Thursday, 29 December 2011

2011 Year in Review

Now that I am spending the remainder of the year and first 6 days of the new year in Nova Scotia visiting my lovely girlfriend, I thought I would take the time to post a few photos to sum up the year.

January was fairly uneventful, but in early to mid February I traveled to southern California and Arizona on a whirlwind trip with 3 buddies - Matt Strimas-Mackey, Brett Fried, and David Bell. We basically flew to Los Angeles, rented a van and toured around the southwestern US nonstop, looking for birds and other wildlife along the way. These few photos sum up the experience.

As winter turned to spring it was time for the annual "salamander migration". I spent about 5 consecutive nights during the peak of amphibian season in my hipwaders at my favorite spot with good friends.

After exams finished in April I headed down to Windsor to do some environmental consulting for a highway project. Fortunately the location was close enough to Pelee that I managed to get down there 2-4 times a week during migration. I didn't "find" any mega rarities this spring but did find an Eared Grebe, Snowy Egret, Eurasian Wigeon, Kentucky Warbler, and a few other odds and ends. A highlight was seeing this Neotropic Cormorant, found by Brandon Holden on April 24, providing the second record for Ontario.

As the summer went on I bought my first telephoto lens, a 300 mm f/4, and I started getting into butterflies around the same time. Working in tallgrass prairie all day every day was phenomenal and I managed to see about 60 species. The lens was a perfect length for butterfly photography.

Spending the summer tracking Butler's Gartersnakes and Eastern Foxsnakes was a lot of fun and we got to witness a lot of cool behaviour.

Summer and autumn is shorebird time in southern Ontario. I put in a lot of hours searching for them this year and ended up finding 31 species, including this American Avocet.

In early September I visited Nova Scotia for about a week. It was fun exploring some new parts of the province with Laura! I was happy to see some of the pelagic species that we don't get in Ontario.

This fall I was fairly busy with school but made it out quite a few times nonetheless. On a trip to the Bruce Peninsula in late September I was happy to find a Lark Sparrow and a neonate Eastern Massasauga among 9 species of snakes.

In October I went to the Great Smoky Mountains with my buddy Chris for 3 days of solid herping. Without a doubt the highlight were the 2 Hellbenders we saw!

This fall was fairly slow for rarities, but it really picked up in December! Among the highlights for me were Slaty-backed Gull, Franklin's Gulls (3 different birds), California Gull, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, and Smew.

This gnatcatcher was one of 2 that were (are?) present along with several rare warblers at Bayshore Park in Hamilton.

I had some big misses in Ontario in 2011, even though I ended up with a year list of 287. Biggest misses include:
Least Bittern
Spruce Grouse
Upland Sandpiper
Long-eared and Short-eared Owls (!)
Whip-poor-will (!!!!)
Olive-sided Flycatcher
Summer Tanager
Pine Grosbeak

See you all next year!

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