert water from the river to the power plants downstream at Queenston and Lewiston, while also maintaining the scenic beauty of Niagara Falls and ensuring minimum flows over the Falls are met. The only two Great Lakes that are regulated are Superior and Ontario, but even with them it's mostly nature and the seasonal cycle of water levels you're seeing, not "water people" lowering the Great Lakes to their "winter levels".

    1. Interesting.. I thought they could totally shut down the flow over the falls when needed...

      At the same time, you mention they maintain a minimum water flow - but I know that they can dramatically increase or decrease the flow even on an hour by hour basis (I've been there numerous days in the summer where I watch the water level in the gorge rise 15+ feet to meet "daytime" flow levels)... Wouldn't this also allow them to lower the levels of the lake by maintaining a higher flow??

      This is all just suspicion on my part, but the Lake Levels always seem to drop dramatically in mid October without much in the way of meteorological explanation..

      Would be a more interesting chat to have in person! But I do appreciate the replies here

    2. This would definitely be easier in person, but whatever, here goes...

      - No, definitely can't shut the flow off entirely... that'd be pretty awesome though.

      - As far as short-term rises in water levels, there are two things you might be seeing. First, in the summer minimum flow over the Falls is twice as much during the day (i.e., "tourist hours") as it is at night. So at 8 am or so every morning in the summer, the flow over the falls usually doubles. This causes large increases in water levels downstream of the Falls in the Niagara Gorge, and I guess depending on where you're looking it could be close to 15 feet. Second, you could be seeing the power companies releasing more water at certain times of the day from their storage reservoirs to meet power demand. I'm not sure how much they vary flows by, and you'd only really see this downstream of the power plants though.

      - There's no way to control the flow in the Niagara River out of Lake Erie, that depends on the water level of the lake and basically nothing else. So maintaining a higher flow over the Falls doesn't mean more water coming out of Lake Erie, it just means that of the total flow leaving the lake, less is allowed to be diverted around the Falls to the power plants.

      - And there's a very good meteorological explanation for levels falling around this time of year, it's that during the fall evaporation starts to pick up as cold, dry air passes over the warm lakes. Kind of counter-intuitive, but evaporation from the Great Lakes is greatest in the fall and early winter because of this... lake effect snow, anyone?

    3. Great info Jacob! Many thanks.. Will have to chat about this next time I run into you in the field!