Sunday, 24 June 2012

Still alive!

Update - photos posted! See below...

I have been kind of MIA in recent days, but I have good reasons! First of all, it is the time of year when those of us who go birding for a living (...err.I mean do environmental impact assessments) are working all the time getting as much work in as possible. After being on a whirlwind 6 day trip to Rainy River, I arrived for about a day and a half, and now I find myself at my hotel in Goderich. Tomorrow morning I do some surveys then race to Toronto to catch a flight to Thunder Bay, and drive to Marathon to spend the week doing some surveys out there.
Laura, as some of you know, is in Ontario for the summer, working in Cambridge and staying at my folks place there, so whenever I am home for a few days between surveys I obviously have my priorities straight and spend as much time as I can with her!
Needless to say, the blog gets neglected every now and then.

I thought that I would post a few more Rainy River highlights from last week. Unfortunately I don't have my photos with me on this computer, but I will add them on Tuesday.

Mob of angry cows

 I can't talk too much about work-related stuff, but can talk about some of the bird highlights. I finished with 144 species for the district (plus a few more on the drive from Thunder Bay). I managed to get all 3 species of grouse while doing surveys, including a family of Sharp-tailed Grouse, a beautiful male Spruce Grouse, and a family of Ruffed Grouse! The only problem is that I am often hiking several kms from the nearest road in the middle of the bush so I don't often bring my camera with me.

Savannah Sparrow - western Rainy River District

Nonetheless, I did snap some shots of a confiding Brewer's Blackbird on a fence post. I caught myself a couple of times seeing a blackbird on a wire/post and saying "just another Red-winged or Grackle" before thinking "wait a minute, a Brewer's!". It is kind of cool to see them being a default species that is found in any open area since they are incredibly uncommon in the south.

Brewer' Blackbird - western Rainy River District

One of the major highlights was finding a Green Heron with Dominic Cormier (my coworker, and long time friend and crazy birder). There are only a handful of Green Heron records accepted by the OBRC för Northern Ontario, maybe 5 or 6 (I don't have the records with me at the moment). Jon Pleizier had seen a Green Heron on several occasions nearby while working here last spring. I wouldn't be surprised if there is a pair or two breeding here! While this was a fun find, unfortunately Green Herons are common in the south and so it wasn't a new year bird.

Some other random highlights:
-several Black Bears, moose, and a wolf howling
-watching a Red-headed Woodpecker packing a hole in a fencepost with horse flies it was catching
-several lifer butterflies, all common northern species, but it was my first time looking at butterflies in the north!

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail - western Rainy River District

-getting a Le Conte's sparrow singing its little heart out at 11:56 PM while we were owl surveying
-seeing yet another Dickcissel as well as several Upland Sandpipers

Dickcissel - western Rainy River District

-21 species of warblers, with the only local breeders I missed being Pine and Tennessee
-adding a few new Ontario herps...Boreal Chorus Frog and Western Painted Turtle (though the turtle is "just"a new subspecies for me)

Western Painted Turtle - western Rainy River District

-our first fall migrants...Lesser Yellowlegs at the Rainy River lagoons on June 19
-seeing soaring flocks of pelicans everywhere we went

American White Pelican - western Rainy River District

Anyways, that's all for now. I'll try to get the photos posted soon. I am at 317 birds for the year and I wouldn't be surprised if I don't get a new yearbird for a while! Unless a rarity shows up and conveniently stays for a weekend, I won't add anything new. But with fall migrants just starting to come through I'll hopefully get a few new birds before I leave for James Bay in early August (more on that later). I still need quite a few shorebirds such as Stilt Sandpiper, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Red Knot, Purple Sandpiper, Red Phalarope, and Red-necked Phalarope, all usually out of that group only Stilt Sandpiper shows up before August.. I still need Nelson's Sparrow and Western Kingbird as well so I'll put in a good effort for them when I am in Rainy River in 10 days. Plus, this is a good time of year for something like a Eurasian Collared-Dove, rare heron/egret/ibis, Ruff, etc to show up. It wouldn't be that surprising if a rare midwestern grassland species follows all the Dickcissels that have influxed into Ontario..maybe something like a Chestnut-collared Longspur or Sprague's Pipit. One can only hope!

Question Mark - western Rainy River District


  1. Western Kingbird yesterday at the Rainy River cemetary.

    I'll Honk at you as I pass Marathon tommorrow.Sounds like you are on a Gold mine tour up here.

  2. How do you go about doing surveys do you just walk around and look or are you setting up nets?