Monday 28 May 2012

A few more rarities

I'm making this one quick because I am short on time....I'm leaving for another birding trip in 6 hours and need to sleep.

The last few days have sure been a whirlwind. After returning home from the Curlew Sandpiper I had planned on relaxing at home for a few days. Well that changed, when I received a call the next morning from Alan - along with Kevin McLaughlin and Bill Lamond, they had found a Henslow's Sparrow at the tip of Point Pelee! This was a species that I was sure I would miss, since normally they are a late April/early May "migrant" in southern Ontario. In fact this was only the 3rd Henslow's that I had heard of in Ontario this spring.

I raced down and managed to re-find it in exactly the same spot with Andrew Keaveney and Mike Nelson after very little effort!

Henslow's Sparrow - Point Pelee National Park

That evening I went back to Hillman Marsh and managed to grab a few better photos of the Curlew Sandpiper. Pretty cool being that close to such a rare bird!

Curlew Sandpiper - Hillman Marsh CA

David Bell had found a Western Sandpiper at Port Rowan lagoons last night, so I raced down there today to try and get it. Fortunately it was still present, but distant so I couldn't get any decent photos.

And a quick stop in Backus produced a singing Louisiana Waterthrush and a few Blue-winged Warblers in 32 degree heat.

Blue-winged Warbler - Backus Woods

The next few days I will be in eastern Ontario, with a couple species in mind! They are Arctic Tern (code 2) and Kirtland's Warbler (code 4). I am currently sitting at 309 species for the year.

Saturday 26 May 2012

Curlew success

Well, a Curlew Sandpiper at Hillman Marsh was something that I couldn't resist, despite the fact that I was 3 hours away and I had just driven home from that part of Ontario.

This morning, after getting a call from Bill Lamond and a text from Kory Renaud that the bird was indeed present, Barb Charlton and I raced down to Hillman. It had been found by Dean Ware the evening before. We were on the road by 8:15, and by 10:45 we were looking at the bird! This Asian species wanders to North America every year, and occasionally even into Ontario. Given the global distribution of this species, it is surprising that Ontario has 28 previous records. This will be the third record for the Point Pelee Birding Area.

With the bird's distance and the rain, this was the best photo I could get.

Curlew Sandpiper - Hillman Marsh CA

This was one of my most sought after species in Ontario so I was very happy to see one! It was associating with a flock of Dunlin (out of focus bird in foreground). An adult Curlew Sandpiper in breeding plumage has striking red underparts and head, with gold-speckled feathers on its wings and back. It also has a longer, more de-curved bill compared to a Dunlin, no black belly patch, and it has a white rump, visible in flight. Cool bird!

We stopped by Alan's place for lunch with Bill Lamond, Kevin McLaughlin, and Alan and enjoyed the feast that Bill prepared. From there, Barb and I spent a bit of time checking out the area before heading up to Tilbury and Lighthouse Cove. Tilbury had very little, though Lighthouse Cove had a nice surprise! As we arrived, we could see a large white bird lazily flying over the road just above treetop height. Something about it didn't seem right for it to be a swan, and when we got closer and stopped the car, it was very clear to see that it was an American White Pelican! Cool! It continued flying along the lakeshore until it was out of view. I should mention that Kory Renaud, who was also in the area, independently saw this bird around the same time as us so he deserves credit for the find as well. While this wasn't a year bird, it was a fun find in southern Ontario.

We checked a few more spots en route to home, without anything really noteworthy. It was a great day in the field for sure! The Curlew Sandpiper is a code-4 species and #307 total for the year.

Friday 25 May 2012

There's a Curlew Sandpiper at Hillman Marsh...

.....and I am in Cambridge watching the Jays game on TV. Sure picked a good weekend to leave Pelee and spend time at home!

Good photos of common birds.....

.....are things that I don't have a lot of.

Usually when I am out birding I am always searching for the rare and unusual species, so much so that when looking back at my portfolio, I have very few photos of the common birds! Though my main focus this year is to see as many species as possible, I am also on a mission to photograph as many species as possible. I have been using the same technique as I am for doing my big year - go after the rare ones, and the easy ones will take of themselves. So I have photos of nearly every single rarity I have seen this year, though a lot of the easy species are still missing!

After being at Point Pelee for 33 of 35 straight days, I was getting a little bored on May 23rd. There were few migrants around, and I hadn't seen a new bird for the year in 3 straight days (that streak changed later in the morning as I had a female Dickcissel flying around the tip). Anyways, walking along, I saw 2 male grackles dueling it out for the affection of what I presume was a female. I watched them for a while and took a few photos of one of the males.

Common Grackle - Point Pelee National Park

While its easy to ignore the common birds, I really like grackles. Despite looking a little like darth vader, they certainly have a bit of charm to them. Its pretty hilarious seeing one puffing himself up and making otherworldly creaking and croaking noises to impress his future mate. After a bit of a photo session with this guy I kept walking, happy to get my first few decent photos of this species.

Common Grackle - Point Pelee National Park

Eastern Kingbirds are another "fun" species. Most mornings this spring while standing at the tip counting reverse migrants, very few birds were actually passing by and it was easy to get a little bored. There was always a kingbird or two around however, keeping me entertained with their antics as they caught flying insects while chattering away. I managed to grab this photo of this one doing something they do rarely - sitting still.

Eastern Kingbird - Point Pelee National Park

As you can see it's been slow at Pelee! While it is still easy to get 15 species of warbler a day, good luck seeing more than 5 or 6 of them. The warm temperatures and lack of precipitation have allowed most passerines to fly right over Pelee. Good for the birds, but it makes birding tough with little around. I've resorted to spending most days driving around and looking for shorebirds and herons, hopefully to catch a rarity somewhere along the way.

While I have been largely unsuccessful in that venture, I have seen and photographed a few neat birds. I spent some time with this interesting quartet, containing from left to right a Dunlin, a one-legged Semipalmated Sandpiper, a Semipalmated Plover, and a Short-billed Dowitcher that appears to be of the rarer "griseus" subspecies.

shorebirds - Tilbury lagoons

The Dunlin were quite approachable, and by sitting near the shore I was able to get a few good photos of this species.

Dunlin - Tilbury lagoons

Dunlin - Tilbury lagoons

Dunlin - Tilbury lagoons

This Least Sandpiper would have been a good photo subject if it weren't for the vegetation stuck to it side.

Least Sandpiper - Tilbury lagoons

Another thing I have been doing a lot of is hawkwatching in the park, hoping for a Mississippi Kite or Swainson's Hawk to make an appearance. We've been largely unsuccessful in that venture as well (go figure), despite many other raptors, such as this kettle of Turkey Vultures.

Turkey Vultures - Point Pelee National Park

Many young Broad-winged Hawks are still around, though the local grackles make sure they stay up high, out of the grackles' domain.

Broad-winged Hawk harassed by Common Grackles - Point Pelee National Park

That's all for now. I'm back at my parents house for a few nights before I decide what my next move is. I may head down to Pelee Island for a few days, or to chase a rarity somewhere. I'll need to make it to Eastern ON to try for Kirtland's Warbler and Arctic Tern sometime before I start work on June 15. Also, I may have a big trip coming up but more on that later.

Tuesday 22 May 2012

OK, Wheatley harbour isn't all bad...

I've never seen anything good at Wheatley harbour. Ever. OK, I did see the Neotropic Cormorant there, but that was in nearby Muddy Creek. A whole host of rarities have shown up at the harbour over the years, but despite checking it probably 100 times or more in the last 4 years I have never seen anything even remotely uncommon there!

Yesterday, while checking out the harbour, I was surprised to see a bunch of the gulls get up and chase something. It turned out to be a Whimbrel! This was a yearbird (#304) and a fun one to get. I was glad to get one now, since they can be a pain in the ass to find in the autumn, and if I didn't get one in the south I would have to go waste a day going to Toronto to get them on the lakewatch. It was kind of interesting to see all the gulls chase the Whimbrel away, almost as if they thought it was a jaeger or something.

Whimbrel - Wheatley harbour

Today, Ross Wood had a few hours after work and so we met up to do some birding. After a thorough scan at Hillman Marsh, we decided to quick check Wheatley again. We were surprised to see a large shorebird chilling on the beach, and it turned out to be a Willet! This is a rare spring bird in Ontario, with several seen each year but usually from late April to mid May.

Willet - Wheatley harbour

This one was quite tame and I sat on the beach while it walked around near me. Every 30 seconds or so it would yell at me.

Willet - Wheatley harbour

There was an interesting assemblage of shorebirds on the beach, containing one individual of 6 species: Willet, Sanderling, Least Sandpiper, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Killdeer, and Spotted Sandpiper. A flock of 9 Ruddy Turnstones rested on the rock island.

Willet - Wheatley harbour

So there you go. Not super rare species, but 2 that are very nice to get! I'll probably go another 100 or so visits to Wheatley before I see anything interesting again.

I've had a good run of birding the last two days at Pelee. While there aren't a ton of birds around, there are some quality ones. I've found Prothonotary (a new male at the north end of Woodland), Connecticut x 2, Yellow-throated Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher, etc. I also added Acadian Flycatcher - a year bird. That brings the old year list up to 305.

This is my last night in "civilazation" (the motel that Ken got for me) before I become a nomad living out of my car again. Best of all, Ken left behind some beers and a giant hunk of summer sausage! Highlight of the day!

Monday 21 May 2012

Odds of breaking the big year record

The last couple of days have been quite good at Pelee. There weren't a ton of birds, but definitely an increase compared to recent days and a few southern species were present.  Yesterday morning, a highlight was finding a Blue Grosbeak at the tip while watching reverse migrants. I was with Alan Wormington, Adam Pinch, and Chris Law when this brownish bird flew over. I could see a heavy bill, wingbars, blotchy brown colour, and long, rounded tail. What initially keyed me into the bird was the distinctive call note, though the bird only called once. Alan was the first to call it and we watched it fly around several times, along with 2 Indigo Buntings, until it was quite high in the air and headed back to the park. It appeared to be a first year bird. Fortunately, several other lucky birders managed to get on it near the tip later in the day.
I was happy to get my first Acadian Flycatcher of the year this morning, a bird that Alvan Buckley found early on the Woodland Nature Trail. I also found an Olive-sided there as well as seeing 3 seperate Prothonotary Warblers. At one point I had a Yellow-throated Warbler - however it only sang once I couldn't see it. Other birds seen in the south end of the park by others included Kentucky Warbler, Prairie Warbler(s), and Yellow-breasted Chat(s). It is now quite hot out and bird song has decreased so I thought that I would take the time and see what my chances are of breaking the record based on the species left to see.

It has been a relatively slow spring across Ontario, especially in regards to rarities. Considering the paucity of rare birds, I have done quite well and seen most of the code 3 or higher birds that were around. I missed a few but overall I did well. May is make it or break it time for a big year birder, and this May was definitely one that could have crushed my dreams of having a really solid year. However I saw just enough rarities to keep me in the game, and a lot of rare birds historically show up later in May (so the next week or two).

Before I go into the details, I thought I would mention that I have changed the code of two of the birds - Smith's Longspur and Willow Ptarmigan. I originally had them both as code-2 birds since they are relatively easy on the north shore of Ontario. Getting there is another matter and at this point it looks unlikely that I'll make it up there. I have changed them both to code-4 species.

Code 1 birds remaining:
Stilt Sandpiper

I've cleaned up on the common birds. When I saw the White-rumped Sandpiper a few days ago I mistakenly thought that it was my last code 1 species I needed for the year. Looking at my list, I still need Stilt Sandpiper.

Code 2 birds remaining:
Sharp-tailed Grouse
Red Knot
Purple Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Red-necked Phalarope
Parasitic Jaeger
Franklin's Gull
Arctic Tern
Black-billed Magpie
Nelson's Sparrow

All of these birds should be relatively easy, and I should have multiple chances at all of them. Purple Sandpiper may be a little tricky but every year there are at least a couple somewhere to chase, plus I'll probably get them at Netitishi Point on James Bay this fall. Arctic Tern may be tough but I might be going to James Bay in August and I'll also try for them in late May/early June near Ottawa. I can't see having a problem with any of the other species listed above and I expect to get all 12 of the remaining code 1 and 2, which would bring me to 316 for the year.

Code 3 birds remaining:
Pacific Loon
Cattle Egret
Glossy Ibis
King Rail
Western Sandpiper
Red Phalarope
Long-tailed Jaeger
Black-legged Kittiwake
Sabine's Gull
Black Guillemot
Northern Hawk Owl
Western Kingbird
Cave Swallow
Henslow's Sparrow

Some of these are much more likely than others. Very conservatively, I think that I have a very good chance (75% or higher) at Cattle Egret, Gyrfalcon, Western Sandpiper, Long-tailed Jaeger, Black-legged Kittiwake, Sabine's Gull, Northern Hawk Owl, and Dickcissel. So I should get 6 of those 8. I think I have about a 50% chance at Pacific loon, Glossy Ibis, King Rail, Red Phalarope, Black Guillemot, and Cave Swallow, so I should see about 3 of those 6 species. I think I have about a 25% chance at Western Kingbird and Henslow's Sparrow. All together, that adds up to me seeing 9.5 of the remaining code 3 birds, and since these odds were conservative, lets say I should get 11. This would put me at 327 for the year.

There are way too many codes 4, 5, and 6 birds remaining, but to beat the record, hypothetically I would need to see 12 of them. So far I have already seen 15 species that I have listed as codes 4, 5, and 6, and I still have over 7 months remaining! Typically, there are more chaseable rarities in the second half of the year, and last year 16 species were recorded after May 21 that are codes 4, 5, and 6.

In summary, I think my odd of breaking the record have decreased slightly since late April, but I'm very much still in the game. It will be interesting to see how the next few weeks play out.

A few rarities along the lakeshore (with photos)

After the successful "triple twitch" the day before with Barb and I seeing/hearing Hudsonian Godwit, Piping Plover, and Yellow Rail, I returned home to my parent's place in Cambridge to spend the night before heading back to Pelee. I got the OK from Ken to have a morning off from doing the surveys so I decided that I would just relax for a day and not look at birds!

Of course, when doing a big year, plans often change. Right around noon, as I was getting ready to go buy a new computer with my dad, my phone rang - it was Alan Wormington. He had a Snowy Egret near the mouth of the Grand River near Dunnville! Needless to say I was on the road by 2:30 after the successful shopping trip. I figured I could make it to Dunnville, hopefully see the bird, and be back by dinner time!

I raced down to Dunnville, and while I was about halfway there my phone rang again. Alan again. This time he had a Laughing Gull at Nanticoke! I really gunned it as I approached Dunnville as I needed both of these birds.

Upon arriving near the mouth of the river, I checked several ponds. Eventually I spotted a small white blob perched precariously upon a stump - there it was!

Snowy Egret - Port Maitland, ON

I enjoyed this bird for a few minutes before moving on. I would have loved to have been more thorough checking out this stretch of the Lake Erie shoreline as it has fantastic rarity potential. I think that I will definitely scour this coastline this summer for rarities a fair bit.

My phone said it would take 56 minutes to get to Nanticoke - I may or may not have arrived much sooner than that. I went right to the spot where Alan found the bird, looked down to the shoreline, and there it was!

Laughing Gull - Nanticoke, ON

These two birds I had classified as code-3. While I hope to see nearly every code 3 this year, there are bound to be a few that will get away from me and I was worried that these two species I may not have a chance for. Normally Laughing Gulls show up in the spring, with the occasional summer or autumn record. Snowy Egret is a tough code-3 since there isn't a chaseable one every year.  It was great to get these two species out of the way.

Ring-billed and Laughing Gulls - Nanticoke, ON

I didn't have a lot of time to enjoy the gull before driving back to Cambridge. I would have loved to have spent the time to get better photos - guess that will have to wait til the next time I see one. I raced home and made it just in time for dinner - perfect.

Saturday 19 May 2012


Yesterday morning, while walking the West Beach footpath with Alan, I decided that I was going to see the remaining three species I needed to reach 300 for the year. The previous day I had added Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, Mourning Warbler and Willow Flycatcher for 297, and since the morning was very slow at Pelee what better way to spend the day than drive for most of the day to try for Yellow Rails?

You see for the past couple of days, one or two Yellow Rails had been making their presence known at the Carden Alvar, a location that typically attracts this species for a short window each May. I had never seen this code-3 species in Ontario. I had expected to get them either in Rainy River or James Bay later in the summer, but if the conditions at these locations were too dry then the rails may be next to impossible to find. Additionally, I still needed to make it up north for Piping Plovers so I figured I could combine these two species (as well as a brief search for a code-2 Hudsonian Godwit) in  one day.

Barb Charlton decided to come along for the ride, so I picked her up in near Hamilton around noon and we made our way to Toronto. It wasn't long before we found the small pond that the godwit frequented, and even before we got out of the car, there it was!

(Photos to be added here)

Godwits are one of my favorite types of birds so it was fantastic viewing the rare-in-spring Hudsonian Godwit from a short distance away. It flew around several times and I managed to catch a decent in-flight photo.

A nice surprise near the edge of the pond was a White-rumped Sandpiper mixing with the Dunlin, Least Sandpipers, and Semi Plovers. This was the last remaining code-1 species I had to see for the year, and was #299! I was pretty excited as we drove up to see the guaranteed Piping Plovers around Wasaga.

An hour or so later we arrived at Wasaga. The late afternoon conditions were perfect, calm and warm, with a light breeze coming in off the lake. We walked up to where the plovers hang out and there it was, a female Piping Plover on her nest. #300!

(Photos to be added here)

After a bit of celebrating we walked down to the water to see if some of the other birds were around. I spotted another mated pair down near the water and watched them forage for a while, even scaring off a Semipalmated Plover at one point. They walked right past me and I grabbed some photos.

From here we drove up to Carden, arriving just around 7 o'clock. We got out of our car just as Hugh Currie and Gerry Shemilt arrived. Not 30 seconds later I briefly heard the ticking of a Yellow Rail! We all waited for it to call again, and finally after another 15 minutes it ticked for a while, fairly close to the road. Wow, what a great day! I managed to pick up 4 year birds, including all three targets. I was pretty stoked to hit 300 by May 18, surpassing my earlier goal of 300 by the end of May. Who knows, maybe 310 is possible before the end of the month?

****I was having some computer problems....long story short, the old computer is toast so I had to go get a new one today (thanks Mom and Dad!). Hopefully I can get all the files off the old one, since I hadn't backed up anything since the end of April. So I won't be able to post any photos from May until probably June sometime.****

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Pelee wish list

Another crappy mobile post... Pelee has been largely unimpressive this spring. I haven't had more than maybe 3 days where you didn't really need to work hard for the birds! Most days there are very few migrants around. However I am still adding good birds slowly. Since my last update I have added Connecticut and Worm-eating Warbler, as well as American White Pelican, among a few more common species to give me 294. The Wormie was especially nice, since it was a new 'self found' bird. Yesterday I had a Yellow-headed Blackbird at the tip, and while it wasn't a year bird, it was a new Pelee bird for me. I had thought that I would spend most of May driving around like a madman, chasing rarities. Well that just hasn't happened and I've left southern ON exactly once to chase a rarity since April 26! I shouldn't complain though, since I've seen a good percentage of the birds I needed to get before leaving Pelee. There are a few left though. The following birds are species that I will have very little chance for the rest of the year if I don't get them in the next two weeks at Pelee. They are: -Laughing Gull -Mississippi Kite -Kirtland's Warbler -Henslow's Sparrow -Dickcissel (decent chance of them elsewhere in the summer most years) Additionally I would really like to get at least two species of rare herons/ibis, as well as Western Sandpiper, King Rail, and Bobwhite in the next two weeks.

Saturday 12 May 2012

Its been almost a week since my last blog post, the longest stretch I've had since starting the blog a year ago. I have been birding all day every day, and combined with not having internet, the blog gets neglected! Once I return from Pelee at the end of May and birding slows down ill start to post some of the photos from this spring. Birding has been OK - usually one or two good birds a day, but few individual birds and no megas. I had a stretch of 12 consecutive days with a really good bird, but that ended today. Some quick highlights: twitching a blue grosbeak with Brett and Barb in Goderich, American Avocet, Baird's Sandpiper, and Marbled Godwit at Hillman, and some self found "lesser" rarities in Western Meadowlark, Kentucky Warbler (along with 32 other species), and Summer Tanager. I've added 18 year birds in the past week, bringing me up to 287 for the year. Its been really slow for this time of year rarity wise in the province, but its starting to pick up!I have heard reports of Little Blue and Tricolored Herons, White and White-faced Ibises, Cattle Egrets, etc. I would really like to find a rare heron soon!Judging by the mix of birds in the park there are still a ton to come through. If we get some systems moving through it could get crazy. Off to bed...

Sunday 6 May 2012

Quick update

I've been kinda neglecting the blog a little bit...not for lack of effort, but after waking up at 5 every morning, birding hard all day, and having maybe an hour or two in the evening before going to bed, I haven't really had the time to go through photos or make posts.

The last two days have been decent, though I have only added 5 new species. Two of them are code 3 species however. Yesterday, while walking along the beach looking for butterflies with Steve Pike, he turned up a young male Summer Tanager. Later that day, while walking along the north end of the park near the beach with Steve and Alan Wormington, we came across an older male Summer Tanager.

Today, Michael Biro found a Lark Sparrow in the Northwest Beach parking lot. This was a code-3 species I didn't think I would get at Pelee! Fortunately for me, once everyone left, I got great closeup looks at the bird as it perched 10 feet beside my car (by "my" car I mean Ken's car).

Lark Sparrow - Point Pelee National Park

The birding should continue to get better! A Chestnut-collared Longspur was reported from near London predictions for Point Pelee tomorrow is a 1st alternate Kirtland's Warbler along the West Beach somewhere.

Time for sleep...

Friday 4 May 2012

Ups and downs

I hinted last night that a huge wrench could be thrown into my big year, depending on what the prognosis of my car was. As it turns out, that wrench has been thrown in my big year. As I suspected the head gasket was blown and it would cost 1200$ and 3/4 days to fix. Really shitty, but what can you do? Fortunately there are a lot of people who have been really helpful so far this year. Rick Mayos in particular has been incredible, offering a place to stay for quite a few nights as well as driving me around while I was carless. Ken Burrell also arranged for me to pick up his car and use it while mine is in the shop. Andrew Keaveney offered to do my reverse migration survey this morning (while not accepting payment from me), while I dealt with the car. And Sarah Rupert has offered to make me dinner and a place to stay for Sunday night. So while this is a major setback, it just shows how many great people are out there, willing to help of which I couldn't be more thankful.

Anyways, today I got out for a bit with Rick and ended up walking with Dan Salisbury and John Black. It was pretty quiet, but we did see several interesting birds including first of the year (for me) Black-billed Cuckoo and Swainson's Thrush. We unsuccessfully searched for 2 Worm-eating Warblers, plus a possible Hermit Warbler which was reported but never seen again.

Swainson's Thrush - Point Pelee NP

 After Rick drove me to Wheatley to pick up Ken's car, I went back into the park and birded/butterflied in Northwest Beach before meeting up with Andrew and checking out the West Beach footpath south of the VC. I was happy to see a good variety of butterflies in only about 1/2 an hour near northwest beach, including 1 Gray Hairstreak, 30+ Little Sulphur (Little Yellow), 40+ Variegated Fritillary, both species of Lady, and the highlight, a Common-Checkered Skipper. Last night, Alan reported that his Common Checkered-Skipper yesterday was the first May record for Point Pelee.

Variegated Fritillary - Point Pelee NP

Little Yellow - Northwest Beach, Point Pelee NP

Common Checkered-skipper - Northwest Beach, Point Pelee NP

 We checked out West Beach, but just as we were starting the clouds rolled in and the butterflies stopped flying. However, we were lucky to see a Dainty Sulphur! Prior to yesterday, there were just 2 Point Pelee records for this southern species. Michael Tate reported 4 today and I'm sure there were more throughout the park. So while I only added two year birds (both common ones), I added a new butterfly to my Ontario list and got my first photos of several others. It was a great day in the field, just what I needed after all my car troubles.

Dainty Sulphur - West Beach, Point Pelee NP

melanistic Eastern Gartersnake - West Beach, Point Pelee NP

 Now that we are 5 days into May migration will continue to pick up! There are several code 3 and 4 species I really am hoping to pick up at Point Pelee in the next two weeks. If I don't get them here, I most likely will miss them for the year. They include:

Laughing Gull
American Avocet
Kirtland's Warbler
Worm-eating Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Henslow's Sparrow
Summer Tanager
Blue Grosbeak

In addition, I really need to start picking up more rarities. I was hoping to have 10-15 code 4+ species during the spring migration of late April to late May. So far I have 5: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Bell's Vireo, Western Tanager, Western Grebe, and Chuck-will's Widow. Hopefully migration continues to pick up!

Thursday 3 May 2012

Recent birds and setbacks

Sorry for the short post tonight...its late, I'm tired, and frustrated so I don't feel like writing a whole lot. I've had some trouble with my car today and it may possibly be a blown gasket. I don't know much about cars, but apparently that can be quite expensive to fix. Hopefully when I take it in to the mechanic tomorrow that isn't the prognosis. Needless to say, this could throw a huge wrench in my big year but I won't really know until I find out how much this will cost. Oh, and the birds. Its been really good the last 3 days and I am now sitting at 262 for the year. The highlight today was a Chuck-will's-Widow which was found early this morning calling from just north of the visitor centre parking lot. At 8:40 PM, it started up calling again, much to the delight of the 50+ birders who came out to listen for it! Earlier in the day I saw a Yellow-breasted Chat at Blue Heron which was entertaining local birders for several hours. This morning the reverse migration was quite good and I had about 2000 birds in the 2.5 hours. The highlight for me was a Prothonotary Warbler, bright and early! A possible Dickcissel flew over as well, but we weren't able to confirm its identification. Year birds since my last update include: Ruby-throated Hummingbird Eastern Kingbird Tennessee Warbler Cerulean Warbler Magnolia Warbler Blackburnian Warbler Clay-colored Sparrow Scarlet Tanager Western Meadowlark (a new Ontario bird for me, found by Steve Pike and Andrew Keaveney) Semipalmated Plover Prothonotary Warbler American Redstart Black-throated Blue Warbler Olive-sided Flycatcher Chuck-wills-widow

Tuesday 1 May 2012

May 1 highlights

Another short mobile blog post... As I walked down to the tip before dawn, I had about 10 species of warblers and I knew it would be a good day! A highlight for me was an Upland Sandpiper that flew over Alan and I as we walked the west beach trail. While not a year bird, it was a new Pelee bird for me and a great spring Pelee record. We had our first of year Grasshopper Sparrow here as well. Other highlights: -6 Blue-winged, 2 Orange-crowned, 1 Bay-breasted, 1 Cape May, 1 Golden-winged and 1 female Hooded Warbler -lots of dowitchers and 7 Willets at Hillman -4 Yellow-throated and 1 White-eyed Vireo -the continuing Eared Grebe at the tip I finished with about 120 species for the day, while missing some easy ones like Rock Pigeon, Black-capped Chickadee, House Finch, etc. 16 of them were year birds, bringing me up to 247. I'm really hoping to hit 300 by the time I leave Pelee. The forecast for tomorrow looks great! Maybe a rarity or two will be around...