Friday 23 October 2015

Recent rare bird news

After a relatively slow autumn, things have been picking up in southern Ontario with rare birds. Here are a brief summary of some of the more notable species to be reported in the last few days:

Ash-throated Flycatcher: Glenn Coady found this southwestern species in Ajax on Wednesday evening, though unfortunately it was a one-day wonder as it was not reported the next day by any credible observers, despite dozens of people out looking for it. Flycatchers can be finicky this way, and Ash-throated Flycatchers, while nearly annual in recent years, are usually a one-day wonder. There are still only 12 accepted records for Ontario. I still need this one for Ontario, as do many other birders!

Townsend's Solitaire: David Pryor found one at Colonel Sam Smith Park in Toronto on October 19, which was quite cooperative for all the birders who came to look for it that day. Unfortunately, it too continued on and was not seen the next day. Just now, Brett Fried texted me a photo of a Townsend's Solitaire from the tip of Long Point, where he has been staying for the last few days. Speaking of Long Point...

Northern Gannet and White-winged Dove: Two more unusual birds, one from the east, and one from the southwest, have been seen at the tip of Long Point recently. If only I was down there right now....

Cattle Egret: Several reports of Cattle Egrets came in from the Long Point area recently. One flew by the tip on October 16, another passed Old Cut on October 17, and other one was seen near Port Rowan October 17-18. I'm not sure how many individuals were involved. Cattle Egrets, while rare in Ontario, usually show up at some point in late October in very small numbers.

Cattle Egret - Tilbury lagoons (November 7)

Black-headed Gull: Tyler Hoar found one at the Durham side of Lake Simcoe on Wednesday. This bird has become quite scarce in the province in recent years with usually less than 5 reported annually.

Late songbirds: This October has been quite mild, playing a role in the large number of songbirds that are still being reported in the province. Close to 20 warbler species have been seen in the last week! Other species that are normally far south of here, such as both cuckoos, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, White-eyed Vireo, Veery, and Grasshopper and Clay-colored Sparrows have been seen in recent days.

Shorebirds: The large number of White-rumped Sandpipers that arrived in early October are still hanging around in many areas. Mike Burrell wrote a great piece about this phenomenon, which you should check out! Some "late" shorebirds still being seen include a Short-billed Dowitcher at Richmond in eastern Ontario, and Willie the Willet at Blenheim lagoons (which may be the same bird that I found back on September 4.).

Willet - Blenheim lagoons (September 4, 2015)

This is just a small sample of some of the interesting birds that have been seen recently. With some unsettled weather arriving next week, as well as possibly the remnants from Hurricane Patricia, there could be a lot of unusual species around. Get out there and keep checking your local patches! I know I will be, here in Niagara-on-the-Lake.


Alan Wormington said...

Plus another White-winged Dove this week along the north shore of Lake Superior, coming to a feeder at Pearl.

Anonymous said...

I don't have my email in front of me but pretty sure the Ash-throated Flycatcher was reported on Ontbirds again on Thursday. Two-day wonder.

Josh Vandermeulen said...

I stand by my original comment.

Anonymous said...

Yes Anonymous, the flycatcher was reported the next day by only one person who claimed they saw it. There is one key word in Josh's comment that explains why it was a one-day wonder and not a two-day wonder.

Anonymous said...

Your two responses are a big reminder why fewer and fewer birders I know post anything on ONTbirds anymore, including myself. Years ago I used to post there pretty regularly, around once/month. Based on chats with many of my birding friends and other birders out in the field, lots of folks have discovered that there were more and more self-proclaimed 'super-birders' ready to doubt their reports. Some of the people I know have decades of birding experience yet it's assumed they can't make a simple ID. Seems unless a bird is seen by someone in one of these little birding-bum cliques, it has not officially been seen. Meanwhile, many great birds (like the nice Varied Thrush a good friend of mine photographed last week) go unreported to the birding community, which to me is a shame. How about trying to encourage every birder, regardless of how 'credible' YOU think they are? It's no wonder new birders are put off when folks walk around with this mentality.

Josh Vandermeulen said...

Hi Anonymous,
Please know that these comments are not about birders in general, or about doubting someone’s sightings if that bird is not also seen by a “super birder” in a “birding-bum clique”. This is about one particular individual, well known in the Ontario birding community to fabricate sightings time and time again. There are dozens of examples but I don’t think my blog is the right forum to discuss this. Please send me a private email if you wish.

I’m sorry that you have misinterpreted the situation here, accusing me (and others) of being elitist. It is too bad that you withhold sightings of rare species that others could enjoy but that is your choice.

One of the great things about birding is encouraging others to join in and sharing the experiences with everyone, regardless of how long they have been birding or how experienced they may be. I know I always strive to be inclusive, and I hope I don’t come across as being exclusive or snobby.