This year, there seems to be a pretty big competition within the Wellington Co. birding community to compile a winter list of birds seen in Wellington County. I thought I would join in just for fun - really just an excuse to get outside during December while I am busy studying for exams! If you live in Wellington and would like to join in on this endeavor, check out the link to the post:
Obviously with winter listing, the first few weeks are crucial and most species are seen then. I doubt I will get out much in the county next year so this month of December is critical for me to have a decent list. Yesterday I made it out to the southern part of the county hoping to add a few lingering species of waterfowl. Mountsburg was fairly slow, but eventually I added a few decent birds such as Canvasback (female), Horned Grebe (2, of which one was in Wellington Co. waters), Lesser Scaup, many Hooded and Common Mergansers, etc. I met several other local birders and chatted with Bryan Wyatt for a bit. He gave me some tips of other good winter birds in the area, but I couldn't located the Eastern Bluebirds that were seen near the north end of Mountsburg that day. David Bell visited Mountsburg earlier in the day and had a Pine Grosbeak fly over.
I checked out the quarries just south of the 401 on the west side of HWY 6. One of them had a nice little flock of gulls which contained, among many Herring Gulls, 1 ad. Kumliens (Iceland) Gull, 10+ Ring-billed Gulls, and a surprise ad. Bonaparte's Gull. Bonaparte's Gulls are extremely rare in the county any time of year. A few American Coots were nice, since the ones at Mountsburg weren't within the boundaries of the county. I added a few more birds at McMillan Pit (Green-winged Teal, A. Robin, etc), and several more at Puslinch (Double-crested Cormorant, Lesser Black-backed Gull (1st cycle), Redhead, Ruddy Duck) before heading home. A beautiful light morph Rough-legged Hawk was a good way to finish the day!
By the way, this year I'm coordinating the winter list for Ontario. Blake Maybank will be hosting the results on his website, http://www3.ns.sympatico.ca/maybank/other/onwinter.htm. The winter birding season includes the months of December, January and February. A cumulative total of 336 species have been recorded during the winter in Ontario, with around 196 species recorded annually. Last year, 203 species were recorded; highlights including Slaty-backed Gull, Black Vulture, Wilson's Phalarope, Summer Tanager, and "Hornemann's" Hoary Redpoll. With the unseasonably warm temperatures we had in November, perhaps enough fall migrants will hang on into December and we will break the 200 species mark again. It's been a bit of a slow start, and I have compiled 149 species seen so far this month in Ontario. We are still missing a number of easy ones, such as Brant, Eurasian Wigeon, King Eider, Barrow's Goldeneye (I'm sure the Ottawa birds are still present though), Black-crowned Night-Heron, Dunlin, Wilson's Snipe, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Long-eared Owl, Eastern Phoebe, Black-billed Magpie, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Gray Catbird, Field, and Chipping Sparrows, Brewer's Blackbird, Red Crossbill and Hoary Redpoll. Additionally only two species of warblers have been reported. If anyone has heard any reports of those listed species (or other rare species that haven't yet been reported to Ontbirds or Ebird), I'd really appreciate it you send me an email.