Saturday, 31 December 2011

Some strategy to start the year.

Being New Years eve, I am pretty excited for my big year to start next year. However, I am currently many miles away at Laura's place just outside of Halifax and I don't enter the province until January 6. There are several rare birds that are around the province and if nothing else changes between now and then, here is a strategy of attack:

The only super rare birds still in the province are the 6 Black Vultures at Niagara and the Black-throated Gray Warbler in Hamilton, refound recently by the Hamilton crew. So on January 7I'll probably go to Niagara for first light, hope the vultures fly from their roosting tree over the Niagara River, then go upriver where the Black-headed Gull (code 4) and Black-legged Kittiwake (code 3) are being seen. Hopefully they will also fly over the border! I'll definitely keep an eye out for the Mew Gull that was seen (only once) at Adam Beck and the Slaty-backed Gull which may still be present along the Upper Falls.

The famous Bayfront Park Black-throated Gray Warbler

I'll then spend the rest of the day at Bayfront Park in Hamilton looking for the Black-throated Gray. If I have time, I might make a quick detour for the King Eider at Port Weller before getting to Hamilton.

The following day I might go back to Hamilton or Niagara to pick up whatever I missed the day before. If I did really well on the 7th, I'll probably do a day trip to the Pelee area to grab the Great Gray Owl (code 3). If I can get Great Gray early in the year it could definitely save some considerably effort later on as it can be a notoriously difficult species to find. Barb almost missed this species in her Big Year, and probably would have if this bird didn't show up near Kingsville!

Once I've seen the big rarities that are in the province, I'll spend the next few days/week trying to get the rest of the semi rare birds that are in southern Ontario at the moment - Barrow's Goldeneye, Harlequin Duck, Purple Sandpiper, some owls, finches, etc.

Of course, if the Smew is re-found or something else rare shows up, these plans may be completely dropped.

Happy new years everyone, and good birding!


  1. Hey Josh, I came across your blog from the listserv and wanted to wish you luck with your Big Year! I look forward to reading about your adventure.

  2. Good luck Josh. See you in the field!

  3. Josh, good luck on your big year! I think its going to be an amazing year! May it be very birdy and filled with rarities!-DM

  4. Happy new years everyone, and thanks for the encouragement for my big year. :)

  5. Thank you for sharing your plans and strategies. As an intermediate birder, I would love to see some of these, such as Harlequin Duck, for the first time. I'll be following your progress and at times perhaps in your footsteps, as well. Good luck!