|Black Bear - Aubrey Falls P.P., Ontario|
Insects steal my attention for a few months each summer when the rush of spring bird migration is over. There is just so much to know, and so little time...
|Pink-edged Sulphur - near Matheson, Ontario|
|Crab Spider (Misumena vatia) - near Parry Sound, Ontario|
|Racket-tailed Emerald - near Parry Sound, Ontario|
One weekend, Todd Hagedorn and I took a boat over to Georgian Bay Islands National Park and camped on the island for a few nights. Our main goal was to look for reptiles, of which the islands never disappoint!
|Red-bellied Snake - Georgian Bay Islands N.P., Ontario|
|Gray Treefrog - Georgian Bay Islands N.P., Ontario|
|Northern Leopard Frog - Georgian Bay Islands N.P., Ontario|
A family camping trip to eastern Ontario was a huge success, as I was able to find a Gray Ratsnake (only my second ever in Ontario) with Laura and my brother Isaac.
|Gray Ratsnake - Charleston Lake P.P., Ontario|
|Isaac and Laura with a Snapping Turtle - Charleston Lake P.P., Ontario|
|Northern Watersnake - Charleston Lake P.P., Ontario|
By September I turned my main focus to birds once again as migration was in full swing. My good friends Jeremy Bensette and Steve Pike found a Eurasian Collared-Dove near Leamington (it turns out there were two of them), a species which I was happy to add to my Ontario list. Not to be outdone, a White Ibis was also discovered at Wheatley Provincial Park which was too good of a bird to pass up!
|Eurasian Collared-Doves - Leamington, Ontario|
|White Ibis - Wheatley P.P., Ontario|
Laura and I made the most of the few weekends we had together this summer...one particular highlight was visiting a beautiful area near Gravenhurst one afternoon. While the Massasaugas eluded us, this Smooth Greensnake did not.
|Smooth Green Snake - Muskoka District, Ontario|
In what has become an annual tradition I visited Laura in Nova Scotia for a week in early September. There is something to be said for breathing in that fresh ocean air! The most memorable day for me was a visit to Borgles Island located along the east coast of the province. We had the rugged island all to ourselves and enjoyed hiking and tide-pooling.
|Borgles Island - Nova Scotia|
|Flounder sp. - Borgles Island, Nova Scotia|
In late September, Jeremy Bensette, Kory Renaud and Alan Wormington joined me on an expedition to Netitishi Point on the shores of James Bay. This was my third trip there in three years with Alan, and the inaugural visit for Jeremy and Kory. Even though the weather did not cooperate for most of the trip a few good birds were sprinkled in here and there. Even apart from the birding, just enjoying the peace and solitude of a remote area like the southern James Bay coast has been a huge highlight for me over the last few years.
|Peregrine Falcon - Netitishi Point|
|Lapland Longspur - Netitishi Point|
Where I live in Aurora the birding leaves a lot to be desired. However, Lake Simcoe is only about 45 minutes away, allowing semi-frequent visits whenever time permits. The biggest highlight on the Lake this autumn was the Pacific Loon that David Szmyr and I discovered, which was soon joined by at least three more. Little Gulls can also be found by the dozen, and even a Black-legged Kittiwake lingered for a few weeks.
|Little Gull - Barrie, Ontario|
A late October Point Pelee visit was in the cards this autumn. While most birders visit Pelee in the spring, I much prefer it in the autumn. The crowds are non-existent and the birding can be just as spectacular. One of my favorite moments of this visit was watching this young Golden Eagle with Jeremy Bensette near the Tip. While Goldens are uncommon but regular migrants in Ontario from October through December, it is rare (for me at least) to have such great views of one.
|Golden Eagle - Point Pelee National Park, Ontario|
A mid-November Pelee trip lined up nicely with the arrival of a few Cattle Egrets to the Tilbury lagoons which are located about 45 minutes north of the park. One of them was kind enough to hang around for my visit.
|Cattle Egret - Tilbury lagoons, Ontario|
The year ended with a fantastic bird - one which I certainly did not have on the radar. A Eurasian Kestrel, only the 3rd such individual of this species to be seen in Canada, was discovered about 30 minutes from Laura's place in Nova Scotia. My visit coincided perfectly with the news of the discovery of the kestrel, and though it took two tries, eventually Laura and I were treated to great views as it caught a vole.
|Eurasian Kestrel - Hartlen Point, Nova Scotia|
2014 was a great year filled with a lot of fantastic memories with friends. I am looking forward to what 2015 has in store!