Sunday 7 October 2012

More rarity photos from Moosonee

Continuing on, here are a few more photos of some of the rarities we saw while up north.

The Carolina Wren was one of the biggest surprises of the trip and perhaps our "rarest" find. Carolina Wrens normally range no farther north then about the north shore of Lake Ontario. The odd one seems to be found in Ottawa, and every now and then one pops up further north to Sault Ste Marie or an area of similar latitude. "Northern" Ontario, which basically includes all the area north of Sault Ste Marie and North Bay, had 3 reviewed records as of 2010. I knew Michael Butler found one earlier this autumn, so this would probably make the 5th sighting for northern Ontario.

Of greater interest to us was that it was the farthest known record of this species ever! This bird probably got caught up in the nice warm, south winds a few days previously and flew the wrong way. It eventually saw the town of Moosonee as an opening in the vast spruce and tamarack forest and so decided to go in for the landing. Eventually it wandered over to the ravine next to Store Creek, a ravine which looks remarkably similar to actual Carolina Wren habitat in southern Ontario, and set up shop.

Carolina Wren - Store Creek, Moosonee

This little guy was quite active, singing up a storm and churring away. It seemed quite interested in us and came in close to check us out on several occasions. No doubt all the singing was to try to attract some similar looking friends, but I don't think he'll have much luck in Moosonee!

Finding rarities is the pinnacle for a lot of birders, myself included. There is something satisfying about finding something rare that no one has seen before in a certain area, and that extends over to "vagrant" birds. While a very exciting find, I couldn't help but think that I had used up a huge chunk of my rarity karma on him. Really, I could have picked 50 species which would be a more expected find in Moosonee which I would have preferred over the Carolina Wren! Its just that these charismatic little "churrrr"ing machines are found in southern Ontario, and so seeing one in Moosonee does no good for the year list.

Carolina Wren - Store Creek, Moosonee

I guess we must have had some karma left since we were fortunate to see a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher near Fauquier, Ontario on the way back. Alan was the first to notice the flycatcher sitting on the wire, but we turned the car arround and had fantastic looks at this beaut flycatching from the wire! This was the 3rd Scissor-tailed Flycatcher I had seen in Ontario. It is a pretty sweet record as well, being the 2nd furthest north this species had been recorded in Ontario, and the 2nd record for Cochrane District. It was also the rarest bird that I had seen in Fauquier, Ontario - surpassing the Common Raven I had here in January (an assumption as I can't actually recall any ravens from that particular town, but most likely I saw several).

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Fauquier, ON

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Fauquier, ON

I think the Highway 11 corridor from Nipigon all the way across to Smooth Rock Falls is a fantastic rarity trap that does not get explored very often. It offers a swath of open habitat after seemingly unending boreal forest, a great spot for birds like the above Scissor-tailed Flycatcher to take a break. The only problem is that it is a pain in the ass to get to since it is so far from home.

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher - Fauquier, ON

A few more rarities from the trip: photos that aren't of birds or other wildlife! Here's Alan looking incredibly joyous (and this was before all the rarities, though he had seen the Canvasback not 15 minutes prior)

Idiot #1 - Moosonee lagoons

And Mark demonstrating the cool way to use binoculars.

Idiot #2 - Moosonee lagoons

Here's the crazy duo together. Fortunately I have no photos of Idiot #3 to share.


Tyler said...

Hey Josh,

I think you mean the Hwy 11 corridor from Nipigon to Smooth Rock Falls. Hwy 17 does not get within 270km of Smooth Rock Falls.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Tyler, correction made.