Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Long lost photos

This week I have been going through and uploading all of my bird photos from Ontario into eBird. I have been making good progress and at this point I have uploaded all of my photos from 2009 through 2014, as well as a few others from 2015 and 2016. I have uploaded photos of 341 species taken in Ontario, meaning there are only 10 species that I have photographed whose likenesses haven't made it into eBird.

As I was going through these photos I found quite a few that I had not posted to the blog, usually because I never got around to going through those albums, purging all the poor photos, and editing some of what was left over. Since I do not have a ton of current material at the moment as I have been too often leaving the weight of my camera behind on recent excursions, I thought I would post a few of these photos which had been forgotten until now.

On April 21, 2014 I was doing some work in the Lindsay area during the morning, leaving my whole afternoon free. I decided to explore the nearby Carden Alvar, home of a number of grassland/alvar specialties including Upland Sandpiper, Clay-colored Sparrow, Sedge Wren and Loggerhead Shrike, among many other interesting species. While the bulk of the Upland Sandpipers had not yet arrived to set up their territories, I was able to tease one individual out of the alvar.

Upland Sandpiper - Carden Alvar (April 21, 2014)

Several newly arrived Loggerhead Shrikes also put in appearances, including this individual on the aptly named Shrike Road. Loggerhead Shrikes are an Endangered species in Ontario with only several small populations hanging on. Carden hosts the majority of the birds, though there are a number of pairs in the Napanee area and a few on the Bruce Peninsula as I understand. Due to the land use practices in the Carden area as well as work done by local conservation groups to buy up land, enough habitat remains for the shrikes at Carden for now, though the population is still quite low and certainly at risk. That being said, they are relatively easy to find by driving some of the roads within the area, and there are often a few pairs along the heavily-birded Wylie and Shrike Roads.

Loggerhead Shrike - Carden Alvar (April 21, 2014)

Loggerhead Shrike was actually a new addition to my "photographed in Ontario" list as I had completely forgotten about these photos! It is species #351, meaning that there are 28 species that I have yet to photograph which are on my Ontario list. Unfortunately several of these are code 6 rarities which I may never have another shot at including Pink-footed Goose, Black-tailed Gull, Elegant Tern, and Phainopepla, as well as a few code 5s such as Golden-crowned Sparrow, Bullock's Oriole, Razorbill and Great Cormorant. Fortunately there are still a few easy ones remaining including Marsh Wren, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Northern Waterthrush and Rock Pigeon (!), along with several other regular Ontario species such as Kirtland's Warbler, Black-headed Gull, Northern Gannet, Glossy Ibis, and Barrow's Goldeneye.

Loggerhead Shrike - Carden Alvar (April 21, 2014)

After photographing the shrike, I noticed this Eastern Gartersnake attempting to gather some sort of warmth from the road on this relatively cool, gloomy late April day.

Eastern Gartersnake - Carden Alvar (April 21, 2014)

Switching gears now - after the excellent trip to the coast of James Bay that Kory Renaud, Jeremy Bensette, Alan Wormington and I went on in the autumn of 2014, Kory, Alan and I birded the Hearst to Cochrane stretch on October 11. We saw a few interesting birds that day including a Lesser Black-backed Gull at the Kapuskasing landfill, a group of 8 Cackling Geese and 66 Pectoral Sandpipers at the Hearst lagoons, and an Eastern Meadowlark near Hearst, representing one of few (the only?) record(s) for Cochrane District. This Bald Eagle did not mind our presence at the Hearst landfill - it was more concerned with finding some delectable morsel to eat among the heaps of rotting garbage (what a magnificent creature). Fortunately none of the garbage is visible in these photos.

Bald Eagle - Hearst landfill (October 11, 2014)

Bald Eagle - Hearst landfill (October 11, 2014)

Sticking with the northern Ontario theme, the next photo is of one of my favorite mammals in the province. This dude was walking right down the middle of the highway that leads to Pickle Lake, so we stopped to admire and photograph it. Fortunately (for the porc) our presence was enough to force it to slowly shuffle off the dangerous road.

Porcupine - south of Pickle Lake (June 29, 2015)

Ontario is home to only one species of lizard, but fortunately, Five-lined Skinks are relatively common throughout their range in the Georgian Bay region of Ontario. They inhabit several locations in southwestern Ontario as well and can be particularly common in parts of Point Pelee National Park. Last summer Laura and I drove down to the Windsor area to participate on the Ojibway Prairie Bioblitz, also spending a day at Point Pelee National Park. Like most lizard species, Five-lined Skinks are oviparous, meaning that the young hatch from eggs, and along with Jeremy Bensette, we found a few Five-lined Skink nests inadvertently in our search for snakes and other herps.

Five-lined Skink and eggs - Point Pelee NP (July 17, 2015)

I'll finish this post with a photo of Sanctuary Pond at Point Pelee on a beautiful, calm May morning.

Sanctuary Pond, Point Pelee (May 2, 2015)


  1. Love the skink and eggs photo as well as the rare and beautiful shrike.

  2. Thank you for sharing these photos and stories. Nice pix from the Carden Alvar area.