Thursday 27 December 2012

My biggest misses this year (part 1)

For the next little while, I will continue to make summary posts about my Big Year attempt. This one will be about all of the birds that I missed!

Despite seeing 344 species of birds this year, there were still at least 30 species that others saw which I did not! As well, a bunch of other species show up often in Ontario, but did not in 2012. These include Ruff, Northern Wheatear, Slaty-backed Gull, and Tricolored Heron. Though they are expected regularly in Ontario, I will not include these species in my list of biggest misses this year.

Part 1 of the post will include 20 species that were reported in Ontario this year that I missed, but that weren`t my "biggest misses". Part 2 will include my top 10 biggest misses of the year.

shearwater sp.
While at Netitishi Point, Alan managed to see a shearwater sp. way out in the distance, while I was seawatching from a different location. This was one of the few times all trip we seawatched from a different location, which makes this a big miss. However since the bird couldn't be pinned down to a species, I don't really feel that bad about missing it. Yeah, shearwater sp. would have been a new one for my year list, but its just not the same as having a "good" species on the list!

Leach's Storm-petrel and Wilson's Storm-petrel
These two go hand in hand. Both mega-rarities, both seen within 20 minutes of each other in my local birding area (centered around Hamilton). Both are misses that really sting. They showed up during Hurricane Sandy, when I was stuck up on the coast of James Bay. Though I missed these species, I happened to see other rarities that weren't seen anywhere else in the province this year while up on James Bay (Northern Gannet, Great Cormorant, Common Eider, etc).

Neotropic Cormorant
Found by the tag team known as the Burrell brothers on Pelee Island in May. It was a one day wonder! I actually spend the rest of the afternoon with Gavin Platt at the tip of Point Pelee hoping it would fly by, but it was not to be.

White Ibis
Stu Mackenzie must have had a horseshoe up his butt to get a pair of White Ibises fly right over him at Long Point! These were also never seen again, so not really a big miss for me since I couldn't have chased them.

White-faced Ibis
I just did not have my ibis mojo working this year. There were several sightings of the White-faced variety, including one that was seen at least twice near Lake St. Clair, but I couldn't turn it up in several visits in May and June.

Swallow-tailed Kite
One was seen well by a family in Udora, Ontario on April 14. I actually chased it with Brett Fried the following day, but it was no longer around.

Cinnamon Teal
This autumn, a hunter shot and killed a nice male at Long Point!

Willow Ptarmigan
Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it up to the Hudson's Bay coast this year, where ptarmigans are a dime a dozen. I am assuming that Rock Ptarmigans were also present, but its nearly impossible to find a way to go birding up there in the winter months.

Ross`s Gull
Another miss, brought to you by Hurricane Sandy! The Burrell brothers, Brandon, Ross, and David Beadle were among the lucky few to see this northern beaut along Waverly Beach on November 1. This was the same day that Alan and I found a Western Kingbird and Great Cormorant at Netitishi Point, so I don't feel too bad about this one.

Kelp Gull
Alan Wormington found this bird, a first for Canada! Unfortunately for Ontario birders, it wasn't conclusively identified until a few days later, and it was never seen again. I was in Nova Scotia at the time so I couldn't have chased it, even if it had been reported publicly right away.

Ivory Gull
Argg!! That's all I can say about that. A one day wonder in Ottawa of my most wanted Ontario bird.

Glenn Coady had one fly by, courtesy of Hurricane Sandy. A few other large alcids were seen by others flying by at a distance which may have been this species. I probably had one too at Netitishi, but I couldn't be sure!

There are only about a dozen records of this ocean-going species in Ontario, with only 4 being reviewed and accepted by the OBRC. I was specifically watching for this species while at Netitishi Point since Brandon and Alan had two of them in November, 2010. This year, we didn't get any Dovekies, though Andrew Keaveney went to Netitishi by himself later in November and happened to get one. Argghh!!

Fork-tailed Flycatcher
This species is also one of my most wanted Ontario birds, along with Ivory Gull. The crew at the tip of Long Point were able to find one and then band it. It hung around for two days, as well. Unfortunately, there is no public access to the tip so I was unable to chase this bird.

Black-throated Gray Warbler
This bird showed up in mid December in Hamilton. I was hoping it would hang around until the new year, and fortunately, it did! Unfortunately though, it was last seen on January 3, a few days before I arrived in the province to start my big year.

Golden-crowned Sparrow
This one was very frustrating since it was a bird that I could have seen if its presence had been made public. It came to a feeder near Ottawa for several weeks in February/March and only a few lucky birders were given access to go see this bird.

Smith`s Longspur
Smith's Longspurs breed along the coast of Hudson's Bay in Ontario, much like Willow Ptarmigans. Their migration path takes them west of the province though, so they are rarely seen in the south. Andrew Keaveney went to Rainy River to specifically look for this species in migration, even though there were few/no records from the district prior to this year. He lucked out with two of them! For me it just wasn't practical to travel to RR in late September, since it would be an expensive trip, I had all the other specialties for the region, and the chances of actually getting Smith's Longspur seemed extremely minute.

Painted Bunting
A nice Painted Bunting showed up at a feeder in Toronto for a week while I was up north at Netitishi Point. It's presence was not made known to the birding community, so no one was able to chase it.

The next post will cover my top 10 biggest misses of the year!

1 comment:

Blake A. Mann said...

As they say, you can't get 'em all!
Never heard of that Golden-crowned Sparrow last winter!!
You did well, congrats.