Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Crappy photos of Pelee rarities from this spring

I have a few moments before bed (waking up at 3 to work/bird) so I thought I would finally post some of the rarer birds I had at Pelee this spring. Hopefully most of these I hadn't posted yet!

I'll start off with an Olive-sided Flycather from waaaay  back on May 3. Andrew Keaveney found it north of Wheatley, and since I was driving past the spot at the time I dropped in to take a look! He took me back to the spot, and sure enough, the OSFL was hanging out doing some flycatching. This is the earliest one I have seen in Ontario by over a week.

On May 6th I was just returning from my morning of reverse-migration monitoring at the tip when word got out about a Lark Sparrow that Michael Biro had found at the Northwest Beach parking lot. Not only would it be a new Pelee bird for me, but Lark Sparrow was a code 3, and a tough one at that. I made it to the parking lot in record time (fortunately without hitting any turkeys...this time), and it didn't take long before it was re-found. I took a few distant record shots, than waited for the crowds to disperse. As I was leaving the parking lot a bird flew up into a tree right beside me. It was the Lark Sparrow and I had my camera at the ready! Getting this bird so easily at Pelee was great since I was worried that I would have had to chase one in Ottawa or Rainy River or something later in the year.

Previously that morning while I was at the tip, two very silent crows flew over. Any crows at the tip immediately warrant attention since they are not that common and the potential for Fish Crows is there. I managed to photograph one of them, but after scrutinizing them I am still unsure of the species. Let me know if anyone has any thoughts on what species they are...

That very same day I was lucky to see 2 Summer Tanagers. The first was with Steve Pike as we were walking along the west beach near Dunes I believe. I was up ahead, then Steve came running to inform me of a male Summer Tanager he had just found. It was very distant at the top of a tree (good spot, Steve!) so this is the only photo I managed. The second bird was a brilliant adult male that I saw along the beach at the very north end of the park while looking for butterflies with Steve and Alan Wormington. Unfortunately neither of us had our cameras ready for that one!

Oh yeah, Steve and I also saw a Sleepy Orange Sulfur, one of only a few Canadian records of this southern species at the time. Several more showed up throughout the week, providing many with a new Ontario butterfly for their list! It was a pretty good day on May 6...

Speaking of butterflies, Dainty Sulfurs were also in the news. A crappy photo, and regrettably the best one I took of this species. Hopefully I'll have another opportunity to photograph one in the near future!

A flock of American Avocets is always nice to see...

One of the highlights of the spring was a beautiful adult Blue Grosbeak that I was very fortunate to see. A fellow birder from Goderich found it coming to his feeder. He did not really want hoards of birders coming to see it understandably, but knew that I was doing a big year and allowed me to drive up to see it! If you are reading this, thank you :)  

There were some rumours swirling at one point that I didn't actually see this bird...The photo below is probably the best "proof" I can provide! Yep, that's my dusty old car in the same photo as the Blue Grosbeak...

And just for fun, here's a photo of the Eared Grebe that Pete Read and I found on April 29th. It eventually hung around for 4 days, but the best photos I took of it were from that first morning! I think I posted the photo previously, but oh well you have to see it again!

I have a few more photos from Pelee that still need to be posted, but that can wait until a later date. Time for bed!


  1. Hey Josh,

    The Crow looks like an AMCR to me. P5 is separate from and a fair bit longer than p4, which is a good field mark for AMCR. P5 would be closer in length and not entirely separate from p4 on FICR.

    See here:


  2. There is always some folks that won't believe ya bud.. Don't sweat it. This hobby relies hugely on the honor system. Same happened to me out here in NS with a Red shafted flicker. Probably only the 3rd sighting of the species in NS I was told. Good thing you have a nice camera to snap pics!

  3. Thanks Gavin. Some day when I looked at it the primary feather looked better for AMCR, other days I could almost convince myself that they were right for FICR. I think I agree with your analysis...

    Hi Ryan,
    Yup, I'm not too worried about it! I try to get photos of most of the rarities I see mostly just because I enjoy having them in my collection and I enjoy seeing other people's rarity photos. I don't really see the need to have to photograph everything just so people will believe me... Sweet Red-shafted flicker sighting!