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A Year of Birds: September

The sandpipers are now in their fall plumage, with the spots starting to disappear on their breasts. I feel a bit sad seeing those, realizing that soon they will migrate.

Photo of a sandpiper on driftwood
Sandpiper on driftwood at the beach

The Canadian Geese are gathering into larger groups, and can be seen “practicing” flying together, honking away, then landing, in preparation for their fall migration. As the days get cooler, and the tops of the trees become tinged with red and yellow, the birds (and humans) can feel that fall is approaching.

Canadian Geese flying over the bay on Lake Huron
Canadian Geese flying over the bay on Lake Huron

Today, I saw four sanderlings – adult nonbreeding ones – who were migrating south and stopped in the bay for a drink and to eat. They were voraciously eating as they ran up the shore, and then stopped and looked right at me. I spent awhile taking photos of these beautifully marked little shorebirds. One even took a bath in the water, shaking and fluffing his feathers after running into the surf. They are adorable!

Sanderling on the beach
Sanderling on the beach during a migration stop

The egrets and blue herons are still here, and I wonder how long they will stay, as the days get shorter and the nights cooler.  The heron “babies” are much bigger now, and look like a slightly grayer and less plumed version of the adults.

Young blue heron in a swampy area
Young blue heron looking at me from the swampy area near the lake

Some sandhill cranes have been coming to the swamps near Misery Bay in the evenings to feed. Their red-ochre plumage is gorgeous when the golden light of evening lights it up. I know they are feeding to have energy for their migration south, another sign of fall. I have also seen a pair in the fields just west of here, eating seeds.

Sandhill cranes feeding
Sandhill Cranes feeding during a migration stopover in the marsh

The terns can be seen flying and swooping in the air over the bay. The fishing must be good, since they have stayed here all summer long.

Arctic tern flying
Arctic tern flying over the bay

The butterfly bushes still have a few flowers left, and the butterflies and hummingbirds can be seen hovering over them in the afternoons and early evening. Soon they, too, will be migrating as the days get shorter and the evenings cooler.

Ruby throated hummingbird
Ruby throated hummingbird feeding before migrating south in a few days

Fall is certainly here, and I expect the weather to change soon!

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