Friday 3 January 2014

2013 Year in Review, part 3

Laura arrived to stay with me for the month of August as my field work was all wrapped up for another season. Since I was stuck working in the office throughout the week, we were limited to weekends to travel throughout Ontario. We made the most of these opportunities, however! On two occasions we made it down to Point Pelee, and both trips were loaded with amazing wildlife experiences with good friends.

Common Map Turtle - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

kayaking - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Brown Pelican - Wheatley, Ontario

Laura and I share a love for all things reptile and amphibian so we planned a few weekend trips to see what we could turn up. Some of the "lifers" Laura found included Queen Snake, Five-lined Skink, Common Map Turtle, and Northern Two-lined Salamander.

Gray Treefrog - Cambridge, Ontario

Queen Snake - Brant County, Ontario

Laura and her first "self-caught" Snapping Turtle

Eastern Massasauga - Muskoka District, Ontario


N. Two-lined Salamander - Algonquin PP, Ontario

N. Two-lined Salamander - Algonquin PP, Ontario

As the calendar turned to September, Laura and I enjoyed a week in Nova Scotia before she flew back to Scotland for another year of vet school. After that trip, I spent my weekends kayaking in the Pelee marsh and doing some local-ish birding, with a highlight being finding a Long-tailed Jaeger with Kory Renaud and David Szmyr at Rattray Marsh in Mississauga (a first county record for Peel).

Short-billed Dowitcher - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Wilson's Warbler - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Semipalmated Sandpiper - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Caspian Tern - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Short-billed Dowitchers - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Short-billed Dowitcher - Point Pelee NP, Ontario
Least Bittern - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Least Sandpiper - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Semipalmated Plover - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Greater Yellowlegs - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Western Kingbird - Hamilton, Ontario

In late September I went on a rarity-hunting trip to the Moosonee area with Alan Wormington and Jeremy Bensette. While we did not find any "megas", we had quite a few fun finds including some Dickcissels and a Lesser Black-backed Gull, both review species in the north. And of course, northern chickens...

Spruce Grouse - Fraserdale, Ontario

Spruce Grouses - Fraserdale, Ontario

Spruce Grouse - Fraserdale, Ontario

Striped Skunk - Moosonee, Ontario

Common Raven - Moosonee, Ontario

American Golden-Plover - Moosonee, Ontario

White-winged Crossbill - Moosonee, Ontario

Thayer's Gull - Hearst, Ontario

October and November are often two exceptional rarity months for Ontario, and this year did not disappoint. The Niagara River was the place to be with two provincial firsts there this fall - a Brown Booby in October, and an Elegant Tern in November. I was fortunate enough to skip work to see both rarities, though they were too far for good photos! Here is the best I could do with the booby...

Brown Booby - Niagara River, Ontario/New York

The main highlight of the autumn for me was a two-week long excursion to Netitishi Point on the south coast of James Bay in late October/early November. Once again the location did not disappoint, with dynamic weather, stunning scenery, a feeling of true wilderness, and of course some awesome wildlife sightings. I can't wait to go back.

Barn Swallow - Moosonee, Ontario

Red Fox - Netitishi Point, Ontario

Gyrfalcon - Netitishi Point, Ontario

Townsend's Solitaire - Netitishi Point, Ontario

Upon my return to civilization, I did not get out as much as I would have liked to due to limited daylight. Of course, two Point Pelee visits were in the cards and were highlighted by 4 Eared Grebes, late Pectoral and Baird's Sandpipers, 2 Black-legged Kittiwakes, an Evening Grosbeak, a Bohemian Waxwing, a Purple Sandpiper, and a dead Franklin's Gull.

Purple Sandpiper - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Eastern Pipestrelle - Point Pelee NP, Ontario

Long-eared Owl - Hillman Marsh, Ontario

One of the most interesting birds I laid eyes on this year was this gull that I located at Niagara Falls along with several others. It has been studied and commented on by various gull experts across North America and Europe, and the consensus is still split between a hybrid Lesser Black-backed x Herring Gull, or a lusitanius Yellow-legged Gull which would be a first provincial record. While its identity will likely never be determined with certainty, it was a great experience and a lot of fun to research.

gull sp. - Niagara River, Ontario

My last trip of the year was the one I am currently on - a nine-day excursion to visit Laura and her family in Nova Scotia. Taking them out looking for Snowy Owls was a fantastic way to close out 2013.

Snowy Owl - Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Thanks to all who followed along on the blog throughout the year. I'm excited to see what 2014 has in store!


Reuven Martin said...

Eastern Pipistrelle is now known as Tricolored Bat

The Furry Gnome said...

Wow, you had a good year. Just getting out that much would make it good year, regardless of what you saw. Enjoy your birding reports.